~my thoughts about life~

Thursday, June 30, 2011


I must admit, this post idea was actually my husband's.  He suggested having a regular feature called VENT where people could anonymously vent their frustrations.  I was impressed that he was actually taking an interest in my blog and said I'd give it a shot.  Everyone needs to let off a little steam from time to time.  And to do it without anyone knowing who you are - what could be better?

So here's how it goes:  leave a comment venting the worst frustrations in your life right now.  (Please watch your language.  "*#&!" is permitted.)  Before you submit, click on that drop down menu and select Anonymous.  That way, you can say anything and everything you want. 

I'll go first...
I feel really frustrated about Hubby's job.  The poor guy leaves the house around 5:30 every morning.  They've added more work to his schedule and he's not getting home until 7:00-8:00 every night.  That's one ridiculously long day!  As soon as he gets home, we eat dinner.  After that, he's pretty much ready for bed.  I feel guilty keeping him up to converse about life.  And he's not getting to be a very good dad right now, which kills him.  I told him he needs to refuse the extra work and get home at a descent hour.  Then he told me how much money he'd be losing out on if he did that.  So, to have any kind of a life, he needs to be at home with his family.  But what kind of a life is that when there are no finances to enjoy it?  I feel like I'm prioritizing money over family and it's really frustrating.  I try to tell myself that this is only temporary and we need to bank the extra cash while we can.  He's not going to be able to keep this kind of schedule when the kids are back in school or he might just miss them completely.

Whew!  Thanks for allowing me my vent of the day.  Now go ahead and add yours!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Craziness that is My Life

Here's what's been going on around here lately. 

Son #1 is at Boy Scout camp this week.  He's never been away this long before and I'm worried about him.  Fortunately, two of the leaders are related so that helps ease my mind.  He just seems too little to be doing stuff like that.  See, look how precious he still looks in this plush lion costume!  (He would kill me if he found out I posted this!)  I get to visit him tonight.

Son #2 had to follow suit since he was the original owner of this Cowardly Lion costume.  If I'm being honest, he looked much cuter in it six years ago.

The boys have been cleaning out their closet.  They have found many treasures.  Here is another friend who recently came to greet me.  I was told that his name is Professor Poopy Pants.

The Professor brought this friend with him:

This has been quite an interesting summer thus far.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day at the Zoo

Over the weekend, we went to the Big Zoo with my parents.  It's an hour away and Hubby hadn't been there since the 5th grade.  We have a small zoo close to our house and the kids and I have a membership there.  The small zoo doesn't have elephants or giraffes.  Big Sis was so excited to see a giraffe for the first time.  She even took her stuffed Giraffey with her.  The expression on her face when she first saw the giraffe was priceless!

The zoo was holding a photo contest so I was all too excited.  Sadly, I didn't come home with anything worth submitting.  To enter that kind of contest, you have to set up at one area with a tripod and wait for the animals to get into the perfect position.  I was more interested in enjoying the zoo with my family. 

The primates were by far my favorite.  I could sit and watch gorillas and orangutans all day.  Grammy had to spoil the kids, of course.  So she bought a blue monkey for Big Sis and a purple frog for Baby Girl.  When we saw the little monkeys, Big Sis decided to show her blue monkey to them.  We snickered but were amazed at what happened.  All the monkeys crowded up to the edge and stared at that blue monkey.  A stranger next to us was tickled and said the monkeys were thinking Why are we not blue?  Baby Girl had to follow suit and held out her purple frog.

Big Sis did the same thing when we saw the giraffes.  They didn't seem to care like the monkeys did.  Maybe they're a snooty animal?  They do hold up their heads awfully high.

We reached the orangutan display a few minutes before closing time.  They must have been super excited about the day's end because they were showing off like no one's business.  They were swinging and jumping, but I just couldn't get a good shot.  The glass was thick and scratched and wasn't conducive to photos.  So I decided to try to get one of the active guys to come closer my way.  I lightly drummed on the glass with my fingernails.  When I did that, he charged at the glass and hit it right where my face was.  I nearly wet my pants, jumping back and screaming!  Everyone laughed at my expense.  The orangutan was apparently amused and continued playing with us.  He screamed right at Big Sis and played around with Hubby.  (Maybe he saw a resemblance there?)  But before I could get any good pictures, the zookeeper kicked us out.  We will definitely visit that display first next time.

