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


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A (Birth) Day In The Life

With my birthday falling a couple weeks before Christmas, it's not uncommon for my gift of choice to be family portraits.  Therefore, it's also not uncommon for my birthday to end in disaster.

You might remember our attempt to include our gassy dogs back in 2002 that infamously went down in history as Family Photo DayRon swore off dog-inclusive family portraits after that one.

You might not know about our experience last year because it's taken me a year to muster the courage to go public with it.  A photographer rented out a space in Walmart for 'Antique Canvas Photos' and Ron decided to surprise me.  It was scheduled 2 weeks post-tummy tuck.  Still not able to move around well, I was hopped up on Vicodin and made the fateful decision to venture out of the house without my safety net...the velcro wrap that squeezed me tight.  There was snow on the ground and as we left the house Caymen said, "I won't get snow on my dress, will I?"  and I said, "Not if everything goes well."
Why didn't I just say "Yep.  Vomit too."  Sometimes it's like I've never met us before.

Ten minutes down the road, the gagging started for who knows why.  Ron pulled over and Zac started videoing, because he's been in this family long enough to know.  (click here to watch if you dare.) It began with Caymen jumping out of the van and falling down.  Snow on dress.  It went down hill from there.  Mind you, this video will win me no Mother Of The Year awards, but I've accepted it for what it is.  I'll blame my gag reflex and the Vicodin.  But if you're appalled by this and you read my blog at all, you've probably already decided that we shouldn't be friends anyway.  I can't blame you.

Anyhoo, if you listen closely, you'll hear Ron swear off family portraits.  Again. But unlike last time, we didn't turn around and go home, because you might've also heard Ron say, "I paid $20 for this!"

So we walked into Walmart; Ron disgusted, me slightly bent at the waist and moving slowly, Caymen permeating a foul odor in her now splotchy white dress and all of us disheveled.

But thanks to our inappropriate sense of humor, it all turned around when the photographer had Ron get down on his knees and then she turned to me and said, "Mom, you'll go down on dad here."  I think we maybe could've held it together but then Zac said, "I didn't realize it was those kinds of pictures"...and we lost it.

As it turns out, Antique-style canvas completely disguises vomit, but this photo has yet to be displayed in our home.
That brings us to this year.  Our family now includes a new son-in-law, daughter-in-law and grandson, so it only made sense that for my birthday, I would want family portraits.  When Ron groaned, I explained that the photographer would come to us this time.  We don't even have to leave the house.  That makes it fool-proof.

Aaaaand, since we're talking fool-proof, we may as well include the dogs.

There was no way I could've known they'd be covered in mud when we let them in from outside.

Merry Christmas...

 ...from what Ron promises to be our last family portrait session ever.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


The words have become synonymous.

Annual. Mammogram.

No biggie.  Because in my mind, this little ritual has absolutely nothing to do with my age, but rather the distant connection of breast cancer in my bloodline.  It's a completely non-age-related formality to put my mind at ease and that's all it is.  The fact that this became an annual tradition the year I turned 40 is neither here nor there.  I mean, come on, their first question to me when I check in is always "Do you have breast implants?"  Not yet, but that's so sweet of you to think I might.

This, my 3rd annual mammogram, pushing my 43rd year on this earth, was not a big deal.  I still run, I still Zumba, I still lift weights and still buy my clothes in the Kohl's Juniors Dept...I mean, really, nothing has changed.

Sure, half of my children got married and moved out this year, we have a grandson, our 3rd child is getting her driver's permit this week and our baby Caymen has an adult tooth pushing through her gums that we fear might be larger than her face, but other than that, no changeNadaEverythingSame.

I showed up to my mammogram last month with no dread...and no deodorant and no lotions and no perfume and no powder and no jewelry...and no dread.  I'm going to put on a gown blouse, a very nice lady is going to throw me the implants question, I'm going to feign surprise and humbly thank her for the compliment, then she's going to apologetically invade my personal space, place each boob between 2 pieces of plexiglass and flatten them beyond all recognition while I tap into my socially adequate side and attempt small talk, thus making this process way more awkward and uncomfortable for her than for me.  This ain't my first rodeo.

So when the technician came into the room and I couldn't tell if it was a woman or man, let's just say I was thrown off my game.  As quickly and as casually as I could, I glanced down to the name on the smock.   


Holy crap, I've stumbled into a Saturday Night Live skit, and the theme song started through my head.  While my mind sang, "a lot of people say what's that...it's Pat..." I realized I was being asked a question.

Um, could you repeat that?
Barely hiding frustration, Pat repeated, "Do you have regular menstrual periods?"

What. The. H***. Is that supposed to mean.

My socially inadequate side that is my comfort zone wanted to say, I'd like to ask you the same thing...aaaand, if I had my Victoria Secret bra on, these things would be standing 6 inches higher and you'd be asking me about my implants right now.  Boom.

But instead, I said, "OF COURSE I DO!" because I've been working on the Fruit of the Spirit of self control.  You're welcome, Pat.

What followed were 15 of the most awkward minutes of my life and that says a lot because I've had an awful lot of awkward minutes in this life.

If you know me at all, you know I was dying to ask.  I had to clamp my teeth on my tongue to keep not asking.  Fifteen long minutes, face to face, while I was man-(woman?)-handled when all I wanted to do was ask Pat one question.  The question.  I wanted to know.  I needed to know. How could I leave there without asking...


In silence, I let my boob roll off the plexiglass and smack back into place before jerking my gown closed.

Now if you'll excuse me, Pat.
I have a grandson next door in the birthing center.

Good day, sir...or whatever...

Friday, November 14, 2014


Yesterday marked the anniversary of my tummy tuck.  People still tell me their stories and ask about the procedure.  Ron says he's not sure which is scarier; how freely people ask to see my stomach or how willingly I show them.  I guess I don't hesitate because it still doesn't feel like me.  It's more like I'm just showing them my new ironing board.

So I thought a little anniversary update might be in order.

My final follow-up with the doctor was last January.  The nurse asked me if any stitches were coming out.  I told her those were all taken out in December.  She explained that sometimes internal stitches make their way to the surface and will begin to protrude through the incision.

Well, THAT'S not going to happen because Jesus loves me.

So when the doctor came in to look at my incision and said, "You've got stitches coming out,"  I questioned my entire existence.  Again.

Two nights later, while climbing out of the bath, (note that all bad tummy tuck related incidents happen after bathing), what appeared to be a knotted piece of white fishing wire had broken through my incision.  Enter Ron armed with a pair of tweezers, scissors and a manic grin on his face.  When he asked if I thought I would "actually pass out" if he just kept pulling the stitch until it broke off or if it would open my incision like a zipper, I explained that the future of our marriage rested solely on this moment.

I'm still trying to forgive him for the delay as he mentally weighed the risk and reward before quickly and uneventfully snipping it off while Caymen watched.  Oh the things our children see around here. 

But that was the last of my recovery drama.

The surgery had it's desired effect.  I'm still not miraculously a size 4, but I don't have to debate whether to button my jeans over or under my roll anymore, either.  I still face a life long battle of a love for food, an addiction with the scale and a compulsion to exercise, but it is what it is. 

I still don't have much feeling, especially around and below my belly button.  Which, speaking of the new belly button, nobody is allowed to touch it, pretend to touch it or talk about touching it, and Zac describes it as "That things not natural."  I consider that my penance for ruining the one God gave me.

