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

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

Family Story Pic

Family Story Pic


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Happy Birth-weigh to me

Last week I turned 44 in an emotionally uneventful transition.

This is the point I've reached in my life. It's good.
Life. Is. Good.

I think something happens in your 40's. You start accepting what is, and stop worrying about trying to change what isn't. You're hopefully at a place in life where you completely trust God to lead you, even if you don't know exactly where you're going. And you're still young enough to pursue the activities you love, yet old enough to stop caring what anyone else thinks about that...said the 44 year old Zumba instructor and writer of snark.

So when I awoke the morning of my birthday to a present from my husband and I opened it to find a new bathroom scale that blinks red if I gain or green if I lose, my reaction was nothing like the time he gave me a weedwacker for Mother's Day.

No, this was a confirmation that we both know and accept what I am...a scale addict.
And my poor old faithful Weight Watcher's scale was put through the ringer a few months ago when I packed it in my carry-on bag to take on vacation. The departure flight wasn't that big of deal. I mean, when they discovered a scale in my bag, I was spread-eagled, frisked and searched everywhere...like, every.where...but my scale remained unviolated. On the trip home, however, my bag was flagged, my scale was confiscated, x-rayed and thoroughly swabbed while I was interrogated by a TSA agent, who 1. couldn't seem to comprehend the life of a scale addict and 2. couldn't understand how it's possible to own a Weight Watcher's scale and not belong to the Weight Watcher's program.
Um, their scales show ounces, okay?! How is this confusing?!

Regardless, my scale and I were both traumatized, I think it's pretty obvious that I was weigh-cially profiled, and I'm still waiting on my invitation to the white house. Whatever.

Back to my new scale. I got it on Thursday. It blinked green on Friday. It blinked green on Saturday. (Talk about enabling an addiction.) I'd lost 7 whole ounces and as I dressed for my daughter's baby shower Saturday morning, my jeans felt looser, I was sure. So I think out of everyone in attendance, I might've been the most shocked when, as she opened her gifts, my dining room chair collapsed from under me and sent my ass crashing onto our new hardwood floors. Seriously, one minute I was sitting there. The next minute, I was just inches away from being irreparably gored by the leg of my own chair in front of a room full of witnesses.
So, okay. I'm 44. We live a family freak show, I document it for their future enjoyment, and normal does not exist in our world. 
This, I've come to accept. 
What I found a little harder to swallow was when my husband said,
"You've gotta be more careful...your days of dancing for money are numbered."

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


As I posted before, we remodeled our kitchen over the Summer, and drama ensued, because that's who we are. So to my amazement, when we took that project a step further and spent the months of October and November knocking out 2 kitchen walls to create an open floor plan with our living and dining areas as well as laying wood flooring, I had nothing major to report...other than the fact that my Zumba income was paying for this remodel and for 7 weeks, I lived but one stray staple in the foot away from the entire project coming to a screeching halt. But all in all, it went smoothly, until the very end when Lowes (again) couldn't match our paint for touch ups. Every paint we tried was just a shade off and we faced the dreaded task of repainting the entire upstairs living space because there were literally no stopping points. So...we created some stopping points. Look closely and you'll see some random pieces of wood trim. Look too closely and you might see like, 3 different shades of burgundy around our new island.
Guess what? I.Don't.Care.
Having miraculously completed that project by Thanksgiving, Ron thought we should go ahead and tackle the last room on our remodel list. The rec room. He decided on an Ohio State theme, which provided lots of ideas for him for Christmas. He came home with his "charcoal grey" paint, but I looked at the color swatch and said, "That's blue." And he said, "Nuh uh!" and I didn't argue because when a grown man says 'Nuh uh!' he's obviously right. Two hours later, he rolled it on and yelled, "It's bluuuuuue!!!"
Nuuuuh uhhhh.
Grey/Blue...Ohio State/Michigan...what's the diff?
But with the floor installers scheduled to come Monday, the room was painted blue, and he moved on to ripping up the carpet. Sunday night he asked me if I'd touch up the paint. No problem. He said, "The can is on the outside freezer." What he failed to mention, is that there were TWO cans of blue paint on the outside freezer. I spent the next hour retouching every spot on every wall and then went to bed. The following morning, 10 minutes before the floor installers were scheduled to arrive, I went in the rec room and found this.
I immediately sent Ron a picture and he replied, "Did you stir it?"
Did I stir it? Did I STIR it?!? It looks like somebody wiped Cookie Monster's dead rotting carcass all over our rec room walls and you wanna know if I STIRRED it? I think the issue's bigger than that.

The floor guys arrived and I had no choice but to take them down to the room where one guy looked at the walls and said, "Wow."
Um, you don't get to say wow to me, SIR!
The other guy asked where all the flooring is. I told him the garage. And then he told me they wouldn't be able to lay it for 48 hours, because it's cold and it should've been stored inside.
So I stood there deciding which one to punch first and then the 'wow' guy spoke up and offered to bring the wood inside before they left. Apparently my scary vibe was in full throttle.
I spent the next 2 hours repainting the entire rec room with the right shade of blue, and for 2 days straight, we ran electric heaters to help warm the wood. So when they arrived this morning, we discovered that the heaters had blown a breaker and our rec room had no electricity. And then the 'it should've been stored inside' guy asked me which direction I wanted the wood to lay and when I told him I'd call my husband and ask, he said, "You can't make that decision yourself?" and then the 'wow' guy said, "You saw what she did to the walls."
So nobody wants to make it outta here alive, is that what I'm hearing?
They're laying the floors now and I began blogging this in hopes that by doing so, nothing else could possibly go wrong, but then the screen door handle broke, the flooring guys got locked out and the UPS guy showed up with a delivery and thought they were breaking into our house, so screw that plan. Let's just none of us be surprised if there's a Part II to this nightmare.
In the meantime, the blue rec room cancelled my ideas for the Ohio State decorations I'd arranged to get my husband for Christmas, so I hatched a secret plan to order him an X-Box...but then after Thanksgiving dinner, all the guys went on a shopping trip together and bought themselves X-Boxes and now this is what my bedroom looks like every evening.
So Merry freakin Christmas to all...
...and to all a good night.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Pardon The Interruption...

Ok, so many of you know I've been writing for the website HaHas for HooHas for 6 months now. When people ask how to find those articles, I tell them to go 'Like' the HaHas for HooHas Facebook page and their posts will come up on the newsfeed. Or, if you're looking for my articles specifically, you can go directly to their site, scroll down, click on my picture and all of my articles will pull up. Easy peasy.

Then I have people ask why I don't post my articles onto this blog site. The answer I give is, I created this blog to document our family stories for our kids (and anyone else who happens to enjoy stupid humor laced with heavy sarcasm), therefore, I keep my work articles separate. And that's true. The other true answer that I don't say out loud is, I'm a socially backward introvert who shudders at the mere suggestion of self-promotion. That being said, this is the nature of the beast in the writing profession.

So I think I've come up with a compromise. (((WARNING))) This is gonna feel and sound a whole lot like self-promotion, so please just let me get through this before I vomit.

