Saturday, October 31, 2009

Dining With Attila

And....clap on! Courtesy of the nearby Uno's Pizza, we have pirated DSL.

I write this on Halloween, at 8:50 PM. We're in Huntington, West Virginia at a Holiday Inn. Owen is sleeping next door with his grandparents, and Joel is asleep in the TV room section of our suite. Paul is doing his persnickety pre-race ritual, which involves the ritual laying out of the clothing, the preparation of the bagel/banana combo, and the obsessive counting of the goo packets. All of these actions give him a bit of security before he heads out tomorrow morning to line up for the marathon.

Of course, the switch with Daylight Savings Time has thrown him off. We had to check the newspaper, CNN, AND call the front desk to be assured that he would be at the right place at the right time. And still, we're having the alarm clock go off at the appointed time and we're actively considering the back-up wake-up-call.

People that train for months and choose to run 26.2 miles are allowed these minor eccentric quirks.

Going out to eat with Joel is a bit of a nightmare. Because we're traveling, we've had a least two meals a day in sit-down restaurants. As soon as we place Joel in the high chair, he immediately starts waving his hand back and forth frantically. This is Joel-sign-language for "All Done." Or, in other words, "Get me out of this high chair immediately! I've got shit to do----tables to upend, toilet rolls to unwind, dirt to eat. Now, WOMAN!"

Ahhhhh. Joel's like the abusive, demanding boss I've murdered in my dreams never had.

He quickly escalates from the relatively sedate arm-flailing to the more obnoxious Sam Kinison yelling. He'll yelp. Fiendishly. All attempts to pacify him with milk, crackers, or toys are rebuffed with EXTREME PREJUDICE. He'll toss aside the sippy cup or the soup cracker with a hand swipe and a "Bitch, please!"

So, this is the part of the evening where one of us removes our delightful child to the lobby to play a rollicking game of Climb on the Benches. If the weather is nice, we may go outside and play Pick up the Gravel, or, if we're especially lucky, Eat the Cigarette Butts. We continue this until I am ready to take up smoking myself, and return inside, where, BECAUSE GOD LOVES US, the food will be ready.

Then, we typically shovel in the food in a race against time before Joel begins round two of the madness.

As I write this, I'm reminded of a conversation I had last weekend at my college reunion. A child-free friend asked, "You can still go out to eat and stuff when you have kids, right?"

I think I said something like, "Yeah, if it's something quick like Mexican food or a buffet." I'm a dirty, dirty, liar.

I should have said, "You can enjoy all sorts of delightful restaurants, as long as you eat sub sandwiches from WaWa and Pumpkin Muffies from Panera Bread. And NOTHING ELSE." That probably would have been a more accurate response.

Yet, there are benefits to Joel's ill-tempered dining habits. Last night, we went to a place called Longhorn Steakhouse because it was close to the hotel, and Paul needed to eat a sweet potato (long, boring running reasons.) Joel began his usual hoo-ha, so out we went. We came back inside, and the food still wasn't there, so we returned to the lobby to climb on more benches and smile at the hostess. We returned to our table a second time, and our food was there.

Moments later, the manager came over an apologized for the thirty-minute wait. I didn't really notice the wait, because when you're traveling with a fifteen-month old, all waits seem interminable. We certainly didn't complain or act huffy. Nevertheless, he COMPED our ENTIRE MEAL, including my two 16-oz Yuenglings.

Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet. Our entire dinner was seven dollars, all thanks to our son, Attila the Hun.

Tomorrow, we will see Paul run his race. I hope to give a full race report then. Also, don't forget to comment on this post for the possibility of a Starbucks gift card!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thursday Mash-Up or the "Oh, Right! I have kids!" edition.

First things first:
Tomorrow will be my one-year blogging anniversary. This will be my 321st post, believe it or not. I thank you, loyal readers, for indulging my need to have an audience. I thank you for providing me free therapy, a real excuse NOT to scrapbook, and a new set of creative eyes. I see the world more clearly because I am always looking for the transcendent in the ordinary. Or, at least the sublime in the ridiculous. So thank you.

If you want to see where it all started, check out my first post. We've all come a long way, thank God.

In honor of my year anniversary, I will do my first BLOGGING GIVEAWAY. Make a comment on the actual blog (Facebook doesn't count.)  Discuss your favorite entry, or a deep thought, or tell me something funny. The winner will be randomly selected using one of the many random selection software devices that I haven't researched yet I'm thoughtfully considering.

The winner will receive a ten dollar gift card from my house of worship, Starbucks.

A Caveat:
You will not hear the results until Wednesday. Unless I encounter free DSL somewhere along the way, we are once again traveling and the blog will once again go dark. This time we are traveling to Marshall University in Wild and Wonderful West Virginia. Paul is running his 8th marathon there on Sunday.
Along the way, we will be staying over in Morgantown, home of WVU, an infamous party school. Their mascot frightens me:

They grow real beards to do this. Even the women.

We will arrive at Marshall, and will treat or treat! In West Virginia! Naturally, I'm making Owen and Paul dress up like matching scarecrows. I hope people know they are in costume. (And that, ladies and gentlemen, will be my last West Virginia wisecrack).

Except for this: I'm going to meet Paul at mile 19, right around the time he's starting to flag. I will then squeal loudly. You know, like a pig. If that doesn't get him moving, I don't know what will...

Ummm....Nance? You still haven't talked about your kids:
Oh right, the kids. The reason I started this blog. The reason I call myself a "mommyblogger." Them.

Let me tell you one story, and then I'll call it a day. Yesterday, I had the boys play outside. Our backyard is gated, and I can see them through my window. As they played outside, I fixed lunch, and then retreated to the bathroom.

As I returned from my little sit, I heard the sound of the external water spicket. I stepped outside, and saw that Owen had opened the back gate. Both Owen and his brother had walked to the side of the house. Using PVC pipe, Owen had fashioned a fountain of sorts. He then turned on the water at full blast, making our own version of Old Faithful, right in my side yard.

The force of the water blew Joel's glasses off and drenched him head to toe. He, naturally, was delighted. Owen, mad with power, wanted to increase the buzz with MORE PVC pipes and MORE water pressure.


I'll think twice before leaving them alone again, lest Owen build a nuclear bomb or a Molotov cocktail.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


My mother, several years ago, had an unexplained occurrence. She had intense vertigo and vomiting, and was admitted to the hospital. They thought she had a brain tumor, and then ruled that out and determined that  it was probably Multiple Sclerosis. After hearing "brain tumor" we were THRILLED about a progressive neuro-degenerative disease. No joke.

Then, amazingly, they ruled out MS and determined that Mom had "funky lesions" which, incidentally, went away completely. Six years later, she's in better health than she has been in years. Her brain is clear. I force myself to remember this miracle when we're bickering about something non substantial.

I always remember this story: Mom was in the hospital, dizzy, uncertain, miserable. Her best friend, Maril, came in to visit. She hugged my mother, who was pretty out of it, and then gently rubbed her feet with sweet-smelling lotion. She stayed there until my mother fell asleep.

That is the power of a life-long friend. 

Mom and Maril have known each other since middle school. Mom was there the exact moment when Maril learned that her father had died in a tubing accident. Maril is my godmother; my mother is Maril's older daughter's godmother. My mother always holds Maril's hand when they approach an escalator, because Maril is afraid. Maril goes camping with my mother, even though she hates nature, and douses all of Rocky Mountain National Park with her numerous cans of Lysol.

Maril will be with my mother, one way or another, for the rest of her life.

This is the legacy she has given me. Friends matter. 

I've written about all sorts of silly, letting-our-hair-down behaviors about my reunion weekend here and here But, we didn't come together from Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Georgia, Maryland, California and Texas just to have a few drinks. We came together out of love. These girls are my tribe.