The kids also rode a camel!  (They get to do a lot more when Grammy is there.  She doesn't know how to say no.)  We ate Kettle Corn, toured the Butterfly House, and walked a few hundred miles - a perfect day at the zoo!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer Is...

Losing track of the day of the week

Sleeping in until the Baby decides to get up

A midday rainstorm to cool things down and give nature a drink

Having at least one dinner a week that was prepared on the grill

Fragrant flowers, shady trees, green grass

Kiddie pools

Realizing it's almost time for bed, even though it just got dark outside

Having skin that is beige-colored instead of pure white

The smell of mulch, the smell of charcoal

Mosquito bites and lightning bugs

Zoo trips, picnics, days at the park, bike rides, long walks

Having feet that are stained on the bottoms from running around outside barefoot all day

What does summer mean to you?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What I'm Listening To...

I must confess that my 12-year-old son is the one who introduced me to this band.  But then again, he is slowly becoming cooler than me.  The band is Royal Tailor and I can't get enough of their catchy tunes, mesmerizing rhythms, and soul-stirring lyrics.  The best news is that their debut album is only $7.99 on iTunes.  Check them out and let me know what you think.

Friday, June 24, 2011


I am a nosy person.  If a new friend gives me their address for one reason or another, the first thing I do is go to Google Earth or Zillow to see a picture of their house.  I have even been known to find someone's address on whitepages.com so I can plug it into Zillow to find a picture of their home.  I don't know why I'm so nosy like that.  I guess it's so I can judge them.  If their house is nicer than mine, I think Wow, they must be really well off!  If it's not as nice as my house, I think Boy, they must be hard up.  Ha ha...I guess there's no happy medium as far as my judgemental nosiness is concerned.  So if you don't want me to judge you, don't send me your home address for any reason!


I love the fact that Son #1 has his own cell phone, but it's mostly because of my own laziness. If he's upstairs and I don't feel like getting up, I can text him and tell him what I need to say. When he's outside, I don't have to hunt all over tarnation for him. I can call to tell him to come home for dinner. It's great and I highly recommend it for all lazy parents.


There are more weeks of my life that I eat at Chipotle three times than weeks when I don't have it at all.  Yes, I am aware of how ridiculous that is.


The trend this summer so far has been to goof off all day, then clean the house really quickly before Hubby arrives home so it looks like I accomplished something.


I have totally fallen off my diet.  It's such a shame too because I was doing so well.  I feel really guilty about this one.  (This is due in part to the Chipotle confession above.)


I have only run a handful of times in preparation for my marathon leg in September.  I'm running double what I ran last year.  If I don't get on the ball soon, I'm not going to make it. 


Do you have any confessions today to make me feel less guilty?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Niagara Falls

I had the wonderful privilege this week to travel via train to Niagara Falls with the kids group from my church.  How awesome is a church that rewards their students with a trip like that?  I am very blessed to be a part of it!   There were 53 of us in all and we had a fantastic time!

The day started at 3:45 AM when we all met at the church to drive to the Amtrak station.  A wonderful gentleman from our church and my sweet Hubby drove all of us up there.  Then Hubby headed straight to work, returning home at 8:30 PM.  He was just in time to pick us back up at the church and have his dinner at 9:00.  What a trooper!

We were only able to view the Falls from the American side since the kids didn't have passports.  I had only been to Niagara Falls, Canada before so seeing it from this side was like being there for the first time.  It's much less commercialized in New York and there are beautiful parks to enjoy.  There isn't a good view of the Horseshoe Falls from there but you are able to get much closer to the action.  We walked up the steps right next to the Falls, getting blasted by the spray the entire climb.  It was a refreshing break from the 80+ degree day.

We walked on trails, rode the trolley, went onto the observation deck, had a picnic in the park, and paid $10 for 2 ice creams and a Coke.  We boarded a charter bus back home where all the kids powered down and slept.  We stopped at a souvenir shop and then Cracker Barrel on the way home.  It was a perfect day with no injuries, no sickness, no fights, and no problems.  We were very fortunate!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Baby Girl vs. Big Sis

(Warning: graphic picture to follow.)

I was in my closet picking out something to wear.  The all-too-familiar sound of Big Sis crying filled my ears.  She's a drama queen and cries at the drop of a hat.  Usually, the purpose of the crying is to get one of her brothers in trouble.  She thinks the louder she cries, the more trouble the perpetrator will get into.  So when I heard her bawling yesterday, I hollered at her to get back in her room and finish cleaning.  (That's where she was supposed to be anyway.)  She settled down a bit and started toward her room.  When I asked what happened, she said her baby sister hit her with a plastic broom.  "You'll be fine," I said.  "If you had been doing what you were supposed to be doing, this wouldn't have happened."  I scolded Baby Girl, who was smiling proudly, and gave her a swat on the bottom with the same weapon, the plastic broom. 

