Saturday, January 31, 2009

Exchange Student

All day today, Kiwi was at an orientation for foreign exchange students. It was in the basement of a church that I have attended in the past and have bad memories of-- but that is another story. All the kids were sitting at round tables when we walked in playing Uno and Rummy-o and adults were milling around waiting for the meetings. Kids and adults were separated into different groups and meetings were started. I did not find the adult meeting all that interesting. The leader is used to dealing with non-english speaking people so she repeats herself... over and over and over. I teach special ed... and have teenagers, so I am accustomed to having to repeat myself more than once, but this lady was driving me crazy. I heard about the perils of Facebook at least 7 times. And if you want to know about the necessary forms to take a foreign exchange student to Canada or Mexico... I heard about those at least 5 times. I could not escape soon enough!

I left Kiwi at the church because after the meeting they were having a party for the exchange students... including pizza, board games, snacks and dancing. Kiwi called me half way thru and asked if I could drive a friend of hers home. I said sure... When I picked them up there was empty pizza boxes, tired looking teens, loud music and chaperones that looked ready to go home. Kiwi and her friend, Xed said good bye to their friends and headed for their coats.

In the car, Xed said that this was the best day she has had in the US so far. I asked her how long she had been here. She said she arrived here in August. I was shocked.... I asked Kiwi if it was her best day too and she said no, that she had had many happy days. As I drove, Xed explained that her host parents were both in their 60's and had no children in the home. She said that she had been disappointed by the parents often because they do not come to things they say they will (such as her recent award banquet) and they are always late. She has not gone to anything besides school and the mall since she arrived. When we pulled into the driveway, Kiwi commented that the house was very large, Xed's only comment was that the house was so messy she would not let friends in. Xed was very polite as she got out of the car, thanking me and telling Kiwi how happy she was that they both went.

I feel very sad for Xed. She has come here all the way from Russia and it does not sound like she is having a good experience. Kiwi said that she is not allowed to use the family computer very often to speak to her parents and is not feeling very comfortable in the host house. I am so hopeful that Kiwi can say that we always made her feel like a member of the family and she has a better understanding of what an American family is because of her stay with us. We are not perfect but we do love her and we try to treat her like all of our other children. I talked to Kiwi on our way home about the situation. I told her that if she wanted to include Xed in more activities our family does to just let us know. We already have 5 kids.... what's one more?!!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Dyslexic's untie!!

I am wondering why I decided to put myself through the "Biggest Loser" contest at school. I am not a fan of the show and I never win this type of thing anyway. I guess I sort of look at it as a donation... and a chance to join in with the in-crowd! The school nurse is in charge of the weigh in's for everyone and I now truly believe she is dyslexic. I have nothing against her or her stupid scale that reads down to the 10th of a pound. She is actually an excellent choice to do the weighing.... she is taking her role as weigh-in(er) very seriously and is no light weight herself, so I like her.... but her dyslexia will be an issue for me. 

I read the scale the first week as XX9.3# (please I am not really telling!!) She read it as XX3.9.... wouldn't matter except today when I weighed in it was XX4.5.... I am doing a little happy dance to myself in the clinic bathroom because I am thinking... "A loss, way to go!!" My mental dance was stopped short when the nurse said, "Cough up a dollar for the gain!"  "What?!!" I ask, indignantly. No, my math isn't great.... but come on!!! She shows me last weeks number, and sure enough she wrote down 3.9. I have been eating like a rabbit and exercising like it was going out of style and I GAINED 1/2 a pound!!!!! I am positive what the number said, but also believe that she was right to stand by her written chart, since she is in charge. So as I told Megamom today, I think I am headed down the right road to be the "Biggest Gainer!!"

Ok, so in my mind I lost 4.8# this week... but I'll try not to pout too much and I'll pay the damn dollar!!!! :) 

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Aunt Dorothy

Ok, so Aunt Dorothy isn't really my aunt... but that is what I have always called her. She is actually my grandfather's twin sister. Aunt Dorothy was always very sickly. I remember as a child being led into a quiet room during family gatherings where aunt Dorothy would be. All of us kids would go in one or two at a time and be told to talk to Aunt Dorothy and say good bye. We had to go in with the knowledge that it was probably going to be the last time we'd ever see her. She always talked to us like we were all that mattered to her. She remembered little details... like what instrument we played or what books we liked to read, the kinds of details that other adults did not recall. I really liked her... but she scared me a bit because she seemed so breakable.