I'll continue to keep my private Facebook page and this blog separate from my weekly articles, but I'll 'Share' the articles on this blog's Facebook page, Close Courters Blog. So if you want to go 'Like' that page, that's where you'll be able to track both my personal entries here and my professional entries there.

A few things you should know.
1. It's 6 months worth of weekly articles, and believe it or not, my life goal isn't to annoy the crap out of anyone. So starting today, I'll go back to the beginning and share one per day until I get caught up and then stay on a weekly schedule.

2. I write a different format over there. Rather than specific stories, I write lists...of everything you might've never thought could be made into a list. They're generally quick easy reads and hopefully have you nodding in agreement to a mundane observation, laughing at my reaction to a mundane observation or widening your eyes thinking, 'Holy crap, did she really go there?'
The answer is yes. I'll always go there.

Which brings me to this:
3. If you're easily offended, feel free to steer clear. But if you know my humor, understand what I do, and can simply enjoy a good harmless laugh, have at it.

4. I'm always open to ideas and suggestions for writing material. Feel free to message any thoughts or observations of your own that you think might make a funny article topic and if I use it, I'll credit you on the Facebook page when I share it.

5. I need to give a shout out to my faithful team of proofreaders, who every single week, willingly subject themselves to my writing, openly share their thoughts and ideas, always catch my typos, and freely tell me if something just doesn't make sense or goes too far...too far, psh.
So to you, Susan Y and Melanie G, THANK YOU for putting up with me...and I'm really very sorry.

Alright, that's it. Now if you so choose, you can go 'Like' Close Courters Blog on Facebook and then let's all forget that I just invited anyone to 'Like' my anything. *gag*

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Date Fight

Deep in my mind, where peace and order like to reign, I classify my relationships as the rings of the solar system. Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus. (Bear with me. This will start to make sense. Or it might not.) With that in mind, the sun for me is God, who is at the center of my "universe" and He is who I ultimately strive to revolve all other relationships around. Therefore, in my little system, Ron, our kids, their spouses and our grandkids would be on the first ring, Mercury. That means, they're the ones who come first in my line of priorities in every single area of life. No ifs, ands or buts.

Venus is reserved for my closest of close friendships. The people who know my story and I know theirs. Those few who are aware of my walls and yet managed to love their way to the other side of them. It's a trust thing. If I trust you, you're on my Venus, and if you're on my Venus, I assure you, you can trust me right back. 

That's not to discount my feelings for everyone on Earth...my ring Earth, not like, Earth Earth. Earth is where all my other friendships are. The people who might not know my story and I probably don't know theirs, but there's a fun companionship and I enjoy our time together. Earth is big, Earth is crowded and Earth is awesome. 

Mars is for acquaintances. It's friendly on Mars, in a surfacy sort of way. 

Jupiter has a giant 'Proceed With Caution' sign. It consists of varying levels of relationships, but trust is hard to come by on Jupiter because Jupiter is untrustworthy. No offense.

Saturn is for strangers and Uranus...well, let's just say I don't spend much energy there.

Again, this is just a loose attempt to simplify a complicated concept. Our lives are an ever evolving system of relationships as people meet, change and grow. We all have different levels of relationships depending on how well we know people, and whether we admit it or not, that often dictates how we prioritize our time and which (if any) battles we're willing to choose. 

That being said, don't ever ever mess with my Mercury or Venus. Those peeps are my tribe.

Now, if Ron thought in terms of a solar system, his would revolve around Saturn, where the strangers dwell. For Ron, Saturn is where it's at. Strangers love Ron and Ron loves strangers. 'Stranger Danger?' Not even a thing in Ron's world.

Which brings us to date nights. Last year, we began incorporating workouts into date night. We started at the gym before going out to dinner. Unfortunately, with the late hour and our limited selection of restaurants in our area, we had only 3 places to choose from; Perkins, Applebees, or Bob Evans.

We started at Perkins. By our 3rd date there, the hostess had taken an extreme liking to my extrovert husband who couldn't seem to NOT make eye contact with her, thus in her mind inviting her over to stand at our table and chat the entire time we ate. Dude, she just jumped from my Saturn to Uranus. We're done here.

Next up, Applebees. Nothing horrible happened there if you don't think completely changing their menu and removing my delicious 350 calorie Parmesan Chicken dish somewhere between our 1st and 2nd date is horrible. Welcome to Uranus, Applebees. 

Bob Evans, here we come. The service there is terrible, which is to say that since they were barely interested in taking our order, they certainly weren't interested in chatting it up with Chuckles and they had a delicious potato crusted flounder for a mere 243 calories. This place is a keeper. Until the week we showed up to a practically vacant restaurant at 9pm and the hostess seated us diagonal from the only other people in there. Seriously?

It was a mom and her 2 kids and the older boy took an immediate interest in me. I avoided eye contact and made a mental note to work on my strangers vibe. (For future reference, my Saturn includes kid strangers too.) As time progressed, he was staring at me so intently that he was actually sitting on the edge of his booth seat. I was halfway through my banana nut bread when he got up and made his way over. I prepared myself for my worst nightmare...this kid was about to touch my banana bread and I was gonna end up on the news. (Add germaphobe to my list of fun qualities.)

But to my horror, shock, dismay, outrage, you name it, as I instinctively pushed my banana bread to the side, he started stomping as hard as he could with both feet all over my super-cool-they-no-longer-make-them-orange-and-black Brooks running shoes. In self defense, I moved my feet further under the table, but he reached his feet as far as they'd go and continued to painfully stomp. That's it, you little Uranus...that's when his mom noticed what was going on, grabbed him and made him stop. She'd just barely begun to apologize when my husband...he who used to live on my Mercury...said, "That's ok! He was just having fun!"
Dammit, man, get your planets in order!

We don't do workout date nights anymore. You can now find us on regular dates, sitting in a secluded corner of any steak house during school hours.

The closest we came to having another situation was last year on our annual trip to Hilton Head Island when we chose to eat dinner at the Ohio State Bar so that Ron could watch the game. The place was packed. Ron dropped me off at the door to get a table while he found a place to park across the street. I walked in armed with my library book. (Hey, I never said I was watching the game). The hostess asked if we'd been there before. No, we have not. She said, "Well we seat family style."  What the crap is family style? "You'll be sitting at a table with other people."

I met Ron outside the front doors. He looked at my face and said, "Oh gosh, what happened?"
On our way back to the van, I began describing this 'Family Style' atrocity and then was rudely interrupted by some guy from Saturn yelling "O-H" which of course my husband was morally obligated to respond "I-O!!" in the middle of my traumatic story. Then another guy yelled, "You're not leavin, are ya?" And Ron said, "No!" and I said, "Yes." And Ron said, "We'll be right back!" And I said, "No, we won't." Heaven forbid we disappoint people we've never seen before and will never see again.

