Wednesday, October 13, 2010

All You Need is Love

Squeaker, "The Squirrel", Atkins died earlier today after a sudden illness. He was nearly 5 years old and enjoyed every minute of his life with A&P after arriving on a snowy afternoon in February 2006. He was cute and sweet and shook the bars of his cage like it was a prison when he wanted to eat. All he was missing was a tin cup to rake across the bars. He liked to explore and especially loved visiting the refrigerator at our old house. Once we moved, it was more difficult and he tumbled down a step or two and then spent more time in his cage for his own safety. The house was not squirrel-proofed.

We are preparing a backyard service for our pig. I made Andrew dig the hole. The ground is harder than, well, dirt. 

Me: Keep digging
A: This is deep enough.
Me: No its not. The only people who dig shallow graves are serial killers.

We tucked him into a shoebox and waited for Peter to come home from his football game.  I could hardly get the words out "the squirrel is gone."

"Let's get this over with," Peter said. "I have lots of homework."

Off we trudged through the rain to the hole in the yard which was of course too small. He made it into the ground wrapped in his favorite towel. "You're a good squirrel, " they both said.

I must have been talking to the squirrel for 5 years and never knew it. As I worked around the kitchen I found myself talking to him and he's not there. Now I just sound insane.

Good Squirrel.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Letter to #54

Dear #54:

How's it going out there on that field? Things are probably not as good in the stands as you might think, so I  thought I'd fill you in on the fact that you playing football  FREAKS ME OUT BEYOND ALL REASON.
Here's the thing- I don't know where this football thing came from. One day it was like "Hey I want to play football" and I was like "Oh OK." (because I am dumber than a box of hammers at a rock throwing contest.)  I even asked your brother "Hey what's with this football thing, do you want to play too?" Without hesitation, Andrew bellowed  "ARE YOU KIDDING, I MIGHT BE SMUSHED LIKE A ROTTEN EGGPLANT!" 
So far you haven't been squished like a champagne grape in some linebacker's toes. But today you got knocked around a bit here and there and it reminded me when I let you roll off of the ottoman when you were a baby- it freaked me out but you were sufficiently squishy that it didn't cause permanent damage.

I'm not brave like Gage's mom. I'm a big chicken and I don't even know what to cheer for. I guess it's good when people get mowed down like bowling pins, but I'd rather you stayed upright. And, it's got to be better for your brain and the math homework to stay in an upright-y type position. Should I call the coach?

Anyway, you looked good out there- at least from what I could see between my fingers since I was covering my eyes and trying not to scream like a girl.

Love Mom

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


The phone rang on Sunday. It was my mother in law telling us to head for the river bed. She's not Moses and we're not fleeing an oppressive people, but we needed to see for ourselves how low the river was.  The Maumee River dumps into Lake Erie and after a day or two of 40 mile an hour winds and some weeks of dry weather the river is dried up like a giant rock filled raisin.

We had to obey so we ran to the car. Actually, me and Tim ran to the car. A&P thought we were insane. 

Me: Ma says you can walk across the River. Let's go check it out.
Andrew : Is it frozen?

Frozen? Have you been watching a few too many episodes of "Ice Road Truckers"? Seriously.

Here's Peter inspecting the river bed at Buttonwood. He looks skeptical. And angry. I think you're perennially angry when you're 13. Do you suppose 14 is any different?

We tried to get the boys to go with us to Grand Rapids, but they complained about homework or some such thing.  Had I not been wearing flip flops and if it were not nearly dinnertime, I would have walked across.

In Andrew's defense, it does look frozen.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Watermelon Shoes

Can I tell you a secret? I obsessively read obituaries. I've done this since I learned how to read. I stopped reading them for a while after my Uncle Steve died unexpectedly because I was chicken. Now I'm back to reading them and thinking about what a gift every darned day is.

So there I was, reading the obituaries on Saturday night, in the New York Times. (I am so Tim's dream girl!)The Saturday death notices are easier to tackle and I can read them with less "short attention span theatre" in my brain. At the end of the section was an obituary that commanded me to get up and do something IMMEDIATELY. That's  a new one- when have you been commanded by a recently passed away person to get up and do something- do not pass go- do not collect $200 just go do it right that very minute. 

The direction? Google "Watermelon Shoes." Fine, I'll google Watermelon shoes.

The first article that pops up is a NYC blog from May, 2009 about a cool old guy from Manhattan that wears shoes decorated like two watermelon slices. Eccentric, yes, but here's the best part, he only wore them 13 times a year.

Tim said, "Maybe he should have bought more than one pair and he could wear them as much as he wanted."

I guess, but that's not the point. He savored his watermelon shoes and wore them only on very obscure days that meant only something to him.  The last sighting of the shoes appears to have been some time in August of this year.

Riveted I plastered the instruction"Google Watermelon Shoes" on my facebook page. Not many people saw it or, knew quite what to do with it. I am strange like that. My friend Dan wrote back and asked "what would your 13 days be?"

In my tracks I stopped cold. I have no idea. Boxing day? My birthday? Or something pedestrian like Thanksgiving or maybe historic like April 14th when Lincoln was shot.   Or is every day special enough for watermelon shoes?

Got to get me some of those shoes.

The Watermelon Shoe guy just died of a massive heart attack. He was so proud of his shoes and the blog about him that he commanded everyone he met to "Google Watermelon Shoes."