And while we're on the topic of that's not natural, my emotional attachment to the velcro girdle lasted through May.  I thought I could do without it for a weekend away in April, but ended up in a full blown anxiety attack that finally ended when Ron wrapped a towel around my midsection and squeezed me.  That gesture speaks to his unconditional love for me, which makes it easier to overlook him saying, "You know you're a freak, right?" while we stood swaying in the hotel bathroom.

Side note; much to our surprise we were informed by our accountant that my procedure qualified as an out of pocket medical expense and we claimed it on our taxes, so I guess you could say it was tucks deductible. 

Barring any unforeseen freak of nature surprises, this should conclude the Tucks Series which works out well because I've run out of ways to inappropriately use the word tuck.

If my doctor noticed a decrease in business because of me, I offer my deepest apologies.  But if he happened to gain some new patients and would like to offer me a discount on a couple of implants, I'd be more than happy to blog that experience and do my best to rack him up some more.

Stay tuned, because just maybe, the breast is yet to come...
Your final look at my new stomach...unless of course you ask to see it, in which case, I'll apparently whip up my shirt and happily oblige.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Fright Night

It was a Saturday night and Ron took the older kids to see a horror movie and then through some haunted caves.  They dubbed it 'Fright Night' and I wanted nothing to do with it.

I planned a fun quiet evening for Caymen and myself at home.  An evening that unexpectedly kicked off with a dog fight.  Not a playful oh-look-how-cute-they-are-wrestling dog fight.  No no.  This started over a rawhide chew stick and ended with Quincy attached to Summer's face, drool flying, me screaming and throwing things at them while Caymen cried until it finally broke up and they bolted into separate rooms.

I broke the awkward silence that followed.
"Ok!  Who wants to make cookies?"

A fast food dinner of her choice eventually consoled her.  "Can we take the dogs, mommy?"
You've gotta be kidding me.  But seeing as she'd just witnessed me pelting them with 2 tv remotes and a cell phone, I caved.

I loudly asked the question that brings our dogs running.  "Who wants to go bye bye?!"

Apparently I'd been forgiven because they all showed up in the foyer.  While I gathered my purse and keys Caymen yelled, "Where's Summer's eye?!"  What the... I looked down to see her wagging her tail and excitedly looking up at me with one normal eye and what appeared to be a bloody hole where the other one should have been.

Oh my dear Lord, as I teetered between vomiting and passing out.  Blissfully unaware, Summer anxiously waited with Tia and Quincy for me to open the door and I suggested that maybe Summer should stay home.  Caymen scolded, "You already said bye bye.  You'll hurt her feelings if you don't take her now."

I'd have so much more power here if she hadn't seen my involvement in that dog fight.  "FINE!!"  Then I sealed the deal by opening the garage door and saying, "Load up."

That's when I realized Ron had taken the van and there sat his giant pick-up truck, the back end loaded down and piled high with stuff intended for the dump with Caymen's old motorized police car balanced on the very top of the junk pile.

I looked down at Caymen with pleading eyes but she firmly said, "I guess we're taking the truck."  Dammit.

Tia and Quincy sat in the front with me while Summer jumped into the back with Caymen.  As we pulled out of the driveway I heard Caymen say, "Just don't look at me, Summer."
Can't blame her there.

We miraculously made it the 20 miles to the Wendy's drive-thru without the police car flying off the back, placed our order and pulled around to the window where all hell broke loose.  Quincy began barking and trying to climb through the window toward the attendant, which prompted Tia's low threatening growl that combined with her 90 lb German Shepherd body is enough to scare the pee down someone's leg, and then Caymen started screaming from the back seat, "She's looking at me!!!" over and over while Summer sat on her lap.

These are the moments when we count it a success if nobody calls the police on us.

When Ron got home we compared evenings.
Him:  "Ours wasn't that scary."
Me:  "Ours was terrifying."

Update:  Summer went to the vet.  Turns out her eye isn't gone, but it either rolled into the back of her head or something about dogs having a 3rd eyelid.  I don't know.  The important thing is, the eye is back.  It's bloodshot, doesn't blink and it's always looking off to the right, but hey, it's back. 

In other dog news this week:  Tia awoke with explosive diarrhea in the middle of the night, I turned on the hose in our pitch dark yard to wash out her cage, a startled bird flew out from under the overhang, slapped me in the side of the face and I spent the next 48 hours cooking her giant servings of rice and force feeding her doses of Pepto Bismol.

But I digress.  That wasn't fright night.
Around here we call that Wednesday.

Happy Halloween
 From our freak show to yours.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Prepare yourself for a little insight into our personalities because I feel like this title might become an ongoing sequel.  You've been warned.

Opposites attract. 
So many areas we could discuss, but the one that seems to present itself the most is the difference in our social behavior.

If you know us well, you're probably aware of a few basic facts.
1.  Ron thrives on interaction with lots of people.
2.  I do not.
3.  Ron cares very highly about what people think.
4.  I do not.

My husband lives in a complicated world of pretty colors.  Someone might walk away from a lengthy conversation with him feeling like his best friend, having no idea that as soon as they're out of earshot he turns to me and says, "Who was that?"  When he's asked to do something he doesn't want to do, his response is, 'Sure!' and then develops a detailed excuse to get out of it later.  He's the life of any party and no one gets offended in his presence.  He loves the social scene and the social scene loves him.
The upside for people is, Ron knows them and likes them soooo much.  The downside is...what downside?  The dude rocks.

I, on the other hand, live in a simple world of black and white.  I either remember who you are or I don't, in which case I'll say, "Please remind me how I know you"  or "What's your name, again?"  I either want to do something or I don't and I'll answer yes please or no thank you with sometimes little or no explanation.  Social interaction on a larger scale is fine in occasional doses, but my happy place is always small, real and intimate, with people who know me well.  My goal is not to offend, but anything less than sincere is taxing for me.
The downside is, some people might think I'm anti-social...or a jerk.  The upside is, I'll always be honest with you.  So if you don't want to know something, please, for your sake, don't ask me. 

Classic Introvert vs. Extrovert.

But believe it or not, our differences in our dealings with others isn't always a social disaster.

Within our family, it's a non-issue because our kids know no different and the entire dynamic leads to lots of laughs.

Professionally it works, too.  He the loveable Engineer who spends his day surrounded by people and conversation; me the Massage Therapist who's content to spend endless hours a day in a dark room listening to soothing music with someone who most likely doesn't want to hear the sound of my voice while they're trying to relax. 
It's a win/win.

And we both play killer Bad Cop.  After 21 years of marriage, we're pretty good at falling into the role...a DirectTv service rep who may or may not have a restraining order against my husband can attest, as can Mark from Orkin who might never agree to come to our home again, but if he does I bet he doesn't open with "Mam, your treatment from 2 weeks ago is still working."  Hey, Mark from Orkin.  Let me tell you a little story.  Once upon a yesterday, there was a flea on my arm.  The end.  He was pulling his gas mask over his face when I backed out of the driveway. 
How miserable would life be without Bad Cops?

Here's another fun fact about us:
1.  Ron says awkward things to people.
2.  So do I.

I've mentioned before that strangers love to tell Ron their life story.  My reaction is to look at them with my best 'please stop talking' face but not before Ron has asked them a follow-up question encouraging more conversation.  Cashiers are the worst.  So I lean against the cart until the conversation ends...and sometimes I'm treated with a great ending.  One cashier told Ron that she lost her grandmother the previous day.  That conversation ended when Ron said, "I hope you find her."  Two weeks ago, an elderly cashier in Hilton Head told Ron all about her recent move to the island, complete with the exact housing development she's living in.  I really wish I'd been looking at her face when Ron closed with, "Hope you have a safe day."  Pretty sure she's still sleeping with one eye open.  And I'll never forget the time he was home when a massage client arrived and he said to the guy, "Enjoy my wife."  Not okay, Ron.  Not. Okay.