Half hour later, we were seated in a booth at the Wild Wing Cafe. Ron buddied up to our waiter and persuaded him to turn one of the tvs to the Buckeye game and I settled in for an evening of reading and margaritas. At one point, I looked up from my book to see the waiter actually sitting in our booth beside Ron and telling him all about his move to the island and the courses he was studying in college, but I figured as long as Ron didn't allow him to start physically assaulting me, I'd let that one slide.
This year in Hilton Head, we ordered in on game days.
He's just too hugely popular on Saturn to take out in public anymore.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


As you might've noticed (or maybe you haven't), I'm on a once a month posting schedule here. I assure you, it's not for lack of material, but lack of time. One of these days I'll get to slow down...I think.

I'm a little behind, but hope to catch up on a few of our summer time dramas. So let's start with this one.

The older I get, the more OCD I'm getting. I don't need things "clean" per say, but I do need order. So the long drawn out process of remodeling our kitchen this summer was nothing short of a nightmare for me.

It started with the simple idea of refinishing the cabinets which required everything to be removed from them and stacked around the house. Four days of not knowing if dishes in various rooms of the house were clean or dirty. Awesome.

Cabinets, check.

When everything was put back where it belonged, we realized the cabinets looked so good that the countertops looked like crap. Five weeks and countless fights with Lowes later, our new countertops arrived...aaaaaand everything from the cabinets was removed. Again. And you can't upgrade your countertops without also upgrading your sink. Surprised you didn't know that. Enter 4 days of no countertop, no sink and no running water. And just for fun, picture our old countertop and stainless steel sink piled outside on our driveway because we're the best neighbors to live beside ever.

Countertops, check.

Now let's discuss the line of old paint running across our walls because the new countertop isn't as tall as the old one. There was also a rather large scraped up section from where the countertop was forced down the wall because it hadn't been cut short enough. My fingers were involved, as well as a string of profanity, so let's just skip over that scene, shall we? We'd just painted those walls last year, so back to Lowes again with scraps of chipped paint pieces...mixed with finger skin...for them to match with their super-cool-we-can-match-any-paint-color-machine, until the guy freakin loses my scrap of paint and decides to wing it and I get home to realize it's a shade too dark.

Repaint the entire kitchen, *%#&'ing check.

The kitchen looked amazing until you looked at the old linoleum floor. And if you're gonna change out the flooring, you may as well get a new fridge while you're at it. Adding the old refrigerator into the pile on the driveway earned us yet another Neighbor Of The Year Award. We're fun like that.

So one Tuesday in August, the stove, table, chairs, and dry sink were crammed into our living room and the guy who was laying our tile arrived. Thank you, Lord, an end is in sight...until he left at the end of his first day and said, "I told your husband you can't walk on this for 3 days. "Whoa, wait. What the crap did you just say?"

The floor wouldn't be ready till Friday, which was incidentally the day we expected the arrival of our new refrigerator, which is the one day a week I have massage clients come to the house, and was coincidentally the day we were hosting a get together for Ron's whole side of the family, because of course.

The floors were actually good to go by Thursday evening, so most everything was put back into place by Friday morning. The refrigerator was scheduled for delivery between 8 and noon. My first client was coming at 1 and Ron's family was coming at 6. This should run like clockwork. That is if freakin Lowes knew what clockwork meant.

They didn't arrive until 12:45 and when they dollied the ginormous refrigerator out of their truck I began to wonder how it would fit. Short answer: it didn't.

When my first client arrived, both doors into our house had been completely removed, a refrigerator was in our hallway and Ron and the Lowes guys were discussing the fact that he hadn't measured anything before choosing the fridge, but had "eyeballed it."

(Let's just say that an angry massage therapist is not ideal and I'll be surprised if that client returns.)

When Ron's family arrived for dinner, he was covered head to toe in sawdust from where he had to cut the bottom section from the newly refinished cabinets to squeeze the fridge under and unless you look closely, you can't tell. (Just please don't look closely.)

By the time his family left, so had my rage...until I tried to open the freezer and the kitchen door frame blocked it, which led me to discover that reaching the kitchen light switch was no longer an option, either.

Before I could say anything, he said, "This isn't a big deal...we'll just shorten the countertop again."

Head exploded, check.

In all seriousness, I want to thank my husband for a hard job well done.
The finished product almost makes me forget what we went through to get it.

Actually, no. No, it doesn't.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

I'm Sassy and I know it

Right around Mother's Day, Caymen came home from school and said, "We talked about moms today and my teacher said you wear lots of hats. I think she meant daddy because you don't wear any hats." Out of the mouths of babes.

Sadly, I think there was a time when I would've agreed with her.  As a stay at home mom in my 20's, I'm not sure I credited myself with the many hats that job requires. But I proudly wore the titles of wife, mommy, and homemaker, made lots of mistakes, but did the very best job I knew how to do.  So a quick heartfelt shout out to all you mommas out there who wear whichever hat that your husband and/or kiddos need you to wear at any given moment of every single day.  Wear those wrinkled, spit up, peed on hats proud, ladies.  Your children are noticing.  And you'll reap priceless rewards for your sacrifice.

I spent my 30's focusing on my massage therapy career while our 3 children at the time were in school.  But things got a tad complicated when I was 35 and Caymen came along and I suddenly had a baby beside my massage table...or occasionally strapped to my back.  Thankfully she adapted well to spending an hour at a time in a candlelit room listening to soft music, but I was extremely grateful for patient clients who understood that sometimes babies crap their pants at inopportune times.  I was wife, mommy, and massage therapist, made lots of mistakes, but did the very best job I knew how to do.  So a quick heartfelt shout out to all you mommas out there who wear whichever hat required to get through the day juggling life both inside and outside of the home.  Your children are noticing.  And you'll reap priceless rewards for your sacrifice.

I mistakenly assumed hats decreased with age. But I'm almost 44 and accumulating  more hats than I know how to handle. Wife, mommy, writer, massage therapist, zumba instructor, self-doubt-er, suck-er at multi-task-er, easily flustered and full fledged panic attack-er whenever I forget that back in 2012, I made a promise to God.  "Lord, if you open a door, I'll walk through, not because I think I can do it, but because I trust you to equip me to."  I argue with Him a lot and have failed Him countless times, but He has yet to ever fail me. He's kinda super patient like that.

Last November, I got a new hat...Sassy...when Zac's wife gave birth to a 9lb 10oz baby boy who rolled into the world and stole my heart .  This summer I found out I'm going to be Sassy again when Aubrey and her husband have their baby girl in January. By far, of all the hats I've ever worn or wear today, being a Sassy to my children's children is the best of the best. Playing, spoiling, hugging, kissing, reading, rocking, singing...it's all the love you have for your own kids multiplied by infinity. I have no doubt I'll make lots of mistakes, but I'm committed to doing the very best job I know how for the rest of my life.

So a quick heartfelt shout out to all you grandma's...or nanny's, or gi gi's or sassy's...out there. You who unconditionally love, whole heartedly support and happily lay aside all other hats of responsibility you carry at a moment's notice to embrace and fulfill this most valuable privilege as grandparent.

Your children are noticing...and this is your reward.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

UhOhs and HooHas

Last fall after a nudge from God (and shove from my husband), I made the decision to resign my Massage Therapist position at the salon, decrease the massage hours in my home office to one day a week and start steering my career into the writing industry full time in 2015.