Do it. Now.

Love from me and mine to you and yours.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I feel like an incompetent, out of control, carnival worker- the one who runs the giant, rickety ferris wheel. The loose wheel keeps whipping by, faster and faster, and I can't make it stop. Everytime it goes by it whacks me upside the head because I'm a stupid carnival worker and I'm standing inside the yellow lines. I should be fired for this. Where is my job description for this mom-carnival worker-slave-grocery fetcher-splinter puller-pole dancer? (I made that last part up).

Climb on the insanity wheel with me and you'll feel like a gerbil trapped in a two by two cage with a python, a bedspring and a small bottle of minibar whiskey.

School supplies in bulk (exactly why am I buying Kleenex and post it notes in 5 different colors when my children are color blind?)- the laundry room is torn apart, there are fruit flies in the kitchen from those awful cherries that looked better than they tasted, I can't open my martini shaker and someone had the AUDACITY to steal the radio antenna off of my car. Seriously, it's a psycho mom's minivan, you sickos.

I bought way too many school supplies. I have a fear of running out of red pens on a frosty night in November when its really hard to find erasable blue pens in bulk. (And this is especially weird because I'm worried about the red pens so why I'm looking for blue pens needs some introspection.)Peter goes through a pencil a day so the effort my family puts into judging me because I have a container with 300 pencils in it is entirely unnecessary. Some people stockpile paper towel (Matthew), I stock pile writing utensils. Odd because A&P have horrible handwriting.

Oh, the laundry room, you must be wondering. I had it ripped apart because it was horrible and needed a makeover and tile backsplash and beverage cooler. Who doesn't? (Are you judging too?) The new cabinets were in place for about 6 hours before the cat opened a base cabinet  with his short toes that can't even open a cracked door and barfed right in it. Really, the new cabinet? Wouldn't you prefer the white carpet?

Is your head spinning off yet? I hear I can get prescriptions for this kind of thing. Andrew grew an inch during a 4 hour mid day nap last week. You think I'm kidding but he's nearly 6 feet tall and he wasn't that tall when I left for work that day. I started to wear even higher heels and now my feet hurt. Stupid feet. Dang tall kids. Note to self: buy more coffee and bricks for their heads.

Are you feeling whipped around on this giant wheel yet?

Tomorrow is the start of 8th grade. I remember 8th grade so the fact that I have 8th grade kids is just ridiculous. I told someone at work that I was 32- it went like this- "you need me to work on Section 32 of such and such? Sure, that's the same age as me." Pause- no comment- total silence. She said "You're 32? I could be your mother." I burst out laughing hysterically (that's what happens off the medication) and she said "you look good, but not 32 good." Nice.

So I'm hysterical, hateful and hyperventilating the night before school. At least we have pencils.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Boy Scouts and Girlfriends

I found my boys at that giant Boy Scout jamboextravaxecellentcy.
I also found some very fabulous butterflies in the gardens at Mount Vernon.
And I found some super fabulous girlfriends, right under my nose. Just like butterflies, if you slow down long enough and shut the yammering skull cave for a minute or two, the gals appear from the nicest places.

I can't explain what happened here. Peter either got very large or the rest of us got very small. My eyeballs are at his bottom lip. Seriously, this is NOT OK.
On the upside, Andrew is on the left so that part of the universe is still completely under my control.
It's hard to see but the t-shirt is a Breast Cancer Awareness shirt created by super fantastic cousin Missy and is worn in honor of my very fabulous gal Cathy S- super fierce, always beautiful and walking last weekend to raise money for research. She is awesome. You probably know someone exactly like her and you should donate your time or energy and maybe both to fighting this disease with Cathy.
Back to the butterflies, I am the luckiest person ever.
I am sending you some giggling, a good deal or two, and in honor of a now deceased blogger I stole this from,
Love, love, love.
Just because

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Scout Spy

I should have been a spy.

I could take off in my top secret spy plane and take my own pictures of A&P no matter where they are. You shouldn't be able to hide from your Mom.

The picture above is from the BSA Jamboree website. This aerial shot is A&P's sub camp- or so I'm told.

When A&P were little I performed various covert operations like stalking the school bus and hiding on the play ground dressed up like pieces of playground equipment (I don't recommend dressing up like tether ball.)

The first day of school I was reprimanded by the bus driver for rip tearing through town, chasing the bus. I made the mistake of pulling up next to the bus at a stoplight. The door on the bus whooshed open in the way they do with that air noise and a squeak and the driver looked down her nose at me in disgust. "Go to work," she commanded. "They're fine!"  Whatever, they're only really fine, if I know they're fine with my own two eyes, sister, and you have to go over 3 different sets of railroad tracks. How do I know you don't have a bum eye and impaired hearing that prevents you from identifying a speeding train?

I guess I've gotten over that, sort of (hence the sedatives) but I wish I had a spy plane. A better plan would be to dress as a shrub and work my way around Fort AP Hill a stand of trees at a time. There's only 75,000 acres, who would possible notice the same piece of shrubbery?

The next best plan would be to get in the car and drive 12 hours to Virginia and find A&P on that 75,000 acres and make sure they're OK with my own two eyes.

Good idea.

I leave tomorrow.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Summer Squash

A&P were about the size of a summer squash when they were born- together. Separately, probably the size of a couple of large sweet potatoes.