Although we certainly did a lot of reminiscing, we did not live entirely in our memories. We picked up where we left off. Ten years away was insubstantial, a minor pause. Like fine wines, we've become more interesting over time. Our life experiences bring more to the table, and the insecurities or fears of our youth no longer hold us back.

As I walked around the familiar haunts of my college years, I thought about all the wasted energy, all the angst about men, life, feeeeeeeeeelings. I'm so relieved to have that behind me. And, I'm so grateful that I had my tribe to help me through those difficult days.

I know that we may not talk for days, weeks, months at a time. That changes nothing. If something happened tomorrow, I know that my tribe would be there, like Maril at my mother's bedside.

I also know that my tribe has grown. I have lifelong friends from teaching in Arizona, and now here in Maryland. Every woman in my life makes me better, stronger, more grateful and humble.

I am so blessed and lucky to have my tribe. When I hugged them goodbye, I blinked back the tears and said, with certainty, "I'll see you soon." 

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Journal of Higher Jackassification, Part Two

Yesterday, I told y'all about my singing debut, my amazing girlfriends, and the etymological background of WTF. If you need a refresher it's right here.

Caught up? Here's the rest of the story. F-Bomb rules still apply.

Can six jackasses make it to the bar opening by 6:00 AM? 
No. We were in the bars by the entirely respectable time of 9:15. In perhaps a concession to our wisdom and experience, we no longer felt inclined to wait outside the bar at 5:45 AM in the cold. Complementary breakfast was in order first. Then, and only then would we hit the bars.

Back up. Why were you in the bars?

Being the wild West, it has been a tradition to open all the bars at 6:00 AM during homecoming weekend. Called "Sunrise Services," or "Tequila Sunrise," it is an annual, ridiculous tradition.  The article can give you more information, if you're so inclined.

Please, give me a run-down of your adventures. I'm on the edge of my seat. 
I'm sure you are. First, we went to Collins, which, in our days, was an awesome Irish pub. Many years ago, we drank our Bloody Marys and Beers at dawn, danced to Irish music, commandeered the drums, and heard many variations of the line, "If you were my English teacher, I would have paid a lot more attention in class!" (Note to my male readers, both of you: THIS DOESN'T WORK.) 

Now, alas, Collins was bought out by the firm of Douchebag, Buttpimple, and Taint. They kept the name Collins, but a far more appropriate name would be the Date-Rape-A-Torium. (BTW, I'm not making jokes about date rape, because it is pernicious and wrong and ugly. I am making jokes about the travesty of my former favorite college bar).

The music was the kind of techno best used in interrogation chambers in "undisclosed locations." The windows were covered up with plastic bags, and you squeezed between sweaty, writhing white-hats and the cast of Gossip Girl to get your drink. Speaking of which, if you like your Bloody Mary to taste like ketchup with a shot, this is your place. We sat in the dark, drinking our drinks. Aside from grabbing a stranger's camera and taking pictures of us all flashing gang signs, it was the low point of the morning.

We finished our drinks and headed out to San Felipe.

Oh, but wait! Could I interrupt your tale for another text-message interlude? 
With pleasure. We were actually part of two groups. My friend texted the other group, a group of girls that were still sleeping.

Friend: Where are you? Get your motherfucking asses in the motherfucking bar right now motherfucker.
Response: We're getting there. (A half hour passes).
Friend: WTF! Get over here now. You can sleep when you're motherfucking dead.

This friend is not at all belligerent in real life, which makes these texts brilliant. It would be like getting bitch-slapped by Laura Bush.

So, what happened in San Felipe?
*Dancing--favorites include: "No Diggity," "Brass Monkey," and "Thunder" by AC/DC
*Lessons---I've been trying to learn how girls dance where they move their butt up and down. I tried to get my ZUMBA! teacher to show me before I came out, but she said something like, "You're beyond help." My friend agreed, but enjoyed mocking me at my expense (for good reason).
*Drive-bys. Certain members of my party "accidentally" touched the arms or torsos of muscular young men. Not me. I was too busy attempting to booty dance. And failing.
*Lots and lots of stupid pictures.
*Love. Lots and lots of happy smiles and spontaneous hugs.

Did you lie about your job again? 
Yes, indeedy. I was outside, getting some air, and my friend and I ran into a group of men dressed right out of the Sabotage Video.

 Yeah, it was kinda douchy.

DB (easier to write than Douche Bag): What do you do?
Me: I'm a lawyer!
Friend: (whispering) Say you work for the SCC
Me: First I was in malpractice law, then I worked for the SCC.
DB: You're full of shit. Nobody goes from malpractice law to the SCC.
Me: I did! In Maryland!
DB: Prove it! Show me your ID!

(At the time, this made perfect sense. If only he would see my Maryland driver's license, he would know that I was in fact a lawyer, who first chased ambulances, than went on to work for the SCC! Writing this, I realize this is stupid, but at the time it seemed like ironclad proof. Maybe it's good I didn't go into law).

Me: (triumphantly brandishing my ID) Here you go!
DB: (his face twisted in concentration. I hear him mumbling.."1975 minus..".)
Me: Um, I'm 34. ("Like, dude! What does this have to do with proof that I'm a lawyer? Hello!")
DB: (to his friends) Oh my God, she's 34! (They all start laughing)
Me: (suddenly catching on to the ID ruse. Assholes!) Oh. Um, nice talking to you, I gotta go.

I run into the bar and tell people this story. They all look at me like I'm an idiot. My lawyer friend just said, "Malpractice to SCC? C'mon, now..." 

Surely you have one more text messaging interlude left. 
Lunch was in order. One of our friends had encountered another friend, so she was to catch up with us. We arrived at the local pizza joint and texted the friend:
Text: We're at Alpine. Come over.
Response: a a r q gn
Text: We don't understand. Come to Alpine.
Response: hhremmplatz!

She finally came over. We told her that she texted us nonsense. She replied, "No, I was just writing in code!"

She took a little nap after she had her pizza.

Speaking of which, how much were you hurting later?
With the exception of the code-talker, we were in great shape. We all drank lots of water, ate pizza, popped Advils, and had enough energy to hit the bookstore and go to the football game. Nobody was hung over the next day.

Anything else to report? 
We didn't go out that night. We ordered Chinese food, told stories, laughed, and watched the last thirty minutes of Goonies. We also watched a little bit of Goosebumps You could stick a fork in us all.

Tomorrow: (This is the last entry, I swear!) Reflections on long-time friendships.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Journal of Higher Jackassification, Part One

Warning: Portions of this tale simply cannot be told without dropping the f-bomb. Consider yourself warned.

OMG, OMG, OMG, OMG. I had so much fun. I have enough stories to write a week's worth of entries, but aside from about six other people, they won't be interesting to most. So, I'll attempt to distill this to the high points. Seat belts on?

It was 1996. We had our everyday flannel and our "clubbing" flannel. We danced to music from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack and gasped with horror when Kimberley pulled off her wig on Melrose Place. The more technologically savvy of us had pagers, and we went online through a byzantine process involving dial-up and multiple passwords.

We all met through Wilson Hall, the illustrious dorm situated in the central campus of Northern Arizona University. We became friends. Life happened. We earned degrees, started careers. Some of us got married. Others earned law degrees or had children, or became big-time businesswomen or political advocates. We each staked our own little place in the world, and made the rest of us proud.

And, we talked about meeting up. For about ten years. Finally, thanks to Facebook, it happened.

Scene #1:
We're enjoying the "manager's hour" at the hotel. Tracy turns to me, deadpan, and says, "I think I'm going to buy a monkey. You want in?"

I reply, without missing a beat, "Hell yes I do! But only if it wears a fez."

She answers, "There's no question that it will wear a fez. And dance for money."

I say, "It's a brilliant way to earn spare change."