Well, its many, many years later and Aunt Dorothy sent me a letter. She sends things to me every once in awhile, just to keep in touch. Things like my mother's baptism record and pictures of my mom and uncles as a child. The letter was on real pretty colored stationary with a matching envelope... I thought that was cool. She wrote to me saying how much she missed seeing me, Pepper and all the kids (she named them all!) at the holiday gathering that our family had that I decided to skip this year. She also sent photo's of the party. There were lots of people in the pictures I hadn't thought about in a long while. I was disappointed that I missed seeing my cousin Kelly. I haven't seen her since her mother's funeral.... I was named after Kelly's mom. My Uncle Larry was there too, from Georgia. He is looking older. My favorite memories of him were watching him dive off the roof at family reunions into the pool... and his famous super-duper butt flip off our diving board that was always amazing! That was the fun, young Larry. The current Uncle Larry isn't as fun... he irks me every year when he sees Pete and Dill and asks who they are. Every year I tell him they are my sons and he loudly says, "You never gave birth to any kids." When I say, "Well, you didn't either!" I get to hear the fun, young Uncle Larry's laugh so I try to ease up on how agitated he can make me.

At the end of Aunt Dorothy's letter she thanked me for the written update in our Christmas card (Pepper wrote it this year) and told me how lucky my family and I were to have each other. Yeah, I am. I shouldn't be so hard on my relatives... there are lots of them I do like. I plan to go to the next family gathering... even though I know Uncle Larry still won't remember my kids!  Grrr....

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Out for Mexican with Germans

Last night Dad B took the family out to dinner. He had a guest from Germany staying with him for a few days and wanted Boris to meet his family. Dad B met Boris online, they are both into comic books and have been online buddies for about three years. Boris had to come to Chicago for work then had a couple days to drive over and meet Dad B. For days we had been teasing Dad B that Boris was probably an axe murderer.... well known in Germany. We were all surprised that Dad B was letting Boris stay at their house.... no one more surprised than Dad D!!

Boris was very nice. Probably in his mid-20's. He spoke english very well and smiled a lot. I liked him. We also kept teasing Kiwi that they should become engaged. After all, they are both from Germany!  Dad B kept telling Kiwi that it was an old world custom that he choose the groom for our exchange student.... and that he should get a goat as the dowery. Goat? Heck, I'd want a BMW!!! Kiwi was not very amused but they were both very good about the teasing during dinner.

Boris is headed back to Germany today.... it was nice to have met him.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Family Party

Had a big family party at the house today to celebrate January birthdays. Dill and Kiwi had more celebrations... and gifts. Pepper did not think her parents were coming. Dad hurt his back and was not feeling well, but Mom called this morning and said they were going to make it. Pete had a friend over and Dori's boyfriend and Mom were here. Dad D's parents and sister came with her kids. Uncle K and Aunt L came. Pepper's brother and partner was here... So there were lots of people at the house. 

Couple funny stories.... 

Kiwi and Dill were standing in the kitchen with the cake. Everyone was gathered waiting for the candles to be lit. Aunt L lit Dill's pretty quickly... he had 7. But Kiwi's 17 candles took a little more effort to light. She had just finished lighting all the candles and said "Ok, all set" meaning that we could all start singing "Happy Birthday" Kiwi thought Aunt L meant it was ok to blow them out.... so she did. Aunt L's face was priceless when she realized she was going to have to re-light all the candles! (Dill blew his out too once Kiwi did!!)

Dori's boyfriend Ned and Ned's Mom came to the party. Once they left Uncle K said that Dori needed to thank him because he did not scare Ned. (He teasing told everyone that he was going to say that if Ned hurt Dori he wasn't afraid to GO BACK to prison) Dori said, "Ned doesn't scare easily." Uncle K came back quickly with "Obviously, he is dating you!!"