Life went on.  I picked out my outfit and turned on the iron.  Meanwhile, Hubby went into the injured's room to tell her to chill out and clean her room.  She obliged, turning around to clean her room.  Hubby discovered that her entire back was covered with blood.  He flipped out.  "She!" he screamed.  "We're gonna have to take her to get stitches!" 
I ran to check her out but he was carrying her out the door.  "Let me see," I said. 
"No, I'm taking her to show your dad." 
"Just let me look at it!"
"No, it's bad, I'm showing your dad."
"Can I see it first?" I was pretty loud by this point.  But he was already out the door.  My dad lives next door so the trip was quick.  He opened the door to discover a sleeping dad on the couch.  "He's asleep," I said.  "Let me see it."
At this point, he obliged and sat down in a lawn chair outside their house.  I couldn't see anything because her hair was matted with blood.  He was still insisting on taking her to ER but I insisted louder that I wanted to clean her up first.  I was not taking a blood-stained child into a hospital emergency room.  (Although we would have gotten urgent attention!)

I sat her on the counter and attempted to clean her up with a wet rag.  As I cleaned it up, I noticed that the cut was not actually that big.  It blew my mind that all this happened with a toy broom!  Then, I remembered that my cousin from two doors down is studying to be an RN.  I had Son #1 call and ask him to come over.  He rushed to the scene with a giant medical bag in hand.  He had me ice the area to slow the bleeding and he cleaned it up with some peroxide and gauze.  (She might be a bit blonder after this event.)  He said that the ER would definitely cut her hair if they had to stitch the wound.  This is when I decided that we were definitely going to stop the bleeding on our own.

I held her in my lap for about an hour, applying pressure to the wound.  She was content to watch TV and barely fussed.  The worst part was that the melting ice dripped down her matted hair and caused a bloody puddle to form on the floor.  The first level of my house totally looked like a crime scene!  After a while, I checked the cut and noticed how small it actually was.  It would have required no more than one stitch, if any were needed at all.  A doctor friend said it sounded like she didn't need stitches after all.  As long as we were able to stop the bleeding, she was going to be fine. 

So that's what life around here has looked like.  Again, I was the calm one in the situation while others around me flipped out.  And again, I thanked God for giving me a calm disposition.  A mother of four certainly needs that trait on her resume'.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I'm weird, you're weird, we're all weird.  But someone who chooses to share their weirdness on a public blog - now that's just plain weird!  Here's my documented weirdness for today:
  • In a restaurant, I cannot sit facing the wall.  I must face out into the room.  I thought I was alone with this craziness and didn't ever discuss it with others.  Once we went out to dinner with another couple.  Hubby and I arrived first and took our seats on the side of the table facing out into the restaurant.  When the other couple arrived, the man confessed that he couldn't sit with his back to the room.  Hubby got up and switched him places.  So I sat next to someone else's husband the entire meal while another woman sat next to my husband!  How weird is that?
  • I do not like songs that break grammatical rules in the lyrics.  I won't sing them a written.  For example, in Carrie Underwood's song I'll Stand By You, she sings, "I won't let nobody hurt you."  If I'm singing along, I change it to, "I won't let anyone hurt you."  I know, weird.
  • I will not permit any scented trash bags in my home.  My parents use them - they're supposed to have a light, fresh scent.  They totally make me sick.  Who wants to smell trash in a field full of flowers?
  • I don't like artificial light in my home.  I prefer to live by natural sunlight.  I don't turn on lights in my house until it's too dark to see.  In the mornings, I will even comb the kids' hair for school in semi-darkness to avoid turning on the lights.
  • I always count how many times I knock on someone's door.  It's usually either 5 or 7.
  • I love letters and words.  A lot.  My kids' names happen to be in alphabetical order according to age and I'm oddly proud of that.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cute Kid Sayings

  • Baby Girl calls this "Pepper-Oni" instead of Macaroni.

  • As she was drawing a picture, I told Baby Girl to write her name.  Making one small mark at a time, she said, "I...love...you...eleven...twelve...firteeen."

  • When you give her something, Baby Girl replies, "Thank you much!" with exuberant expression.