She says, "And if it misbehaves, we can always skin it and eat it."

Text Message Interlude: Part One

Text: My snatch will land this plane.
Response: My snatch can move things just by using its mind.
Response Back: My snatch reduces the world's carbon footprint.
Response Back: My snatch is taking glorious pictures of the Grand Canyon that would make Ansel Adams weep.
Response Back: That's quite a shutter.

After manager's hour, some people decide they must buy water and beer. Janet and I are left behind. Before the others even leave the parking garage, she turns to me and says, "I'm losing my buzz. Let's get wings at Granny's."

We arrive at Granny's Closet, and to my complete delight it is Karaoke night. Oh, it's on

The rest of our party returns, and we're ready for action. I flip through the booklet and it quickly becomes clear that one song and one song only is appropriate for this night: "America," by Neil Diamond.

Many years ago, on an infamous trip to Las Vegas, I had consumed one or two beverages and was enjoying the unique stylings of a Neil Diamond cover band. I danced the only way I know---a literal form of interpretive dance which involves  acting out the message of the song. When the singer crooned, "The eye of the storm." I would point to my eye, and then move my hands in a stormy fashion. It's was strangely compelling then, and continues to be today.

Sunshine, remembering this trip, told me it was imperative  to re-create the moment. And so, I did. And, if I do say so myself, I sold that bitch. There were arm gestures, clenched fists thrust in the air, and everybody stood up at the end with me, shouting out "Today!"

It was a beautiful moment. This blurry mobile upload really captures it all.

Later on that evening, the class of 2007 (as we were calling ourselves), came up to sing "Blister in the Sun" by the Violent Femmes. Sunshine was pushing me to do a duet with a straggly, butt-crack-showing drunkard. "Do Islands in the Stream. He can be Kenny to your Dolly." I was almost sold, but alas, it was time to go.

Lying about my Job: Part One
Jessica: What do you do these days?
Me: I work for the Secret Service.
Jessica: No you don't.
Me: Yes, I do. Right now I have Malia detail. (I rolled my eyes as if to say, "And you know how that goes.")
Jessica: You're full of it.
Me: (Cracking a smile and laughing at my stupidity.) Okay, I actually wipe asses for a living.

As we're walking home, one of our party loudly announces, "WTF means What the Fuck!, not What the Fist!" And now you know as well.

Tomorrow: Will six jackasses make it to the bar by 6 AM?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Serendipity is defined as "good fortune, or luck." In my personal dictionary, it just says, "See: October 21, 2009. Cara's birthday party."

Cara is my good friend Jamie's younger daughter. Cara is a beautiful, caring, little girl. Her mother calls her a "pisser," which is accurate in the sense that Cara will be a fantastic District Attorney or Investigative Reporter someday. She will be the girl that runs a marathon, then puts on her high heels to go dancing. I kinda wish I was Cara right now, even though the girl's only two.

The party was originally scheduled for Saturday, but the forecast called for "overcast, with a high percentage of shitty." Rightly thinking that pumpkin patch+thunderstorms+toddlers=nightmare, Jamie did a hasty reschedule, and so, today was the day.

To be honest, I wasn't sure this was going to be a win-win, because the timing was close to Joel's nap, and it was almost forty-five minutes from home. But, because the sun was shining, the trees were gold and red, and because Jamie is awesome, we went.

It was just joy. After corn mazin' and wagon pullin' and pumpkin arrangin', we took a hayride to a woodland glen. There, minutes from the road, yet a lifetime away, we roasted marshmallows and hot dogs over a bonfire, surrounded by the red canopy of trees. Owen and his friends ran around, climbing onto stumps and crunching in the leaves. Joel ate graham crackers, and ran like a wild horse, just because he could.

And dear little Cara got a fairy costume, which she promptly put on. She walked in the woods, right to the edge of the small hill. Her green gossamer wings glinted, and with her tousled brown locks and big blue eyes, she looked just like a woodland sprite.

We drove home, and the boys played with their small pumpkins and babbled contentedly. I drove in the sunshine, grinning stupidly, so grateful for my friends, my life, my dear, dear boys.

Serendipity. Dross to gold.

FYI, the blog will "go dark" starting Thursday through Sunday night. I will be traveling to Arizona to see friends from college. So, really, I'm traveling in a time machine back to 1996. Except that we're all much hotter now. Many details to follow, so stay tuned. XOXO

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mulching Season

My brother wrote this poem about me the other day on his blog:


Your faith weighs heavy on me
but in conversation
it never comes up. So rude
to raise the issue. So rude
to presume my revelation is true. Knowing
how accomplished and complicated
your mind. Similar to old culinary
decisions: yes to peas and carrots,
no to liver and onions, this one yes,
that one no. So long now decided.
How strong, how real to you
this same god I knew a lifetime ago.
I love you, and I love
that I'm not a lost cause. You ignore
the more irritating mandates and
display the benefits like a clear analogy.
My skepticism does not require
to convert, to witness. My system
says I know no truths. Your life
so unlike mine and still we share blood,
the same language of childhood
prayers and the shorthand of
growing up together. This being
another distance between us
like the very real America, yet
on the hardest days we talk
through satellites and wires
and your words lift me, like
songs, and I am grateful.

Like most poems, I'm still trying to figure it out. I'm like a bee, hitting my little head against the glass repeatedly, never tasting the sweet nectar of the flowers on the other side of the pane.I'm a confused little beastie, with a bruised noggin and little to show for it.

In simpler, less overwrought terms, I suck at reading poetry. I'll occasionally read my Plath, my Cummings, my Collins, and appreciate it, but the moment is fleeting. I like easy answers and immediate results too much to dissect each line, like an archeologist brushing away ancient dirt with a toothbrush.

And yet, I fight this instinct to read my brother's thoughts. He writes about love, family, life, technology, fears, and goals, arranging words and phrases like one of those Tibetan monks creating a mandala out of sand. It's astonishing. It's brave. It's worth my effort to understand. And not just when it's about me---check out his blog for yourself.

In regards to his entry about me (because, in the end, it's always about me!), my only comment is this: I think that Jesus  made an additional commandment, which is: Don't be an asshole.

Whenever I share my life with others, I keep these four words near and dear to my heart. I'm quite happy believing what I believe. I have a little balloon of hope right beneath my heart, that keeps me focused, humble, and ever-so-grateful.

And, I like to think I'm an open book. If people want to talk to me, I'm open to discuss it. But I'm not going to tele-market my faith, making cold calls from an evangelistic call center. Respecting people's fears, experiences, thoughts, and beliefs---that is the very definition of not being an asshole.

It's kinda like mulching. The "mulch volcano" is a popular gardening strategy out here. People think it looks nice.

Yet, excessive over-mulching causes the roots to grow into each other, actually killing the tree:

So, I guess I feel sharing one's religious views is like mulching the land. It's a very good thing, and it creates lots of growth. That is, unless, it is done in a thoughtless or overzealous fashion.

I don't believe in creating deadly mulch volcanoes of faith, slowly suffocating my friends in dogma. Rather, I hope (and pray) that the examples I share and the life I lead helps nourish my own garden, and the gardens of those I love.

And oh! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TOM. I love you, dear brother.

Monday, October 19, 2009

They Made Me Stupid

Owen and Joel are making me stupid. That's the only reasonable explanation I have left.

I used to be the kind of person who had her ducks in a row. I always had my homework done--early. I used to lay out my ironed clothes the night before school. Lunches were packed, forms were signed, gas tanks were full.

Most people would be more responsible than their seventeen-year-old selves, but that, alas appears to have been when I peaked.