Then they got big. So big, I can't really compare them to food anymore.

Big enough that they could pack their stuff into over sized bags and go away on a bus for two weeks.

Eeek. I need a moment.

OK, I'm back.
Then, it's off on their adventure, see ya, thanks for the memories, can I have some more cash, later gator, outa here, ta-ta, TTFN, blow a kiss, gone Daddy gone. Gone.

I need a moment. And a sedative.

OK, I'm back.

Here's the link for you grandparent types that might want to know where A&P are spending the next 10 days. They're in Subcamp 13 (Ohio and West Virginia), Troop 1324 to be exact.

So there's the story. They were born the size of a squash, they got big and then they stepped on a bus and went away to the 100th Anniversary Boy Scout Jamboree. I'm just positively speechless.
I would like to point out that in every single picture, Andrew is on the left!

Friday, July 23, 2010


I got an email on Wednesday, while zipping to a meeting out of town, offering us tickets to the Detroit Tigers game on Thursday. Turns out the tickets were in a Suite a little to the third base side of home plate at Comerica Park in Detroit. A&P thought they had gone to heaven as we surprised them when we picked them up from a week up at Lake Huron. The tickets even included a parking pass and a special entrance so we were parked about a dozen yards from the gate. Wow. And, the suite had its own bathroom. Besides the view, this held the biggest fascination and why wouldn't it?

My only problem here is that Andrew is not on the left. No one listens to me anymore. Seriously people.

Sunday A&P will head off the the Boy Scout Jamboree at Fort AP Hill in Virginia for the better part of two weeks. Here are their smiling faces before camp a few weeks ago. This is when their clothes were clean, their teeth were brushed and they weren't covered with mosquito bites. Andrew is on the left here. Can you see the height difference? We're baffled because Andrew actually eats. Peter seems to live mostly on Oatmeal Creme pies.
My new Bible finally showed up. Thanks US Postal Service for rushing it out to me in 14 days. What if I was really having a crisis? I guess the 4th grade Bible would have had to do.  I got sucked into Proverbs 31 this week. I'm not sure who this lady is, but whoa, I'm feeling rather inadequate.

I did manage to paint this desk though. A few folks might recognize it as the Muncie desk that ended up in my house a few years ago. I decided to paint it red. Take that Proverbs 31 lady.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Double Stinky Socks

A&P are home from Boy Scout Camp. Can you smell them from there? I think I may have discovered a new bacterium, or 12, in the pile of macerated socks. So much for paying extra for stink guard socks. What a scam.

Those boys make me swoon. (Camp is actually over tomorrow, but they got sprung a few hours early so we can set them off of their next adventure tomorrow morning, but that's another story. I have perfected the art of arranging activities for children that keep them entertained for weeks at a time. I should get paid to do this for rock stars.)  Anyway, back to the swooning...

They have arranged for themselves to have their conference in a few weeks to become Life Scouts. With that, we're one step (and a whole lot of work) from their Eagle. No matter how bright my brother's kids are, surely I'll have done something right to turn out a pair of Eagle Scouts. (Insert humility here).

Here's the best part though- I know they had a good week because they talked the whole way home about camp being the best week ever. They hardly complained about the food they had such a great time. Here's the thing about Boy Scouts, when you can spend your week lighting fires, rolling in the dirt and practicing a tourniquet- what could be better than that?

A maid to wash the socks...
We're heading into another week without the boys and it's hard to know what project to tackle first. I'm working my way through the Book of Ruth, line by line. I've gotten so fascinated by the detail and the history that I ordered myself the Oxford Annotated Bible. I can hardly wait to dig into it if only Amazon would hurry it up and make my delivery.

So very blessed on this Friday evening. I hope you are in a good place and I'm sending you a hug and a kiss, just in case you need it. Feel better?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Home Alone Again

I called home around noon today.

Andrew: This is Buddy the Elf! What's your favorite color?
Me: Oh Golly, did you eat sugar cereal for breakfast?
Andrew: Mine's yellow, what's yours?
Me: Is your brother alive?
Andrew: Haven't seen him.
Me: Go check, I'll call you later.

It's calls like this that make me find articles online about kids left home alone sniffing glue and shampooing the cat.

Yesterday when I called, Peter answered.

Me: Hey, did you eat? (If I don't ask them to eat, they'll only eat Oatmeal Cream Pies and Fritos making their starvation my fault because I didn't tell them to eat. Seriously, I have nothing better to do than call home and remind you to eat something that isn't shrink wrapped in clear plastic).
Peter: Just getting ready to heat up some chicken nuggets.
Me: Oh no..I left you money. Just go get a quart sized ice cream from Mr Freeze. That doesn't involve vulcanizing your victuals and you can ride your bike.
Peter: Good idea.

It's calls like this that make me question my parenting skills, but least I won't spend the evening blowing out the smoke and vacuuming ashes.

On the upside, I had a Heloise moment when I rubbed the charred chicken part marks off of my good white plates with baking soda. Yep, good old fashioned working mom, stay at home destructive kid, ingenuity.

They leave for camp on Sunday. It's in exactly 60 hours. Actually 60 hours and 45 minutes. I can make it.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Home Alone

My phone rang around 1:00 on Friday...