  • Big Sis was talking about her upcoming birthday.  She was planning what kind of cake she wanted and suggested a purse.  "I can do that, I think," was my answer.  She replied, "Well, yeah!  It's just a trapezoid or a rectangular prism!"  (Those are NOT words I taught her.)

  • Baby Girl told us she wanted "Eggo." The brothers disagreed about what this meant. #1 said she wanted eggs. #2 suggested maybe it was a waffle she was craving. But Mama understands all things and figured out she wanted to watch DIEGO on TV.

  • I decided I'm cool enough.  I broke down and ordered some Tom's.  Big Sis called them Papa shoes.  They're exactly the kind of shoes my dad uses to work in the shop.  Except for the fact that he gets his for $8 at Wal-Mart.
  • Saturday, June 18, 2011

    A Concert in Monkey Jammies

    I know she's not your kid but I though this was too cute not to post.  It's an evening performance by Baby Girl atop a box of Target diapers.  Yes, I can actually understand what she's saying.  My favorite line is "Foreber, opper uh da nation."

    Friday, June 17, 2011

    Beef Stew

    I know that beef stew isn't a traditional summer meal.  But it was a bit chilly here recently and that just sounded good to me.  I opened up the huge, sliding window in the dining room to feel the cool breeze as we ate.  It was spectacular!

    (*Note - By the time I remembered to take a picture, we had already eaten and all that was left had been simmering all day.  So that is why the beef is literally falling apart.)

    Beef Stew
    1 1/2 - 2 lbs. stew meat or whole roast
    8 C beef broth (or part water)
    oil for browning beef
    2-4 potatoes
    2-4 carrots
    1 C flour
    1 egg

    I prefer to purchase a whole roast and cut it up myself.  It's cheaper, I have contol over how large the pieces are, and I can cut out all the fat. 

    Heat oil in a large pot.  If you like your stew broth thick, coat cubes of meat in flour before browning.  Brown meat.  When most of the pink is gone, add broth.  If you want to use part broth and part water, you may.  The more canned broth you use, the richer the stew will be.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer for at least 2 hours.  (I simmer mine all day.)

    About an hour before you want the stew to be done, peel and dice potatoes and slice carrots.  Add to stew.  You may add any other vegetables you like, including corn, beans, celery, peas, etc.  Cover and continue simmering.

    To prepare dumplings, add 1 C flour to a wide, shallow bowl.  Make a well in the center and add an egg.  Beat slightly with a fork.  Add 1/4 C hot broth to the well.  Stir the egg and broth together, gradually taking in flour from the sides.  When most of the flour is incorporated, knead with your hand.  Return stew to a boil.  Pinch off small pieces of dough and drop them into the boiling broth.  Cover and simmer until ready to eat.  (If you don't want to make homemade dumplings, you can use store bought egg noodles.)

    Serve with fresh bread.

    Thursday, June 16, 2011


    The taste of American cheese makes me feel a little less patriotic. I am glad the cheese was named after our country and not the other way around. I would be very interested to visit a land called Colby Jack.


    I cleaned the lower level of my house this morning. Then I went upstairs to tackle Baby Girl's room. When I finished, I went back downstairs to find a huge mess. I cleaned that up again. Now Baby Girl's room is a wreck again. It's the circle of life. I think she needs a cage.


    Every time I sit down to write something - from a grocery list to a thank you card - Baby Girl slaps her hand on my paper and says, "Draw my hand."  We have tiny hand outlines on all kinds of things around our house.


    During a free preview of premium channels, I discovered a channel called Hub.  It plays classic TV shows like The Wonder Years and Family Ties.  During the day, it plays baby shows that my daughter adores.  Sadly, I have discovered that the oh-so-annoying Teletubbies from Son #1's days have returned in another form.  It's now called "In The Night Garden."  Tinky Winky has been replaced by Macca Pacca.  It's still just as annoying, even without the purple cross-dresser.  I think it even has the same narrator.  We will be avoiding this show like the plague.


    I hate the word "Lil" or "Li'l."  It's not really an abbreviation.  Were you just too tired to finish the word?  It's just two Ts and an E.  I'm sorry, but I just don't find anything cute about the little word "lil."

    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    My Letter Writing Project

    I read an article somewhere that suggested writing some of your favorite companies (restaurants, products, brands) to give them praise and explain why you patronize them.  In return, they are likely to send you coupons, vouchers, and gift certificates.  This kind of project is right up my alley!  I like to write and I love getting things for free!  I picked out a few companies that I would say I love, some local and some national.  I wrote to each of them, going into detail about why I support their business.