Counting back just from Tuesday last week. I have: 
*Neglected to buy a baby shower gift.
*Neglected to attend the baby shower, because I thought it was on a different day.
*Neglected to call the expectant mother to tell her that I'm sorry I missed her shower, and that I have her gift (which, incidentally, I still don't have).
*Neglected to make it to the gym with enough time to drop off the kids at day care AND "take care of business." Proceeded to go through a "Body Combat" class with the proverbial turtle peeking out of its shell.
*Neglected to understand that it takes time to drive from the northern to the central part of the county, thus coming this close to picking up Owen late from preschool. This, in addition to the apple incident, the beer incident, the masterbation incident, and the tuition incident. I'm surely on the preschool's watch list.
*Arrived late to pictures. Left the boys' clothing at the picture place. Arrived at Wal-Mart to buy birthday gift. Since I decided the day before to drink wine with my girlfriend teach Owen how to write, I hadn't bought it yet. Buy gift. Drive to party, wrap gift in the parking lot, arrive late to party.
*Arrive late to dinner party on Sunday night.

And now, today's bit of stupidity:  
I am a member of a club for mothers, called, cleverly enough, The MOMS Club. We were supposed to go to the pumpkin patch today, and I was charged to meet a woman who had just moved from Spokane at the commuter lot, so we could caravan there.

I left early so I could get money to pay for the pumpkin patch experience (which, of course, I didn't do earlier). I had a few minutes to spare, so I decided to swing by the house to pick up the newspaper. I figured I would read the paper and drink my coffee while waiting for this mother to arrive.

I remember feeling quite smug about finally being on top of things. I sang along to Miley Cyrus (because that "Party in the USA" song is my jam, yo!) as I drove through the roundabout.

A roundabout (or rotary, for you New England types), is a road structure like this: 

"Oh shit!" I said to myself as I heard a omnious thump. And then, there it was. The unmistakable floppity-flop  of a flat tire. This, sadly, is a sound I know all too well because in four years, I have managed to flat out at least five tires. Paul really loves this quality in a woman.

I pulled into the first turn off. Quite fortuitously, it turned out to be a mechanic. I called various people to take care of the MOMS Club debacle. Since I have yet to program anybody's phone number, I called 411 each time to get these ladies' numbers. I might as well confess that I have known most of these women for over four years.  Yet, I never took the five minutes required to program in their digits (My cell phone has the phone number of my grandmother's old apartment--she's been in a nursing home for almost three years--and my brother's number is at least two cell phones old).

I then called Paul, and got the mechanic to put the spare on the car. Paul and I swapped cars, and he got to spend his morning at Mr. Tire, getting new tires. Again.

Our conversation went like this:
Him: How did you get a flat tire this time?
Me: Those rotaries are really bad. I scrapped the wheel on the side of it.
Him: What, was the roundabout lined with razor blades?
Me: Yes, yes it was.
Mechanic: I hope you got a warranty on these tires, I checked, and your kind is really expensive.
Me: (Thinking) Eff you, mechanic.

Him: No, I didn't think I would need the warranty. (He looked at me with great irritation.) I suppose I should have known better. (Sighing the sigh of great martyrdom and anguish).


After all is fixed with the car, and I pay the man for putting on the spare tire, I haul ass to the pumpkin patch, to salvage the morning. We have all sorts of fall fun festivities, until the end, when I have to ask one of my fellow mothers to spot me some cash, because I used all my money to pay the mechanic.

I believe this old horse has lost her wits. Let's take me out to pasture, and put me out of my misery.

At least I make cute children. (Even though they make me stupid):

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Rain + Melancholy= This

Reasons why winter can kiss my butt: 
1) No tomato-plant smell.
2) No dinners on the back deck
3) No afternoons at the pool
4) No berry-picking
5) No solid, activity-fueled naps.
6) Cold and flu season.
7) Potholes.
8) Ugly, naked trees.
9) Close-toed shoes are an abomination.
10) The State of the Union address.

Things I will begrudgingly admit are okay about winter: 
1) If you live in places like Colorado or Pennsylvania or even Wisconsin, skiing, snowshoeing, and ice-fishing are Schnapps-drinking good times. (Of course, I live in Maryland.) 
2) Christmas is fun.
3) Eggnog is delicious.
4) It's nice to snuggle up with a cup of herbal tea at the end of the day.
5) Nobody sees your thighs when you wear jeans and sweaters.
6) Owen was born in February.
7) At least the days are shorter.
8) Lost returns to the airwaves.
9) The mosquitoes and ants are dead, for a season.
10) I get to wear scarves and stocking hats.

Thus sharing these oh-so-mundane thoughts, I'm off to put on another ugly, shapeless sweatshirt. Then, I will attempt to amuse my children by making animals out of recycleable materials. I'm sure it'll be a hoot.

(Kill me now).

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments?

Mrs. 4444 passed on this invitation to try out Friday Fragments. Check out her blog to see where all the magic happens.

My friend Coby had a baby about two and a half weeks ago. She had announced that she was having a boy, but planned on keeping the baby's name a surprise. This, of course, could not stand. I emailed her, telling her that I needed to know the baby's name, because I was ordering a SUPER COOL gift for him. She was kind enough to share his name.


Okay, it's actually Joshua.

And, the super-cool gift? I was going to get young Joshua a Dharma Initiative Onesie with his name stitched over the pocket.  After all, nothing says "Welcome to this world, precious gift of God" like merchandise from ABC's Lost.

Alas, I could not find the shirt ANYWHERE, and found myself in a pickle. I finally went to a website that specializes in personalization and STOP READING COBY! RIGHT NOW! decided to order her a coffee cup with cartoon depictions of her entire family.

Cute, right?And here's the next problem. Coby is biracial (black father, white mother). Her husband is white. Her three sons are each a quarter black. And, I know this is hard to believe, but the cartoon selections for the cup do not adequately address the multiple hues of our great, diverse nation. The choices include: Albino Blond, Medium-Toned Brunette, or Nubian Goddess. If you are Asian or a redhead, you apparently do not exist. Likewise, there was not a cartoon depiction that accurately represented the adorable hues of her three children.

Honestly? I'm not even sure if I got the color of the dog right. I mean, it would be pretty random for me to call Coby and say, "For no reason whatsoever, could you tell me the color of your dog?"

I believe this exercise is Karma, kicking me in the butt. I could have just been patient, waiting to find out the name like everybody else, and then bought this family a gift card to Target.


I don't know who that woman was in my living room this morning, telling her son that he could eat cold ravoli, right out of the can, if he would only, please, please, please put a sweater vest on for picture day. I mean, really, lady. Get a grip.

Speaking of portraits, I think that they are almost as much fun as having  a root canal with an ice skate.

Owen bought his friend a Barbie for her birthday party. I told him to choose one of the many princesses, and he turned to me and said, "I can't choose just one. They're all so beautiful!"

I am raising a future beauty pageant coach.

If you ever see a baby wearing glasses, let me fill you in on a little secret. They're real. I swear. I didn't wake up and decide to dress my kid up in a costume, just for kicks.

Enjoy your weekend! We'll be setting off on our ark any minute, the rate things are going here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Five Thoughts Thursday

Five Thoughts Thursday (I'm using this as a gimmick, because I've got to get things done, and I'm already behind...)

1) Joel can say only a few words, but one of them is "'cracker." It always makes me think of the Chris Rock routine, where he talks about angry old men who sit in barbershops saying, "Cracker-ass Cracker!" I know that this is not at all Joel's intent, but yet, I know that deep inside this little boy lives a white-haired, cane-shaking curmudgeon.

2) Why do I think Joel is a curmudgeon? Things that should make babies happy inexplicably fill him with white-hot rage. For example, at library story time, they pass out shaky eggs--for the uninitiated, these are plastic eggs filled with beads, for shaking/music making enjoyment. The other kids turn cartwheels to get them, and have impressive meltdowns when it is time to return the eggs. My son, on the other hand, glares at the egg, as if saying, "What the eff is this?" and throws it away like it's a moldy prune. When I attempt to retrieve it, he begins to cry.