Me: What, I'm busy!
Tim: They almost burned the house down.
Me: Seriously?
Tim: Our boys need remedial cooking assistance.
Me: Huh- you can so totally teach them.
Tim: They're beyond help.

Apparently Peter decided to make some chicken nuggets in the microwave. As any good Scout would, he read the package- and then put two plates in the microwave for TWENTY-ONE MINUTES.

Tim: Peter- is the microwave in flames?
Peter: No. But the nuggets are black.
Tim: Get the package and read it to me.
Peter: Cook 6 nuggets for Twenty-one slash 2 minutes.
Tim: How long have you been out of school? Twenty one slash two? Look at it again!
Peter: What, wait, Oh, two and a half. I'm an idiot.

The black charred spots came off of my white plates with baking soda.

The house smells like it was only burning for a short while.

Our microwave is original to the house, circa 1985. I think there was a brown out in Perrysburg around 12:30 on Friday. My electric bill probably doubled for the twenty-one minute nugget cremation ceremony.

This is going to be a good week. A&P are at sailing camp during the day on Lake Erie. They love it and enjoy a spectacular capsizing as much as the next sailor. And, I got invited to a Bible study. It takes a brave person to invite another person to a Bible study. What an awesome friend. I love her very much. I guess I'll actually have to study.

I need to study because I'm not good at quoting or remembering things I should remember. I tried to quote a week or so ago, while dissing a coworker about having to walk by the ladies of ill-repute behind our office building. There's something profound about what you do for the least, you do for me- as in Jesus. But it came out something like- "Don't diss the hoes, they could be Jesus." That didn't have the impact I was looking for.

May you have a week full of love and thankfulness for being able to read the freezer packages to microwave your chicken nuggets.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

That Tornado and My Home Ec Teacher can kiss my big fat...

Curtain. They can kiss my big ol' curtain.

First the Tornado. I don't have any pictures of that- would you really want them?

Around 11pm last Saturday night we were somehow spared- not even a twig out of place- but 5 miles east of us is in bad shape. The high school is destroyed. The police station is flattened. They have no school buses and no police cars. Five people are dead. A mom and her little boy were sucked right out of their beds, their house flattened. The neighbors found them in the yard. The dad and a daughter somehow survived.

A&P were at camp about 60 miles west of here. They evacuated to the showers and were well taken care of, but we couldn't help remembering the Scouts killed in Iowa 3 or 4 years ago. We are so lucky, so blessed.

Onto to something less horrendous, aren't you loving that curtain? I made that. With some help from my fabulous friend of course. I haven't sewed since 7th grade and then one day a month back a light went on in my ever misfiring skull "you should buy a sewing machine." What the heck, it's better than starting a crack habit or beating my kids.

Then I got brave and I made this one for Andrew's room. All by myself. My home ec teacher thought I was a disaster. I may be a disaster, but I can plug in a machine. This one for Andrew is made out of fabric that has the Pledge of Allegiance printed on it. The blue is stars. Andrew said "Is this just for the 4th of July and you're making another one?" Don't push it buster.

I have to tell you though, I am a big mess. My dining room is not suitable for eating. I spilled the same box of 500 pins- twice. Several dozen got stuck in my feet. I got another set of teeny tiny pins and I promptly dropped those all over the floor twice. The cat keeps running off with my bobbin thread thing-a-ma-bobbers.

Do you know how hard it is to drink and sew at the same time? Take it from me, you have to be really, really careful not to spill.

Lastly, because I am starting to ramble and the blogger gods nearly made this entire post disappear which would have been tragic, we went to the Indy 500. We surprised A&P and went to the race with family that knows how to manage a giant track with whizzing cars. Fun had by all.

Here's hoping that the 50 or so families that lost their houses pretty darned close to here can draw upon the good times to pull through. All I had to do was pick up about 4000 straight pins and pick the other 100 out of my toes. I know where my birth certificate is and I have a roof. If you think of it, donate to The Red Cross or something- they help people just like them.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Channeling Alice Cooper

I knew I was doing something right with my children when Andrew relayed the following anecdote..

Kid: Schools out for summer!
Andrew: Oh ya, good song.
Kid: Yes, I really like "High School Musical."
Andrew: OMG. Seriously? That's Alice Cooper.

With 7th grade safely under our belts, or so I'm told, we're off for the summer. I lost the boys for over an hour yesterday. I was pretty sure they were abducted. They resurfaced eventually.

And here's ultimate irony for you. Peter has harassed me for years that he's the only poor sod without a cell phone. (This is absolute crap because he has a phone, but he won't use it. I don't eat leftovers so I blame myself, really I do.)

At dinner after finally finding them again today as they re-emerged from the wilderness that is Perrysburg, I said...

Me: so if I text you and say "where are you?" what would you do?
Peter: Assuming I had a phone, I would text you back.
Tim: We're using GPS, you can't hide from us. I always know where you are.
Peter: Oh please.

My own insecurity is going to result in two children being saddled to phones. I can feel it. I hope my health insurance covers thumb joint replacements.

Last night at 8:45 pm they were out roaming the countryside. I started to freak out, but they did come back.

They are never learning to drive a car, but when they do, they will be blasting Alice Cooper and texting me from stoplights.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Last Seventeen Cents

We've been working with a local organization called The Village for a while. We rented some space in a not-so-nice neighborhood about nine months ago with some lofty ideals about changing the world or some such thing. This is really rather daunting, but I suppose you have to start somewhere. So you put a stake in the ground and say "here, is where we start."