In January, a friend sent me a link to a site called HaHas for HooHas and encouraged me to submit some stories. (Thank you, JK!) HooHas? You have my attention. So I checked it out, absolutely loved their humor and their content was right up my alley. They were accepting guest submissions, but the part about applying to become a regular writer for the site is what caught my eye. Hey, it's the writing industry. I'm gonna have to hear 1,000 no's before I hear a yes. May as well go for it and get my 1st no out of the way. So I emailed the info they requested, but didn't hear back.

I convinced myself that I probably misunderstood God's nudge toward writing. People would ask how the writing's going. Ummm...gooooood...yeah, goin good. When actually I was quite happy babysitting my grandson 2 days a week and posting on here every so often. So was I scared of the writing or content without it? To be honest, both. See on one hand, I nearly have a breakdown every time I post something here, because I don't trust my ability. On the other hand, I've become so trusting of God that I'm to a place in my life that no matter what it is, if God wants me to have it, He'll see that I get it in His time and if He isn't ready for me to have it, then I don't want it. Therefore, I'm not real great at blindly kicking random doors of opportunity.  BUT, if one cracks open...

In the middle of May, I heard from HooHas. They checked out my blog and asked for a submission that I would write specifically for their site. Now here's where things got a little confusing. I thought it was like a sample that the heads of the site would read. Just them. Which is how I presented it to Ron when I convinced him to let me write 'Roid Rage'...9 Reasons My Husband's Hemorrhoid Pisses Me Off ...that he refused to let me write for my own blog because I average 500 readers. But "go big or go home" I told him and it'd probably only be like 3 people reading it. Ya know. A test piece. So when it went public on May 18th for their 107,000+  readers, my blog site lit up with hits and FB friend requests from complete strangers came pouring in, I got an immediate case of explosive diarrhea knowing I had to call him at work and break the news.
Um, babe? Funny story. You sitting down?

And that kicked off my month long interview process of weekly submissions.

Marital tension aside, I was floating on air. I couldn't stop looking at the climbing number of likes, and shares, and the comments! Holy crap, these people love me!

But the following week I was petrified to submit my 2nd article and voiced my concerns to the site owner. How do I compete with the success of my last post? My husband's hemorrhoid was huge...um, I mean the response. She gave me exactly the advice I needed to hear. Trying to top a successful post is a never ending battle you never win. Some go viral. Some completely bomb. That's just how it goes and I can't worry about it. My job is to keep writing.

So I had permission to fail which was just the boost I needed and the female population at large were hailing me a hero for outing my husband's hemorrhoid, so what could go wrong?  You know the bible verse about the pride and the fall thing?  Yeah, about that...

That night, I woke up with a brilliant idea. (Note to self; nothing brilliant happens at 2am.) A long time ago, I wrote a private list of things that get on my nerves at church and it circulated amongst my innermost friends. They know me well, understood it was all in good fun and according to them, it was hilarious. (All 2 of them thought so). But how do I go public with such a private list and not lose 300 of my FB friends I attend church with in the process? Enter Brilliant Idea #2. Let everyone in on it. Throw it out as a FB status asking them what gets on their nerves and let them write it for me. The best kept secret is the one people think they're in on. And voila, "20 Things That Annoy The Crap Out Of Us At Church" was born.

I was in Hilton Head vacationing with my family when it went public. Within 1 minute of it being published, there were 24 comments. By the 2nd comment referring to me as a pagan, I threw up in my mouth. This was bad. This was reeeeeaaaaal bad. I contacted the site owner. Um, people are taking this way too seriously. Should I explain myself? She said, "No. You should STOP READING THE COMMENTS." I ran downstairs to my family and hysterically announced, "Everyone on the internet hates me!" Zac's response, "Congratulations! You made it!"

I haven't had that many people question my salvation since attending a Baptist church through my teen years. This didn't feel like success to me. My daughter-in-law Barbara gave me a compassionate hug and said, "They just don't know you." My daughter Aubrey immediately went to war defending my honor in the comments section...which I heard about through the grapevine because I haven't read a comment since someone credited a woman like me as being why she's an atheist. Owie. My son-in-law Nick informed me that "There's no such thing as bad publicity." I said, "Jesus might disagree." And then Ron said, "Jesus can defend Himself. Trust me, He's not dependent on you." Well, that's a relief.

And those were just my family members. I received countless texts from all kinds of friends. The outpouring of support was overwhelming.

That night in bed I was talking it through with Ron and wondered if I no longer read comments under my posts, how will I know if people like me or not? And then I heard a word from God inside my head as clearly as if He'd said it out loud. "Are you writing for them or me?" Whoa. Back the pity party up. Is my identity still with God where it belongs or was I placing my worth in the fickle opinions of people again?

And just like that things became crystal clear and another chain of bondage was broken. Since starting my blog here, each time I'd post, my fear would be what if people don't like it? And each time I'd feel God's gentle voice say, 'What if someday I ask you to write something some people will hate?"

I'm not referring to my church post here. I'm neither crediting nor blaming God for that one. I have no idea if He got a chuckle over that list or if He rolled His eyes, smacked his forehead and called an emergency meeting of my guardian angels.

But these things I know for sure:
1. He created me to be exactly who I am and I'm a work in progress. I'll probably disappoint you, but I'm never a disappointment to Him.
2. He gave me the gift to write and the desire to make people laugh. Sometimes it backfires and I piss people off. If that's you, please refer back to #1.
3. I have a testimony. It's not a funny one. Someday, He might ask me to write it. And I'll obey.
4. Aaaaaaaaand, if you're going to a site called HaHas for HooHas for spiritual guidance, you might wanna reevaluate your life, but whatever.

At the beginning of June, I was offered the job and happily accepted. I have yet to read another comment under any of my posts. I certainly hope people enjoy what I write, but it goes back to that saying, 'It's none of my business what people think of me'. God opened this door of opportunity and kept a firm hand on my back as He navigated me through the fear of change He knows I hate, while teaching me priceless lessons along the way. That's so Him. I'm humbly dependent on Him now more than ever as I adjust to a world of weekly deadlines and daily tapping into a source of inspiration that often feels dried up. He has yet to fail me. I wish I could say the same for me, but now I'll refer back to #1.

I've also been reminded how much I have to be grateful for. Turns out, I have way more than 2 people in my inner circle of supportive friends and I have family members who rally tight when one is under attack. I mean seriously, how many husbands out there would sit and quietly read every single despicable thing said about his wife for that rare moment when he can excitedly say, "Hey babe! Here's someone who doesn't hate you!"

Almost makes me feel bad about writing that hemorrhoid thing. Almost.

I'm going to leave you with a quote from Joyce Meyer that I jotted down the week before I heard from HooHas. I discovered it in my phone again the day after the church post heard round the world hit the fan. Maybe there's someone who needs to read this right now. Maybe that someone is you.

