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, December 16, 2011

Forty....and other 'F' Words.


I'm forty.

Yep, I said it. And so far, the earth hasn't stopped rotating, people aren't gasping and none of my body parts are hanging any lower than they were the last day I was 39.....so far.

You may remember, the approach to my birthday last year was riddled with self-imposed misery that culminated into a pity party of colossal proportions. Good times.

With that in mind, I was nervous as to how I would handle the transition into the digits beginning with the big 'F.'

As with any birthday, there's a natural tendency to look back and ponder. I do that every year, but especially whenever I cross over into a whole new decade. It was during those retrospective thoughts recently that it occurred to me that Forty isn't the only F-word used to describe my journey.

My 20's:
Frantic: excessively agitated marked by uncontrolled excitement or emotion

I married Chuckles when I was 21. Z was born when I was 22. A was born when I was 24. K was born two months premature when I was 27 and I suffered a post-vasectomy miscarriage when I was 28. Toss in a boat load of insecurity, self doubt and a young mom of 3 young kids who was trying to hold it all together or at least appear that she was, and you've got a hot mess on your hands.....Frantic.

My 30's:
Forge: to move ahead slowly and steadily

I entered my 30's weighing 250 pounds....254 if you want to be exact. I'll never forget the day my Mamaw Putter said to me, "You're too young to be that fat." (May she rest in peace.) I remember thinking, "I'm not fat. I just have giant bone structures." It wasn't until I dragged myself into a Ladies Fitness Center and stepped onto the scale that my eyes were finally opened to what had gradually been happening. That was when I Forged into my journey of exercise and a healthier lifestyle that ultimately led me to go back to school to become a Massage Therapist a year later. Halfway through this Forging adventure, my husband had his vasectomy reversed and we welcomed C into our family when I was 35.

Then God revealed the next thing on my To-Do List. And when God reveals something to you, He doesn't leave a doubt in your mind, and the 2nd half of my 30's was spent doing studies by Beth Moore that required me to come face to face with some hard core identity issues in my life. Tough stuff but I survived.

I turned 39 thinking that my To-Do list was under control. BIG mistake, because out of the blue, God allowed the next one to slap me upside the head....My approach to relationships. I had a pattern in my life that I kept repeating without even realizing it and it became clear that I needed to break the vicious cycle. It was time to stop trying to please people because where in the heck does that end?!? Somebody is always going to be mad at you. It's reality. You may as well accept it.

Beth Moore gives an awesome visual to how to approach people. Picture the Cross between you and each person in your life. The horizontal line represents the connection between you and the vertical line represents boundaries. That's where I always screwed up. I would walk on eggshells with their boundaries but in my desperate need for the connection, I would always forget to put up my own. Then when I would try later, it would come as a shock, people would get offended and the vicious cycle repeats. Can you say insanity?!?

So my 39th year was spent instilling some crosses. The installation of crosses always begins with forgiveness. I had to forgive myself. I had to forgive others. And I had to move forward with the new changes and the determination to ignore hostile repercussions that always accompany things that people don't understand. These were my mistakes that I had to take full responsibility for and with that comes the responsibility to clean it up and stop the cycle in it's tracks. Some people stay. Some people don't.

Good riddance 39!

Six days into my 40's:
Free: Not under the control or in the power of another

I turned 40 weighing exactly 100 pounds less than I did at 30.
Food does not control me.

I am the child of my Heavenly Father. I am in the Royal bloodline. My identity lies in Him. Therefore, I throw all of my insecurities and doubts about my self-worth into the pit with the enemy where they belong, because that's who they're coming from.
My thoughts do not control me.

My life is full of amazing people who know me well and choose to be a part of my life anyway. A solid cross stands between each of us. They are not responsible for my happiness, nor are they to blame for my unhappiness. Just as I am not responsible or to blame for theirs.
My fear of relationships does not control me.

Now I prepare myself for God to reveal the next thing on my list. I'm holding my breath here, because I know it's coming sooner or later. Joyce Meyer says, "If God hasn't told you what He wants you to do next, just keep doing the last thing He told you until He does." So I will.

You might notice, none of the things on my list can be checked off and considered accomplished. They're a daily battle filled with choices.

In the meantime, I'm passing these lessons onto my kids so that maybe one day when they look back at their 20's and beyond, their 'F' word can be 'Free' and save themselves some of the pain that comes with the 'Frantic Forge.'

Friday, December 9, 2011

The People's Court-ers

My husband doesn't choose too many battles and as far as I can tell, there's no rhyme or reason to his method of choosing. Sometimes they're obviously justifiable. Then there are times I raise my eyebrows and wonder what the heck just happened.

The latest battle he chose landed us in court. This time, he took on the local hospital. More specifically, the surgical center. And eventually, even more specifically, the anesthesiologists.

The problem? A bill for a surgery I had last year. The remainder of the bill, not covered by insurance, was a sum of $600. According to the itemized statement, that total came from 3 separate recovery room charges for roughly $200 each. They were broken down like this: "Recovery Phase I, 30 minutes. Recovery Phase II, 30 minutes. Recovery Phase III, 15 minutes."

It was "Recovery Phase III" that sent him over the edge and suddenly we were going to battle over the injustice of duplicate billing.

When he gets like this, I've learned to just go along for the ride.

So last month when I woke up to a voice mail telling me to meet him at the courthouse and instructing me to show cleavage, I thought "Here we go."

My hope was that it would be quickly decided one way or another that day and we could move on with our lives. And I think we stood a chance of that happening, until my husband got a little carried away in his closing argument and may or may not have accused the hospital of telling the anesthesiologist to put me into a deeper sleep so that I would need an extra 15 minutes of recovery time as part of a master plan to make an extra buck.

Holy crap, he did not just say that.

And on that note, our trial was set for December 8th.

So yesterday, we sat in the courtroom waiting to begin. I was shaking with nerves while my husband sat there repeatedly making the sounds from the opening of "The People's Court".....du nu du.

"The Plaintiffs" arrived. aka; the sleezy collections lawyer and the spokespeople he was ordered to bring from the hospital. I was a little surprised at the appearance of the spokespeople. I was expecting men in suits. So I was taken aback to see 2 elderly women dressed in slacks and festive holiday sweaters.

My husband leaned over and loudly whispered "I bet he asked his grandmas to come pretend to work at the hospital."

Let's keep that little accusation to ourselves, okay Chuckles?

The lawyer approached us and asked if we wanted to talk.
Me: "About what?"
Him: "Your reaction."
Me: "My reaction to what?"
Him: "You became extremely ill after your surgery and started profusely vomiting."
Me: "I did?"
Him: "Yes."
Me: "Well, this conversation is over. Now I want to ask the judge why neither of us were informed that I became so violently ill after surgery."
My husband: "Maybe it was because she was given too much anesthesia."

Quiet, Chuckles.

The trial itself was uneventful. One of the grandmas took the stand and the lawyer questioned her. I was proud of my husband when he leaned over and whispered, "Leading the witness" rather than dramatically standing up shouting while pointing his finger and he never once yelled "OBJECTION" and pounded the table with his fist as he'd planned in the van on the way.

The court was very patient with him. When we were shown "Exhibit A", my signed consent form, he sat there reading every word and then dramatically asked me if that was my signature. (Sigh) When it was his turn to swear to tell the truth and was told to raise his right hand, he abruptly raised his left and sat there staring at the judge until the judge finally had to tell him to please raise his other hand.

Grandma explained that the 3rd Recovery Room charge was because I became nauseous after the surgery and needed some medication. Turns out there was no profuse vomiting. Shocker.

When it was my turn to speak, I began to tell the judge what happened with the lawyer before the trial. The lawyer interrupted with an objection and claimed it was irrelevant. The judge overruled him and allowed me to speak and then scolded the lawyer for his inappropriate behavior while I sat there fighting the urge to stick my tongue out at him.

When it was all said and done, we wrote out a check for $600 plus court costs.

Lesson learned: In the court of law, Grandma always trumps Cleavage.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Turkey Trot


You may or may not know that I have a natural aversion to running. My husband and I spend good weather days walking our 5-mile block.

This past August, he asked me if I wanted to try jogging it. Feeling up to the dare, I took off, made it 4 minutes and doubled over with a pain in my side and sudden urge to vomit. BUT, I made it 4 minutes longer than I thought I would.

The following day, my competitive streak kicked in and I decided to slow down my pace and make it further than the day before. That progressed day by day until I could make it around our entire block. Not that I'm fast, mind you, as evidenced by the day the 20 Buzzards circled my head just waiting for me to keel over. (Okay, I get it. I'm slow and you're hungry. You don't have to be so rude about it.) Not to mention my almost 40 year old bladder that requires a bathroom break or 2 along the way. Thank goodness for cornfields.