But his lapses happen when he's not on his A game.  Mine happen when I'm actually trying.  On our drive down to Hilton Head, I awoke to find us parked at a gas station at 4am.  Ron was inside using the bathroom, so I decided to go in and get some coffee.  While I was checking out, the employee asked me where I was headed, then asked where Hilton Head is and where I was from.  Considering the early hour and my aversion to small talk, I thought I was handling this guy's attempt at conversation really well, until he asked how much further I have to go and I said, "That depends. Where am I right now?"  I'm betting he kept the video footage of me leaving with the big man who exited the bathroom at that moment in case my picture appeared on the news that night.
See, no good comes from talking to strangers, kids.

God brought us together because it works...or maybe God makes it work because we somehow got together. 
Either way, somebody might owe the world an apology.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pranks, but no pranks.

When you live in a family whose antics often accidentally involve innocent bystanders, the thought of pranking someone on purpose just never crosses your mind.  The possibility of being pranked doesn't either.

So last December when I received a phone call from, you guessed it, Lissa, who simply asked if we had a lot of snow at our house, never for one moment did I consider the thought that a 5ft snow sculptor of the male anatomy would appear facing the road in our front yard, built against the very tree our girls stand beside when waiting for the school bus, which is rooted next to the driveway where my massage clients enter everyday.  And I'm quite certain the thought didn't cross Lissa's mind that the tree kept the sculptor hidden from view from within the house and that I'd have no reason to leave the house for 2 days, so the fact that giant snow genitalia stood erected...ahem...in my front yard, unbeknownst to me alone, was just an added bonus that brings her joy.

Side note; what kind of person do people think I am that everyone who saw it thought this was normal for our yard and no one bothered to mention it to me? 

It was on the 2nd day of it's existence that I came home from the salon, pulled into the driveway and stopped by the tree while my eyes adjusted to what they were seeing.  Of course Zac took my blame first and Ron ran a close 2nd.  Not once did I consider Lissa & Mandi, until they texted me pictures of themselves posed with the monstrosity.

Life was good, pranks are funny and everyone laughed and laughed.

Clearly the ringleader, Lissa later excitedly said to me, "Now we've gotta prank Mandi!"  This mindset baffles me, but when Lissa has a plan, there's no talking her down. 

An idea was hatched.  We'd sneak to Mandi's place while they weren't home and completely decorate the outside of their house for Christmas.  In February.  That left us the month of January to gather Christmas decorations and Andy & Lissa went so far as to scour their neighborhood after dark and swipe discarded Christmas trees people had put out by the road.  Thirteen, to be exact, because if you don't have a baker's dozen, you've got nothin.  They were stored in the back of a trailer beside their garage for all of their neighbors to question their sanity.

On a Friday night in February, while we distracted Mandi & George at Zumba, Ron and Andy decorated the outside of their house, we followed Mandi & George home afterward...because pranking and stalking go hand in hand...enjoyed their confused reaction, confessed what we'd done and then we had snacks.

Life was good, pranks are funny and everyone laughed and laughed.

Then my eyes popped open in the dead of night. 
Uh oh.  Lissa's gonna want pranked. 
Still can't wrap my mind around that, but it is what it is.

Months passed, life went on, everyone got busy with events and Andy & Lissa put their house up for sale.  And then one fateful evening, Andy made a decision that altered the course.  He watched the movie, 'God's Not Dead.'  (Dramatic music here...duh duh duh!!!!)

At the end of the movie, they challenge you to text everyone you know and say, "God's not dead!"  Seemed like a good idea to Andy.  But it didn't seem practical to send out that many individual texts.  So in the interest of convenience, he grouped his contact list alphabetically into chunks of 10, consisting of family, friends and co-workers, many of whom don't know each other.  What he didn't account for were the responses that would be seen by everyone in the group.  Here's how it played out in one particular group text:

Andy:  "God's not dead!"
Recipient #1:  Umm...I know.
Recipient #2:  Me too...why are you telling me this?!
Andy:  Watch the movie and you'll understand.  It was really good.
Recipient #3:  Who is this?
Recipient #2:  Ok.
Recipient #4:  What movie?
Andy:  God's not dead.
Recipient #5:  Yo momma!
Andy:  Group message over.
(Flash to Andy in a corner rocking back and forth in the fetal position sucking his thumb.)

And with that, a prank was born.

Obviously, Ron and I needed to cover their lawn with God's not dead signs late one night so that Andy would find them when he arrived home from work the following morning.  Because life is good, and pranks are funny and everyone will laugh and laugh.

It needs to be disclosed that I sought permission from Lissa for this entire plan, lest you think we're complete a-holes.  Their house is on the market, after all.  I even went so far as to ask if it was too soon for Andy, heaven forbid we send him back into the corner.  "Do it!!", she says.  "It'll be hilarious!!", she says.

We spent all week preparing.  We stapled various sizes of cardboard to wooden stakes, printed off 25 pieces of paper that we taped to plastic forks and even went so far as to write on the 100ft isle runner from Aubrey's wedding...all of which said in huge block letters, "God's not dead!" 
(Except the isle runner.  I didn't know how to make a block G that big, so it said, "Cod's not dead."  Fishermen rejoice.)

Last Friday night we took Kearstin, Caymen and Barbara after the football game, because why wouldn't we involve innocent children and our 8 months pregnant daughter-in-law on our little trespassing adventure?  We lined their yard along the road with the staked signs.  We pushed the forked signs into the grass.  We duct taped the isle runner across their covered porch.  Then we topped the scene with one sign taped in full view of the driveway that simply read, "Yo Momma!"  I mean, we really had no choice.
I waited all day Saturday for the phone call from Andy telling us how good life is, how funny pranks are, and how he laughed and laughed.


I finally caved at 4:30 and called Lissa.  A huge knot formed in my gut when she said, "Wellllll, it might've been too soon."  Then she described what happened when Andy arrived home that morning.

He approached his house to discover tire tracks and a bunch of staked signs laying flat in his grass because someone had driven through his yard to knock them down in the middle of the night.  And speaking of things in his grass, the dew soaked the paper signs, tearing them loose from the forks and littered them all over his lawn, leaving what appeared to be trash, and, well, forks. 

Coming face to face with 'Yo Momma' at that point was just the icing on the cake...or maybe that was when he pulled down the isle runner, thus ripping the porch paint off with it. 
Six of one, really.

As for potential buyers driving by, nothing screams "You want to live here" like a vandalized yard.

When Lissa awoke, she found a distraught Andy drenched with sweat.

"What kind of disgruntled sickos would do this to our house we're trying to sell?!?"
Lissa nervously stammered, "I can't be sure...but I think it was Ron and Shari..."

No need to thank us, it's the least we could do.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Here We Grow Again...

My daughter got married.

That is the sentence that begins the entry I've been procrastinating.
Not because I'm unhappy in any way, but simply because these 'digging into my feelings' kind of posts are my least favorite.  From my writing standpoint, I'd be much more in my comfort zone if the cupcake tower had tipped over (Sorry Sue) and led to a domino effect of big drama during the ceremony.  

But this wedding wasn't what you might expect from us, because this wedding went smoothly.  Which is exactly the kind of wedding that this particular child of ours needed.

You're all familiar with Zac, Kearstin, & Caymen due to their starring roles in frequent posts and you might wonder why Aubrey doesn't make too many appearances.  There are a couple of reasons for that.