(I don't think he has sensory issues, except for the little worried man living in my throat tells me periodically to keep an eye on this kind of stuff...)

3) Owen is coming home from preschool already smarter than me. He knows songs for cleaning up,  for washing hands, and to predict the weather. When I attempt to sing along, he stares at me with great pity and says, "Mommy? No." He also has been taught that you start all prayers with the following words: "Good Morning, God! Thank you for this beautiful day!" This is something I should incorporate into my own life.

But, best of all, Owen has re-introduced me to this classic ditty: "Missed, me, missed me, now you have to kiss me!" Ahhhh, school.

4)  At this time next week, I will be on an airplane, traveling to AZ to see my college girlfriends for NAU Homecoming. I had thought it would be a great idea to become an awesome dancer between now and then, thus showing my old friends my sweet moves. I planned on doing it Napolean Dynamite style---getting a video tape, practicing while swilling the red Gatorade, and then cutting a rug on the dance floor. Alas, the clock is ticking, and  I don't know if it's going to happen.

I suppose I'll have to rely on the old standby---beer-related jackassery.

5) I made Owen's day by letting him press the buttons on the food processor. I left him to navigate the heavy, bladed machinery to remove his brother from the kitchen table, where he was standing with a great sense of achievement.

It's a wonder any of us is still alive.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

This post, very possibly, may overuse the word 'awesome."

I need to be careful about my overconfident defense mechanism. I was chit-chatting with a mother yesterday about empowering women--being all fired up about this post and all--and I said something along the lines of: "I would love to mentor young women, because I'm so awesome."I said it with a hopefully-obvious-to-all ironic smile, but I'm not sure if she knew I was being tongue-in-cheek or if I was playing it straight.

Sometimes, I wish I had a pack of flash cards that helped me communicate more effectively. One could say, "I'm being sarcastic," and another might read, "Totally Sincere." Yet another might say, "I'm attempting to be funny," or "I'm being 'ironical' (bonus points if you know that ironical is not a word)" With these cards, I would simply hold up the sign that matches my desired intonation for effect.

On second thought, I should ask my sister-in-law, the Occupational Therapist, about this idea. I would bet good money that it already exists to aid people with autism.

Anyway, the mother in the waiting room, having been told of my awesomeness, laughed, kinda surprised that I said it out loud, and agreed, "That's right!"

I backed down a bit, saying "I'm just kidding," She just smiled, and we waited awkwardly for the kids to be dismissed.

And now, reflecting on that moment, I wonder why my first instinct was to explain away my confidence. Perhaps its the Midwestern Lutheran in me, not wanting to attract too much attention, not wanting to appear too puffed up with pride. There's a lot to be said about humility, about recognizing that all good things are blessings from God. I certainly admire humility in others, and I believe that people who are always bragging about their accomplishments have something to prove.

Yet, by denying the fact that I am awesome, I am telling the world that I am not fearfully and wonderfully made. That isn't true. 

Like all things, it's a balance. I don't want to come across as puffed up or conceited. But yet, I think it's healthy and good and right to occasionally say, out loud: "I am beautiful. I am awesome. I am smart. I am funny."

I guess the key is remembering who made me that way. By myself, I'm not awesome. But God, working through me, can make me very awesome indeed.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Sometimes, I'm jealous that my mother was an adult in the 1970s. There was so much to love...avocado green kitchen appliances, roller disco, the original Charlie's Angels, and (lest we forget), great hairstyles like this:

Today, though, I'm thinking about a uniquely Seventies event: "Feminist Consciousness Raising." This website outlines the rules and regulations of said groups. To quote the text, a consciousness raising group was designed for "understanding what it is to be a woman in a patriarchal society that oppresses men."

My mother was a member of one of these groups, but of course, her consciousness raising group was based out of the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, a denomination that does not allow women to serve communion or serve in ministry.

Let that soak in for a just a minute.

She meet with other women to discuss gender-normative roles and then went home to make hot-dish for the pot luck. And you know what? It worked for her---she taught me, her only daughter, that the world was truly limitless (with, I guess, the exception of becoming a pastor). She did not fetish-ize me into a swirly world of princessy goop. On the other hand, she did not dress me in overalls and force me to play exclusively with European, gender-neutral toys. Rather, she addressed my dignity and intellect by having conversations with me about what is means to be a woman, and how to use my gifts for others. I'm so lucky to have her example.

I think about this, because every so often, I'll pick up a book or an article, and I'll have my very own consciousness-raising, right there on my living room couch. I recently read a book which discussed the terrifying issues of sex trafficking, and sexual abuse. As I read about these beautiful women getting treated like animals, I was enraged. Did you know that some men become pimps because, if caught, a drug dealer faces much stiffer penalties than a pimp?  It is apparently worse to sell drugs than to sell another human.

And today, as I was going about my business, I noticed all the negative messages out there---dumb shows playing on mute while I worked out, bumper stickers talking about female politicians with such utter disdain, songs on the radio. Everywhere, there was a pernicious, constant message that some women are mere toys, sexual objects, things to be used and discarded. And then, to bring it to the most local of levels, a fellow mother told me that her four-year-old daughter said, "Mommy, my thighs are too big."

As a woman who has had an "easy" life, I can think of five people with eating disorders and three victims of rape, just off the top of my head. This saddens me, and makes me wonder why I'm not sad, or fired-up, or anything besides selfish most of the time.

I used to feel like I was serving the women of the world by teaching---I hoped to be a good example, to show these young women that there is an alternative to acting dumb or sexy to get attention. I'll never know if I was successful, but at least I tried. Later on, I always felt that I would have a daughter, and I would do the same precious, life-saving work as my mother.

God must have other plans for me. But today, with my consciousness raised a bit, I feel the need to do something---to mentor, to teach,  to help the women of the world.

What point is a raised consciousness, if I just allow it to fall to the earth?

Monday, October 12, 2009

King of the World

Paul's home today, in honor of the fact that some Italian guy discovered islands in the Caribbean years after a Scandinavian discovered Nova Scotia. Or something like that.

I would like to say that we're doing something really exciting as a family on this, our extended weekend. I would also like to say that we're traveling to Tahiti on our mega-yacht next weekend. Alas, both statements would be falsehoods.

Today, we were all up by seven-ish. Joel was done with his breakfast first. As usual, he asked to be excused by tossing waffles and bits of banana through the small hole on his high chair.

One may wonder why there is a hole in a high chair. Seems illogical, yes? The hole originally held a built-in toy, shaped like a flower. The flower lit up and sang songs. Because we were first time parents that knew everything, Paul and I decided that Owen did not need excessive noise and ADHD-inducing lights. No, we thought, our son would play exclusively with hand-crafted wooden toys made by the Amish.The built-in flower was given away.

Of course, one of Owen's favorite toys now is a monster truck named Grave Digger. That's what you get for being a know-it-all tight-ass. Additionally, you are left with a high chair with a large, gaping hole in it. A hole that is the perfect size for squeezing out bite-size pieces of food.

First time parents, let this be a lesson to you.

Anyway, we removed Joel from his holy high chair before the food began to stick to the ceiling. He immediately began barking orders, wanting to be entertained. He was  like a sailor on 24 hour shore leave. He wanted me to read him a book. He wanted Paul to build him a tower. He walked over to the back door, gave it a few good pounds with his small hand, demanding that we all step to it and take him outside immediately.

The fact that the coffee was still brewing, we were all eating, and Joel was the only individual fully dressed did not register as important details.

And so, we did what all good parents and older brothers do. We ignored the baby.