"Maybe you need to let go of self hatred and self rejection and being self critical all the time. Maybe you need to realize today that God created you with his own hand in your mother's womb. He gave you your personality. He gave you your talents and your weaknesses. God wants you to be who YOU are and you cannot go to the next level that God has for you until you decide that you're going to be YOURSELF."
~Joyce Meyer~
So what's holding you back?
I dare say it's you.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Shark Week

No, I'm not referring to the annual week long special devoted to sharks on the Discovery Channel.  I'm talking about my PMS. 

Our family is fun.  (Some might argue irresponsible, but whatever.)  There are now 9 of us out to have a good time, freely admitting there's minimal adult supervision, and occasionally things go awry.  We're totally used to that and if you've read this blog at all, you are too.  Most of the time, I roll with it.  Occasionally, I get frustrated.  Like, rarely.  I'm talkin hardly ev-er

But here's what pisses me off.  When Shark Week unfortunately coincides with our family vacation to Hilton Head Island, where fun is priority #1 and mishaps are at an all-time high, if I happen to ever-so-barely lose my cool, let's everyone stop making eye contact with each other across the room and sure as hell stop with the under-your-breath Jaw's theme song because I'm "putting off a scary vibe."
Duuuh, duh.  Duuuh, duh...Shut it, Chuckles.

So let me break it down for ya and you can draw your own conclusions, because in my opinion, any sane non-pms'ing person would have gotten equally as irritated as I did...

...when someone from Schuler's Bakery came up with the lame-brain idea to make their doughnut boxes taller causing it to not fit on top of the dashboard and 2 hours into our journey came sliding off and scattered our dozen chocolate covered creme-filled dough balls of heaven straight across my crotch and the floor of our van.  If ever the 3 second rule applied, that was it.  "Duuuh, duh."

...when somewhere in North Carolina, my bladder was about to explode and 3, count em THREE, different gas stations told me their bathrooms were "out of order" and I might have flipped the double bird to an entire town.  "Duuuh, duh."

...when I ended up jumping out of the van while we were stopped at a light, ran across 4 lanes of traffic to a McDonald's and straight into the nearest bathroom stall.  Ya know, the one with no toilet paper.  "Duuuh, duh."

...when just half a mile down the highway from that disastrous exit we passed the South Carolina welcome center.  "Duuuh duh..."

...when the morning of our 2nd day, Ron inflated a giant double inter-tube in the middle of our condo living room.  Over top the pull-out couch where our youngest daughter and grandson were laying.  Right beside the table where my full cup of coffee sat.  In my defense, I wasn't the only one screaming that time.  "Duuuh duh..."
...when he finally convinced me to ride the waves on the super fun inter-tube and I heard him yell something about "a good one" and the next thing I knew I'd knocked down 2 little girls and was sitting in the sand with my bikini top around my waist.  No tan lines today, kids.  "Duuuh duh..."

...when Ron lost another hat and pair of sunglasses in the ocean.  Thus bringing his grand total over the course of 17 years of Hilton Head trips to 27 hats and 22 pairs of sunglasses. "Duuuh duh..."

 ...when everyone decided that I would lead our evening bike ride and then no one kept up with me.  "Duuuh duh..."

...when I was taking our annual 'Watch Us Grow' pictures of all of our kids at the playground and a random little girl kept posing herself into the shot.  "Duuuh duh..."
 ...when Ron and I were sitting by the pool one night and Zac called me on the phone and said, "3-2-1..." before using his water balloon launcher to fling tennis balls at us from our 4th floor condo balcony.  "Duuuh duh..."

...when Ron tried to use the "finders keepers" defense over an inflatable beach ball he took from a little girl's dad at the pool.  "Duuuh duh..."

...when we unsuccessfully tried the same defense over the super cool sand hole, complete with carved in bench seats, we found abandoned on the beach one day.  By the time the family who created it returned from lunch, we'd re-designed it to fit our grandson's baby pool, accidentally caved in a bench seat (or 2), and set up our shade tent over the entire thing.  FINE!!!  TAKE YOUR DAMN HOLE BACK!!!
"Duuuh duh..."
 ...when the local ice cream shop "ran out" of large containers, had to put our giant Brownie Feasts in small ones, and then tried to convince us that we're still getting the same serving size.
Oh, nuh uh, Frozen Moo.  You picked the wrong day to mess.

That wasn't just me.
My whole family had my back on that one.



Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Dog Days of Summer

You all know Summer, right?  She's our loveable 12 year old Beagle/Dalmation mix and you might remember, she's had a pretty rough year.  It started last May when our German Shepherd puppy found rat poison as told in the original Dog Days post and we thought we might lose all 3 of our dogs, but thankfully didn't.

Things escalated last October when we thought Summer lost one of her eyes during Fright Night.  We took her to the Vet expecting the worst, but it turns out her eye's not completely gone, but rather missing part of the time and more often than not Caymen announces, "Hey!  Summer has an eye today!"  Which in Caymen's mind is the deciding factor for Summer's quality of life each day.

But for a 12 year old beagle who eats a little less, walks a little slower, tolerates an unruly rolling eye, and frequently chews her belly until we toss her a Benadryl tablet, she's holding her own, ya know?

That is until this morning when she wouldn't get off of Caymen's bed to eat her food.  No biggie.  Everybody needs to sleep in once in a while.  But 8 hours later when I heard her crying and she had to be lifted off the bed, I knew this might really be Summer's last hurrah.  So I headed for the Veterinarian's office and called Ron to meet me there while I silently cried. 

Normally when we enter the Vet's office, Summer has already worked herself into an excited mess of gagging heaves and we burst into their waiting area in a spray of white froth spewing from her mouth.  But today she allowed us time to fully open the door and we walked in slowly like a normal family.  Heartbreaking.  Then they weighed her which I assumed was to ensure they administered the proper dose of farewell meds and I fought tears in my eyes.

Then we were escorted to room 3 where we waited for the doctor.
He walked in, took one look at her and said, "She's thrown her back out."
Whoa.  Wait.  Whaaat?

The next 15 minutes were filled with Ron and I being lectured on the dangers of allowing dogs to jump onto and off of furniture, followed by his plan for her extended care which included monthly shots, regular doses of anti-inflammatory pills and strict orders for us to carry her up and down stairs from here on out.

Ron's immediate response:  "Well none of that's gonna happen."

Look, we're the people who signed up to host a foreign exchange student for a summer 7 years ago and when they asked if we'd be willing to accept one with food allergies we said that won't work.  We know ourselves well enough to know that we lack adult supervision and keeping healthy people alive around here is all the responsibility we're willing to accept.  We're simple folk.  We need low maintenance.  They matched us with an awesome 14 year old named Kosuke who woke early and asked about chores. We spent the next 2 months feeding him and teaching him the joy of sleeping late and taking naps.  When he boarded the plane home, 15 lbs heavier, Ron said, "We ruined a perfectly good Japanese boy, didn't we?"  But hey, we kept him alive.  

So, expensive high maintenance elderly dog?  Well, no, that won't work either.  But we're also not willing to watch that sweet dog be in pain for the rest of her days.