1.  I seek permission from each of my family members before I post a blog about them.  Nothing written here is behind anyone's back and everything written here is approved before posted.  You might be surprised at the detailed process that goes on around here.  That being said, Aubrey is my most reserved child and sometimes 'laughing with' and getting 'laughed at' feel the same to her.  Therefore, it's my job to make sure each of my child's needs are met on every level, right down to protecting their privacy.  It's a balancing act.  I screw it up often.  Hopefully I'm getting better at it.

2.  The main reason there aren't many posts starring Aubrey is because out of our 6 family members, Aubrey is the closest thing to adult supervision we've got.  This is the child born to Ron and Shari, raised by Ron and Shari, in Ron and Shari's home, who closed on her first house purchase the same day she graduated high school where she delivered the commencement address as Valedictorian of her graduating class after taking college courses full time her Junior and Senior years.  Basically, Aubrey single-handedly destroyed the whole Nature vs. Nurture argument.  Some things cannot be narrowed down to such a margin. 

Aubrey is a prime example of why parents need to recognize the unique traits God gives each of their children so that they know when to simply stay out of His way.  I'm in awe of Aubrey's intelligence, drive and determination, wrapped within a package of kindness and compassion, topped with a bow of pure strength that people tend to underestimate.

This blond haired blue eyed beauty born face up and turned around after 49 hours of labor, a running joke that she got lost and couldn't find her way out.  It didn't take us long to realize that she was actually the one who always knew exactly where she was going. This is the child that was hard for me to parent because I knew in reality she should probably be the one parenting me.  And just like I knew it would be hard to let her go, I also knew deep in my heart that it would be better for her when I did.

August 15th, the day before her wedding, was my hardest day.  Thank goodness for rehearsals.  Watching Ron practice walking her down the isle.  She giggled, beamed and glowed, and Ron wore a grin I knew hid tears that lay just under the surface.  I finally broke down while I was getting my nails done that night when Lissa asked, "Are you ok?"  No.  I was not ok.  The following day we would be asked, "Who gives this woman to this man?" and Ron would reply, "Her mother and I."

How do you prepare yourself to give your daughter away?

But deep inside we knew the reality.  We weren't losing our daughter.  We were gaining another son, just as Nick's wonderful family was gaining another daughter. And more importantly, I was gaining a friend.  I will always be her mother, but we now live in a more parallel universe.  One of daily texts, phone calls, hanging out at her house watching Big Brother together, lunch dates, excitedly talking about her plans for the future.  A world where my role is to offer a listening ear and then join in her excitement with full on support.  One where my advice and insight will only be shared when and if she asks me for it.

These past 18 years of her childhood where our differences were sometimes more obvious than our similarities, were all leading up to a most precious friendship.  All doubts and fears obliterated.  God knew exactly what He was doing even and especially when I didn't.

That's not to say that this Ohio State themed wedding wasn't covered in Courter touches, ie; the Ohio State theme.  Nick, his dad and Ron all wore Ohio State ball caps.  The bridesmaids each got to choose their own style of red dress and shoes were optional for everyone.  Aubrey chose my mother-of-the-bride dress, which was black, had a narrow cut-out around the middle exposing my bare mid-drift and required no bra.  (She knows me too well.)  She wasn't even mad (or surprised) when Kearstin, the maid of honor, and I swapped each others dresses the morning of the wedding as a prank on the bride.

Nick's mom, Anna, was escorted down the isle by her son, Dustin.  I was escorted by Zac.
She and I lit our individual family candles and then we hugged.  This wonderful woman is my daughter's 2nd mother. I don't feel threatened by that.  I'm relieved to finally have some backup.

When I sat in my seat on the verge of tears, Zac dropped to one knee in front of me and dramatically bowed and put his forehead against my hand like one might greet the queen, which of course made me laugh.  That boy still knows exactly what I need at any given moment. 

Then as Michael Buble's voice belted out 'The Best Is Yet To Come' the wedding party full of Nick and Aubrey's family and friends began their entrance.  Zac escorted his glowing wife, Barbara, with ever growing evidence of their son in her belly, leading the way.  Kearstin, stealer of all limelight, mischievously grinned down the isle despite the fact that Aubrey vetoed the tiara she wanted to wear.  Sweet Caymen gently tossed rose petals from her basket  as she made her way down to her seat beside me.

And then that sweet moment, as the song 'So Close' by Jon McLaughlin played, I saw Nick's eyes light up below the rim of his hat and I turned and stood to watch my husband walk our breathtaking daughter down the isle.  When they stopped beside me at the front for the prayer, I reached out and took her arm.  I couldn't not touch this creature of beauty in that moment.  And marvel that God chose me to deliver her to the world.

"Who gives this woman to this man?"
"Her mother and I do."

Yes. Without hesitation.  With no reluctance.  But with peace.  We really do.

After the sweet ceremony, where Aubrey inadvertently blew out the unity candle and then giggled amidst the rising smoke as they lit it again, they left the sanctuary to Heavy D's 'Now That We Found Love'  and the celebration started.  A party full of dancing and a reception featuring the ever popular nacho bar, because how could you have an Ohio State wedding without concession stand food? 

While guests began eating, we had family pictures taken on the stage.  When we came down afterward, my neighbor pulled me aside and whispered, "You might wanna tell Ron his zipper is down."

Aaaaaaand, we're back. 


 MANY THANKS go out to the team of people who helped pull this all together:
Anna & Jim:  The most wonderful in-laws we could ever hope for.  They not only love and welcome Aubrey into their family with open arms, they hosted an amazing rehearsal dinner and were an absolute dream to work with for the wedding, always ready and willing to jump in and help with whatever we needed!
Lissa:  Made all of the bouquets, planned, designed and set up all of the beautiful decorations and gave manicures and pedicures to anyone who wanted them the night before the wedding. 
Susan:  Made and decorated Aubrey & Nick's wedding cake and cupcakes, just as she did for Zac & Barbara's reception in May, and as she did for Ron & me back in 1993 when she was only 16 years old.  She also planned, organized, prepared and ran all of the food stations throughout the entire reception.  Thanks also to her mom, Kay and our mutual friend, Pam for helping her on the day of the wedding and Susan's husband, Chris, for making the tiered stand that displayed the cupcakes.
GenesScenes:  For taking all the amazing pictures of the event.  Can't wait to see them!
Randy:  For patiently walking us through the rehearsal process and performing a heartfelt ceremony that meant so much to everyone involved.
Eric:  For running the sound system during the wedding and setting up the stage beforehand.  
Barbara:  For creating the amazing block O-H-I-O on chalkboards that were displayed behind the food stations.  What an artist you are!
Justin (aka; JLo):  For putting together the music play list and keeping it running throughout the reception.  You set the tone for an amazing dance party!
Rebecca:  For hosting a fun Bachelorette party, gifting Aubrey with an appointment at your hair salon the morning of the wedding and for helping us organize the entire ceremony.  We seriously had no idea what we were doing, but I'm sure you figured that out pretty quick. 
Jennifer:  For co-hosting the Bachelorette party and your help with set up the morning of the rehearsal.
Cindy:  For coming to help us set up the day before.
Nancy:  For loaning us all the Buckeye nuts that accented the decorations.  What a neat detail they added!
Mark & Sara:  For loaning us the table cloths.
All of our friends and family who came to support our families as we unite by marriage and everyone who jumped in to help rearrange the sanctuary for the reception and pitched in to help clean up afterward.  We couldn't have done it all without you!