This did not go over well. First, he barked. Then, he sputtered. Next, he tugged. And finally, overcome with frustration, he sat down on his cute little bottom and let out the fakest, most exaggerated cry I have ever heard. There were no tears, just an indignant wail, with a little hand pressed over his perfect O of a mouth.

The outrage! The terrible, terrible indignity!

We aren't complete monsters, despite the fact that both Paul and I laughed at this display (just a little). We didn't linger over our food, and we attempted to distract him with toys and other objects. Eventually, one of us left our coffee to get cold, and scooped our little drama king up.

Of course, he stopped crying instantaneously.

I'm not sure if we expect more of Joel because we've already gone through this with Owen, or if we just have minimal patience for shenanigans. It might be a little of both.

The fact is that we don't want Joel to think that he's king of the world. Although we love him deeply and completely, he might as well learn right now that he is not In Charge.

Truth be told, Owen and Joel do, in fact, pilot this ship. But, like Columbus and Erickson, they must learn that they can travel only so far without guidance, without help. Paul and I will keep them steady, so they do not capsize in the occasionally rough waters of this life.

And if that means we get to finish our toast before scooping up our little explorer, then so be it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Extremely Bad-Ass

A fairly new friend of mine, Julia, was supposed to go sky-diving this weekend. I learned that she had to cancel, and she went on to say that she would accept no excuses, and I was going with her the next time.

I'm thinking about it. I'm not sure if this will translate into actual action, but I'm considering it because:
1) It would make good material for the blog
2) It's not that crazy. Former president George Bush has done it a whole bunch of times, as has my brother.
3) I'm hitting 35 this March. This is more problematic for me than I care to admit.

I hate to do something as cliche as set up a "Bucket List. " Instead, I will look at the most popular life goals according to this website, and let you know what I've already done. This will prove to you, once and for all, that I am extremely bad-ass.

Many people wish to experience weightlessness before they die. I'm assuming, in space or in a wind tunnel. Me? I've experienced weightlessness at the AZ State Fair on a ride called the "Gravatron." Coincidentally, I've also experienced nausea on the Gravatron. 

A popular goal is breaking a world record. When I was seven, my friend Cara and I attempted to stay on the teeter-totter long enough to earn said world record. We came up with this idea by watching the Brady Bunch all by ourselves. We were on the teeter-totter for almost fifteen minutes before we got bored and hungry, thus closing the door on our world record dreams.

I've ridden both a camel and an elephant. These bored, miserable animals plodded in a circle at the zoo and the AZ Renaissance Festival, respectively. Not only did I ride these magnificent beasts like they were beasts of burden, I stole their respective dignities to boot. Bonus!

I have ridden in a helicopter AND a hot-air balloon. Granted, both times I was with my mom. But trust me, it was extreme! We swigged Mountain Dew the entire time.

Donating blood is a popular life goal. Did it. Got the cookies and the T-shirt.

And....seriously? This is a life goal?

I do it as often as legally possible. It's my quiet time. Yes, I would rather lose precious bodily fluids than break up another fight between Thing One and Thing Two some days...

A popular life goal is to start a website. Let's just call this living the dream.

I've played the all-important role of "chorus" in such productions as Bye, Bye Birdie, Grease, and Kiss Me, Kate. I tell you, the show needed my alto. I provided background harmony like nobody's business.

A high school production without my talents would be like a world without Tia Tequila or Paris Hilton. And frankly, I don't want to live in such a world...

I've had two healthy babies. This is a gift of grace that I never take lightly.

The website suggests that riding in a limo is a great lifetime goal. I've ridden a limo to funerals, weddings, a evening on the town, and my personal favorite, with a group of middle school students to Ledo's Pizza. These were the students that sold the most magazines for the annual school fund-raiser. Wild times.

Learning / Education

I'm starting to question this website. I've done some of the "exciting life goals" listed, including: learning CPR, learning to drive a stick shift engine, learning to play the piano, learning to ski, learning to snowboard, and learning to speak another language. I've also learned to water ski, completed my college degree, and I've taught a college class.

Forgive me as I yawn at these "impressive, wild-n-crazy" accomplishments.

Damn you, list. You think you're so cool just because you have my MAIN LIFE GOAL "write a book and publish it," listed. You sit there all smug, list, knowing that I would write a snarky, smart-ass posting talking about my badassery, only to cut me off at the knees with this!

I very much wish to write a book and have it published some day. I've been humbled, once again, by the Internet. 

OH, it's on now, list. No, I have not been to Egypt, Hawaii, Ireland, Italy, London, or Paris. I have not earned 100,000 travel miles, seen the Great Wall of China, the rain forest, or the Aura Borealis.

But yes, list, I have been to the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls. And, although it didn't make the cut on the precious list, I have been to the Flintstones' Bedrock Village AND Barstow, California, AND Bullhead City, AZ more times than I can count.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

What have I learned from this exercise? I've done a lot. And yes, there's more that I want to do, and will do. But, rest assured, I'll won't turn to the Internet to determine the worthiness of this life.

That, most assuredly, is not extremely bad-ass.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Whenever Paul takes the car out for an extended period, he does reasonable things, like check the air pressure and oil  He also makes sure there is enough gas.

Me? I make sure that my tweezers are in the glove compartment, right where they belong. This, I've learned, is crucial.

If you are reading this, and you are a natural blond or redhead, I want you to know two things:
1) I hate you, just a little.
2) I only hate you because you don't know the horrors of Unnecessary Dark Hairs (henceforth referred to as UDH).

It started around my late twenties. I started to see hair sprouting from odd places. Dark hairs. Occasionally, curly. And no, this is not an oversharing tale of puberty, a la, "Are you there God? It's me, Nancy." The hairs I'm referring to were GROWING OUT OF MY FACE.

I know! The shame! The horror! I noticed my first UDH on a long road trip. Paul was driving, and I had read my magazines. We were talked out. There was nothing to do but pull down the mirror visor and check myself out.

As I scanned my face, I saw it. It was coarse, it was black, and it was growing right out of my chin. Proud and defiant, the offending hair was a black lighthouse in my sea of white flesh. I gasped, and wondered:

1) How long had I walked around with this Billy Goat scruff?
2) And, oh dear God, how many people saw it?

I attempted to pull it out with my fingertips, but this action only caused it to curl in a horrifying fashion. I now had a curly dark hair growing out of my face. There was only one solution: subterfuge.

When we arrived at our destination, I spent the remainder of the evening with my hand on my chin, looking like Rodin's The Thinker. This looked stupid, and resulted in a zit on my chin the next day. You know, next to the big black hair. Throughout the night, I kept thinking, "I am growing a beard, I am growing a beard, OMG I am growing a beard."

Lest you be concerned that this indicates a possible disorder, let me assure you that I've been checked out. I take my thyroid medicine and am in good health. Yet, despite my clean bill, the occasional errant hair still makes its ungodly appearance.

Thus, I have learned to always travel with tweezers. I've learned that despite diligent checking in the safety and privacy of my bathroom, these UDHs are both sneaky and tenacious. I must be forever vigilant, and catch them in well-lit places, where they are unable to hide. Places

So, if you are driving around Southern Maryland, and you pull up next to a green Subuaru, do not be surprised to see me scanning my chin in the mirror, tweezers at the ready. I do not pluck and drive, but, if the light is red, it's game time. My tweezers and I will defeat the UDHs.

And please, as a friend, do your civic duty and inform me if a UDH has reared its ugly head. I will do the same for you, and we will make this world a better-groomed place. One red light at a time.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ghille Suits, Speeding Chickens, and Porky Politicians.

Owen is sleeping with lumber and insisted in wrapping the playhouse in string.


Every afternoon, around two-thirty, my mouth starts watering, and I know, at that moment, that I would do unspeakable, unspeakable things to have some kind of Asian food.

The new Writing Our Faith class is up. Check it out here.