Fast forward to September when I heard about a local 5K for charity being held on Thanksgiving Day. I signed us both up and he began "training" me around our block. Methods that included heckling with the occasional cat call, butt slap and inappropriate suggestion. He's quite effective.

When the weather got too cold to run our block, we went our separate "training" ways. He worked out at the gym and I stuck with my very old but very dependable treadmill at home. He came home with impressive progress reports. His speed, his distance and calories burned. Since the console on "old dependable" went out long ago, I had nothing to report except that I could run through 2 Joyce Meyer sermons without diving off the side and/or throwing up. His philosophy: "Knowledge is Power." My philosophy: "Ignorance is Bliss."

I tried to sound confident, but deep inside I was paranoid that I was going to fail. Then he really freaked me out when he asked me if I had my IPod loaded for the race. I said, "But how will I hear you talk to me?" He said, "Oh, you want me to stay back with you?" (Nice, Chuckles.)

That brings us to Thanksgiving morning. The weather was perfect. Clear, sunny and cool. We stood amidst the hundreds of people waiting to start. Some were dressed like turkeys and one man was dressed from head-to-toe in camouflage. Note to self: Stay behind the creepy hunter.

My husband stood there confidently stretching while I stood praying for a cornfield to relieve myself. The race began. The pack, including my husband, crushed around me and quickly passed.

When it seemed everyone had found their niche, I surveyed my position. I looked behind me to realize that I was the leader of the group of 60 year old walkers. And when I looked in front of me, I was right behind the stay-at-home-mom-power-walking-duo, complete with Lycra jump suits and super cool arm bands that held their IPods. If you followed the chord to my IPod, it would lead you through the neck of my over sized sweatshirt and straight into my sports bra.

And out of nowhere, I heard a little kid say, "Excuse me" and I turned around to see a boy on a scooter trying to pass me....and I started wishing I'd thought to bring a scooter.

I had a choice. I could either panic and give up or just do what I knew I could do and forget everyone else. I didn't have Joyce Meyer, but I had the next best thing: My IPod full of motivating songs like Sexy Back, Ridin Dirty and I'm Sexy and I Know It. Songs that make me forget I'm an almost 40 year old mom and songs that give me hope that I too could wear a Lycra jump suit and even pole dance if given the chance. I found my comfort zone and took off, slowing down only for Bohemian Rhapsody. (I have a killer air-guitar solo in the middle.)

At the halfway point, I caught up to my husband, who said between gasps of breath, "Hey! There you are. I've been waiting for you." (Nice try Chuckles.) I patted his butt and moved on past him. Shortly after that, I passed the kid walking while his dad carried his scooter. (Not so tough without your scooter, huh?) On the final stretch, when I was ready for it to end, the perfectly timed song, My Chick Bad started in my ears. That's the song that makes me wonder if I might look good doing cool choreography on a dance floor.

Anyhoo, it had the desired effect and I sprinted over the finish line....9 minutes before my husband. But this was for charity, people, so let's not make it about who beat who. (I was 9 minutes faster. I was 9 minutes faster. I was 9 minutes faster.)

And for the record, next year, the speed-walking-housewives are going down.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

You can't make this stuff up, people.

DISCLAIMER: The Amish driver and his horse both survived. (If that doesn't get your attention, nothing will.)

Regular readers of my blog and Facebook are well aware that I have a bit of a, shall we say, tumultuous relationship with our Amish neighbors. Maybe tumultuous isn't the right word. Bizarre would probably be more accurate.

Most of my encounters with the Amish involve their ill-timed trips past our house to find me cursing our weedwacker while wearing various outfits, all of which would be considered inappropriate by Amish standard.

Lately, on more than one occasion, I've come face to face with a particular horse and driver in an odd game of "Chicken" as I'm jogging along the road and he's in my path heading my way. Either he recognizes me and I scare him or he's extremely polite, because each time, he kindly takes a wide path around me. We say hello to each other as I pray he doesn't recognize me without my weedwacker....or in my husband's boxer shorts.

Fast forward to this morning. In a rare occurrence, I was fully clothed and standing at my front door waiting for my Massage Client. Along came my new Amish friend and I was inwardly congratulating myself for not causing him alarm or inconvenience as he passed by our house.

But then out of the blue, a car sped past our house and the Amish wagon literally disintegrated before my eyes and the driver flew into the air and barely missed landing on the car that hit him. That was followed by a semi coming up behind, slamming on his brakes and screeching to a stop behind what used to be the Amish wagon, and a car behind the semi slammed to a stop having no idea what just happened in front of her.

I burst into tears and ran outside scared to death of what I was going to see when I rounded the semi. But before I made it, the Amish horse came tearing around the back of the semi dragging a wheel and other pieces of it's wagon behind him and he was being chased by the Amish driver. Thankful that he was ok, I yelled for the girl in the car to call 911 and joined the Amish man in pursuit of his horse around our front yard.

So when my client pulled into the driveway, that's exactly what she was witnessing. Welcome to our home. We call this "Wednesday" around here.

He caught his horse and tied him to the tree in our front yard and we struck up a conversation. I said, "Are you ok?" And he said, "Are you the woman who runs?" (I was so thankful that my weedwacker wasn't mentioned. I think we just bonded.)

He said he was fine but predicted he'd be sore in the morning. I refrained from offering up my services as a Licensed Massage Therapist, fearing I might do some damage to our blossoming friendship if I invited him to come to my house and let me rub his back free of charge. He was freaked out enough already.

With a horse tied to my tree, pieces of buggy scattered everywhere and the sound of sirens heading our way, I excused myself to greet my client and explained to my new friend that I'd be inside if anyone needed to talk to me. I walked inside amazed at how miraculous it is that he and his horse are both fine and I'm so thankful.

Just before I began her massage, I texted Z about what just happened, then turned off my phone.

Little did I know, that at that exact time, Z was at school in a Texting & Driving Simulator to teach the kids firsthand how little it takes to get distracted. He was instructed to text while he drove.

So when my text came through, he went ahead and read it.....and then he jerked the simulator wheel, hit a simulated guy on a bike and skidded into a simulated telephone pole and yelled "Holy Crap!!"

Lesson learned. Don't text and drive. Glad I could help.

Monday, October 3, 2011

I cheer, therefore I am.


Is 39 too young for a midlife crisis? Well, technically, I'm on the slippery slope to 40 and sliding faster every day.

The midlife crisis thought first crossed my mind last month, when I willingly paid extra money at an amusement park for the opportunity to allow 2 strangers to strap my husband and me into a giant ball attached to bungee chords and then proceeded to allow them to fling us 300 ft into the air together.

That spontaneous lack of judgement prompted us to update our Will.

Shortly after that, I took up jogging. And very shortly after that, I ended up in Urgent Care with a pulled ligament in my foot.

Then last week, I received an email from my Mother-In-Law informing me that my High School was in search of alumni cheerleaders who were interested in dancing at the Homecoming Game this past Friday. I bolted to my closet. The desk chair was still swiveling when I returned with my old uniform. I was thrilled when the skirt zipped up the back and the sweater fit too. Not exactly as it used to fit, mind you. Once you factor in that I've birthed 4 children and my boobs used to sit about a foot higher than they do now, you understand the odd way the sweater hangs these days. What once was up, will come down. It's a fact of life.

When Z came home from school, he found me cleaning the house in my Cheer-leading uniform. He stopped. Stared. Said, "Oh gosh." And walked away without asking.

Only my daughters seemed completely enthralled with my sudden obsession with high kicks and even higher pony tails. They followed me around the house asking lots of questions and comparing jumps. Then we sat around and talked about boys and used the words "Like" "Totally" and "Awesome." And then I taught them to combine them...."Like totally awesome." (My girls and I are pretty tight.)

Speaking of boys, Z not only kept quiet on the topic of my Cheer-leading, but he refused to spot me on a round-off-back-handspring, doubting my ability to do it without paralyzing myself. Dude, It's probably like riding a bike. What could go wrong?

My husband, on the other hand, spent last week with the look on his face seen on kids in a candy store. Enough said.

Thursday night I had Cheer-leading practice. (I can't even type that without twirling my hair and craving a piece of bubble gum to pop and smack.) There were about 10 "real" cheerleaders and 5 of those suffering from sudden identity crisis. I was one of the 10.....

We reviewed 2 routines. The first was The Fight Song. No problem. Our High School fight song is the same tune as Ohio States. Therefore, I've spent every Saturday for the past 21 years dancing that routine every time the Buckeyes score. My husband can attest to that.

The second routine was to a song called Chief Mac. I remembered bits and pieces. (More bits than pieces.) But I was too embarrassed to speak up and figured YouTube would come to my rescue. No such luck.

I spent all day Friday imagining the horror that was about to happen that night in front of hundreds of people. I was gonna go out on that field and totally rock The Fight Song, only to turn around and look like a stroke victim during Chief Mac as I lay on the field in the fetal position crying in a puddle of my own drool. (You've entered The Drama Zone.)