    The Results:
    I received a personal email response from all of them except one.  Some of them quickly thanked me for my thoughts while others seemed genuinely appreciative of the time I took to compliment them.  I only received one postal letter in return.  It was from Purex and contained several coupons. 

    No, none of the restaurants offered to give me free food for a year (maybe I had my hopes set a bit too high).  But the next time I went to Chipotle (my weakness), the manager looked at me and said, "Are you the one who sent the email?"  I laughed out loud and confirmed his suspicion.  The corporate office said that they would forward my letter to the local store that I raved about.  I thought it was hilarious that they recognized me from the email.  I identified us as "the people who have all the kids."  I said, "They'll know who we are."  I was right.  The manager went on and on, thanking me for taking the time out to pay them a compliment.  He attempted to pay for our meal, but the store had already reached their maximum for the day.  We did get free chips out of the deal though.

    Well, I didn't tons of free stuff out of this project but I think I did make a few people's day through it.  In the end - well worth it.   I think I'll go use one of my sixty cents off coupons now.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    Ms. Grouchy Pants

    I have been quite the little Ms. Grouchy Pants lately.  I contribute it to things like cleaning out the basement.  How in the world can one be happy doing a project like that?  Until it's done, that is.

    My favorite green spatula fell onto the heating element in the dishwasher.  I should have drawn two little eyes at the top because it looks like the spatula is frowning to me.  The green spatula's new home is the trash.

    Kids being home for summer vacation is a happy thing.  Kids being home for summer vacation and fighting with one another contributes to one's grouchiness.  Son #2 thought his brother threw his iPod on the roof and was very ticked.  Son #1 said he was just joking.  Not a very funny joke, if you ask me.  Both boys torment Big Sis.  They get a big kick out of it.  All three kids irritate Baby Girl.  But who bullies Son #1?  Oh, the joys of being the oldest.  But he got his phone taken away, so who's laughing now???

    Finances.  Everything seems to come due at the same time, doesn't it?  We've had birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries to buy gifts for.  We have a trip coming up at the end of the summer that we had to pay for.  Son #1 had basketball camp last week.  Son #2 has golf camp this week.  Son #1 has scout camp the following week (that one is over $200!).  Son #2 is joining the youth group at church over the summer (Yikes).  They passed out a list of upcoming trips and their cost.  After picking up my jaw from the floor and closing my mouth, I realized I'm going to be spending lots of time baking for the bake sales.  Hubby has decided that his 12-year old car is ready to retire.  I say that it's sufficed for 12 years...what's one more?  Back to School is just around the corner.  We need school clothes and supplies for three kids.  Son #1 needs a graphing calculator.  These things make me worry which doesn't help my mood at all.

    But it's summer!  What's the use of being grouchy?  I'm throwing it all out the window.

    What things are in the pockets of your grouchy pants?

    Monday, June 13, 2011

    Mayonnaise Cake

    It may not be a pretty sight, but it
    was so delightful to eat!
    Yesterday was my brother's birthday.  No, this cake was not for him.  While talking with his wife about what she was going to do for his birthday, I mentioned a mayonnaise cake with 7-minute icing.  It's always been his favorite.  She said that he had requested a Coca-Cola cake instead, which is my specialty.  I kept thinking about that mayonnaise cake.  It's been a long time since I've had one.  I breezed through my recipe binder and found that my Grandma had given me both the recipes for the cake and the icing.  I checked and happened to have all the ingredients on hand.  So it was just a no-brainer after that!  It was so delicious...writing this blog post is making me really want a piece right now!

    I have an uncle who won't eat this cake simply because of its name.  He doesn't like mayonnaise so won't even try the cake.  In case you don't know, you can't taste the mayo in this cake!  Mayonnaise is simply a substitution for eggs and oil and makes the cake very moist.  So if you're feeling adventurous today, give it a try!

    Mayonnaise Cake
    1 C Miracle Whip
    1 C Sugar
    1 t Vanilla
    2 C Flour
    4 T Cocoa Powder
    2 t Baking Soda
    1 t Baking Powder
    Dash Salt
    1 C Warm Water

    Combine mayonnaise and sugar.  Add vanilla.  Sift flour, cocoa, soda, powder, and salt together.  Add to mayonnaise mixture alternately with water.

    Bake at 325 for 25-30 minutes.