So $55 dollars, 1 shot and 10 days worth of anti-inflammatory pills later, we arrived back home with Summer and the agreement that we'll help her up and down stairs, give her 1/2 an aspirin twice a day as needed should she ever slip another disc...and it just so happens I'm a massage therapist so I think a special furry someone might just find herself on the receiving end of some daily treatments.  

We're nothing if not willing to compromise...especially for the love of a sweet, occasionally 1-eyed, beagle. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Chuck E. ChEaster

Chuck E. Cheese's.  Where a kid can be a kid.

Which is precisely why I can't stand that place.  

Why in the world would a mom of any children of her own, willingly subject herself to an afternoon of confinement in a hamster cage of tubes, slides, bells and whistles, with a multitude of undisciplined children and the parents who raised them, in a place that encourages everyone to loudly run amok while large stuffed animals singing on stage blares in the background? 

And let's be honest, anyplace that has to stamp matching numbers on a parent's hand to ensure they take their unruly offspring home with them when they leave is not my happy place.

But hey, I also despise Disney World and anything having to do with the movie Frozen, so I'm accustomed to being in the minority, and in my family, I'm definitely in the minority. 
(Flash to my husband, ringleader of all shenanigans, and major contributor to Chuck E. Cheese no longer furnishing a ball pit.)

So about 10 years ago, we found a compromise, and now every year we go to Chuck E. Cheese after church.  On Easter.    Who in the crap goes to Chuck E. Cheese on Easter?  We do.  Because NOBODY is there.  Because it's Easter.

We attend the earliest church service and arrive at Chuck E's when they open.  The kids (and Ron) make their rounds gathering all the tickets protruding from the machines where the employees started them up that morning.  We place our pizza order.  I do the mom-thing...watch a few games, take a few pictures...and then I settle into a booth with my library book.  Everybody wins.

But this year was slightly different because it wasn't about the mom thing for me.  We have a grandson now, so much to my surprise, I was all about this new grandma thing...or Sassy...which is what I'm now called. 

Gone was my wish for  peace and quiet.  No, no.  Suddenly, I'm growing increasingly infuriated that the giant stuffed animals on the stage were silently pounding away on their instruments and the only sound you heard was the clicking of their plastic eyes opening and closing, because this sweet baby boy I'm pushing in the stroller is not getting the full Chuck E. Cheese experience he deserves, dammit!!

So off we went to file a complaint with the 17 year old hand-stamper who explained that sometimes the animals take a break. 

Okay, she knows they're stuffed, right?  And even if they weren't stuffed, real animals wouldn't be playing in a band.  Maybe she's drunk.  So I bit back my super-witty reply and continued strollering. 

Half hour later, I could take the clicking of the plastic eyes no more, returned to the underage drinker and explained that they're still not singing.  Then she replied, "You know they don't really sing, right?" 
Oh, you wanna go?!  Let's goooo.

This is why we can't go to nice places.

Much to my grandson's delight, the animals eventually snapped out of their 'break' and 3 hours later we left with everyone exhausted, their bellies full of pizza, and he with his 10 dollar Chuck E. Cheese ball, purchased with $140 dollars worth of tokens. 

Worth it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Downhill From Here, Part II

I left off with Zac and I checked into a cabin in Tennessee while Ron, Kearstin, Caymen, Barbara and the baby sat in the van at the top of a mountain with a half mile of steep snow covered hills between us and no cell service. 

This was going nowhere fast and we knew we had to make the inevitable climb back up to the van so we decided to start running.  By the time we got there, it was pitch dark, I couldn't breathe, had numb fingers, frozen snot across my cheek and I no longer felt guilty about the lunch I'd eaten at Golden Corral earlier in the day.  As a matter of fact, my only regret was that we hadn't stayed longer, but I digress.

Nick and Aubrey were still about an hour away when Ron texted them the situation.  We tried to find another route to the cabin, but there was none.  That left us with one thing to do.  We parked our van along the side of the road, everyone took luggage, I grabbed the food and drink bags and we started hiking to the cabin.  Zac and Barbara ran ahead as fast as they could with the baby.  Kearstin and Caymen were in front of me and Ron followed behind.  My goal was to keep the girls within my sights, which worked fine until my feet went out from under me, I landed with a slam onto one of the food bags and slid past them as I rode a bag of potato chips down the mountain.  When I spun to a sloppy stop at the bottom, Kearstin's voice broke the silence from somewhere behind me when she said, "Daaaaaaaamn."

Shut it, girlie.  I saved the wine. 
I. Saved. The. Wine.

We finally made it to the cabin where I poured a glass and soaked my aching bones in the jet tub
while Zac and Ron made the climb back up to meet Nick and Aubrey and help them hike down with all of their stuff.

Once everyone was safely settled in, the fun and laughter that followed was everything you'd ever hope for a family's first getaway to the mountains. 

That lasted until noon the next day when we started to get hungry for more than breakfast cereal and snacks.  The original plan was to go indoor skydiving and out to dinner to celebrate Aubrey and Caymen's birthdays, but we'd given up on that when we barely made it to the cabin at all.  But one way or another, we had to get food.  It was eventually decided that the guys would take the hike back up and check out the road conditions in the light of day after a morning of warm, hopefully melting, sunlight.

An hour later, I was thrilled to see our van pull into the cabin driveway.  Twenty minutes after that, we were stuck in the middle of a steep hill while the guys used a shovel, floor mats and box of kitty litter to inch our van slowly up the mountain.

Where'd we get a shovel and kitty litter, you might ask?  Well, Nick and Aubrey read the warning email the cabin company sent and they packed some of the "recommended supplies." 
Brilliant, I tell ya.

By late afternoon, we were happily signing our lives away on indoor skydiving waivers.  An experience that Caymen will never forget as the young instructor gave her a lot of attention with some special tricks that included a personal flight with him to the very top of the tunnel.  I asked her if she was scared and she answered, "No.  I knew he was a trained professional."

Trained professional / 17 year old kid with a weekend skydiving job...6 of 1, half dozen of another.

After a birthday dinner at Blue Moose and cupcakes from GiGi's, we slid back down the mountain where we got stuck again and Nick and the cupcakes almost went down a steep ravine trying to help guide Ron who was driving the van up the hill leading to our cabin, backward, in the dark.

Miraculously, everyone survived our family weekend and Sunday morning we drove back up the mountain uneventfully, leaving sunny Tennessee, predicting 50 degrees that day, and headed home to our forecast calling for 6-8 inches of snow.

Seven hours later, we arrived home...got stuck in our driveway...and for the 3rd time that weekend, carried our stuff through the snow. 
But hey, nobody fell down or had to pee outside.

In this family, you recognize the silver lining...
...if you can find one.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Downhill From Here, Part I

A couple of months ago, Zac called and asked if we'd be interested in a family weekend with all of us together in a cabin in Tennessee the following month.  Um, let me think...YES!!!

And with that, it's my belief that somewhere in the heavenly realms an emergency meeting of the guardian angels was called and all hands on deck were ordered to be on Courter-duty the last weekend of February.

Apparently, Tennessee spent much of their winter dealing with snow, because a few days before we were scheduled to leave, we all received an email warning us to "come prepared with extra food, equipment and supplies" and were "strongly urged" to travel in a 4-wheel drive vehicle.