To top it off, on the way to the game my husband broke some big news to me. "It's The Game of the Week! Channel 2 News is gonna be there!" (That was followed by him stopping me from diving out of the side of our moving vehicle while the kids screamed.)

But we got there early and I spent some quality one on one Chief Mac tutoring time with a cheerleader....whose eyes were coated in the most beautiful gold glitter eye shadow I've ever seen and I spent half the time wishing I'd known that existed......but I digress.

We took the field, in the cold pelting rain, and I was at home..... The band started playing, I closed my eyes and I danced. And I couldn't stop grinning.

And in case you all are wondering if I was wearing my uniform, the answer is no. Despite the fact that I kept it in pristine condition and that it still fit, once the tiny detail that I no longer own the tights that cover my underwear emerged, that became a deal breaker. Picky picky.

I'm currently on the hunt for a black warm-up suit with gold lettering. Because next year, I'm gonna match the Cheerleaders. Complete with a thick coat of glittery gold eye shadow.

In the meantime, I'll move on to my next midlife crisis activity..... I signed my husband and I up to run a 5k on Thanksgiving Day.

Would anyone like to break that news to him for me?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Homecoming Round II



In case you've forgotten Homecoming Round I, our daughter was voted to be the Homecoming Court's Freshman Attendant last year and big drama ensued with "The Queen Mother" over my daughter's dress and the ridiculous tradition that the Queen holds the power to not only choose the court's dresses, but apparently should also get to choose exactly where the dress is purchased and how much the parents pay. I cried bullcrap, found the exact same dress on Amazon, paid $66 rather than $200, apparently "broke tradition" and may or may not have ruined Homecoming 2010 by doing so.

But let's move on before I get mad.

Our son is a Senior this year. A few weeks ago, I asked him if there was any chance he could be voted Homecoming King. He said there was no way, because in the history of this school, tradition indicates that it always goes to a football player. Tradition also states that the King chooses the guy escorts. Therefore, as tradition goes, the Homecoming Court consists solely of football players. My son played golf. Not football.

But as you know, traditions are made to be broken.

My son was voted Homecoming King. That probably happened because he's a great kid, he's funny, entertaining, nice to everyone, has amazing school spirit and a level of confidence that encourages acts of individuality, not to mention his dark black eyes, long eyelashes and a smile that lights up a room....but hey, I'm his Momma.

Oooooorrrrrr, it might have had something to do with saying "Balls" in his Vice President election speech at the County wide National Honor Society banquet last Spring, causing a scandal like no other that rocked the school, led to threats of a dismissal hearing and subsequently ended with a Facebook fan page, media coverage, his NHS probation, 2 NHS advisers quitting, his new found fame, legendary status and nickname...."Balls."

Drama seems to find us wherever we go.

Whichever the case may be, he was voted King. So he picked his court. The Golf Team and a band member. And drama ensued. Whatever.

In the midst of the drama, I came to a realization. "I'm The King Mother!" And I felt the warm glow of power take over.

So last Wednesday, when the Principal called me into his office to discuss my son bringing his yo yo to school, I had to fight the urge to remind him that my son is The King and I'm The King Mother, therefore, we don't have time to be bothered with yo yo nonsense.....

But instead, I apologized and promised him that Z wouldn't bring his yo yo to school anymore. Choose your battles, people.

To top off this amazing experience for our family, this year's (beautiful & amazing) Queen (and her awesome family) chose our 4 year old daughter to be the Homecoming Princess and it still completely melts my heart.

Homecoming Round II was a huge success. The kids in that school had the courage to step out from under "tradition" and vote for who they wanted to be King, regardless of what sport he played.

My son had the courage to pave a new path by choosing a court of kids who may not have gotten the opportunity otherwise, proving that if you don't like a tradition, it's up to you to change it!

As for me, I'm still enjoying my reign as King Mother.
Complete with tiara.

Don't worry. The power hasn't gone to my head at all. (Buahahahahahahaha!)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sleeping in a van down by the river....




We spent our weekend at Family Church Camp. When things barely go smoothly in the safety of our own home, they go about as you'd expect when we go camping out in the wild....or in this case, our van.

This year the tents were filled to capacity. My in-laws were in one tent. Our girls were in the 2nd tent with both of our dogs. And Z and Nick were in the 3rd tent. That left my husband and I sleeping in our van, propped on cushions from our patio furniture, hatch wide open, with our box fan hanging on bungee cords blowing in on us, beside the comforting glow of the fluorescent blue light of the bug zapper. It's a redneck camper, people. And it was working out just fine until Chuckles got the bright idea to spray bug repellent through the fan in an attempt to coat our "camper" to keep mosquitoes away. That might not have been such a horrible idea if he'd done that before I lay down or if he'd even given me a heads-up of what he was planning so I could at least close my eyes. Enter marital dispute #1 of the weekend.

We awoke Saturday morning covered in a thin layer of dead moths. Nice. But things were looking up by the afternoon when we were having a blast at the lake. Paddle boats, a water trampoline and a water slide are just a few of the fun activities. But the big hit every year is the giant "Blob" in the middle of the lake. Basically, it's a huge mattress of air at the base of a platform. Person #1 sits on the end of the mattress. Person #2 jumps from the platform onto the other end of the mattress and bounces person #1 into the water. Sounds fun, right? Well, not if person #2 outweighs person #1 by 150 pounds. Which brings me to marital dispute #2....

Someone, who shall remain anonymous but his first name is George, bullied me into allowing my husband to blob me. His bullying was disguised as "encouragement" with phrases like, "It's only water" and he even went so far as to loan me his life vest for "full coverage" against back smackers.

I listened carefully to all the lifeguards instructions: Lean forward, keep your head up, keep your legs down, stay straight as a pencil and drop feet first into the water. Got it. I was a gymnast. I was a cheerleader. I pride myself on having control of my own body. So I nervously sat on the end of the blob and listened as my husband loudly counted to 3.

Here are the things the lifeguard should have told me: Between the sound of him yelling 3 and the time he actually lands on the blob will be an eternity of dead silence as your mind suddenly grasps the possibility of your own untimely death. The silence will be suddenly broken with a loud "POOF" that sounds like you've been shot. You'll then be catapulted into the air where your mind will go numb, your body will take on movements of it's own and you'll lose all control of your bodily functions. Finally, and most importantly, keep your eyes and mouth closed to avoid hitting the water face first with your eyes bulging and your mouth wide open in a silent and useless scream.

I smell a lawsuit.

The good news is, the remnants of bug spray was immediately washed from my eyes. The bad news is, I think I swallowed a fish, my inner thigh is severely bruised, my eye became slightly discolored and my marriage is suddenly on the rocks.....all in under 30 seconds.

We survived to see Sunday morning when the only eventful thing that happened was that we couldn't find our dog, Axel. Our family spent the next several minutes loudly calling her name. "Axel! Axel! Axel!" And she came back. As we packed up to go home, a friend from a nearby camper approached us with a question...."Did you guys really name your dog Asshole?"

Welcome to church camp.

Friday, July 15, 2011

V.B.S (Vacation Bible Scammers)

We spent this past week at our church for Vacation Bible School. When my husband and I sign up to help each year, we're automatically given Nursery detail. We're in charge of children under the age of two.

Basically, we're assigned to the least impressionable age group. I'm not offended. I'm actually relieved that our church knows us so well.

Factor in my husband's care-free child-like approach to nursery duty which includes eating 5 animal cookies per each 1 he hands out and his habit of falling asleep in the middle of the floor while kids smear him with half chewed before mentioned animal cookies.

Now combine that with my PMS and you've created the perfect storm.

VBS started on Monday. By Tuesday we were researching marriage counselors.

So Tuesday evening as we made our way to the nursery and an older couple rushed past us to the information desk making wild gestures with their hands, my husband and I had opposite reactions. Mine was to keep walking. His was to see how quickly he could insert himself into the situation.....and then drag me along for the ride.

As I made my way past the table I heard him excitedly say, "My wife knows Sign Language!" (Crap. Be careful what you tell people.) Granted, I used to know Sign Language. But when you don't regularly use it, you get rusty. I'm certainly in no condition to be anyone's translator.

I turned around expecting to help this couple register their child for VBS and the man began slowly spelling with his fingers....E.M.E.R.S.O.N. "Got it. Your child's name is Emerson." He shook his head no and spelled it again. "Emerson." More frantic head shaking. Dude, I might be rusty, but you're spelling out Emerson and I'm PMS'ing so for the sake of my husband's personal safety for getting me involved in this train wreck, start saying something that makes sense.

He grabbed a pen and paper and wrote Emergency.