There's a lot more back story to this endeavor, but I want to share one little bit with you.

Today, we had a free parking lot party. Tim did a lot of the planning so we rolled in about an hour before the official start time to set up grills and do whatever needs to be done to have a cook out in a parking lot. Miraculously, it stopped raining long enough for this to happen. (It's rained enough that I saw a mushroom the size of a hubcap today. I may grow gills.)

Our South Korean friend arrived just before we did. He saw a man near the intersection for the highway ramp and the main road. He picked up the man and brought him along. Everything he owned, presumably, was in a rolled up pack about the size of a small pillow. He wasn't unkempt, but he was homeless and ragged, so a certain amount of unkempt goes with the territory. He helped unload grills and carry things. He stayed with us nearly all afternoon eating hamburgers, drinking orange Kool Aid and listening to music. Someone said he was trying to get to Pontiac, Michigan.

As I stood behind the food tables to refill bowls of chips or whatever, I saw him slowly approach the table. We had some flyer's down at the end that we were holding down with a small change bank (like the ones you use for spare change during Lent.) The party was free but a few folks had jammed some bills in the coin slot on the top of the can. They didn't need to, but it was nice anyway. The man refilled his water bottle from the orange Kool Aid container and then reached into the little pocket on his jeans. You know the pocket- the little one in the front that makes them five pocket jeans. He pulled out a few coins. From the looks of him, I have to imagine this is about all he had.

He took a silver coin and some pennies and another coin, maybe a dime, and he put them in the can. He walked away slowly. I saw him a few minutes later on the other side of the building lighting a cigarette and then he was gone. Off to Pontiac I guess.

He didn't need to give us his money. For that matter, our friend didn't need to have picked him up. But he got picked up and he fished in his pockets for coins for the can. Do I ever give that much? Do I ever reach into my pockets and rummage through the last few coins that I have and willingly and cheerfully give them away? Am I that generous with my time? Am I that generous with my talents and spirit that even when I'm pretty sure I have nearly nothing left, I give just a little bit more away?

Well Sir, I don't know who you are, but what you did will stay with me forever. I hope you made it to Pontiac, Michigan. Thank you for coming to our picnic.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Knocked Around

In my quest for some good TV, I stumble around the dial of 200 channels like an inebriated housefly desperately searching the screen for a hole big enough to cram into and escape. Surely TV is an escape for most everyone. After an hour slogging through the machinations that is a VH1 reality show, I flipped over to a narrative of The Wreck of the Whaleship Essex and Hermann Melville. It's one of my favorite stories- gruesome but wonderful language and allegory.

Ever feel like you've been whacked upside the head by a 2 ton right whale? I can't be the only one. But when that happens, there's always the little stuff to get you through, hour by hour, if necessary. Like some of this stuff...

Andrew has a beautiful, young soul. He's not an old soul- I know you know what I mean. He doesn't look at me with those eyes that say "I've done this before, leave me alone." His eyes say "Hey, this is the first time I've seen this and I'm having a wonderful time, thank you very much." It's rather refreshing after a day or two of being knocked about in what feels like a very small, hole riddled boat.

Yesterday he told me that the new shampoo I got him made him so happy because it was a great shade of blue. "It actually made me smile in the shower." How cute is that? It's shampoo so I think that's rather delightful. He never said anything profound when peering into the Grand Canyon a few years back- he said something more like "That's a big hole." I suppose if he can appreciate the small things, I've done my job.

This is what he picked out for me for Mothers' Day...

I've received a variety of opinions about what this means- including one that suggests that he is trying to butter me up should he end up in the slammer. He's not the felonious type generally so that can't be it. Regardless, he was quite proud of the purchase and insisted that I take it to my office. So I did. Hopefully the nuns don't mind the mild profanity. (Incidentally, Peter got me a very nice vase.)

Being knocked about is generally worth it, even when the boat springs a leak, or 12. I found at my local Big Lots a nifty four pack of root beer that helped me focus on what's important even when someone else is yanking the life jacket and pushing my head under water.

It was way up on the top shelf, but not out of reach. Nothing is, if you try hard enough.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to bailing me boat.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Fib Practice

I have a colleague. I don't like this person one bit. Not one iota.

This person thinks I fib. Either that or she likes to check up on me. If you know me at all, you know that this makes me crazytown insane.

So this is what I'm going to do. I am going to call it out. I am going to call it like I see it. If you don't believe what I say and you insist on going behind my back like a 5th grader to see if I what I tell you is true, then I will call this out.

Here's the thing. If I fibbed or made stuff up, I wouldn't be mundane. I would go big. I would tell the biggest whopper you ever heard. So, if you think, Dear Miss Checkerupper that I am lying about someone being out of town, just see what I might tell you if I was really fibtastic.

No, we wouldn't be out of town at a meeting (which for real! it's the truth!) We would be...

Eating tea sandwiches with flying monkeys at a garden shop in Queensland Australia.

Or wait, this is better. We would be riding blue dragons to a luncheon with the King and Queen of Luxemermia. (That's where I'm from after all. For those of you who don't know me well, I was kidnapped by Russian spies out of my castle in Luxemermia back in 1981. I was only 6 months old and I woke up in an orange crib in Wauwatosa Wisconsin with Paula and Stu. I'm just waiting for the King's people to hook me up with my fortune. Still waiting!)