So on Friday morning Zac and Ron loaded up our 2-wheel drive mini-van with 2 days worth of clothes, snacks and breakfast cereal (read: the exact amount of food and supplies we'd originally planned), and then threw in a fire starter log and lighter.  Voila.  "Equipment."

Zac, Barbara and the baby were riding with us.  Aubrey and Nick were driving separately and planned to arrive later that night. 

We were a little worried about the road conditions we might encounter, but the further into Tennessee we drove and experienced no problems whatsoever, we began to let down our guard and do what we do...make fun of those dramatic Tennessee residents and their obvious intolerance for a little snow.  At one point as we climbed the mountain, a snow plow passed us going the other way with it's plow scraping dry ground and throwing off sparks.
Tennessee.  Psh.  Stooopid.

We eventually made a sharp right onto the road leading down to our cabin and there in the middle, blocking our way, was a 4-wheel drive vehicle with it's hazards on.  Come on, dude.  MOVE.  So Ron maneuvered around to the left of the guy and then quickly realized why he was stopped when we found ourselves staring straight down a steep hill that disappeared around a hairpin turn that was covered in a solid sheet of ice and snow.  Ron slammed on his brakes, we all gasped and instinctively pressed ourselves into the backs of our seats as if we were teetering on the edge of a cliff while Kearstin screamed from the back. 

Alright, Tennessee.
We'll see you your drama and raise you some panic.

Somehow it was decided that everyone else would wait in the van while Zac and I walked to the cabin to survey the situation, me in my yoga pants and ugg boots.  I mean, how far could it be, right?  Turns out, half a mile going downhill, then uphill and around curves in the bitter cold is far enough to have to make a pee stop in the middle of the road where Zac got a little fancy with his.  Mine, which resembled steaming demonic markings in the snow, was nothing to photograph. 

We finally reached our cabin.  The cabin named, 'Amazing Grace.'  Clearly, God has a sense of humor.

Obviously, the van was not going to make it to the cabin and daylight was quickly fading.  Zac called the rental agency and told them we couldn't reach the cabin and they gave us a phone number to call to "apply for a refund" which is code for: Screw you and your mini-van, too.

He knew the key code, so we decided to go in and get warm before trekking back up the mountain to the rest of the family.  After several unsuccessful attempts, he called the agency back to find out how to work the key pad.  She was surprised to hear that we'd made it to our cabin when just 2 minutes ago, we reported that we couldn't.  Zac explained that he and I had walked there and the rest of the family, including a 3 month old infant, was currently sitting in a mini-van at the top of the mountain.  To which she
replied, "Then I'll mark you as checked in."

And with that, Zac's cell phone lost service.
Damn you, Tennessee.
To be continued...

Friday, February 13, 2015

Be My Valen-Crime

It might surprise you to know that we don't go looking for trouble.  It might also surprise you to know that sometimes we catch ourselves and reign it in when we recognize the potential for trouble.

For example, when Kearstin got her iPhone she began receiving calls regarding a warrant for the arrest of  a guy named Miles Davis.  Then Miles Davis's mom started calling for him.  That's when Ron thought he could "set up a sting" and use the mom to lure Miles Davis to the police.  And I said, "Or, Nooooooooooo we won't do that."  And we stayed safely uninvolved where we belong and for all we know Mr. Miles Davis is still at large. 

But sadly, there are those occasions when we stumble into some trouble, become deeply enmeshed, and then it's too late.

Which brings us to the 2nd grade Valentine party of 2015.
More specifically, the take home treat bags.

When I headed down to the massage room for my last client of the day, Caymen was happily sifting through her treats from her class party.  An hour later, when I returned upstairs, Ron and Caymen were waiting for me in the kitchen.  "Look what she found in her goodie bag!"  And there on the counter was an unmarked pouch of clear liquid.

On the outside, I stayed completely rational as I praised Caymen for doing the right thing by bringing us something that didn't look appropriate for a treat bag.  Then I took a picture and calmly sent it to her teacher asking for her input and then naturally I posted the picture to my facebook asking 'What the crap?'  As you do.

All the while on the inside I'd spun wildly out of control, plotting the end of any and all take home goodie bags now and forEVER and became a person rivaling any Jehovah's Witness who demands the ban of all things good and fun.  And I was totally okay with that.

Obviously, this was a serious matter and the teacher acted accordingly.  The Superintendent was contacted and of course the police would eventually become involved so that forensics could determine what was in the pouch.

And just that quick, we're throwing around words like forensics.

I sat texting the teacher back and forth as we tried to get to the bottom of this potentially disastrous situation when you stop to consider how many other kids might have received one.

Ron sat googling 'What does Heroin look like?'  I can only imagine what Homeland Security thinks of us at this point.

I was uncomfortable having it in our house, so the teacher suggested I put it in a plastic baggie, we'd meet at the school, and she'd take it from there.

I asked Caymen to describe to me exactly how she came to find the pouch.  She said, "I opened the bag in the bag of the bag that (so and so) gave me."

Ron looked up and said, "How pissed is that kid's parents gonna be when they find out she gave their stash away in goodie bags?"  Sometimes Chuckles should just stay quiet and google.

Before she could ask what a stash is, I asked her what she did with the bags and she said, "I threw them all away...even the one with the instructions." 

Whoa.  Baaaaack the drug bust up.  Instructions?

Off to dig through the trash we went.  She pulled out each of the bags and lo and behold, the smallest bag was made of foil and had instructions:
1.  Smack the Pack 
2.  Watch and Wait
3.  See the Surprise...a Balloon inflates before your eyes.

Sooooo.  Maybe, that wasn't Heroin, but Helium?

In summary, we involved the guidance counselor and superintendent...sounds about right...then met Caymen's teacher in the school parking lot at 10:30 on a Friday night to pass her a baggie through our mini-van window that quite possibly contained the pouch intended to inflate a tiny Valentine balloon.

I'm fully expecting to receive a few follow-up calls Monday morning.

I'm also fully prepared to blame this whole thing on a Mr. Miles Davis.  If you know him, tell him his mom's looking for him.

Friday, January 30, 2015


Today is our 22nd anniversary.

Twenty-two of the hardest, but most wonderful years of my life spent with my best friend.  Our lives so intertwined that I can't tell where mine ends and his begins.  Joy in the memories we've made, excitement for the adventures to come, and contentment in our here and now.  

And yet, I'm finding this post hard to write. 

On the heels of a year where we witnessed the effects of Satan's marital grenades hitting too close to home, I'm sitting here with so little to say, yet so much that could be said.

I could talk about the collateral damage that ensues when you watch marriages end and it occurs to us that we might be a happily married couple today, but at some point might decide we're not so happy after all.
Paranoia.  Distrust.  Fear.

I could talk about watching the marriages that battle back and win.
Forgiveness.  Hope.  Victory.  

I could talk about the things we do within our own marriage to guard against potential areas of attack.
Safeguards.  Boundaries.  Accountability.

I could talk about the things everyone already knows in how to stay connected with each other.
Dating.  Intimacy.  Communication. 