Let's note what we know so far. Two people rush into a church and they're both deaf. One of them misspells Emergency in his own language. That's 2 red flags in the mind of me the signing cynic.

So when he wrote that his mom is in the hospital in Toledo and he needs $20 for gas to get there, I mentally checked out. As I was saying, "No" I turned to see my husband pulling $7 out of his pocket. (Oh, good grief. And immediately a few hand gestures for my husband came to mind.)

The guy snatched it out of his hand and looked around to see if there were any other takers. Nope. Shocker. He was eventually led to one of our ministers, whose wife, it just so happened, had been recently warned of the fake deaf couple scam and he handled it appropriately.

Opposites attract. It's true. My husband will believe what you tell him. I probably won't. My husband takes anything at face value. I'll do research. My husband could win a social reality game show like Big Brother or Survivor. I would become the all-time hated contestant who everyone wants to physically harm after the first episode.

But somehow it works. We survived to the end of the week of Bible School and walked out of there last night still happily married.....me with gradually balancing hormones and him crusted with dried cracker slime and seven less dollars in his pocket, but still married.

(A friend, who shall remain nameless but whose initials are G.D recently requested that I occasionally include some "useful information" on my blog.....So, this is for you, G.D: Long John Silvers is offering a special: 8 piece family meal with one side and 12 hush puppies for $10....all served in a super-cool giant cardboard treasure chest with paper plates for your convenience. Extra crispies are no charge.)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

What happens in da family, stays in da family.

Every family has their crazy stories that are labeled "Confidential." Under no circumstances are these stories to be spoken of in public.

Our family is no different, with exception of one thing. I have a blog.

And some stories are too good to file away.

If you're familiar with my blog, you know that most of my Top Secret stories involve everyone else in my family. (Well, except for my 4th of July entry from last year when I ate 3 plates of jello jigglers that turned out to be jello shots and I showed up drunk to the church picnic. Whatever.)

But in the interest of fairness, (and threats from my family), I feel the need to share with you what happened in this house this morning.

We're preparing for a garage sale next weekend and everyone is busy going through their things they've outgrown. K showed up in my bedroom and asked, "Can I sell this?" There in her hand hung my 21 year old Prom Dress. And as any woman knows, you can't be in a room with an old sentimental dress and not try it on.

Boosted by my recent weight loss and a fresh pair of Spanx, I stripped off my clothes and stepped into the dress. When the zipper reached my butt region, we heard a little rip and she gasped. In my best "no big deal" voice, I explained that I just needed to put it over my head.

I got my beautiful strapless gown into place and I was one zip up my back away from running outside to surprise my husband who was my Prom date when I originally wore this dress. I excitedly told K to zip me up and then I stood there impatiently waiting. Five minutes and lots of panting and gasping later she said, "I'm not strong enough!" Good grief. It's just a zipper. What's the problem?

I ran upstairs and recruited A to help us out. Ten minutes and more grunting and A says, "Can you suck in?" (What the heck does she think I've been doing?!) I said, "I AM sucking in!!" She said, "Can you suck in your upper back?" (How in the h*** do you suck in upper back fat?) Finally, she said "We need Z's help." (Yes. Because this situation isn't quite humiliating enough.)

Enter the 17 year old boy who took one look at me and said, "Why?" So in the sweetest "mom voice" I could muster I said, "BECAUSE THIS FITS ME, D*** it!!!"

Three kids and ten minutes later, the zipper made it's way to the top. Just as Z yelled, "She's in!!" the zipper ripped from the bottom and left a gaping hole in the middle of my back. The teenagers burst out laughing and ran from the room, but K stuck around to comfort me as I stared at myself in the full length mirror. She patted my back and said, "It would have been fine if you hadn't breathed."

I'll keep that in mind next time.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

To the man!


This weekend is all about the man.

The man who bought me a super-sized box of Captain Crunch peanut butter balls for Mother's Day.

The man who tried to kill a raccoon in our garage with a bow and arrow but shot through our refrigerator instead.

The man who tries to scare the neighbor's peacock up the road when he gets loose to "teach him a lesson."

The man who ordered the "Shocking Roulette Game" and then played it with our kids. (Our toddler "won" the first two rounds.)

The man who DJ'd the church youth dance and introduced them to such artists as Van Halen, Bon Jovi, and Def Leopard.

The man who wouldn't stop posing with his shirt pulled up beside the Girls Gone Wild tour bus at a gas station on our way to Hilton Head.

The man who would get sucked into the 90 minute time share presentation by the guy standing outside the Hilton Head Walmart if I wasn't there to lure him to the van with a package of Oreos.

The man who faithfully watches Finding Bigfoot because "you should be prepared."

The man who wears his Ohio State baseball cap everywhere. EVERYWHERE.

The man who makes fun of me for watching this season's The Bachelorette, but then asked me where Bentley was last week.

The man who hit 2 triples during our co-ed softball game last week and then accused me of arranging that with the other team as part of a "cruel fitness program."

The man who used clothes hangers, wires and the car battery to electrify the ground, thus sending fishing worms to the surface for bait. (Two worms fell for it....or just came to the surface out of morbid curiosity.)

The man who willingly pulls over to allow our toddler (or me) to relieve ourselves along the side of the highway and doesn't even roll his eyes when our toddler (or me) doesn't quite make it.

The man who knows how to have fun.

The man who has his wife and children at the top of his priority list.

The man who is slow to anger. (Unless it involves the Buckeyes or the DirectTv service tech named Roy.)

The man who baptized our daughter in the ocean at sunrise.

The man who swept me off my feet 21 years ago and hasn't put me down since.

The man who gives freely with no strings attached.

The man who loves UN-conditionally.

The man who makes me laugh (almost) every day.

The man who doesn't have a selfish bone in his body.

The man who shows me every day the kind of person I want to become.

So, here's to the man!!!

Happy Father's Day to the one we know we can trust and the one who knows how to love.

We love you.

I pray everyone has the man in their lives to celebrate this weekend. Enjoy!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Anonymous

Hi. I stalk read blogs. And when I feel really strongly about something, I've been known to leave comments. Occasionally, but not always, my comments drip with sarcasm in a style referred to as snark. I write fluent snark. You may or may not be familiar with some of my work. It's always signed "Anonymous." (Shhh...don't give away my secret.)

Granted, you're never completely anonymous. You're usually required to sign up for an account so someone somewhere can track you down if need be. That little "track you down" feature has paid off for me on several occasions when I've been contacted by websites to do some snarky writing.

So why do I hide my snark behind "Anonymous?" Because besides my sarcasm, I'm also pretty well known for my fear of people. Fear of judgement. Fear of hostility. Fear of conflict. Ultimately, fear of rejection. I know what it all feels like. Family, friends or strangers....fear feels the same. So I hide behind my anonymous mask.

I've shared before how Facebook was my first step out of hiding. My blog was my second. Both leave me feeling transparent and vulnerable, but both have helped me successfully break free from the chains of fear that used to bind me so tightly. Great risk = Great reward. So true.

I've come a long way on my road to freedom. I've actually never felt more free in my entire life and that feels....well, free! So am I ready to step out from behind "Anonymous?" Nope. Which brings me to what happened today.....

I clicked onto one of my favorite blog sites to find a post about her experience in a department store and a detailed account of how she witnessed another mother behaving with her children. It was told in a humorous way and wrapped up with self reflection of how we mother our children. It was funny and thought provoking. I loved it. So I was completely shocked to scroll down to find this woman being ripped to shreds and being accused of everything from "being judgmental" to "ignoring abuse." Some of the comments were getting pretty nasty, especially by one particular poster who simply referred to herself (himself?) as "Roomthreeseventeen." (Yikes. If you were trying to choose a code name that sent chills of fear up everyone's spine, congratulations. You did it.)

I jumped to my blog friend's defense with a comment laced with some of my best snark that I save for truly special occasions and clicked Enter. To my shock and horror that inflicted immediate stomach cramps and four subsequent trips to the bathroom, my full name appeared under my post. And I couldn't delete it. Holy crap. (No pun intended.) Suddenly my mind was filled with images of the faceless Roomthreeseventeen, dressed in a dark hooded robe, finding my house and ending the life of the Anonymous Queen of Snark and nobody would know where to find her (him?) because she (he?) was smart enough to list only the number of the room of the dungeon where she (he?) sleeps.

Cut me some slack, drama runs deep here.

Two hours later, I'd contacted and heard back from my blog friend. My super snarky comment was deleted, hopefully before the armed and dangerous Roomthreeseventeen got a taste of my gift and I can happily return to my life as Anonymous.....and always remember to set my security alarm at night for the rest of my snarky life.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Happy Mother's Day


This morning I read an article by Andrew McGinn that made my day. Not only do I also hate all things Caillou, but I finally found someone else willing to admit to stepping outside of the "How to raise an emotionally healthy and mentally stable child" box that someone, somewhere decided exists.