Last but not least, a special thank you to my husband.  During this very stressful year of events and change that has taken it's toll on me both physically and emotionally, Ron stepped up as my warrior and my shield.  He cocooned me in a shelter of protection and defended me against undue pressure and stress.  I can't put into words how much I love this man, who knows me better than anyone else on this earth and yet still chooses to love me anyway.

We all extend our unconditional love, support and appreciation to Aubrey and Nick for allowing us to share in their special day.  We look forward to watching their love grow and see what plans God has for their family.  

We love you!


Monday, August 18, 2014

Mouse Trap

I fully expected my next blog entry to be about our daughter's wedding that took place on Saturday.  (Pending her permission and approval after they return from their honeymoon next week, of course.)  But as it so happens with our family, material presented itself yesterday.  Uninvited material, mind you, but material nonetheless.

Ron had to work, I brought Kearstin and Caymen home from church and all I wanted was to take a long uninterrupted nap.  With the girls under strict orders to allow that to happen, I'd no sooner dozed off in my bed with Caymen nestled beside me, when Kearstin tapped me awake and said, "There's something moving in my tote bag."  In that moment of exhaustion, this did not seem justifiable to waking me up.  So I said, "Put the tote bag in the garage."  A few minutes later, I was awakened by her whisper in my ear, "It's loose in my room."
And with that, she had my attention.

It would appear that we inadvertently brought the church mouse home with us after the wedding.  Church mouse or not, nobody was going to sleep till the thing was dead, so we armed ourselves for war.  Me with a broom, Kearstin with a mop and both of us clunking around in pairs of Ron's gigantic tennis shoes because they seemed safer than our size 8's that would leave us vulnerable to an attack from the enemy. 

We closed ourselves inside her room leaving Caymen safely in the hallway. And the hunt began.  Poke something, watch for movement, prepare to scream.  Repeat.  This went on until we found ourselves facing the open closet where long dresses hung on a low bar with material pooling on the floor.  Using the end of my broom, I pulled the dresses to the side, he dashed out of the closet and before I could react, we watched him squeeze under the crack of the bedroom door into the hallway where Caymen's screams joined ours.  And then we all screamed and screamed and screamed.  I finally whipped open the door, saw him trying to squeeze under the bathroom door so I started swatting at him, still screaming...and maybe peeing a little...as Caymen ran downstairs locking herself in my bedroom, Kearstin stood frozen in the hallway and quick as a flash, he turned around and bolted back into her closet, thus earning him the name 'Quick Silver.'

Time to regroup...and take a pee break.  The crack under the door is a problem.  The obvious solution (to us) was to block the bottom of the door using 2 wall hangings.  They didn't completely block the crack under the door, but (in our minds) their shape as well as the hooks protruding from the top provided a maze that he'd have to go around and (according to us) mice suck at mazes.  We closed ourselves back in the bedroom and set up our mouse-proof maze.  We studied our handy work and I said, "If he beats us through that before we beat him to death, he deserves to be loose in our house."
From my lips to Quick Silver's ears.  Gauntlet thrown.

Weapons aimed at closet, the cycle began.  Broom pulls out one dress, we grab it by the hanger and move it to the other side.  Dress by dress.  We finally found him hiding under the material of a long purple dress.  I went to work with my broom while Kearstin cried, "You're killing him with my birthday dress!!"
No...I was killing him in her birthday dress.  She's so dramatic.

When all movement stopped, I pulled out the birthday dress, gave it a little shake, and...nothing.  So we continued pulling the dresses out one by one until we got to the very last dress.  Her tutu dress.  Covered in silver glitter.  Seemed appropriate somehow.  Preparing to finish his life in a puff of glitter, I pulled the dress aside as movement by the door caught my eye just in time to see him round the last hook of our maze and squeeze himself under the door and out into the hallway.

Damn you, Quick Silver!

Beating us at our own maze, by the time we moved it out of the way and opened the door, he was out of sight and gone to who knows where.  Kearstin said, "Maybe he'll eat the poison behind the fridge."  Then I reminded her that Tia already did that and was forced to vomit it up all over our garage.  How soon we forget when we're not the one inducing with peroxide.

We were forced to wait till Ron got home and filled him in on our ordeal in which he wasted entirely too much time asking us ridiculous questions about why we thought his shoes that we could easily trip and fall down in would be safer than our own and where our heads were at when deciding to create a maze instead of blocking the crack with a blanket or pillow.
Stay focused here, Chuckles.  There's a mouse loose in our house.

Then he stripped down to his boxers, made himself dinner and went downstairs to watch tv.  Did you not hear our story, sir?!

An hour later, I heard Kearstin's screams from upstairs, immediately triggering Caymen's and my own.  Ron calmly got out of bed, grabbed a shoe and a Walmart bag, followed Kearstin's pointing finger into the bathroom, closed the door, and a minute later, exited the bathroom with 'TMFKAQS' (The Mouse Formerly Known As Quick Silver) in the bag.

When Ron gave us a look of disgust I said, "Obviously, we slowed him down for ya.  You're welcome."


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Anchor's Away

Sometimes I wonder if we're naturally drawn to people like us or if our ridiculous tendencies just rub off on the people around us.  This question arose again last week when we traveled to Tennessee with our friends, Lissa & Andy and Chad & Melanie.

Chad's dad generously allowed us the use of their home as well as his pontoon boat for a long weekend of fun on Dale Hollow.  He had but one request.  "Don't let anything happen to my brand new anchor."

Seems simple enough...unless you've met us before, in which case you know your anchor is pretty much screwed now.

The first day out on the lake, we found a private little cove and we dropped anchor.  We spent the next several hours swimming and floating on rafts.  At one point Lissa said, "Is the boat getting closer to the shore?"  Ron answered, "No, we just swam around a corner", which might have made sense if the cove had a corner, but nevertheless, we swam on without a second thought.

Lissa's concern proved valid when we swam back toward a boat that had clearly run ashore and whose front was currently resting on dry ground.  Andy and Ron got to the boat first and delivered the news.  "The anchor's gone."  Ok, that's bad.  But the rope's gone too, so if the rope floats, that's good.  Turns out, the rope doesn't float.  That's bad.

We aimlessly swam around the vicinity where we thought the anchor was thrown, occasionally diving down in futile attempts to reach the 16 ft bottom.  No anchor.
Then we sat on the boat discussing the stupidity of a rope that doesn't float, which briefly led to the idea of running a series of tests to see what other parts of the boat don't float, then we tossed around suggestions that were not only few, but highly improbable of being effective, one of which was to "call the dam" leading into a conversation about whether or not there was an actual "dam office" which naturally escalated into a series of inappropriate knock knock jokes, serving only to delay the matter at hand and solved nothing while we sat on the beached boat.  But far-fetched as it seemed, a plan was eventually hatched. 
 We went back to the house to get ready for dinner and took the boat back out for the 30 minute ride to a restaurant on the water.  While we were eating, the storm blew in.  I'm talking torrential storm here.  After dinner we sat sheltered under an overhang on the dock periodically commenting that "it looks like it's passing" and "the worst is over."  Lies, all lies.

We finally decided we had no choice but to get back on the boat and brave the trip home in the dark of night, lit only by the frequent strikes of lightening, to the point of secretly questioning if Chad had recently refused to go to Nineveh and briefly contemplated throwing him overboard to see if that calmed the storm. 

The following morning we headed back to the cove.
Operation Get That Anchor Back, was underway.

Unfortunately for us, a family had already anchored into our cove for a day of swimming with their small children.  Unfortunately for them, we were undeterred by common courtesy and proceeded forward with our mission.