    7-Minute Icing
    2 Egg Whites
    1 1/2 C Sugar
    2 t Corn Syrup OR 1/4 t Cream of Tarter
    1/3 C Cold Water
    Dash Salt
    1 t Vanilla
    Bring water to a boil in the bottom of a double boiler.  In the top, combine all ingredients except vanilla.  Mix enough to combine then place over boiling water.  Beat with a hand mixer on high for 7 minutes or until thick.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.  Beat until blended.  *Do not scrape sides of pan.

    *This recipe makes plenty of frosting...do not be stingy when filling the center of a 2-layer cake.
    *The icing is a bit tricky.  If you don't cook it long enough, it will be too gooey.  If you cook it too long or scrape the sides of the pan, it will form a sugary crust over the top.

    (I totally did not cook mine long enough, which is why it looks so messy in the picture.  It was still delicious though.  My recipe didn't say, but I believe that the icing should form stiff peaks when the mixer is lifted.)

    *Be careful, this recipe is addictive!

    Saturday, June 11, 2011

    Lazy Days of Summer

    Linda said it must have been a man who coined the phrase Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer.  That made me laugh!  My summer has been anything but!

    First of all, we planted our very first garden!  I've planted tomatoes before but never an entire (small) garden.  I needed to move my tomatoes to a sunnier location anyway so decided to just make a full-blown garden.  My other grandma lives across the street and she's a natural green thumb.  So with her supervision, we started gardening full force. 
    A "Before" shot - Hubby was kind enough to dig the entire
    garden by hand.  (The smile is sarcastic.)
    I planted about 20 tomato plants of two different varieties.  I started them all by seed!  What in the world I'm going to do with all those tomatoes is beyond me!  I don't can so it looks like I may be travelling the neighborhood with the little red wagon delivering plump, red tomatoes to everyone I see!  My Grandma planted cucumbers, hot peppers, lettuce, and broccoli.  She also taught me how to plant strawberries.

    Then, I got the bright idea to clean out the basement.  I was serious this time!  Over the years, I've cleaned the basement many times.  It's a yucky, nasty basement but I've always made it bearable.  That included stuffing things on shelves and scooting boxes full of junk to the corners of the room.  Son #2 has his Lego Land down there.  I've always felt guilty that he has to play in those horrid conditions.  Lately, my basement has looked like it almost fit into an episode of Hoarders!
    OK, it didn't look this bad, but you get this idea.  I thought of taking some before & after pictures, but I wasn't sure you all would still love me if you saw what it really looked like.

    I decided that the boys and I would tackle it together.  They weren't as gung-ho as I.  Then I remembered that Son #1 had basketball camp all week.  I couldn't let this go another week.  If I didn't jump in while I was inspired, I wouldn't ever do it.  Basketball camp started at 1:00 so the boys and I worked each day from after breakfast until lunchtime.  We filled the side of our house with so many bags of trash; I can't imagine what the neighbors thought.

    I vacuumed up cobwebs, scrubbed walls, swept, and organized like no one's business!  I am so happy to say it's a place I don't mind walking through now.  Laundry is going to be less of a horrid chore now.  In the meantime, the rest of the house is hit.  I now have to clean up from the results of my cleaning project...which is another one of the many ways that life isn't fair.  Right?

    What crazy things has your "Lazy" Summer included so far?

    Friday, June 10, 2011

    No Parking

    I've had an epiphany recently regarding parking spaces.

    Ah, the parking lot, an asphalt jungle of racing cars, weaving up and down the rows, looking for the prime space to deposit one's vehicle.  Why is the perfect parking spot so important to us?  I get entertained watching folks zip in and out of the aisles for several minutes, taking a risk by passing up a mid-level spot.  They will gamble that mediocre spot and several more minutes of their time in hopes of finding that coveted front row space!  Fights will even break out over certain spots.

    And then there's the handicapped space.  Gone are the days of handicapped spaces being reserved for actual handicapped people.  Now, those blue placards featuring a stick person in a wheelchair are awarded for the most mundane handicaps.  I understand that some people have ailments that are not visible to the general public.  Those aren't the people I'm talking about.  I'm talking about the people who really don't deserve that wheelchair placard; people I know.

    For example, I know two women my age who each have parents with disabilities.  Neither of them are the primary caregiver for their parents but they both have a handicapped placard hanging from their rearview mirror.  And let me tell you, they sure do use them!  I jokingly called one of them out on it by saying, "Hey, you're not handicapped!"  Her answer was, "Look at me, I have four kids and I'm a mess!  Do I look well to you?"  I just shrugged.  I wanted to answer, Maybe not, but it's against the law!