I'll admit, when our oldest child Z was born, I had every intention to conform to that box. Not only would he never be permitted to watch shows that society deemed "violent" but this son of mine would never be permitted to play with toy guns, either. He would grow up to be a peaceful gentleman who treated his younger sisters with nothing but kindness and the utmost respect. From my lips to God's ears....

Three years after he was born, as I proudly wore my invisible "Self-Righteous-Mother-of-the-Year" award on my forehead for all to see, I was stunned to walk into our playroom to find that he'd lathered rubber cement all over his 1-year old sister's head and was holding her to the wall until she dried. Holy crap.

Not long after that, while I was giving them baths, this "gunless-full-of-peace-and-love-future-gentleman" of mine began making gun shooting noises while aiming his man-part around the bathroom. The next day we went to the dollar store and stocked up on plastic toy guns.

From that day forward we took a more relaxed approach to parenting. It didn't take us long to become "those" parents who people place bets on how soon their kids will need therapy.

When he was 5, his favorite movie was Con-Air. (It still is.) When he was 7 and I knew he was telling me a lie, I wrapped the computer mouse around his hand, told him it was a lie-detector, and then I made it beep every time he answered. When he was 8, we realized we didn't know where he was and found him dangling by his shirt on our privacy fence gate. When he was 9, I attempted to home-school him "for his own emotional protection from the bad influences of public school." One day we got a bill from our cable company. Z, who was a fan of Play Station and Game Boy thought he hit the jackpot and found a television station that combined the two.....Playboy. We sent him back to school.

Clearly, we'd screwed up with this "How to raise a stable child" philosophy.....or is it that very philosophy that is screwing us up? Suddenly we live in a society where every child has to receive a ribbon whether they actually win or not for fear of scarring their little hearts. We now live in a world where to discipline a child is to strip them of their rights. Suddenly, it's considered emotional abuse to set standards for your children and then expect them to follow through.

Good grief. I'll take our way, thank you very much. And the proof is in the young adults we're witnessing our children become. A is 15 and K is 11 and they're growing into the sweetest and most respectful young ladies you'd ever meet. Z, at 17, is charming, funny and extremely responsible. (Well, he did say "balls" during his National Honor Society speech and got put on probation, but whatever.) And did I mention they're all on the Honor Roll? (No thanks to me, I assure you.)

The jury's still out on C, who's 4, but we have high hopes. Granted, she's addicted to Laverne & Shirley reruns, wants to work at Shotz Brewery when she grows up, enjoys staying up till 3am, sleeping till noon everyday and she begins each day with a cup of coffee. So far so good, wouldn't you say?

So I'm going to enjoy a guilt-free Mother's Day because why shouldn't I? I'm imperfect, I screw up, I have regrets, I make questionable choices and there are many areas I could and should improve on. But, God has blessed me with 4 amazing children, who I love wholeheartedly and unconditionally and who are "emotionally healthy and mentally stable" despite my parenting techniques. Wheew!

Happy Mother's Day to all those moms who do their best and trust God for the rest!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

It's gravy, baby.

Please indulge me for a moment as I shamelessly brag casually mention something about myself. I can make gravy. And it tastes goooooooood.

Forgive me for that little lapse in humility, but after the week I had, I think you'll understand.

It started with a 3am visit from from the police because my husband's bank card didn't register in the gas pump and the cashier called and reported him as a "drive-off." Clearly a misunderstanding that we rectified with the gas station immediately, but still disconcerting to see your husband's picture via gas station camera along with license plate number and car description hanging on the "most wanted" wall behind the cash register, ya know? Well, maybe you don't. Just take my word for it then.

The week ended with a disastrous attempt at an Easter illustration with my kids called "Empty Tomb Cookies" that resulted in inappropriate nut jokes, a yolk in the egg-white batter, fighting over masking tape, 15 piles of tinted yellow globs of "Full Tomb Cookies" and a spanked toddler. None of which is a reflection on the Empty Tomb Cookies. I take full responsibility for our buffoonery. This is why we don't do crafts.

But on Good Friday, I made gravy. (Didn't sound like a big deal until it's up against mention of the police, gas station mug shots and spankings over Easter crafts, huh?)

Gravy was always my holiday nemesis. I pride myself on the ability to put together a yummy feast, but always had to ask guests to come early and whip up some gravy. Humiliating. But Good Friday, we had Z's girlfriend and A's boyfriend over for a Thanksgiving lunch with the extended family coming over later that evening for dessert, snacks, egg coloring, and games. That left me on gravy detail.

Enter Google. I printed off the first one where I recognized all the ingredients and went to work. I ran into one minor snafu when I realized I have no Poultry Seasoning. What to do? Skip it. I ended up with an amazing, creamy, delicious, lump-less, poultry-seasoning-less, gravy that makes my mouth water just remembering it.

It's almost enough to make me forget what happened the night before when I was trying to avoid stuffing hundreds of plastic eggs with candy. I told the kids we'd hunt empty eggs instead as a symbol of the empty tomb on Easter. The kids agreed. My husband claimed I "ruined Easter" and stormed from the room.

So let's talk about the gravy again.....aaahhhh.....the simple pleasures in life, am I right?

Gravy for Dummies
  • 5 cups of turkey stock with pan drippings
  • 1 can of condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning (clearly optional)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup flour
  1. Bring the turkey stock to a boil in a large saucepan.
  2. Stir in soup and all the spices. Reduce heat to low and simmer
  3. Warm the milk in the microwave and whisk in the flour with a fork until smooth.
  4. Return the gravy to a boil and gradually stir in the milk mixture, stirring constantly.
  5. Continue to cook while stirring for 1 minute or until thickened. It's gravy, baby.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Save it.

Crafts, Scrap Booking, Parent-Teacher Conferences, bedtime stories that aren't scary......a little starter list of "mom" activities I suck at. Please add coupons to the list.

Between my tendency to be frugal and my obsession with reality shows, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I stumbled onto the show called 'Extreme Couponing.' I didn't actually watch it, mind you, I just heard the title and put 2 and 2 together. (Research isn't my strong suit.)

I grabbed the giant stack of Sunday papers beside the fireplace and went to work. Before long I had an impressive little pile neatly stacked on top of my grocery list. To add to that, I went on-line and spent 2 hours looking up store ads, noting and comparing the sales of 2 different stores. I was downright giddy with the excitement of my new venture that would surely qualify me for the list of "Good stay at home moms."

My husband always comes grocery shopping with me. He does all the math in his head and tells me which is the better deal. I push the cart, keep track of the list and replace all the junk food to their shelves when his back is turned. It's a good system.

Last night was my coupon debut. Store #1. First stop: Laundry Detergent. I showed my husband the name brand item on sale and the coupon and asked him to compare it to the off-brand we normally buy and tell me how much money I just saved him....(insert Final Jeopardy music as he silently tallied numbers in his head while I stood there beaming).....he finally said, "A penny." (I came this close to bursting into tears, throwing my envelope of coupons on the floor and running to the car.....thank goodness I'm not dramatic or anything.)

An hour and a half later, we were at the check-out and my excitement was back. While my husband loaded up the conveyor belt, I stood with my coupons and excitedly repeated to the cashier that I had coupons until he finally responded. (I think I know how a toddler feels now. We just want responded to, okay?) Grand total saved at store #1: 5 bucks. (Insert profanity of choice here.)

Next stop: Dinner at Fridays. When our bill came to $30, my supportive husband pointed out that it actually only cost us $25 thanks to my couponing. That was a nice way of looking at it.

Off to store #2 where we immediately got into an argument in the toothpaste isle over whether the coupon was for a four ounce tube or a forty ounce tube. It got ugly. And for future reference, there is no such thing as a 40 oz tube of toothpaste. Now we know.

Two hours later, we were finally ready to check-out and bring this nightmare to an end. My husband asked if I could handle checking out by myself while he went to the bathroom. (Give me some credit....of course I can.) But when neither the cashier nor myself could figure out the individual cost of a package of cheese that was 3 for $5, I lay my head on the handle of my cart and said, "I give up."

The nice woman behind me came to my rescue. I turned to thank her and noticed her super-cool coupon organizer complete with built in calculator. I'm betting her name is on the "Good stay at home mom list" and that her bedtime stories don't scare her toddler. Whatever. Grand total saved at store #2: 7 bucks. (Gritting teeth so as not to cuss in front of Mrs. Cleaver behind me.)

I finished checking out and stopped outside the bathrooms to wait for my husband. I didn't think much of the small crowd of women gathered there until my husband casually strolled out of the Womens Restroom. Wow. Let's just blame the coupons, shall we?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Operation Basic Needs


Last fall, a friend who works at an orphanage in Mexico asked if we'd like to 'adopt' a brother & sister to send Christmas gifts to. We accepted and she emailed us their Christmas wish list. As the mother of 4 kids who has seen her fair share of Christmas wish lists, I was shocked to see some of the items these two children in Mexico had on theirs. Shampoo. Feminine hygiene products. Soap. Basic needs. And my heart broke.