So just for fun, let's switch perspectives as I describe what they saw from their boat.

They saw a boat full of people park nearby, completely disregarding proper boat etiquette.  Three women got comfortable sunbathing on the back.  Three men got busy on the front.  One man repeatedly threw an anchor into the water and then pulled it back in.  Another man repeatedly cast out a fishing line with a giant hook on the end and reeled it back in.  The 3rd man was behind the wheel of the boat and slowly drove back and forth and round and round, while 80's music blasted from the boat radio.

 It needs to be said, if I were the family on that boat watching, I'd have been pissed.  To their credit, they stuck around either to stand their ground or to see what this freak show might do next.  And were they in for a treat, because about an hour into this brouhaha, they witnessed the man with the fishing pole scream "I'VE GOT SOMETHING" and then the man with the anchor jumped immediately overboard followed by his screams of "DON'T HOOK ME" and then every person in our boat erupted into cheers and celebration when they pulled an anchor attached to a long rope out of the water as 'Eye Of The Tiger' blared from the radio.  (You can't make this stuff up, people.)
...and then they saw the guy who reeled it in turn around and throw the anchor and rope overboard again as the women screamed, "Noooooooo!!!!"

To which he replied, "We tied it off this time.  We're not idiots."

By the looks on their faces, the family on the other boat strongly disagreed with that statement.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mama's Boy / Friend

Regardless of how well you know us, it usually doesn't take long to realize that Zac is not only my son, but my boy. 

I think we have a typical mother-son relationship, in the sense that we have always loved hanging out together, talking and laughing about everything.  I look at him and see my 2nd best guy friend...my husband being 1st, of course.

Ron says Zac's a Mama's Boy.  If by Mama's Boy he means that I'd, oh let's say, jump out of an airplane or put my body through a Tough Mudder for him, then yeah, he's a Mama's Boy.  And I'd do the same for any of our daughters, but so far they seem to have a little more sense than that.
Kudos to them.

Ron, Zac and I played together on our church co-ed softball team every summer for several years.  That's Zac and me at Christmas with our matching ball gloves Ron got us because that's what super-cool moms and sons want, okay?

My boy is now a married man with a son of his own on the way and working full time on 2nd shift.  So for now, gone are our days of playing softball together and as our summer church league is drawing to a close, I've been thinking a lot about all the fun we've had in the past.

So if you'd like to stroll with me down memory lane for a quick second, let me recap the domino effect that led to what happened last year.  Ron heard through the grapevine that his company's fall men's league needed another player.  Ron did not volunteer himself.  He volunteered Zac.  When one of the players on that team told Zac they were short-handed on their co-ed team, Zac volunteered himself.  And me.

Basically, Zac and I infiltrated a co-ed softball team, mid-season, full of people we didn't know who worked together at a company we didn't, none of which is surprising to anyone who knows us.  We're not ones to get hung up on minor technicalities. 

We showed up at our first game dressed in the only thing we thought to wear.  Our matching navy blue church jerseys.  He with his baseball pants and head band combo;  me with my yoga pants and pony tail.  Cue the bad-ass-slow-mo walk as we approached the dugout side-by-side wearing our cleats and carrying our matching gloves. 

The fact that the rest of the team wore shorts and orange t-shirts was neither here nor there.

Zac took his position in right field and I took mine as Catcher, squatting behind home plate.  Three innings later someone on my team said, "You know you don't have to squat, right?"
That tidbit of info would have been awesome 3 innings ago. 

But it was the question I was asked during the 6th inning that got my attention when the umpire said, "Is that your husband or boyfriend?"  Thinking Ron had shown up, I looked around and said, "Husband.  Where do you see him?" 

You know that special effect in movies where everything takes on a blurry spin and the voice talking gets really deep and drawn out?  That's what happened when my eyes followed the umpire's pointed finger as he said, "R-i-g-h-t f-i-e-l-d."

Holy crap!

After the inning, I ran back to the dugout, pulled Zac aside and said, "Dude!  That umpire thinks we're a couple!!"  Then our heads turned simultaneously as a player on the bench said, "Oh, you're not?"

With a stone-cold expression, Zac turned to me and said, "One of us is never wearing this jersey again" and then he walked away.  Why was I the only one flattered here.

Gone are the days when mothers can dress like their sons and not be mistaken for their significant others.  Sigh.
We finished out the regular season (me in my jersey, he in a t-shirt) and tournaments were held on a blustery cold Saturday in October.  That morning, he rushed me out the door as I finished putting on my make-up and grabbed my 'I'm too sexy to be 40' mug. 

When I yelled at him for abruptly changing gears and almost making me spill my coffee, he lectured me on the habit of filling my mug too full.

I stepped out of the car in my yoga pants and super-cute-off-the-shoulder sweatshirt and realized I was completely under-dressed for a bitter cold day at the ball fields and when my hair whipped over my face, I remembered the hair band that was still laying on the bathroom counter.

As our team watched, Zac stormed off toward the dugout while I trailed behind with my hair blowing in the wind, arms full of softball equipment, walking as fast as I could without spilling my coffee and yelling, "You look like a really bad boyfriend right now!!"

Surprisingly, they contacted us to play for them again this year.  Zac's work schedule doesn't allow time for it and I regretfully declined as well. 

I mean, it just doesn't feel right to play without my boy...friend...buahahahahaha!!!

Monday, July 14, 2014

A (Mon)Day In The Life

The Monday after returning from Vacation is pretty much destined to fail.  So I was pleasantly surprised last week when mine was going flawlessly.  At least until 1:30.  That's when Caymen, who's going on week 4 of sporting a giant glob of dried bloody suture glue above her left eye from a trampoline accident, popped in to my office and excitedly said, "Notice anything on my face?"  I swiveled my chair to see that she'd applied huge tattoos to her cheeks.  Visions of this face dressed in a beautiful white flower girl dress preceding Aubrey down the isle flashed through my head.

But first there was the matter of her dentist appointment at 3:30pm.  Maybe if I started scrubbing now, the 7 year old's fresh facial tatts would be but a distant memory...unlike the eye wound.  That's when the phone rang and my daughter-in-law, Barbara said "What are you doing right now?"  I looked down at Caymen's gangsta face and went the easy route.  "Nothing."  Zac's car broke down in the parking lot where he works and she was stranded.

We picked Barbara up and headed straight to the dentist to meet up with Ron for our cleanings.  But shortly after Caymen was taken to a room, the dentist came out and said, "We have a little problem."  My immediate thought was, 'So, you've seen her face.'  He went on to explain that one of Caymen's back teeth is cracked and he needed our help to hold her still so he could numb her.  Having just barely survived the ER visit where they tried to numb her forehead for stitches and finally resorted to the now infamous glob of super glue which Ron claims he could've done at home for free, I knew this dental visit had the potential for disaster.  I wasn't disappointed.  Five minutes into the chaotic scene, the doctor inadvertently pushed the needle full of numbing fluid into his own left hand.  The procedure (and possibly the remainder of his afternoon), came to an abrupt end.  She was immediately referred to a "specialist" and I'll be watching the mail for his announcement of early retirement.  Sometimes "We're really really super sorry" just isn't enough.

Next stop, loaning Barbara our 2nd van and then all of us driving over to take a look at Zac's broken down car.  It didn't take long for Ron to realize that the clutch is blown.  Thankfully, his car broke down just one parking lot away from the service center.  It was already closed for the evening, but they had a locked drop box for just such occasions.  Thank goodness we're having so many strokes of luck here, unlike the dentist who's probably home hittin the sauce pretty heavily by now with his one usable hand.

