Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Feelin' the Mush

Every once in awhile I like to think of the list of people I consider friends. Some have been on the list a very long time, the ink barely readable but I don‘t have to read the name to know they are there. Some were erased in haste, only to be lovingly re-entered in permanent ink. Some are recent, friendships still in a honeymoon stage. Some have question marks after their names as I am still unsure if they are truly friends, or just really great people that I have the pleasure of crossing paths with. Some have stars and exclamation points.

This list is very life affirming. It makes me feel very special to know that I can call these people, and talk. Some of them we have a specific topic we share: Gardening Friends, Church Friends, Mom Friends. Others I know speak my language and we share reference quotes. Quotable Friends get it when I say “parlez vous Olympics”, You use that word but I do not think you know what it means.” and “ Can you spare a square?”. Mom Friends get it when I crack jokes about my kids, knowing how much I really love and adore the same kids. Don’t think of them as labels, think of them as definitions.

Sometimes one of these friends come into my line of sight because she has done something really awesome. Overcome some hardship, achieved some goal, used the gifts that God has given her to accomplish something really cool and pause worthy.

When Sisterfriend Carol got married to a pretty fabulous guy a few years ago was one of those times. I would have married her myself, she is that wonderful. I think I had as much joy in my heart that day as her own mother.

When New Mom Friend Michelle put her self worth issues aside and went for a job that she was not only qualified for but gifted for.. and got it. My cheers were loud and sincere.

Mom Friend Susan, who scrimped and saved, finally broke ground on her dream house and I cried happy tears.

Church Friend Lee and Mom Friend Becki stood up and used the beautiful voices God blessed them with to lead a worship service and my heart soared with each note.

My life is most wonderfully filled with tales like this. I am a very fortunate woman to have shared these and many other joys with my friends.

Now I want to take a moment to celebrate the most recent Friend Accomplishment. I don’t have a one word title for this type of friend. But you would not be reading these words if it weren’t for her. She quietly encouraged me to write, resulting in this blog. I don’t even know if she did it intentionally, or if the story was just one of weird domino effects. However it happened, I discovered that my fingers and my brain could work together. That I did have something to say that others cared to read.

No Short Title Friend Jennifer Brown, reached for her dream. I wasn‘t around while she did the hard work, made the personal sacrifices and shed the tears necessary to accomplish her dream. BUT in September her first novel, Hate List , will hit store shelves. She has shared the advanced reviews and she has a hit. All the reviewers LOVE IT!! You will love it too, I have no doubt, and can get in on her joy by playing her Hate List/LOVE LIST Contest every Tuesday. Just copy this to your browser and get on Jen’s blog :


( Here is where I attempt to wrap this up in a clever way..but I just type and delete many sentences that just sound, well, mushy….but they are true. There, you have the truth, I am Mushy. I don’t care. I love these people and I Mush for them!)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"I am not your &*%$!* MAID" and other things you should not yell for the neighbors to hear.

At my “ advanced” maternal age you would have thought I had learned some basic rules of civilized behavior. Which I have. Next step is to actually APPLY them. This is where I struggle. In some cases I am all theory no practice.

Today was a fairly warm summer day. Being the Garden Ho that I am I hauled out all my tools so that I could clear and enlarge some beds in the back of the house. The boys were playing outside as only brothers can. The word “ boisterous” comes to mind. It is from Latin ,roughly translated to mean “ young males acting like really loud hurricanes ”. It’s a fancy word that means something is going to break, innocent toys will become weapons , someone is going to cry and someone is going to test their lung capacity screaming MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!
Heck, BOY is the first syllable. don’t tell me this isn’t the perfect word to describe them.

I am in the back yard, whipping up a sweat, tackling the bindweed and trying to remember what I had planted there. Grandma will be over in a few minutes to drop off Rebekah, who had spent the night with her. I had tidied up the front, swept the porch and cleared the driveway so that she could pull in and I wouldn’t be embarrassed by the mess. It’s a fairly Rockwellian picture of summertime in the subdivision.

The boys come back and ask if they can play water guns. “ sure, in the front of the house” I say. All they heard was “ sure”, and dove for the hose near me. Not in the front of the house LIKE I HAD JUST SAID. Before I can say this out loud in a calm voice, both guns are filled, both fully clothed boys are drenched, my flower bed is a mud puddle and they are dashing to the front of the house.

Calm and Rational Mom who has learned from experience would follow them and lay down the law. But Calm and Rational Mom wasn’t here. They got “ Get This Dang Bed Weeded Mom” who ignored them and let them have fun. Until she heard the scream and dashed to the front of the house.