I contacted my friend and she explained that although the orphanage provides a limited supply of hygiene products, the kids see it as a luxury to have their own. And my heart broke again. Not once have any of my children looked at a bottle of shampoo and considered it a luxury. They have no idea how good they have it.

We decided to follow through with this brother & sister by sending them a care box of basic needs every 4 months. As April approached and I purchased the supplies, I began to wonder how it could be possible for every child (or sibling group) to receive a care box of basic needs a few times a year.....and then I became overwhelmed at the prospect and dismissed it.

That Sunday, our pastor preached a sermon about the power of the Holy Spirit. He compared it to the power of a Lamborghini. He challenged us to stop trying to manually control everything and to start tapping into the power that God has provided. And the basic needs idea came to mind again and I contacted my friend at the orphanage.

In all honesty, I was secretly hoping she'd reply that it wasn't a good idea. That there's not really a need for that. Basically, I wanted off the hook. But she jumped on it. (Oh no.) And I began to panic. I was blow drying my hair and wondering what I'd just gotten myself into when I felt God speak to me. (He used to talk to me when I mowed the grass but when Ron revoked my mowing privileges, God resorted to cornering me while I blow dry my hair. And unfortunately, He's not usually saying "Great job down there!" but rather picking away at an area of my heart that needs to change.)

I felt God tell me to get out His way. My part in this became very clear. All I need to do is spread the word. And then I'm going to get out of His way and watch Him move.

So here it goes. There is an orphanage in Mexico who has a total (at this time) of 78 orphans. (This is where I would be panicking again, if not for access to my "Lamborghini.") Twenty sibling groups and twenty-one independent children. I believe that every one of these children should have access to their own supply of basic needs.

My intent for this blog entry isn't to guilt, pressure or even ask anything of anyone. I'm simply spreading the word. I'm also starting a Facebook Page called "Operation Basic Needs." All I ask is that if God nudges you in any way to join us in this ministry, could you please answer by contacting me? Let me know if you have questions or would like to 'adopt' a child or sibling group to send a care box to and I'll set you up with all the information. And if you feel led, could you help me spread the word? Also, please feel free to contact me if you'd like to help but cost is an issue. Thank you!

The ways you can contact me are:
1. Leave a comment through this blog with your email address or contact information. (It won't be published.)
2. Contact me through the "Operation Basic Needs" Facebook page and I'll message you.
3. Message me through my Facebook page for those who are on my friend list.
4. For those who have my email or phone, please feel free to contact me that way as well.

'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me.' (Matthew 25:40)

Some answers to some questions I've received:
1. How much does shipping cost? (The post office offers flat rate shipping ranging in price from $4.95 - $14.95. The basic needs for one child can typically fit into the $4.95 packaging. No weight limit.)

2. What are some of the basic needs? (The needs can vary depending on the gender and the age of the child but the basic hygiene needs are shampoo, lotion, soap, toothpaste, & toothbrush. I send out a list of other ideas and shipping info when I match you up. Please feel free to specify an age, gender, single child or sibling group if you have a preference!)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Redneck road trip

On the heels of the NHS scandal of 2011, amidst my email and voice mail being flooded with contact from local media outlets seeking our comment, it seemed like a really good time to leave the state. (God's timing? Probably.) Although we felt bad for the poor souls who were in charge of keeping an eye on our house while we were gone. Nothing like pissing a bunch of people off right before we hand over our keys to our friends. (Good luck!)

So last Friday afternoon we squealed calmly pulled out of our driveway and headed south. It was a treat to finally be able to turn off the van heater in Tennessee and by Georgia it was necessary to turn on the air conditioner. But we noticed an odd smell that went away when we turned the air conditioner off. We turned it on again. Bad smell. Turned it off again. Smell goes away. We repeated this cycle several times until we finally pulled into a McDonalds in Georgia to investigate. I'll spare you the gory details and the dramatic scene that accompanied the moment we all looked over the edge of the hood to discover our barn cat who'd been missing for a few days. (Please insert moment of silence on behalf of 'Willis' here.)

Well so far we were off to a great start. Besides a mangled barn cat who'd now joined us on our trip, our 4-year old stayed wide awake and chatting the first 12 hours of the drive, there was massive amounts of construction in Georgia and an idiot trying to take our order at the McDonalds on exit 18 who should drop to her knees and give thanks that my husband physically blocked me from climbing through her drive-thru window to kick her a** at 5am on March 19th. I'd reached my breaking point. I'm only human.

After a mere 18 hours in the van, we arrived at our destination. We had now descended on the retirement community where my in-laws spend their winters. Wow, was that community of retirees in for a treat, or what? We passed through the gate and were greeted by the speed limit sign. (14.9 mph, people.) We no sooner passed the sign when a woman driving an SUV ran into a gentleman riding his bike. (She must have been going 15. See why there are rules?) He was okay, but by the looks of things when he rode away, his bike had seen better days.

After settling in, the first stop was the community pool. Having never stayed in a retirement community before, we were slightly stunned to find the pool dotted with retirees who simply floated on noodles. No movement. No swimming. No waves. I felt like I'd just stumbled onto the set of "Cocoon." But by the looks on their faces, they were equally as stunned to see my large freshly sun blocked and bathing suit clad family heading their direction. (Go ahead, babe....show em your famous cannon ball.)

All in all, it was a really wonderful week. Everyone was friendly and welcomed our crazy family with open arms. They even tolerated us at the pool.....huddled together at the opposite end of wherever we were, but tolerated us nonetheless. Several of my in-laws neighbors loaned us their bikes to use while we were there. (We were careful to abide by the 14.9 mph rule, lest we end up with another scandal on our hands.) When I tried out my roller blades and my ankles got tired and I ended up having to be pulled on the back of Z's bike for 2 miles, everyone politely got out of our way as quickly as they could without complaint.

They'd recently voted to allow the hot tub to remain open 24 hours. Our family utilized that new luxury a lot. Probably not too surprising to hear that we were the only ones ever up there after midnight. Could be because you have to brave the dark alligator infested lake to get to the hot tub or it could have been because the first night C stepped into that hot water, she abruptly squatted and peed in it. Either way, we had the place to ourselves.

Too bad the pee trick didn't work at the ocean. Three of my family members openly peed in those waters, but the spring breakers were undeterred. Thankfully we had a high bouncing water ball as back-up and people quickly realized they didn't want to be anywhere near my family at the beach.

But the beaches were beautiful and we spent an amazing week with lots of extended family and it was awesome. We did lots of fun activities, ate tons of great food and came away with unbelievable tans.

The drive back home went much smoother than the drive down there. And thanks to my husband's rage while listening to the Buckeyes get beat on the radio, we made it through Georgia in record time.

And when we returned, we found our house intact and everything exactly as we left it.....minus one barn cat, of course.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

UPDATE


Wow! So much has happened over the past 48 hours. Z was given the date for a hearing for a time when we will be on vacation and he couldn't attend to defend himself. (Not cool.) When he requested a new hearing date, the unprofessional teacher refused. All the while, no one from the school contacted my husband or myself and we're his parents! And he's a minor! What the heck is going on around here?!?

So today was spent making phone calls and sending emails. As it turns out, we weren't the only ones making phone calls and sending emails on Z's behalf.

I'm extremely pleased to tell you we think it's over. We finally received a phone call from the principal tonight around 8:45! I have no idea what finally brought him to the point of contacting us. It could have been the massive amounts of support for Z by all of you wonderful people! Thank You! Could have been some awesome pro-active friends like you who actually sent letters! Thank You! It could have been the 'Keep Z in NHS fan page' that quickly racked up 129 (and still counting) followers. Or it could have been our scheduled interview with Channel 2 news tomorrow morning, thanks to a great friend who emailed them on our behalf! Thank You!

But the bottom line is; he dismissed the hearing and Z will be on a short probation. We'll take it! He might also have to write a letter stating that he didn't intend to offend anyone. We'll take that too! Because, truly, he didn't mean to offend anyone. He and I are meeting with the principal tomorrow morning where I plan on addressing the inappropriate behavior of some of the adults involved and I expect that to go very well. If not, you all will be the first to know.

We can't thank all of you enough! The outpouring of support, offers from people to represent him at his hearing, a friend who met with a lawyer on Z's behalf, the National Branch of the National Honor Society taking our case, and Channel 2 for responding so quickly to get to the bottom of this. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

We have a wonderful support system. Z has an amazing group of friends and has even made a lot of new friends from the other schools that night who have jumped on his support team. You're all awesome!