My friend Corrie sent me two links that show Calvert County at its finest. The first is a bit groan worthy, but it is minutes from my house and involves, yes, chickens.

The second is a lengthy article describing a train-wreck of a local politician. She brings her pigs with her everywhere (in fact, that's why she moved to the county). She regularily brings a pig to the local BBQ joint, which is sick and twisted. I wouldn't bring my  children to a cannibal restaurant. Just sayin'

(Also, she hates teachers, which makes her, in my mind, mockable).

Finally, my friend Melissa saw a man dressed like this in the local hardware store.Are you kidding me?

I think I'm going to wrap the house in twine and take a long nap with a sheet of lumber. If the above events are normal, what is considered strange?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Daydream Becomes Reality

In one of those ha-ha, wouldn't-that-be-crazy conversations that Paul and I are wont to have on hour four of a six hour car ride, we discussed our future, theoretical home.

In the course of this conversation, we agreed that our future home would have: solar panels, a composter,  a flat backyard, and a sun room. A bit crunchy perhaps, but nothing unreasonable.

Than, fueled perhaps by the unnatural goodness of Ranch-flavored pretzel bites, we began to discuss our theoretical land.

Paul said "We would have a least ten acres."

"Oh, yes," I replied, forgetting the fact that ten acres of land usually means living far away from essentials like grocery stores that have neither the words "Food," "Lion," "Piggly," or "Wiggly," in their titles.

I added, "And, we would have a chicken coop. With at least ten chickens." I imagined the fresh eggs each morning, the gentle cluck-cluck as I sprinkled the feed from my apron. (Of course I would wear an apron).

Paul considered the idea. "Well, if we had a chicken coop, we would need a big dog. To scare off the foxes. Some kind of herding dog."

"Like the dogs on Babe!" I replied, revealing in an instant my entire knowledge of farming culture. "And, oh! We should get some sheep, too! That way, you wouldn't have to mow the lawn! And (brother) Tom's girlfriend could spin the wool. It's perfect."

"Yes," Paul said, seriously considering the idea, "But you would have to do the shearing."

"Of course," I said. "I love me a good shearing. But you're cleaning out the coop."

"Hmmm," Paul answered, his standard non-reply.

"You'll have the time, since you don't need to mow the lawn," I countered.

Paul nodded, "That's true."

This conversation continued for a good while, our utopian farm becoming more natural and beautiful. It finally petered out when we discussed making our own organic goat cheese, and  expired completely when I suggested bringing a donkey into the mix.  
These day-dreamy conversations became a bit more real when I saw Owen doing this: 

"What are you looking at, Buddy?" I asked, as he peered through our backyard fence.

"The chickens," he replied.

Ah yes, the chickens. Our neighbor, Jimmy, had gone and built himself a chicken coop last weekend. We now have three chickens thisclose to our backyard. Despite my hysterical reports on Facebook, he did not add a rooster to the mix. I stand gratefully corrected.

So, our daydream has become a reality, and the jury is still out about my feelings about all this. It's easy to imagine the graceful agrarian life, but what will this look like one day to the next?

All I know is that Owen goes outside each day to say hello to Dora:

And Charlotte:

And while I never expected to live this close to livestock (at least this soon), I appreciate that there is now another wonder for my little scientist to explore.

We could do a lot worse.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fall Awakening.

I love reading the status updates of my friends from Arizona. They say things like, "It's 78 degrees! Fall is finally here!" or "It's 68 degrees! What should I wear?" This, my friends, is a Southwestern Fall.

Growing up in Arizona is weird. It's wonderful, but it's just different. My friend's mother kept an oven mitt in her car (so she wouldn't burn her hand on the seat belt). We were jealous of our friends that had January birthdays, because they always got to have parties at the park. I loved having a March 5th birthday, because my mother would buy me shorts and skirts. And, I'm pretty sure my brother and I weren't the only ones who attempted to build a snowman out of frost.

Although I have no complaints about my native state, I must acknowledge that fall is soooooooooooooo much better out here on the East Coast. I get it, rest of the country. I finally get it.

Top Five Things that Make Fall So Very, Very, Awesome.

1. Pumpkin patches. I could go to a different pumpkin patch every day of the week and I still wouldn't get sick of the corn-mazing, pumpkin-picking, petting-zoo-petting, hand-sanitizer-dousing, llama-touching, tractor-riding, hot-dog eating good times.

2. Unpredictable Clothing Choices. I dress Owen in jeans. He bakes. I dress Joel in shorts. His lips turn blue. Every morning is an adventure---how, oh how, will I dress my children incorrectly today? (I've learned to just carry a hoodie at all times).

3. OMG Halloween!!! Owen will be a giraffe. Or a scarecrow. Or a scare-giraffe. Joel will be a bear. The cuteness will be so intense that the blood sugar levels of half the state will rise to dangerous levels. Don't even get me started on the mini Snickers bars. Why are they always poisoned? Every time, I must take them away from the boys because they look suspicious. I eat them all, just to make sure they are okay. I do this for the health of my children.

4. Fall Color and Raking Fun I raked leaves and saw fall color, for the first time in my life, when I was 31 years of age. I made a big pile and jumped in it, and I continue to do so, because I've got YEARS of fall fun frolicking to make up. Not Owen, though. He already knows. To see my son dive into a mound of freshly raked, crunchy leaves, and emerge grinning ear to ear, is like drinking champagne with God.

5. Mums I can think of few things that make me happier than a beautiful, freshly planted chrysanthemum.

To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.--Mohandas K. Gandhi

Monday, October 5, 2009

Of purpose, on purpose.

I'll just say it: I suck at reading The Bible.

With its numerous references to Babylonian rulers and countless references to the gathering and consumption of wheat, it's easy for me to drift off. As I skim the passages, I find my mind drifting to other things. This is not something I'm especially proud about,  but it's a fact.

So, last Monday, my friend Michele gave me The Everyday Life Bible, featuring notes and commentary by Joyce Meyer. Just cause. She's thoughtful like that. This Bible is neat because it's new and clean, which is always exciting. Additionally, Meyer gives all sorts of explanations and notes that explain the passages in ways that make sense to me.

For example, I was flipping through it, and I turned to Isaiah 4:26. On my own, I would read Isaiah about, um, never. It's poetic and it's Old Testament--two things that make my brain hurt. But, today, I read this:

"This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth; and this is His hand that is stretched out over all the nations. For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who can annul it? And His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?"

By itself, I thought, "Hmm, I like the idea that his hand is stretched out, protective. I like that nobody can annul (or remove) His hand." And that's about as far as I got.

Then, I read the commentary, and this statement really hit me, "We must choose to love on purpose, give on purpose, and stay at peace on purpose. If we want to have peace, we must purpose to have peace, because the devil will try to steal it."

She's saying that we've all been given purposes for specific reasons. God is a god of purpose. Additionally, we need to make decisions "on purpose," meaning we must choose to love, even when it is hard, give even when it is easier not to, and we must seek peace, even when we are tempted to give in to worry.

I've been feeling a lot of anxiety recently. For the last four days, I've had nightmares where one or both of the boys are in danger, or Paul has deserted me. I wake up with my heart thumping in my chest, near tears. Nothing has happened that would lead me to take such leaps, but make no mistake: these fears are stealing my joy.

And, today. I'm changing Joel, and I notice that one of his testicles is larger than the other. First, I think: hernia. Then, I think: testicular cancer. Then I think of all sorts of horrors, and I can hardly breathe.

This is not the way God wants me to live. His purpose for me does not involve a life of fear. And, I must choose on purpose to seek peace--through more prayer, more meditation, and yes, more study of scripture.