There I was greeted with every toy we own strewn across the driveway, shoes and shirts tossed in the lawn, towels soaking wet in my flowerbeds, the baseball teams water cooler upended and water bottles rolled all over the garage. Noah was halfway down the street, half naked and Luke was screaming for him to come back while holding a still running garden hose.

I AM NOT YOUR *&^%!! MAID !!“ Only I didn’t say a cute and funny ‘ Asterisk, ampersand, up, percentage, exclamation point”. That is what I would have wanted to say. The theories that I wanted to apply are that calm heads prevail. That a mom doesn’t have to yell to get her point across. That children should respect others property at all times. That boys can be boys while maintaining a sense of order. That all of the neighbors don’t need to know where the 4 yr old learned that word. That adding a bit of humor to the situation will help the kids not tune you out. That counting to 10 and thinking before I react will be the most effective method of getting control of the situation.

But no. My kids saw the vein on my neck pop out, the view straight down my esophagus and the bright red color of my skin as they tuned me out . I hope the neighbors tuned out as well, but I doubt it. If anyone was outside on this warm summer morning they clearly heard the anger formed string of words that flew out of my mouth. Loudly.

Not my finest parenting moment.

But it was an affective one. The boys did pick up the entire mess in a matter of moments. They got themselves changed into dry clothes, putting the wet ones on the washer, not balled into a corner. They picked up the mess in the living room that they had left earlier and sat at the table waiting for me to come in, on my own time, and get them lunch. They did not complain about the menu, and put their plates in the sink. They have emptied dishwasher, and collected the trash from the whole house. Right now they are playing quietly upstairs, in their newly clean rooms waiting for me to finish this. All in the last hour. I’m not patting myself on the back, I hate that I lost control, and am not thrilled that they are scared of me right now. But I have to say, the quiet is nice for…

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Y-- the first letter in the announcement YES!!!! We have a plan! We have tickets! It's gonna happen ( knockwoodthrowsaltspit) We ( pause for dramatic effect) are going on vacation.

After Plan A was tossed out a month or so ago I thought my vacation with the two older children was bust. I scrambled and revised. I kept meeting roadblocks and I wasn't even on the road yet. Plans B- H were trashed in rapid succession. Somewhere around Plan Q I began to doubt. But then we hit on PLAN Y. Suddenly things clicked into place.Clicky click click DING! We have a vacation!

This is NOT an annual occurrence in my life. It was in the my life as a child, but as a parent- nope. Any vacations that we have taken in my 18 years of marriage have revolved around visiting family. And, while this one does too, but there are other activities. More family. More friends. More place my kids always wanted to go but never have. More things that I always wanted to share with them but couldn't. Stinkin' life kept getting in the way.

I do feel a bit odd, in this year of recession, talking about vacation plans. People that I care about are out of work or really stretching their dollars in non-career jobs. Every time I turn on the news or read the paper I see ways to economize and cut back. We have been economizing and cutting back for years. When we were downsized and everyone else ( it seemed) was upsizing I was happy for them. Happy that they got to take a cruise while we wondered how to pay the hospital bills. Happy that they moved from a 2-4 bedroom house while we were still renting. Happy that they got a purse or pair of shoes that costs more than our weekly food budget. I was happy for them because I loved them. I am hoping that they can now feel the same for me.

Don't get me wrong ,I'm still economizing. I have a budget that I must adhere to. We will be staying on sofas and in guest rooms of people that I care about and don't see nearly enough. We will eat cheap most meals, but my son will have his first lobster dinner. We will visit sights,but not necessarily gift shops. Bekah and I recently discovered that we can easily share a chicken dinner and both be satisfied. Train travel instead of air travel is saving us quite a bit but the kids are looking at that as the ultimate adventure. I'm hauling my ancient digital camera instead of getting a new one. We are searching for a refurbished laptop to stay connected. Thifty not spendy is the order of the day. But the ultimate goal of having a great adventure is our main focus. Plan Y is providing that for us!

So here, in it's black and white glory is PLAN Y:

Travel via Car ( my parents vehicle had been stored in my Midwest town for the past few years while they lived on their boat overseas) from MO to PA . Stopping to touch the St Louis Arch as we leave Mo. ( Both the kids wanted to do this.. it's symbolic and when a 10 year old says that you go out of your way to make it happen) 2 days travel.

PA: Tour Crayola Factory. Travel to NJ

NJ: Visit with my college roommate and her family. I think it’s a big deal when people can stay connected for almost 25 years. We need to celebrate that. On the second day we will take the train into NYC for the day. 3 calendar days. Travel to CT

CT: Stay with my twin brother and his family for 4 days. Force my kids to visit all my childhood haunts. Some they will love ( the beach) some they will tolerate( my childhood home). Travel to NH on the 5th day.