But here's the deal.  Only God knows the intricate details within a marriage.  There's no formula or blanket statements that apply to everyone as a whole and it's not for anyone on the outside to judge.  The only thing I do know is that each and every one of us will answer for our own actions and the ripple effects that those actions cause.

So for me personally, at the end of the day, it all boils down to this:
Am I going to do what I vowed to do 22 years agoEven when it's hard?  Or on days I'm not happy?  For better or for worse?  For richer, for poorer?  In sickness and in health?  Till death do us part? 

You're damn right I am. 

Thank you for your unconditional love and please forgive me for all the areas where I fall short.  It's my honor to faithfully spend the rest of my life by your side.  Your best friend, your lover, your wife.
I love you.

'What God has joined together, let no one separate.'
Mark 10:9

Friday, January 16, 2015


Parental fail.
You recognize it when you're in the middle of it, but by then it's usually too late.

So let me tell you about Kearstin's 'big gift' for Christmas 2014.
I'll start by listing all the things we did right.

1.  We bought her an iPhone 5S.

Yep, that's pretty much the only thing we did right.

As you know, the goal with any Christmas gift, much less the big gift, is to see their face when they open it with the family at Christmas.  Her current phone had to be mailed back within 7 days of receiving her new phone.  The dilemma arose when we received her new phone 2 weeks before Christmas.  Crap

How do we get her old phone away from her for a week without telling her about her new phone?

We discussed options:
Tell her about the new phone?  (Unthinkable!)
Ground her and take away her phone?  (Hard to justify doing that to a 15 year old who gets straight A's and shows zero signs of teenage rebellion...knock on wood...) 

That was pretty much the end of our options list.
Until one night, an option presented itself.

We were leaving her basketball game on a cold rainy night and she didn't want to get her cheer shoes wet so she jumped into Ron's arms and he carried her out to the van.  Somewhere along the way, she dropped her phone and while Ron and I searched the dark parking lot, an idea occurred"Let's not tell her when we find her phone!"

It doesn't matter whose idea it was, okay?  Why throw around names?  I mean, history would indicate that it was Ron, right?  So let's just go with that.

Get off my back, it was me, alright?!?  IT. WAS. ME!!!

When Ron found her phone, he slipped it to me, I hid it in my purse and we climbed back into the van explaining that it was too dark and told her someone would surely find it and turn it into the office.

As I gave Ron a sly smile and a thumbs up, the sobbing began in the backseat.  What the...

I looked back to see tears streaming down her face.  Ron gave me his frantic what do we do gesture.  I answered with my how the crap am I supposed to know gesture. 

By the time we arrived home, we'd decided that as much as it pained us, we had no choice but to fess up and give her the new phone.  I mean we couldn't have an honor student sobbing around the house for a week acting like a normal hormonal teenager.  Geesh. 

While she lay in her bed crying, Ron and I unpacked the new phone and he said, "Oh, no...this isn't her phone...this is yours.  Merry Christmas."  Son of a !!! 

So we headed to her room to crush her soul twice in one night.  I put a phone in each hand and both hands behind my back.  In my cheeriest mom voice I said, "Hey Kearstin, pick a hand!"  She looked at me like I'd just said, "Who wants to go to the doctor to get her shots?"  It took 5 long minutes of convincing, but she finally decided to put an end to this psychotic game and pick a hand.  I pulled out my arm and revealed her old phone and smiled and said, "It's not lost!"  and waited for her to jump out of bed and give me a hug.  Instead she screamed "WHY DO YOU HATE ME?!?"   I said, "Wait!  Pick another hand!!!"  and she screamed, "GET. OUT!!!!"

Holy crap, we've unleashed the teen years.
I whipped my head to Ron who shrugged with his deer in the headlights look.

If our bottom-of-the-parental-barrel "pick a hand" move isn't solving this, we're screwed.  

So I pulled out the new phone and put it in front of her.  The sobs stopped as her eyes adjusted to what she was seeing.  She looked up at me with her tear stained face, gave me a huge grin and said,
"Is this mine?!?"

"Well, no, this one's actually mine."

We totally rock this parenting thing.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Remembrance and Resolution, 2015

The only resolution I felt God telling me last January was to 'Be still.'  I didn't understand why or know what it meant.  Looking back, I see it as the warning I didn't heed.

If my life were a snow globe, 2014 was the year somebody picked it up and shook the crap out of it, or as I call it, 'The year my children tried to kill me.'

I survived, albeit with 8 extra pounds, 12 new wrinkles and countless stray grays popping out of the top of my head every time I look in the mirror, but I survived.

Event after event after event and in between events was all the prep work for the next event.  Bridal showers, graduations, marriages, baby showers, holidays, birthdays, receptions, parties, work,...life...and the panic within of what mine would look like when the snow in my globe finally settled to the bottom.

My remembrance of 2014 is as the year of change.  On every level.  Change.

Half of my children moved out of our home.  We're a family of 4.  They each married their best friend.  We're a family of 8.  I left my job at the salon, cut my massage hours down to one day a week in my home office and in a leap of faith, jumped into the world of Freelance Writing.  I still don't know what that even means, but I know that God told me to do it.  Other aspects of my life that I won't share were suddenly altered.  Things around me that I never thought would change.  Boom.  Changed.

Basically, most of 2014 spun wildly out of my control and let's just keep it real here.  Although a lot of it was good, I spent most of it in fear.

Then, on November 12th, something amazing happened.  My son and his wife welcomed a son who will call me 'Sassy.'  And with that, we're a family of 9.  Different.  Natural.  A new normal. 

There are two images in my mind of this past year that I want to carry into the next.  The first is an anchor.  On the surface, I might feel like a ship rocking wildly out of control as life's storms rage and the waves of circumstance crash against me.  But as long as I'm tethered to the One who is holding me firmly in place, I'm safe.
'We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure'.  ~Hebrews 6:19~

The second is a seed.  What good does it do to keep it held tightly in our hand where we think it's safe under our control when we're actually preventing it from becoming what it's ultimately meant to be?  The harvest of the seed comes after it's break through the shell.  We have to let go.

Growth through pain.
Beauty from change.

As I sit in my office recliner with my laptop on my leg and my grandson in my arms, the crashing waves have settled to a relaxing ripple that soothingly sway me in the calm after the storm and I look ahead to the new year of unknown.

My resolution for 2015 is to practice really trusting God.  Sounds simple, but I'll have to constantly remind myself that nothing is going to rock my world that He doesn't already know about, hasn't prepared me for, or won't bring beauty from in the end.

Therefore, I'll allow Him to unclench my fingers and spend this year with open hands, sewing seeds into the roles that He's entrusted to me; wife, mother, sassy, writer, massage therapist and yes, zumba instructor because as Ecclesiastes reminds us, there is most certainly a time to dance. 

Aaaaaand I'm gonna lose the 8 lbs, find a super powerful face cream, diligently visit my hair stylist...and most of all, the next time I feel God telling me to Be Still, I'm gonna freakin crawl into bed and sleep till it passes.

Hey, I can't let go of everything at once here, people.