So here's the deal Miss Checkerupper, if you're too dumb to figure out that I know that you're going around checking up on me like you're some kind of insecure 5th grader, then when I meet you next week, we're going to have some fun. You just won't know it's happening because the whopper will be so big, well, I'll stop there. I don't want to give away my secrets.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


This was supposed to be a post about SERENITY and CALM THINGS and KITTIES and PINK PONIES and PINK MARTINIS and SATIN and other HAPPY STUFF!

But Holy Cow, things change fast.

I almost thought I'd never see you again. I thought my blog was gone from me forever. I tried to log in and it didn't know who I was. It was like I had fallen into an alternate universe. I freaked out. My office called while I was freaking out. She said "you sound weird, what's wrong." I said "Oh nothing." How do you tell your office that your blog disappeared while you were trying to post and jam Wheat Thins in your mouth before a 1:00 conference call? You don't tell people that because that just sounds kooky.
I am trying very hard to be calm and not shake someone's teeth out. So I thought, I'll post something happy and nice so I can think of something serene rather than driving 100 miles to shake the teeth out of the skull of someone who is, well, doesn't matter. I'm being serene.
Peace out.
P.S. The picture is my backyard pond. Isn't it DIVINE?! I can hear the waterfall. The splish and splash keeps me from wanting to SHAKE PEOPLE's TEETH OUT!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lunch Break

Here's a snapshot of what is floating around in my head (if you watch South Park, I'm probably a bit like what Cartman sees when he closes his eyes). It is nearly noon as I type this. Where does the day go?

I am inspired by the following two things today (beware, things are going to get sappy around here)...

  • A quote from Moulin Rouge "The greatest thing you will ever learn is to love and to be loved in return."
  • Time spent serving and preparing a community dinner for people who need it on Sunday.

First, the quote... it's just a great quote. I am going to give my boys and the kitty and Timmy and maybe the guinea pig (Not all at the same time) a big squeeze. Peter really needs a big squeeze. He was feeling a little low yesterday. So, if you see him before I do, squeeze him until he squeaks.

Second, the dinner... A&P and a friend needed some more service hours for school so off we went to the community dinner. The boys all worked very hard and made me very proud. They worked for four hours straight to help get dinner on the table for about 50 people who come off of the street once a month for a meal. Some of the people leave prayer requests behind.

I should tell you that Sunday was a miserable rainy day. People came in dripping wet and cold. Some smiled anyway.

I have to tell you about these prayer requests.... if I was homeless or downtrodden and needed a meal... I would be miserable. I would be a pill and a half. I would be pulling my hair out and I would pray for indulgent things like a job and an income and a place to live. This is because I'm selfish and I have too much to learn about how to live my life. Do you know what these people left prayers for? Not a single prayer that I picked up was for something indulgent.

They prayed for...

  • the missing oil rig workers
  • miners in West Virginia
  • peace
  • beauty
  • happiness
  • some signed their names and said thank you
  • some didn't say anything at all

Remember, give Peter a squeeze.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Worms: An appreciation

This is a post about worms. If you think worms are icky, you should probably not read this. Although I think worms are icky so I probably can't type anything too gross or I'll make myself sick.

Shall I explain the picture? In preparation for a newsy little post of vermicomposting or some such thing, I decided to find a picture of an earth worm. Instead I found this lovely photo of the Nibelungen Bridge over the Rhine at Worms, Germany. Obtuse? Indeed.

Curiousity got the better of me so I turned to google to find out some more stuff about Worms. Did you know it was founded by Celts and that the people of Worms fight with the people in Cologne about who has the oldest town in Germany? The only thing I ever knew was that Worms was where Martin Luther had his temper tantrum.

Now get this about the name... the Celts back in the olden times before calendars named their little town Borbetomagus which means "settlement in a watery area." How nice and direct of those Celts. Anyway, the Romans came along and started calling it Vormatia and that's just a fancy way to say "worms." I'm not sure the Romans did them any favors with the name change but with Romans stomping around, I'm not sure that the Borbetomagusians had any room to argue.

So there we have it, worms.

I bought a composter. I don't know anything about worms, but I'm going to compost my coffee grounds and my black and white inked junk mail.

All Hail Mighty Worms.

Monday, April 19, 2010


How much would you charge me to lock me in this tower?

TCWICRN (The Child who is crazy right now) made me so mad yesterday I could have locked myself into this tower forever. He was ranting and raving and hollering and exhibiting various kinds of buffoonery. I had been secretly congratulating myself for a week that I had not jammed him into a UPS box and mailed him to Russia with a note that said "I know he didn't come from Russia, but it seems like a good place. Thanks."

I tried to wrap my head around the insanity. I said supportive things like "this will pass"; "you are great", "I sure do love you and would never sell you to gypsies." But after 7 days of this nutso wackiness, all I wanted to do was climb into a tower and grow my hair for 25 years.

So I hollered "you can't be crazy anymore! you are driving me bananas! pick a different kind of crazy! if you're going to stay crazy, make it different every time for goodness sake!"

He stared at me. He regarded my red face and snarl. And, he stopped being crazy. I called out the crazy and he left, just like that and in his place was the regular kid.

What did I wait 7 days for?