    Another scenario is a woman younger than me who has a slight knee problem.  She can walk for hours in the mall, but her car sits in that front spot with a handicapped sign in the window.  A friend of mine told me she is embarrassed to ride with her and is uncomfortable when the woman uses her handicapped sticker.

    Then there's the woman who works at the school that parks right beside the front door.  The extra 100 feet walk from the parking lot must be too much for her but the two story staircase to her classroom isn't a problem.

    A man in our church apparently has a disability, but no one seems to know what it is.  He appears fine in every way and even works on roofs.  But he has a handicapped sign in his shiny, red car.  The funny thing about this guy is that his teenage son drives everywhere they go.  He drops his parents off at the door then swings around to a handicapped space.  After service, he returns to the handicapped space and picks them up at the front door.

    I'm sorry, but I have a major issue with this!  I had a grandfather with a disease I can't pronounce that caused him to lose control over his limbs.  Walking was very difficult for him; he looked like a severely drunk person.  But his pride kept him out of a wheelchair for as long as possible.  He was someone who needed a handicapped spot.  My grandma couldn't drop him off alone at a building so they both had to walk from wherever they were parked.  If they missed out on their space because of one of these people I mentioned above, I would be quite irate.

    So, I told you I've had an epiphany.  It's actually regarding the rest of the spaces in the lot.  There are good spots, there are mediocre spots, and there are spots that have a different zip code from the actual building.   Those best spots are simply first come, first served.  Instead, I feel like those spots should be labeled For Those Who NEED Them. 

    There were times when I needed a front row spot.  Like when I was going to my 2-week postpartum checkup with my newborn baby.  I was still not supposed to lift her carrier because of my C-Section.  I didn't have help that day so I parked as close as I could and carried her in anyway.  (Setting up the stroller would have been more physically challenging than just carrying the seat.)  Then there was the time that I sprained my ankle.  Life went on and I still had errands to run.  A front row parking space would have been divine.  They don't give out temporary handicapped stickers for sprained ankles.

    I have a new mantra.  I am young, I am fit, I am well.  I am not in need of that front row space and I am very thankful for that.  So I've recently started parking all the way in the back of the parking lot and enjoying the walk into the building.  It's just me and the fancy cars back there.  Some might laugh to see a scratched up mini-van parked among the BMWs, Lexus, and Range Rovers.  But it puts a smile on my face and makes me feel like perhaps I've done something good today.  Not only did I get some exercise, but I might have saved a prime spot for someone who really needs it today.

    Thursday, June 9, 2011


    Gram and Gramp enjoying their
    Christmas gift last year
    My Grandmother's Alzheimer's gets worse every day.  How my Grandfather continues to care for her blows my mind.  She hasn't known me for quite a while, although sometimes she'll talk about all my kids.  She still has a sense of humor from time to time, joking that I have a lot of kids. 

    She forgets my mom often now, saying things like, "Did she leave yet?"  My mom will respond, "Who are you talking about, Mom?  I'm the only one here."  My Grandmother, who never had a mean bone in her body, has adopted a completely new personality.  It's astounding.  I've heard that many people afflicted with Alzheimer's end up swearing like a sailor, when they never cursed in their lives.  Fortunately, Gram hasn't taken to swearing yet.  It will shock me if it ever does happen.

    Today, I dropped by to bring a casserole.  We try to cook often for them, since Gramp is left with all of the household duties.  She approached me with a desperate look on her face and grabbed my arm.  She started mumbling something incoherent but stopped suddenly.  Gramp was approaching and she eyed him suspiciously.  We chatted for a couple minutes about handkerchiefs that she had been folding.  He took his pocket squares into the bedroom to put away and Gram's look of desperation came back.  "Call my husband right away and tell him to get here right now."  Confused, I offered a supportive, "That is your husband, Grandma.  That's him."  Not convinced, she pleaded with me to get her husband there right away.  There's no arguing with her.  She's firm on whatever she believes at that instant.  When Gramp returned, she stopped speaking and looked away nonchalantly.  He sat in a chair and she started whispering to me again.  He heard  his name mentioned and asked her who she was looking for.  She shook her head and refused to answer.  He told her that he heard his name and that's him.  He's her husband.  She refused to accept this information.