The party was very nice. Dad D made a great cake with Mario and Yoshi racing around on it. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves... even if they loved picking on me about our chilly, drafty house. (Dad D's sister had to show everyone she was wearing long underwear and two pairs of socks!!) Next year we should celebrate January birthday's in August... of course they will all still complain because we don't have air conditioning!!  :)

Friday, January 23, 2009

very disappointed....

The Biggest Loser group at school has become the Amazing Race. Our walking group is no longer fun. What kills me is I was going to quit. I had already decided that they were pushing too hard and were not interested in what I wanted.... nice conversation, a tension release from the hectic school day and a little time with friends. I know I am not a fast walker. I know everyone could "lap me" if they wanted... today they proved it. We had 4 new people join the group today. They had been talking about joining us for a few days and finally did. They said they were worried that we went too fast and that they would not be able to keep up... I foolishly assured them that it would not be a problem. Skip, Megamom and Pepper decided that it was no longer a club but an all out opportunity to haul ass and took off at top speed. Three of the new people and I continued at our normal pace, but it was obvious that we belonged on the short bus of the group. I really doubt any of them will feel comfortable joining the group again. I am really disappointed about that. I am also disappointed that I was even talked into coming back into the group. Skip, Megamom and Pepper all told me when I said I was quitting that they missed me and really liked having me in the conversation. Well they sure did not show it today.

I thought the goal of our walking club was to encourage each other and be supportive. I feel so let down. I hope my friends feel proud of their walking accomplishments, because all they did was make me feel like crap... discouraged and left out.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dill's Winter Program

We went to Dill's winter concert tonight. It is so cute what the music teacher could get the kids to do. Clapping their hands, waving their arms, spinning around on the risers in different directions. It really was a nice little show. Its great to go to these thing too. There were about 100 kids in the program and probably over 200 people in the audience watching. It was weird thinking that in 11 more years these kids would be graduating with Dill. The class of 2020. It sounds far off, but I think it will be here very quickly.

Pepper joined her schools Biggest Loser Contest. She is looking at all the labels on our food to decide which things are now edible (meaning worth their points). She is depressed about how fattening her beloved Carmel Lattes are. Our evening ice cream is now being replaced with popcorn and we've probably seen our last pizza for awhile. I am actually glad we are revamping things... it is time to get more serious about being healthy. I guess I should eat better so I can keep up with the walking club. They keep upping the number of laps we are doing... I am pretty sure they don't really like me and are trying to kill me!! They try to trick me by not saying how many laps we are on and chatting to keep me distracted... but I am on to them!! :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New Prez...

Today is the first day our new president is it office. I watched the inauguration yesterday with my students. I have to say.... autistic kids are not very interested in politics. But I have been thinking about what we saw and have several points of view...

As a speech therapist I was glad he stumbled on the oath he was taking. He knew the words were not right, which means he was not just repeating what he heard... he was actually thinking about what was being said. 

As a person I was glad I was not there. It looked cold and crowded.... and I did not see any bathrooms.

As a teacher I hope that every inauguration is watched by American school children from now on. Yes, this was special because he is african-american and it is a change from Republican to Democrat, but only 44 people in our history have ever received the honor of being sworn in.... our kids need to be exposed to it, even if they don't fully understand it.

As a parent I am hopeful. I want the economy to turn around. I am hopeful that new blood at the head of our government will make things better. I am worried about my kids futures. Not so much about putting tonight's dinner on the table... but I do believe many Americans are struggling just to feed their families. But my concerns are for their futures. Can I afford to send them to college? Will they have health care? Will they be able to find a job and support themselves? 

As a American citizen I am proud at how far we have come. We have moved so far in equality in 200+ years. I find President Obama to be a well-spoken, intelligent man. I think he will represent our whole country well.

Finally, as an educated women I am very proud of myself for being able to spell inauguration. Is that a weird word, or what??  