I still want to be locked in the tower because I think crazy will come back sometime before high school graduation.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Short History of A & P

There's a lesson in everything. Today's lesson is: never leave children of any age unattended. This was the story of my life for about 10 years. Then, you get complacent and when you find your kids smoking cigars you slap yourself for not remembering your lessons. Don't worry, A&P don't smoke cigars. They're too busy beating each other up. Peter told me the other day that they only fight in the back yard so that no one sees. Seriously, if you have the forethought to beat the crap out of your brother and plan to do so in the backyard, perhaps you have the brain capacity to engage in some problem solving. Just saying....

While we were on vacation we ran into some new victims who had never heard any of our crazy A&P stories before. While regaling the new, hapless, trapped listeners, Andrew burst out in a guffaw. "You got to write this stuff down, Mom."

Dateline: April 15, 2000
A&P: Age 3
Me: Clueless

I was on the phone with my brother. The boys were locked in the backyard. I could see them as they pushed their toys around the driveway. They were behind a gate. I was 10 feet away, albeit in the house, but I could see them and jump to their aid should an alien space ship land on the lawn.

Suddenly, they were gone.

Seriously. Gone.

Where the heck do two little boys who were happily pushing molded plastic toys two seconds ago, go?

Really? Freaking out.

I slammed down the phone and ran outside in complete panic.

There they were. So cute, so short, so standing in the middle of the flower beds holding handfuls of landscaping rocks. Whatever, I removed the rocks from the boys and the boys from the rocks and scooted them in the house.

It was April in Ohio. It gets cold at night. Our house got really cold that night- inexplicably.

The next morning, Tim ventured to the basement to figure out why if we had it set at 80, the house was 58. The furnace was flashing alarmingly. Yellow and red. "No clue," Tim said. "You should call someone."

Within the hour, the furnace people appeared. Within 5 minutes I had my answer.

My lovely children had, in the 15 seconds I could not see them, stuffed our furnace flue with handfuls of landscaping rocks. About 75, one inch landscaping rocks to be exact. They had completely crammed the flue. Thankfully, our furnace had the good sense to shut itself the heck off or we would have had a serious issue.

I put a squirrel cage on the furnace flue. Days later, I found the boys standing again in the flower bed, one with the squirrel cage and the other with a handful of rocks. I probably yelled. Really loud.

Several years later, we had to replace the furnace. Imagine that? Not sure why a furnace would have trouble when stuffed with stones. When they unhooked the old furnace, more rocks fell from the piping.

Now they just pummel each other in the backyard. Progress? I'm not sure.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Walk in the Woods, Final Episode

Greetings Sports fans! Sometimes there's victory and then there's the agony of defeat. If you followed my instructions and read "A Walk in the Woods" then you'll know the agony of the Appalachian Trail (AT) approach trail. Anytime there's an approach to more trail (2,100 miles of it) you may want to think twice. Andrew reminded me that the characters in the book discarded most of their food (Little Debbies and the coffee filters too) in the 7 mile hike on the approach to the terminus of the AT.
We left the Len Foote Inn with some packed lunches and our spirits high since we knew our trail out, although longer, was more down than up. I guess it all depends on your knees whether you like the up or the down, or neither. Me, I'll take any of it because it's not a day bashing my head against a wall at the office (I like that sort of thing, though.)
The picture above is, finally!, what it should be with Andrew on the left. Seriously people. It's not hard.

We had our regularly scheduled Atkins family breakdown about half way down the mountain. This time there was no aggravating incident just some frayed 13 year old nerves. This turned Andrew into a melted mess and Peter into a hiking machine- apparently in an effort to get as far away from the other 75% of his family as quickly as possible. He's a gazelle when motivated like this. We saw him again somewhere near the stream below.
Oddly, I wasn't as worried as I would be in Montana that something would eat him. Either it's that I didn't think something would eat him because we were in Georgia or maybe I was secretly wishing that he would be carried away by a family of wolves. Is that so wrong?
Six miles later, here is the Amicalola Creek that feeds the waterfall. Yippee! We could almost see the car from here! Nothing had eaten Peter and he was perched on a rock not far from the creek with a look on his face that said "I wish you would melt into spring rain sloshed in mountain mud." What a bonus.
Did you make your reservations yet? What are you waiting for? Seriously, you have no excuse.
Did I mention that I would LOVE to do the entire AT through hike? I read everything I can about the AT and through hikers and I met a through hiker named Catfish on this trip. I've been trying to decide what I might name myself- so far the only thing I can come up with is Cosmo (after my favorite drink). I think I can do better than that.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Stay in the Woods

Oh my Golly. Why can't we get this picture taking thing right. Peter is again, on the left. No one listens to me, ever. I'm not sure what Peter is doing with his finger and I probably don't want to know.

On Friday afternoon we arrived at the inn. Our legs were a little wobbly since we're flatlanders, but we made it in pretty good time. (Less time than predicted on the trail signs- take that trail!)

We had a great tour of the grounds including their worm farm and the composting toilets. If you really want to know, I can fill you in. I still have the willies.

After a fabulous dinner, we settled in for an evening program because there is no TV!

Folks around these parts come to the inn to volunteer. This particular volunteer developed a completely awesome ultra light camp stove out of a pop can. We were riveted. And screwed up because again, despite my best intentions, Peter is on the left.