NH: Visit with my aunt and cousins and meet their families. It has been so long that none of them have met my kids and they have whole families that I have only seen in pictures. My kids are not only excited to meet second cousins they know nothing of, but Brian has had them watch What About Bob so many times that if we didn't go to Lake Winnipesaukee I would be de-momed. TO ME

ME: Stay on my parents boat for 5 days. 5 days of Coastal Maine. 5 days of being lulled to sleep with the gentle rocking of a boat. 5 days of my kids experiencing what my childhood was like. Only the current boat is WAY nicer and bigger than the one I had to walk five miles uphill in a snowstorm to get aboard as a child. Luke will have his first lobster dinner in the ultimate way: we will meet the lobster boats as they come into harbor and buy our lobster right from them. Can not get fresher than that. Eat the lobster in the cockpit and get as messy as we want while tossing the shells overboard. OOPAH! He will be spoiled for the rest of his life. Day 5 To Boston!

Boston: We board a train mid day to arrive the next morning in Chicago!

Chicago: 3 calendar days of visiting friends in the area where we lived for 5 years as newlyweds. Bekah was born there. Her godmother lives there. We will be staying with her and her husband, the kind of friends that I think of as family. We will see old friends and I will get to meet a woman I have only known via the internet for , hmm.. 4 years?

On the last day we will take our final leg and head back home. Back to Brian and the Tiny Tot who would have been receiving not only daily phone calls but postcards and DVDs from the road.
17 days, 12 states. 3 road weary but dream fulfilled travelers. The ultimate lesson we all could learn is that sometimes you have to work your way to the back of the Alphabet before you live your dreams.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


I get them. Who doesn’t it? I’m in one now . What usually happens when I am in a mood like this-- which my doc has diagnosed. I won’t bore you but it has to do with my menstrual cycles and I refuse to take the meds for 30 days just so that I can cruise through the 1 or 2 that I feel this way. Besides, I’m 46 how many more months can this possibly go on? And if I can’t handle this , I am going to be a mess when I actually hit puberty… I mean menopause.

Anyway. I am in one of THOSE moods. Everything that anyone says gets twisted in my head . “ Susan, did you try a new recipe?“ gets turned into “ Susan. You are a stupid moron who can‘t cook, this sucks.”. My head isn’t very nice is she? Yeah, I know. I should put her on a time out. You know the kind where you go into a quiet room and lay down and sleep? One of those. Anyway, the mood will be gone in a short time so I thought I would share it with you all. (Stop right here if you want to continue to think of me as a really nice person. )

Actually, I do have this thought that I would like to start a companion blog. One that doesn’t choose each word carefully. One that doesn't take everyone’s feelings into consideration. One that doesn’t Google lyrics and just types them out in all their misheard glory. I even just Googled Messed Up song lyrics ( it’s a song? Huh?) and discovered it’s “ Harden my heart, swallow my tearsNot Hard in my heart, all full of tears.” In this BLOG B I just write it like I think it. Or would say it if you were sitting next to me. If you were right next to me, you would look at me like I am all crazy ( you might be right) and I would have to backpedaled. Fun, non?

Blogs began as logs, journals first person accounts of life. Opinions, views and uncensored thoughts. Now, thanks to this wonderfully politically correct world, they all cover their butts. ( See in BLOG B I would have said ASSES). But now, family reads these, friends, people that I know. I don’t want to hurt them, I love them. So I choose my words carefully. Makes for better writing, but just like talking to someone face to face, you don’t know exactly what I am thinking. Even if I tell you exactly what I am thinking, isn’t there always a nugget of doubt? We all have Poker Faces. We all use them. We all know that we use them and, what, pretend we don’t?

Anyway, in BLOG B I would say what I was really really thinking. What the gut reaction voice inside my head would say in a situation. Yes, this is VERY childish… but it’s also honest. Or is honestly only what remains after we have looked at every side of a situation, had every argument with ourselves, thought everything through VERY CAREFULLY?

Just so you know, there is a BLOG B.. and an ANONYMOM and a bunch of other titles that came to mind today. They aren’t me. You can go check them out, I’m sure the bloggers would like the hits, but don’t expect to see what I was really thinking when my kid dropped the F-bomb in the driveway, or my brother called to say he remarried his ex-wife.. Again. You will just have to trust me here. Or if you know me well, you could ask me. When I can’t edit or delete. The backpedal might be entertaining for you.

Anyway, I am in a foul mood, and like a terrible, yet quick thunderstorm is already dissipating. Hopefully I have not left a wake of destruction in my path.