    With my kids waiting in the car, I tried to wrap up the visit.  She wouldn't allow me to leave without asking one more time for me to call her husband.  I patted him on the shoulder and once again told her this was him.  I tried to joke that he's just looking a little older, that's all.  She didn't dismiss it this time but still looked at me with a desperate expression.  "I promise," I said, "this is him.  I wouldn't deceive you."  She finally relented but didn't look convinced.  "Well," she said, "I guess that does look like the shirt he was wearing this morning."  So she can't remember her spouse of 61 years but recognizes his shirt.  I guess that's the way it goes.

    I left the house with my heart breaking.  I couldn't say much to Gramp or Gram would have thought we were conspiring against her.  "I'm sorry you have to deal with that," was all I could say.  I pray for God to give him the strength to handle her every day.  Even though her dementia has been progressing for years, I still have such a hard time accepting it.  She was my favorite person growing up and I was so honored to be the only descendant to inherit her green eyes.  I even named my first daughter after her.  I reminded her of that again today and told her that I also named my son after my Grandpa.  She didn't pretend to remember that but acted honored.

    As soon as I arrived home, I got a call from Gramp.  He explained that Grandma wanted to talk to me.  I could try to remember the conversation but none of it made sense.  The beginning of a sentence in no way matched the end of the same sentence.  I just replied with several "sures" and "OKs."  But at the end of the conversation, she seemed to be asking me to call her husband again. 

    The worst part of an ailing mind is not that the person has lost their memory.  It's the fact that they no longer are able to find happiness in any part of their life.  If she was confused and happy, I would be happy.  But seeing her constantly upset is what causes me the most pain.  I try to find the positive in the situation, even though it's nearly impossible.  Our days with her are numbered so I need to enjoy her while I can.  I like to look at her and pretend that she's still my Grandma from ten years ago.  Even if the present isn't happy, at least the past is.

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011


    Oh, the drama of being a 12-year old boy!  So many responsibilities....where to begin???

    Son #1 has been getting quite mouthy lately.  Anything we say to him is met with sarcasm, complaining, yelling, or eye rolling.  We haven't even entered the teenage years yet!

    Last night, Hubby asked #1 to take out the trash.  His response was "I have to do everything!"  Everything?  Really?  A list of my daily activities immediately started scrolling through my mind - Laundry, Cooking, Cleaning, Chauffeuring, Financing, Grocery Shopping.... the list could go on and on, as each of you know.  Well, Hubby had had enough of his attitude and blew up.  It involved screaming, phone and iPod grounding, and lectures.

    Then, as a typical Mom who hates to see her kids in pain, I began questioning myself.  Do I really give him too many chores?  That lasted a whole two seconds before I started laughing hysterically.  My kids all have responsibilities.  Those responsibilities get greater as the child gets older.  Baby Girl just has to help pick up her blocks and Legos when she's done playing.  Big Sis has to keep her room somewhat clean (I help out from time to time) and do her daily chore.  She is responsible for lining up the many pairs of shoes kicked off on the rug.  The boys have to keep their room clean and bed made and they do one chore a day. 

    When chores were being reevaluated some time ago, we had a discussion.  I gave them a list of things they could help out with.  They picked folding laundry and emptying the dishwasher.  Fortunately, both of these things need to be done daily.  So we alternate back and forth.  If you folded a load yesterday, you have dishwasher today.  That's not too tough, is it?

    The boys also have to help take the trash out each week and drag the trash cans back up to the house.  They watch their sister outside and do little odds and ends ("Go put that stroller back in the garage.")

    But then I began thinking about what an Amish child of the same age would be doing.  Of course, he's homeschooled so he would have more time at home.  But he's up and moving while my kids are still in the middle of a REM cycle.  He's milking cows and feeding chickens.  He's hauling corn and hay and sweeping out the barn.  At the age of 12, he's surely driving the horse and buggy (or large farm tractor if they're progressive Amish).  He works from before sunrise until dark.  Do you think he complains?  I would guess not.  He would likely get a switch across the behind if he talked like that to his father.

    We have always prided ourselves on being tough on our kids.  We hold them to a high standard and expect a lot out of them.  In turn, we hope that this will help them become well-adjusted adults who are capable of managing their lives.  So I think it's now time to raise the bar and demand more respect from our son. 

    We may have a tough road ahead of us as we near the teenage years.  But as I look back, I remember pacing the floor with him in the middle of the night as he was teething with gas pains.  If I was able to handle that, I can certainly handle this.  A tween is just a different kind of screaming, teething baby.