We couldn't be more proud of Z and the way he's handled himself through this entire ordeal. From his amazing speech, the impressive tumbling and his calm demeanor as he learned the art of defending his rights. Life experience is the best teacher of all.

And never forget: "We only fight when we're provoked." ~as spoken by Z in his speech~

Thanks again!

Love you all,

~Momma~

Here's the link to the video of his speech for anyone who hasn't had the pleasure of seeing it yet:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nr0l6v30LXU

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

N.H.S. (No Humor Society)

Our family + a stuffy banquet full of speeches = The perfect storm.

Add to that the fact that our 17 year old son was required to deliver one of those speeches and you've got potential for an evening that will go down in history.

As mentioned a few entries ago, Z made the National Honor Society exactly one month ago today. On top of that, he was chosen as one of 3 candidates to run for Vice President of the county wide chapter.

For the past several days, he's been busy working on a speech. My husband and I encouraged him to be himself and show his individuality by adding some humor. Yesterday at school he found out that the English teacher had encouraged the other 2 candidates to do the same and it confirmed we were on the right track.

Last night was the banquet. Z's girlfriend and I attended while my husband stayed home with our daughters. We were excited to be at our very first NHS banquet. We sat with a family who was attending their 3rd NHS banquet and they filled us in on how brutally boring the evening would be. Oh great. But we found out a useful tidbit of information: the kids in the NHS are the ones who vote. Good to know. The humor route should be a hit.

After dinner the families were dismissed into the auditorium. First up to give speeches were the 3 candidates for President. It was clear that all 3 were given the same advice of adding humor and the crowd politely laughed their support for all 3 students.

Next up, the 3 candidates for Vice President. As Z walked by me to take the stage, I reached out and took his hand and told him to go for it. And he did. He was the 2nd presenter and the only boy of the group. The girl before him took the serious approach and stood up there and read off her qualifications and the crowd politely applauded. Z got up and openly admitted that the girl's qualifications would be hard to compete with, therefore as a cook at Pizza Hut, he campaign promised some extra toppings on the pizzas of the kids who secured him their votes. It was cute and the crowd laughed their approval. Then he listed off a few of his accomplishments while adding a few more humorous comments and the crowd laughed their approval each time.

Something you might want to know about our family: If you laugh your approval, we'll keep going and we might suddenly take it to a new level. Be ready for it.

Then he listed his sports and activities and he ended with his ability to juggle.....and then he said, "Don't worry. I've been instructed not to play with my balls on stage." And the crowd roared and applauded the first kid in the history of NHS to mention his balls on stage. (His juggling balls, people. Get your minds out of the gutter.) And their approval went on for quite a long time. To the point where you could barely hear his closing remark, which was, "I'm not standing up here asking for you to vote for me, I'm simply asking you not to vote for them" as he motioned toward his opponents. And the auditorium went wild as my son exited the stage and kids and parents gave him high fives on the way back to his seat. He became an instant celebrity and when the kids began marking their ballots without yet hearing from the final candidate, I knew he'd just nailed himself the position of Vice President.

The rest of the evening I couldn't stop beaming with pride at this son of mine who used to be so shy that the thought of speaking to a large crowd would have never even been an option a couple of years ago. The thought of putting himself out there in a position to be judged by a group of his peers would have never happened.

Yet he's done it twice in the period of a month. The first time was during a church event when he hijacked the microphone and asked his girlfriend to prom and to accept his class ring in front of about 400 people. (Thankfully she said yes to both.) And last night he stood in front of an auditorium full of people he'd never met and delivered a fantastic speech complete with comedic timing. Yes, I was proud.

And as an added bonus, when his name was called to light his candle and receive his membership card, he did a round-off back-hand-spring across the stage. And the crowd woke up yet again.

When it came time to 'tap' the new Vice President everyone was on the edge of their seats to watch the inevitable. Everyone knew who was about to be tapped. So when the girl who delivered the first speech was tapped, everyone sat in stunned silence. Even the girl who had just been tapped. (As it turns out, she voted for Z too.)

Afterward, Z was surrounded by parents who were thanking him for making what is a notoriously brutal evening something to talk about and by all the kids who were confused because they'd voted for him. Clearly, there is some question about the voting system here. Obviously, there are powers that be who can override the decision of the very NHS members who are voting on who they want to represent them. Don't get me wrong, it's not that Z was better qualified than anyone else or that we're not happy for the girl who ended up winning.But last night, the people spoke and 'someone' took away their voice because 'someone' didn't like the final result. Nice message you're sending to the next generation.

To make matters worse, on our way out, Z approached his 2 teachers. Not only did they glare and refuse to speak to him, but one of them pointed and told him to get out. Not only was that horribly unprofessional, but a poor representation of someone involved in the National Honor Society.

Did he say balls on stage? Yes. Did he choose a different method to cross the stage to receive his card? Yes. Did he bring some life to what was otherwise a boring event much to the crowd's approval? Yes. And did he get penalized for it? Absolutely.

We're not sure what today will hold for him at school. Will he be reprimanded? Will he be kicked out of the NHS? Quite possibly. (Oh well, it was a good month while it lasted.) But the bottom line is, Z did exactly what was asked of him. He put himself out there, showing humor, individuality, and leadership. And that's pretty 'Honor'-able by our standard.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Kinda tired

Life is exhausting.

When I referred to myself as 'drained' in 2 separate emails to friends today, I realized that I'm tired. On every level. I'm just kinda tired.

Physically: I'm kinda tired of always wanting to lose 15 more pounds. I've lost 10 since Christmas. Anyone who can do 2nd grade math would think that I want to lose 5 more. But I don't. I want to lose 15. I'm kinda tired of portioning out my Brummel & Brown butter that's not really butter but rather yogurt in a margarine tub (45 calories per tbs) as I spread it onto one slice of toast made with Aunt Millie's Healthy Goodness bread (35 calories per slice) and topped with sugar-free strawberry preserves (10 calories per tbs). And now that I mention it, I'm kinda tired of counting calories. I'm not even gonna mention how tired I am of exercising. Physically, I'm just kinda tired.

Emotionally: I'm kinda tired of feeling like I never quite measure up to the expectations of others. I'm kinda tired of treading lightly for fear of unknowingly falling short of meeting a need. I'm tired of knowing that, although there are 2 sides to every story, mine will always be the un-told version simply because I've come to despise conflict. And I'm kinda tired of feeling obligated to defend decisions we make and allowing the misery of others to taint my joy. Emotionally, I'm just kinda tired.

Spiritually: I'm kinda tired of feeling like I've finally broken free from an area of bondage, only to come face to face with the next obstacle that God wants me to overcome. I'm tired of the 'high road.' The road where regardless of how you're being treated by others, you're expected to keep a loving smile on your face and ignore the pain as you repeatedly turn cheek after cheek, for fear of damage to my testimony should I ever defend myself. And I'm really tired of every single verse in the Bible applying to me! Change here, grow here, adjust here and while you're at it, hold your tongue throughout the process. Spiritually, I'm just kinda tired.

So tired, in fact, that lately I seem unable to find any words to pray about the worries and situations that are making me so tired.

Okay, I'll stop before I cross over into a pity party or heaven forbid shift into 'martyr-mode'.....my deepest apologies if I've already gone there.

But today I'm taking a little break. Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually. Fear not, I haven't gone off course. Tomorrow I'll joyfully measure out my fake butter and spread it onto my tiny piece of grainy bread and know that it'll be worth it when I finally lose those 15 pounds. Tomorrow I'll remember that it doesn't matter what others think or say about me or even how they treat me because there's only One I answer to. Tomorrow I'll turn my cheek with the knowledge that my testimony is worth protecting at all costs. Tomorrow I'll remember that it's my actions I'll answer for and that God knows both sides to every story and tomorrow that will be enough for me. Tomorrow I'm gonna pick up my Bible and covet each and every verse that applies to me, because it'll remind me that my heavenly Father loves me too much to ever give up on me or to allow me to stop growing because He truly wants what's best for me. And tomorrow I'll be back on my knees and praising my Father who knows my thoughts and my heart regardless of whether any words come out of my mouth. Tomorrow.

I'm not off my path. It's just that today I'm gonna sit here and rest for awhile. Because I'm just kinda tired.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Just in case you wanted my opinion: My review of P90X

It's all the rage. Everybody is talking about it, and if Facebook is any indication, everybody is doing it.

P90X: The cure-all for that extra weight. And as it just so happens, I've got that extra weight.

So a friend burned me off a copy of P90X. So I ordered P90X, paying full price plus shipping and handling.

According to the directions, you need to own a set of dumbbells and a pull-up bar. Dumbbells, no problem. Pull-up bar?!? Yeah, sure. Suddenly this sounded like a humiliating YouTube moment just waiting to happen.