I can do better, and my better starts today.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Confessions of a Social Networking Addict

When I was in middle school, I used to talk to my friends on the phone for hours. I would eat, drink, complete homework assignments, watch TV shows, or listen to the radio with the receiver firmly attached to my ear. Eventually, I would finally hang up the phone, my ear sweaty and ringing. My mother would roll her eyes, and my father would ask me, “What could you possibly talk about for three hours?” My brother, meanwhile, would belch, because that’s what little brothers do. I would sigh, and fight the urge to pick up the phone again. After all, I had to tell a friend that my family sooooo didn’t get it.
            I do not use the phone with nearly the same intensity today. I guess part of growing up is relinquishing the need to watch Melrose Place, eat Cheetos, and paint my nails, while simultaneously playing a rousing game of “OMG, she did NOT say that!” on the phone. Yet, upon further reflection, I must confess that inside me, there is still that same overwhelming, borderline-obsessive need to communicate. It’s just now done via Facebook.
            Anybody who knows me even a little knows that I am on Facebook a lot. It all started innocently enough. My brother lives in Seattle and is in a band. In between the time zones and insanely different lifestyle choices, we were not communicating. He asked me to join Facebook so I could see some pictures, and I agreed. Yet, I didn’t post any pictures or participate in any meaningful way. Facebook, in my mind, was for the teenyboppers.
            Slowly but surely, I became ensnared in the social networking web. A status update here, a picture there, and I am now fully addicted, checking it at least twice a day. It’s a sickness, but I’m willing to stay sick.
            The fact is, there are times in the stay-at-home-mom life that you’re stuck at home. Kids are sleeping or sick, and thus, actual face-to-face adult contact is unlikely. I don’t want to call somebody on the phone, because I don’t want to wake up sleeping kids or intrude on the blissful silence of others. Instead, I check out Facebook.
            I learn that lots of other mothers are tired, wanting naps, or wishing that their children would nap. I learn that we all have children that say funny, insightful, beautiful things. Sometimes, we admit our secret love for Justin Timberlake or for the TV show Glee. Some people make imaginary farms or send virtual gifts to each other.
            In a way, it doesn’t matter what we’re saying, as long as we know that somebody else hears it, understands it, and feels it too.
            I’m certainly not suggesting that Facebook friends are close enough to the real thing. They aren’t. There is no substitute for real friendships built up over time. Yet, if logging on helps me stay connected on a day that I feel disconnected, that’s something I can get behind.
            So, on many evenings, I may be on the laptop. My husband might say, “What could you possibly have to talk about for three hours?”  My response is that I am talking about nothing. Yet, that nothing helps me remain part of a community, and feel something besides stir-crazy.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Contrary to the information in this post, Christopher McCandless was killed by poisonous potatoes, not mushrooms. Damn, those carbs are e-vil. (Thanks to hubby Paul and my friend Jenny for the heads up.)

My mother told me that there was mold on the high chair tray. I said, "Ew! Throw it away!" She informed that that she could clean it with bleach and a toothpick. It took all of three minutes.

"Throw it away," I heard her muttering to herself, "Who raised you?" I stand corrected, Mom.

Mom really likes to eat noisy pecans for snacks. She had a bag of nuts that were flavored with orange zest, black pepper, and sweet cranberries. I mocked her endlessly. "Are you enjoying your sardine and nutmeg flavored pecans, Mom?" She would stick out her tongue, and then chew with extra relish.

This flavor combination sounded dreadful. Then, I tasted one. Of course, they were delicious.

I hate it when that happens.

In this post, I talked about how I never text message, because I like "keeping it real." Well, Paul added text messaging to our phones because he sometimes gets texts from clients, and you see where this is going....

I totally text all the time. My friend Julia and I send weird comments to each other about once a day:

She texts, "Ugh I hate it when people emphasize "pea' vs. "pen" in the word penalize."

I respond, "I just saw a squirrel trip."

She says, "Everything is more fun when it comes out of a cool dispenser. Like toothpaste."

I answer, "Foamy soap makes me so very happy."

We do this all the time. I got a text from my friend that says, "_____ was talking about how skinny and cute you looked today. I agree!" Because of this text, I will never, ever get rid of my present phone.

Text messaging is fantastic. Again, corrected.

(PS--I like Twitter, too.)

The one thing that does NOT need correction is the fact that all of my friends who had babies this week make beautiful parents, and their children are lovely. Congrats to Coby and Shayne for Joshua James (who, apparently, is a dead ringer for Michael Jordan--minus the tongue issues.), Laura and John for Jack Robert, and Leslie and Joe for Cash Joseph.

The world is three babies more beautiful.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Just a quickie today, because we did the Calvert County Fair this morning, and I'm pooped. Funnel cake and 4-H presentations can take a lot out of a girl. After riding a few rides and seeing pumpkins larger than his brother, Owen declared that the best part of the entire day was riding the school bus shuttle from the parking lot to the entrance.

Of course he did.

Moving on...

I wanted to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for helping out with this post. Your comments resulted in a total donation of $150.00 for cancer research. You all made fifty dollars worth of comments. My mother and my friend Becky both generously agreed to match my earnings.

The world is good, people are grand, and someday, this world will be cancer-free.

Thank you again.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Our Foot's in the Door

We have a tree in our front side yard. More accurately, we used to have a tree in that front yard, until Paul paid one of the neighbor kids to chop it down. So really, we now have a stump.

This stump has succumbed to nature's chilly hand and has become overrun with mushrooms. It's feral, it's relentless, and it chills me to the core.

Whenever I look at it, I recall the lines of Sylvia Plath. I'm an English major, so I'm occasionally allowed to do such things. She writes in the voice of mushrooms,

"Nudgers and shovers/ In spite of ourselves/Our kind multiplies:/ We shall by morning/ Inherit the earth./ Our foot's in the door."

In other words: I need to watch my back, because someday, somehow, this stump will kill me in my sleep.

Occasionally, I will venture over and gingerly kick the mushrooms. They, devoted to cause, do not budge. Then, of course, I think about how my shoe is now infected with the mushrooms'...venom.  A picture pops in my mind of dear little Joely, who loves more than almost eat shoes. I retreat from the mushrooms with a small yelp, and boil my shoes, giving them the full Silkwood-style scrubbing. Such is the power of fungus.

Owen and I go on mushroom hunts in the back yard. I don't let him touch the mushrooms with his hands, but he is allowed to poke them with sticks, and stomp them to small bits (I later boil his shoes). I tell Owen that mushrooms are nature's acne, and they must be stopped. "Okay, Mommy," he responds, as his eyes scan the yard for more mushrooms to poke and obliterate.

My friend and I were discussing the book/film Into the Wild a few months back. My friend described it like this, "This rich kid from Bethesda had parents that fought a lot and got divorced. Boo-hoo. Rather than suck it up like the rest of us, he burnt his money and eventually lived in a bus in the middle of Alaska. What a dumbass." My friend comes from the "tough-love" school of thought.

Anyway, the guy in the movie/book managed to survive Arctic chill, grizzly bears, and all sorts of other things only to be killed by...wait for it...poisonous mushrooms. Bastards! Mushrooms are not, contrary to the cheesy joke, "fun-guys." Mushrooms are the street kids of the natural world. They'll cut a bitch and laugh while doing it.

You can imagine the confusion in Owen's world when we place nature's acne on our pizza or eat them in our salad. I'm cool with those mushrooms.

But, make no mistake. I'm cool with nature as long as it isn't creepy and unspeakably evil. Mushrooms are both.  I would tell the stump that its days are numbered, but I'm too terrified to touch it, and Paul, of course, thinks this is all totally hysterical.

In the meantime, the stump and its mushroom minions sits. Plotting. Preparing. Waiting for the perfect moment. Their foot is in the door. 

And, oh, if this isn't disturbing enough, check out this video from my friend Josh. It further displays the evils of fungus.