Barbara filled out the service note, sealed the keys in the envelope and dropped them down the slot.
Our VAN keys. In envelope.  Down slot.

Flash to Ron on the phone with Security while he worked a stretched out coat hanger down the slot like a toilet plunger, Caymen laying across the counter with everyone trying to convince her she wouldn't get her arm stuck...she wasn't buyin it...and Barbara digging things into the lock explaining that she's "really good at lock picking."  I don't even wanna know.

Security finally arrived and busted up our little party.  I thought, please don't ask about the child laying across the counter with her arm crammed in the slot, or about her face, or the fact that I just realized she's not wearing shoes. 

Guard #1 dressed in a florescent green vest that screamed rookie, showed up only to announce that he doesn't have a key.  Welllll, thanks so much for stopping by.  Security guard #2, dressed in a legit uniform, saved the day with a key and retrieved ours.  Barbara handed me our van keys, dropped Zac's keys down the slot, Security went on his way and we went on ours.

That's when Ron asked Barbara, "Do you have your apartment key?"

Apartment key.  In envelope. Down slot.

The pregnant Barbara and barefoot gangsta child tore across the parking lot, chasing the security car and wildly waving their arms while I silently prayed that Zac wasn't witnessing any of this from a window. 

The security guard returned, escorted us back to the drop box, allowed Barbara to retrieve her key...again...drop keys down the slot...again...and then he sent this freak show on our way...again.

If I knew where the dentist lived, I would've driven to his house to join him.  But that didn't stop me from having the drink.  An aptly named one, at that.

Screw you, Mondays.
From now on, I'm skippin straight to Tuesday.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Change Of Life

My top 3 fears.
1.  Rabies.
2.  Electricity.
3.  Change.

So far, between Zac's marriage to Barbara and their pregnancy, Aubrey's high school graduation, purchase of a house and upcoming marriage to Nick, and my unfortunate encounter with an ungrounded hot tub, 2014 has bombarded me with 2 of the 3.  (I still have 6 months to avoid rabies.)

When Summer rolled around I assumed things would get easier.  Easier meaning, calmer.  Easier meaning, less chaotic.  Truth be told, easier meaning, easier to accept.  My family is moving out.  My family is shrinking.  Dear God, my family is changing.

For so long we were 'The Courters'.  Said by others with deer-in-the-headlight eyes and slow knowing nods.  That crazy family of 6, some who wear shoes, some who wear pants and one who refuses to remove his ball cap, all of whom operate under zero adult supervision.

We offer no explanation or apology for who we are because throughout the past 20 years, when everything around us changed, we were the only constant.

But these days, much of our time is spent as a family of 4 having only Kearstin and Caymen at home with us now.  We fit in a booth at a restaurant.  We make it through most outings without causing a scene or disturbance and can interact with the public without anyone disgustedly asking, "Are all of these yours?"   Apparently 6 Courters have the ability to create Duggar-size scenes.

I find myself in the midst of this hurricane of change and there's a level of pain in it so you might have to bear with me while I try to adjust.  I remind myself that this is good change.  It's natural change.  This is the way God intends for it to change.  Therefore, I'll fight through my 3rd deepest fear and not only accept the change, but embrace the change.  Because even though it didn't feel like it at the time, easy was when our kids lived at home.  Now we dig deep into the world of intentional.   It's a little harder but we're deliberate in scheduling our family time now and it's worth it. 

In turn, God is navigating me through these scary changes with comforting glimpses of normal...ok, sometimes not so comforting and you might not consider it normal.

For Father's Day, the 8 of us piled into an old school bus with giant tubes before being dropped off and left at the mercy of the river current to make our way back to where we started.  I looked over to discover my future son-in-law on all fours on top of his tube as it slowly spun toward a small waterfall with his flip flops floating behind him while Aubrey stood stuck knee deep in the water screaming and Ron debating jumping ship to look for his sunglasses that he was sure were caught in a tree before Kearstin discovered them dangling off the back of his shirt.  We are the epitome of the Red Neck Yacht Club.  Then afterward, we gorged on giant cheeseburgers before dropping like flies around our living room in water-logged-junk-food induced comas. 
The week before last, a hose on our pool pump burst, flooding our barn and spraying directly at the light switch and yours truly (with cheeseburger in hand) ran in to see what happened, blindly reached in to turn on the light, felt that old familiar feeling before catching another glimpse of the afterlife and losing my cheeseburger.  Lord, if you could just tell me what you'd like me to learn here, that'd be awesome.

Last week on Hilton Head Island, Zac and Barbara decided to use the beach (and fire) to reveal the gender of our grandchild, beach fire being strictly prohibited on the island, but that's neither here nor there.  They carved GIRL and BOY in the sand and lined it with string, having saturated one with fuel so that it would be the gender to ignite.  Then we watched as Z lit the end of the string and it started to spread as families began to gather and watch.  And then we watched the bottle of fuel ignite into flames in Barbara's hand so she threw it down.  And then we watched people scatter and run as far away from us as possible.  (We're used to that.)  So we kicked sand until the flames smothered out and then stood silently looking at each other. Well that was terrifying...and disappointing.  So we regrouped and then the girls and I started digging while the guys ran to Walmart for lighter fluid and we set the beach on fire again.  And when that ended with frantic sand kicking, the spectators became "potential witnesses" so they waited a few days before they set a fire on an abandoned tennis court that took a bottle of water and several minutes of stamping with shoes to put out.  The end result was effective, albeit violent.

So what am I freaking out about here?  'The Courters' aren't shrinking.  We're expanding...and multiplying.  I shouldn't be the one in fear.  The world should.

So watch out everybody.
Here comes #9...

It's a

Monday, June 2, 2014


Every blog entry starts with a title.  With Aubrey's senior prom, Mother's Day, Kearstin's 15th birthday, Aubrey's high school graduation, and the preparation for a reception we hosted for Zac and Barbara this past weekend, let me assure you, the fact that it's been a month since my last entry speaks more of my lack of time than lack of titles.  So allow me to compile a couple of May's entries into sub-titles, that coincidentally happened simultaneously. 

 Amazing Race
Ron signed up to participate in the first annual Honor Ride, a 35 mile bike race in Columbus.  It was a spur of the moment decision that led to the purchase of new racing bike (read:  tiny seat that inserts deeply into butt hole by mile 3), the borrowing of a bike helmet and exactly 2 bike rides around our block to "train."  He tried desperately to get me to do it with him, but I adamantly refused.  (Those are the fork in the road moments where you look back and see God's protective hand in the preservation of a marriage.) 

Ron predicted he'd have it completed in roughly 2 hours.  But in full-on Courter fashion, several things went disastrously wrong.  It started with a volunteer at a pit stop pointing him in the wrong direction, escalated with pranksters switching some of the route signs around, proceeded downhill when he got lost, stumbled into an area that had no phone signal and had to flag down an elderly couple in their car to ask directions only to discover that he was inadvertently halfway through the 70 mile bike race course.  This would've been the point where my seething rage turned into a puddle of tears and urine on the ground alongside the road until either God or Care Flight delivered me home. 

But Ron persevered and rode all the way back to the pit stop, where my first order of business would've been to kick some volunteer ass, but Ron opted instead to hitch a ride.  Nine hours, 55 pedaled miles and 15 miles riding in a u-haul later, my husband completed his Honor Ride, with honor and testimony intact, and was rewarded with every free t-shirt, ribbon and medal they had on hand. He arrived home, climbed directly into the hot tub and said, "So what did you do today?" 