Last night was my official P90X debut. My husband was doing it with me so he read off our choices. "How bout Syngergistics?" (wth?) "Wanna do Ab-Ripper?" (Um, let's skip anything that says 'brutal' right on the front.) "There's Yoga." (Suddenly I pictured my husband and I side by side stuck in a Lotus pose and the emergency squad's inevitable involvement.) We ended up settling on Kenpo X...aka; kick boxing.

Here's a little tidbit of info you should know about me when it comes to exercise. I don't do the warm-up and I don't do the cool-down. Therefore, I sat on the couch watching my husband go through the warm-up. (If I never again see him do a 'Rocking Prayer Squat' I'll be forever grateful.)

I jumped in for the actual workout, dressed in my exercise pants and matching sports bra. (I've discovered when working out in front of my husband, if I'm dressed in the most humiliating attire possible, I keep my stomach in a continual 'sucked in' position.)

The first thing I noticed was the little timer in the bottom corner of the screen acting as a constant reminder that you're nowhere near done. I also took note of the fact that the guy doesn't do a whole lot of explaining. He tells you what to do and then you're expected to do it. As a newcomer, it's kind of overwhelming to realize they're almost done by the time I get the moves down. (My extensive cheer leading past served no purpose here.) And oddly enough, he has no count down rhythm. Instead of the "5, 4, 3, 2, 1 begin" thing I've grown accustomed to, he would say, "5-4" (pause) "3-2" (pause) "Begin!" Or sometimes he would switch it up and say, "5-4-3" (pause) "2-1" (pause).....and then just start doing it. (I can't work under those conditions.)

Eventually my observation turned to the red headed woman on the screen, who was built like the woman on the Terminator movies and seemed to share the same personality. And finally, I couldn't get past the guy's soothing voice while saying borderline creepy things such as "Ooohhhh, I feel that in fantastic places." (Yikes.)

Okay, so clearly my mind was wandering, but I'm pretty sure that was just a survival technique to get me through it. Because the whole time my brain was thinking "that's what she said," my body was kicking, punching, squatting, blocking, jogging in place, doing jumping jacks and invisible jump rope. (fyi: I'm pretty skilled with the invisible jump rope. Add that to my resume.)

All in all, I grade it an 'A.' Granted, there were a couple of things I didn't care for, but I don't think I can hold the annoying sounds of my back fat smacking together or the fact that my dog bit my ankle when she walked into one my kicks against the exercise program itself.

The truth is, last night I had my a** handed to me by P90X. Let's hope eventually it does something with my back fat.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Go Fish

The good news: I finally lost the 9 lbs I gained over Binge-mas. (Um, I mean Christmas.)

The bad news: I've hit the dreaded plateau. You know, that place where regardless of how little you eat or how many hours you bounce along on the elliptical machine, you still find yourself flipping the bird to the scale each morning. (Not that I've done that. Ahem.)

While grocery shopping on Monday, I noticed they had packages of frozen Tilapia fillets on sale. The only fish I'm familiar with comes in a giant cardboard treasure chest surrounded with hush puppies and extra deep fried crispies. (Helloooooo Long John Silvers....but I'm pretty sure that doesn't qualify as fish.)

What I do know, is that according to Bob-The-Biggest-Loser-Trainer, fish is great for losing weight. And since I can't pass on a good sale, I grabbed a couple of packages. When I got home I realized I have no idea what to do with frozen Tilapia fillets. I felt like a contestant on 'Chopped' and I'd just opened my mystery basket. (Me likes me reality shows.) I Googled a few, but I prefer getting recipes from people I trust.

Enter Facebook. I sent out a plea stating that I was making Tilapia fillets for dinner and I asked for some recipes and/or tips on cooking them. I ended up with 21 comments. The first few were recipes and tips. And somewhere along the way, things went downhill and fast. It started when someone informed me that Tilapia are "bottom feeders." Let's state the obvious; nothing about that sounds appetizing. Good to know, but I'd already bought the Tilapia. Then there was mention of 'farm raised' vs. 'fresh caught.' Now I have to worry about where they spent their formative years?!? Bob never mentions background checks. And I can only assume, at the price I paid, mine arrived via wagon straight from the farm. Yikes.

Shortly after that, a friend posted a couple of links. I refrained from clicking on them when I noticed the words "tilapia-eat-poop-really" in one of the titles and I stopped reading any further, clicked out of Facebook and turned off my computer. It was time to cook dinner.

I stood by the counter looking down at my poop-filled-bottom-feeding-farm-raised-hillbilly-tilapia fillet and couldn't seem to find my appetite. I baptized it in some buttermilk, dredged it in bread crumbs and baked it in the oven in hopes that anything from it's horrendous past would be disintegrated by the heat.

In all honesty, it tasted pretty good and I'm sure that septic smell was strictly my imagination. Now I'm left with 7 Tilapia fillets in my freezer. I'll eat them....eventually.

I'd like to try some new recipes. I think I'll stick to Google and take my chances. Turns out my Facebook friends are way too highly informed.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Time for another Peek at a Week

It's been a busy 7 days around here and for those who know us well, or read this blog, that's usually not a good sign. But I'm pleased to report that this one wasn't all bad!

C and I had our annual adventure of taking our dog, Summer to the vet and it went rather well. Granted, in her perpetual state of excitement in the waiting room, she choked herself to the point of vomiting up a frothy pile of phlegm onto the shoe of a drug rep who was standing at the counter talking to the receptionist, but compared to last year when we got halfway there and realized we forgot the dog, I stopped at a friend's house on the way and got bit by her dog, and eventually ended up peeing on the side of her barn through circumstances I'd rather not explain, it would seem that this year's pile of froth on a guy's shoe equals success. I'll take it.

Our daughter A had an adventure of her own! She went out on her very first date Friday night! (I probably wouldn't be nearly as excited about that if not for the fact that we know this young man's family and love them dearly.) So we invited 'N' to join us for dinner before he and A headed out bowling. Shortly before he was due to arrive, he called and told her that he was lost. Turns out he was calling from our neighbor's driveway. He showed up with a lovely box of truffles for dessert. (SO SWEET!) We enjoyed getting to know him during dinner and then I opened the box of truffles. The box opened just fine. It was that sealed bag that became the problem and I scattered truffles all over N & A and even managed to catch one on fire when it landed in the candle. (Welcome to our family.) He took her on a 2nd date to Chuckie Cheese for Valentine's Day, so we must not have done too much damage. (Hmmm....he got lost getting to our house and took her to Chuckie Cheese to celebrate Valentine's Day....something about this boy is bringing back memories for me ;)

Now for Z's big news. I was sitting at A's basketball game when one of the faculty members motioned me down to her and said, "I need to talk to you." My response, "I paid to get in this time." (Yes, I've been known to take my seat before they set up the ticket table. Don't judge me. At $6 a pop, you would too.) But I digress....I followed the woman into her office where several other faculty members were waiting for me. Then one said, "We need to tell you something. Z made NHS." I drew a complete blank. All I could think was that he had managed to construct some sort of explosive device. So I said, "Oh crap. What's an NHS?" As it turns out, NHS stands for "National Honor Society." (I might suggest they stop using initials and possibly cut the drama, like, in half when calling a mother into an office.)

I spent the next several days keeping this secret from Z while watching him rush home from school each day, checking the answering machine for messages, and asking me if the school called. I'm glad I didn't have to lie. "Nope. The school didn't call." (They just ushered me through back corridors into a dark office where they made me think you may or may not be facing a felony, but you didn't ask that. So no, they didn't call.)

All the while we were making secret plans. I had a friend post a breakfast invitation on my FB wall for Z to see, thus explaining why I might be out of bed and dressed at that hour. (Thanks Misti!) My husband scheduled the day off, we pulled some major strings to get his girlfriend out of school that day and invited my aunt and uncle. Yesterday morning (the big day) my husband pretended to go to work as usual and drove around some back roads for awhile. Then everyone met in our driveway to form our caravan.

The main objectives: 1. Get there early. 2. Don't make a scene. (We should have known that was way too much to ask.)

We got stopped by a train and my husband refused to go the back way directly to the designated gym but chose to cut through the main high school parking lot not realizing they had the access to the other parking lot blocked off and we had to drive our obvious caravan right past the big entrance to the school. (Insert fight.)

Of course it all worked out in the end, as it usually does. We watched from the back of the dark CafeGymAtorium as he got tapped, made his way back to us grinning from ear to ear, gave us hugs and watched his face light up to a whole new level when my husband and I parted and he came face to face with his girlfriend who handed him the rose. Perfection.

So despite dog froth and flaming truffles, I have no complaints about these past 7 days. They were full of excitement and memories for our kids. Especially, C, who continues to talk about and demonstrate exactly what our dog did to the guy's shoe at the Vet's office. Nothing like the skits of a toddler to keep things fresh in everybody's memories.