The inn can accommodate 4o folks in 20 rooms of 2 bunks. Above is the bunk house. The face peeking out was our neighbor bunkmate who hails from Atlanta.

To the left is the dining hall and to the right is the bath house. If you keep walking into the picture you'll fall off a cliff, so don't do that. And there's snakes. Did I mention snakes? Yuck.

We survived the night in our bunks. I'm going to get a bit personal here so if you're squeamish, skip ahead. I don't get up at night to go potty. I just don't have to. Somehow at the inn all night long, all I could think about was the climb down the ladder, out the door and to the bathroom.

The inn was awesome, you should totally go. Do it.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Walk in the Woods, Part One

I think I have a loose screw in my skull. Before you go judging me and trying to figure out which screw is the loosest, lest you are one of those folks who believe that I have more than one loose piece of hardware, I know just which one. The problem I have is that I have to live some place flat. Clearly we could have picked someplace else that was not as flat. Really, I can't dwell on that. So here we are.

Do you notice a problem? Yes, I am the shortest. That is a problem. Do you notice the other problem? Peter is on the left. That is about the wrong-est thing that can happen in one of my pictures. Ten years from now I will be totally screwed on who is who. Andrew is always on the left- except in this picture because no one listens to me anymore. I think I'm going to have a short snit about that. OK, I'm done.

Anyway, here we are at the top of Amicalola Falls in the state park of the same name, Georgia. We were ready to start our walk into the woods. (If you have not done so, you must read, MUST, I SAY MUST READ, A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson. Indeed, required for this blog.)

Off we went. Normalcy was achieved as above you will find Andrew on the left. Phew. I thought Mercury was in retrograde there for a few minutes. This picture was taken right before the half way point Atkins family meltdown, a.k.a. fight. This time it was about a dented metal water bottle. (Sigh. It's not worth repeating.)
A&P recovered from their mutual hatred and found company on the trail somewhere way ahead of us. They tell us we're old. We tell them they hike too fast. Whatever, I'm right.

We arrived late afternoon at the Len Foote Hike Inn. It's fabulous and I will tell you more about it tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

To the Moon Alice

If I were going to send someone into space, I suppose the Saturn V rocket would serve as an appropriate vehicle. As we saw at the Kennedy Space Center today, this thing is GIANORMOUS. (That's a very technical NASA term.)

Guess who I might like to send to the moon? You would not believe who I literally ran into today at KSC. Never. Don't even bother guessing. I had this boss one time who was horrid- fairy tale, wicked stepmother, except he was a man, horrid. He personified everything that anyone ever might hate about corporate life working for "the machine." Anyway, he was always slightly clownish, and I have not seen him since I left for greener pastures- UNTIL TODAY. There he was, with his pants hiked up to his armpits in line for some food. How on Earth did I end up at KSC on the same day as this Evil Corporate Tool?

Anyway, that's who I would like to send to the moon. No, I am not one bit bitter.

It was a good visit (except for being shadowed all day by the Evil Corporate Tool) with the space stuff as evidenced by A&P and the lunar node thing . I think they used this node thing on Apollo 11. We were all pretty happy today and our only meltdown involved Mountain Dew at lunch. We did see another family with kids about A&P's age having their own very public meltdown. I wanted to hug them all and thank them for being human.

Tomorrow is another beach day and I'm pretty sure that I need a lobster for lunch. Late in the day we'll work our way up to Atlanta. Friday is when we hit the Appalachian Trail for a hike and an overnight in the mountains with no cell phones, TV or computers. Heaven!

A&P keep asking when we can take a normal vacation like everyone else.

Define normal, then we'll make our plans.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Love, Exciting & New

Avert your eyes. This is us on vacation. Aren't we sweet? It's a small miracle that no one was thrown from a precipice today. There's always tomorrow.
I made the boys pop a squat on the sand for some pictures. This is how it went.
Me: I want to take your picture on the beach. Sit here.
Them: No. That's dumb. You know what we look like.
Me: Not for long.
Them: We don't care. Pictures are stupid.
Me: I can wait here until dark. You choose.
Obviously we didn't wait until dark. Aren't they sweet?

For this picture at the Fort in St Augustine I said, Hey stand in that door way for your picture. They were trying to make me look like a fool. It worked. Aren't they wonderful?

At the end of all of it, there's the peaceful lapping of waves on the beach. The waves wear the shells down to dust over several million years. Just like my children are doing to me, however it's taken a mere 13 years. Surely that makes me lucky.
Until tomorrow....

Monday, April 5, 2010

More Picture Obstruction & The Beach

Whilst attempting to pose for a family photo at the UGA Botanical Gardens, we again find ourselves obstructed by an interloper. The raised hand has been used to terrorize A&P since they were very little. Uncle Adam, the obstructionist, used the hand to threaten younger versions of A&P by telling them it was a brain sucker. And, the brain sucker was apparently starving. A&P have often told me "Uncle Adam scares me." Ah yes, he scares us too.
But our visit in Athens was short and we were soon off to sandier places outside of St. Augustine. It's amazing how easy A&P are to spot in the water. They're a bit pale after an Ohio winter.

Cousins make good beach pals and we spent our afternoon digging in the sand for shark's teeth and tossing about in the waves.
We'll report again as time permits and without the interloper, I suppose, unless we can find another one.