Funny you should ask...

Dress Up
*No picture to accompany this story.  You're welcome.*

You'd think with as much trouble as Ron and I get into together, we might do better apart.  Turns out, that can actually be worse.  While my husband pedaled for his very survival through the streets of Newark, I decided to try on a dress Lissa gave me.  (Note, once again, the involvement of Lissa.)  Caymen and Kearstin were both asleep and this should've been a non-event.  Try on a dress.  Like it, keep it.  Don't like it, pass it on.  I unzipped it to the seam that ran across the middle of the back.  Stepping into the dress wouldn't work so it had to go over my head.  Not a Claustrophobiac's ideal scenario, but I'm a 2-time Tough Mudder and I will not be intimidated by a dress.  Cue Mandisa's Overcomer as I bunched the dress up as tight as I could, quickly rammed my head and arms through the hole, fought off tears when it got stuck above my chest and danced around hyperventilating while I frantically pulled it over my bare boobs, because heaven forbid I be prepared for an emergency. 

I successfully squeezed everything into their proper compartments, checked out the end result in the bathroom mirror, and decided the dress was a keeper.  Then I realized I had to do everything in reverse to get the thing back off.  I pulled the dress up and struggled until my boobs finally plopped out of the bottom.  That left me with the dress bunched up underneath my armpits and my arms hanging over the top cocked at weird angles.  The goal was to cross my arms in front of my face, grab the bottoms of the dress and in one rapid movement, whip it off over my head.  I counted to 3, yanked it up and got stuck.  Really really stuck.  Like, arms straight over my head, dress tightly wrapped around my shoulders, face and arms stuck

The panic that had been rising to the surface finally bubbled over the top and unable to see anything except the inside of the dress, I literally bounced off walls as I ran through the house until I found my way into Kearstin's room and screamed for help until she woke up to the sight of her headless, naked mom, frantically flailing her hands straight up in the air through the top of a dress. 
A therapist is in her very near future. 

I couldn't see her, but by the disgusted sound effects, I could tell she didn't want to become involved in whatever twisted nightmare I had going on here, but she had no choice.  She didn't ask me what happened.  That was pretty obvious.  Her only question was, "Why are you wet?!?"  That would be profuse sweating, can we please save the interrogation for another time. 

Our first attempt was for me to get on my knees and she yank it off the top.  Fail.  Second attempt was for me to lay on the floor and yank it off the top.  Fail.  Third and final attempt before resorting to calling 911 and then changing our identities in the Witness Protection Program, was for her to slowly push the dress inch by inch, shoulder by shoulder, until it finally released over my head.  A brutal 5 minutes later, I finally broke free and she made me promise never to climb into that dress again. 
Um, obviously.  I'm not an idiot, ya know. 

She went back to bed and I untangled the dress to return to Lissa when I noticed a detail on the zipper that I'd missed before.  As it turns out, it actually unzips past that seam all the way down to my butt.  Deal changer.  I stepped into the dress, pulled it over my chest and slipped my arms in...then I walked into Kearstin's room and asked her to please zip me up.

She opened her eyes, looked at the dress and said, "Get out."

Teenagers.  Geesh.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Dog Days

If you've followed my blog, you might know we had 3 dogs.

Summer, the high-strung Beagle/Dalmation we cleverly titled, Balmation.  A rare breed, if I do say so myself, which made it surprising when the Vet highly recommended we have her fixed so as not to repeat that again.

Quincy, the 13 lb Llassa-poo...a Llassa something mixed with, well, poo.  Notorious for bringing us carcass parts from our surrounding fields.

 And then we had Caymen's beloved German Shepherd, Axel.  Or as Caymen pronounced it, Asshole, thus disqualifying her from Kindergarten show 'n' tell last year.

Axel was tragically hit and and killed by a car in November and Caymen's heart was broken.  We thought we'd found an acceptable replacement we named Rosey.  She was much darker than Axel and Caymen immediately noted that "she looks like a muddy a-hole."

Unfortunately, Rosey hated Quincy.  We had Rosey for a 5 day period of time that spanned my tummy tuck recovery and the details are blurry, but I vaguely recall a horrific scene on our bed involving Rosey, Quincy, Caymen, Kearstin and Ron, as I sat drooling in a Vicodin induced stooper from the safety of my recliner.
Rosey was returned to her previous owner.

We decided that maybe we didn't need a German Shepherd, after all.  That is until BFF, Lissa, told me about the litter of German Shepherd puppies her Mother-in-Law was selling.  (You might've noticed the starring role Lissa plays in many of my life's....adventures.)

Two weeks ago, Tia joined our family.  Ron chose her name.  He wanted it to sound "feminine and simple."  Code for; can't be mispronounced and/or mistaken for profanity, as visions of show 'n' tells danced in his head.  Who could've predicted that Caymen wouldn't be able to remember the name Tia and ended up telling her 1st grade class that her new puppy's name is Ta Tas.  (We're not really cut out for show 'n' tells anyway.)

That brings us to what happened last Friday.  Tia had been in our home 9 days.  At 1pm, exactly one hour before the first of my afternoon massage clients was scheduled to arrive at my home, I found all 3 dogs excitedly gathered around something in the kitchen.  I shooed them away and saw an old box of rat poison.  A now empty box of rat poison.  Oh...nooooo....and I grabbed my phone. 

The veterinarian's elderly secretary had barely finished her friendly greeting when I rambled the situation hoping she'd understand my rush of words.  When she responded, "Oh...dear..." I knew I'd gotten through.  The first recommendation was to bring them in immediately, but we live an hour away.  No good.  That's when she told me what I'd have to do.  Cue the super low slow mo voice effect when she said, "In-duce vommmmmitting."  (This had all the makings of the bathroom scene when my tucksticle fell to the floor at Caymen's feet after my surgery.)

For those of you who've never been required to induce vomiting on all 3 of your dogs simultaneously, and I can only assume that's pretty much all of you, here's what I had to do.

1.  Close myself into the garage with all 3 dogs.
2.  Pour Hydrogen Peroxide down their throats (2 TBS for Quincy & Tia, 1/2 cup for Summer).
3.  Wait for vomit.
4.  Track who vomits what.
5.  Make sure no one eats the vomit.
6.  Call Vet and report detailed description of vomit.
7.  Repeat Step 2 every 5 minutes until Vet tells you it's okay to stop.

I'll admit, sometimes I'm not exactly grateful for the writing material God provides.

Forty-five minutes, 7 hydrogen peroxide doses, countless piles of decon-filled vomit, 4 bitten and bloody fingers, 3 traumatized dogs, 2 cancelled clients...and a partridge in a pear tree later...I was sitting in the grass crying for the dogs who'd taken off deep into the fields refusing to come to my calls because clearly Satan had stolen mommy's soul.

I waited a week to write this because, you know, I had to make sure I had an accurate ending.  I'm pleased to report that all the dogs are still alive.  They have to take pills every day for another week that neutralize any effect of poison that might've gotten into their systems before I...um, got it out.  They seem to have forgiven what I did, although they are certainly no closer to forgetting it.  Let's just say, I'm not welcome to give them their pills...or treats...or water.  Basically, they refuse to ingest anything from my hand.  I understand.

As for my inconvenient last minute massage cancellations, they understood.  Clients generally frown upon being rubbed with bloody fingers and noises made from 3 violently heaving dogs is not equivalent to relaxing nature background sounds.

People can be so picky.

Tia:  Poison Control Paw-trol.