Monday, January 19, 2009

Tooth Fairy

So when is the tooth fairy retired? Pete lost a tooth.... probably one of his last baby teeth. He lost the tooth at church and put it into his pocket. Pepper and I totally forgot all about it. We thought the tooth fairy did too. Pete looked very upset in the morning... he could not find his tooth or any money. OK, so he is a fifth grader.... he has girls calling the house and giggling. We think his voice is starting to change... but we are speech therapists and may be picking up on it a bit early. How long do we keep the tooth fairy thing going? 

If he hadn't looked so upset by the fact that the T.F. forgot him, I probably would have told him the "rest of the story" that morning.... but we were caught off guard and felt bad for having forgotten. Pepper slipped away while I was with the boys and wrote a quick T.F. note (she even wrote the note with her non-dominant hand to keep Pete from getting any hints!!) .... and then she found 5 bucks. She slid both into his backpack and we hoped for the best. 

Pete came home from school with a big smile. Apparently, the T.F. knows his locker combination! He was so impressed with the T.F.'s skills... he is now a total believer!  We will probably be searching for his wisdom teeth under his pillow in another 10 years!! Oh well, maybe he is a little old for the tooth fairy and for other 'childish' things, but there is plenty of time to tell him... they grow up so fast anyway, why rush it?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Dill's birthday

Happy 7th birthday, son!!

Dill has the best introductory story of everyone in our house. Friends and family have heard this one 100 times and Dill has heard it even more, but I'm gonna put it down in this blog today anyway. As my memory fades I don't want this story to. :)

For weeks Pepper was having preterm labor. So when Pepper started having back pains one Thursday night, I was frustrated because it was snowy and yucky outside and ER was about to come on and I liked that show. But, Pepper said (again) that it was time to go to the hospital. We called the sitter to watch the other 3 kids and Dad B and Dad D so they could meet us at the hospital. We got there and waited. Several hours later a junior doctor came in and said Pepper was barely dialated and was not ready. Fine, the guys headed back home and we went down to the pharmacy to get medicine to help Pepper sleep through the back pain. I went out for the car and Pepper waited for me.

When she got into the car she said her back really hurt. I asked if she wanted to go back in and be checked. She said no, she wanted to go home. We drove home in the snowy, dark night. We sent the babysitter home, put on our PJ's and sat in the living room because Pepper thought the stairs would be hard on her back. I had to work in the morning so we kept the lights out and I sat in my recliner and tried to sleep. In the dark I heard lots of heavy breathing and a bit of moaning too. I sat up, turned on the light and said, "Is it hurting that much?" Just looking at her I knew it did. I rubbed her back and tried to make her more comfortable. She was feeling lots of pressure and wanted to go into the bathroom but did not want to be alone. So I followed her in still thinking that I was going to be exhausted at work the next day.

We were in the bathroom and Pepper started shaking and said she was freezing. Suddenly, my mind flipped to the poster on the wall of the Lamaze refresher class we took a month before. I remembered that shaking and being cold were very near the bottom of the chart... but I could not remember how close to the end it was. Pepper suddenly said, "I feel like I need to push..." I snapped to attention and said, "No, no.... no pushing!!" I KNEW that was close to the bottom of the chart!! Pepper said, "I have to..." and bam... huge explosion of water flew everywhere! Pepper thought the cord came out and started to panic.... I looked into the toilet and saw our little boy curled up in the bowl not moving. I thought the worst. I scooped the baby out, it was still attached by the cord. Pepper looked at me and said the baby was coming. I said, "No, its here!! I am holding the baby!!" Pepper said no that I wasn't. I put her hands out and put the baby in her arms. I was so glad when he started to cry. Then I ran for the phone and one of Macy's shoes to tie off the cord. 

Pepper was still in shock and looked confused. I took the baby back while I talked to the 911 operator. The baby was crying while I talked and the operator was very calming and patient. Suddenly the baby stopped crying. I shook it a little telling the operator that the crying stopped and I know I sounded like I was panicking. She said it was ok if the baby didn't cry. I said, "no it isn't, not until someone else gets here!" The paramedics were such a welcome sight! I could have kissed each one of them as they came into the house. I threw clothes back on, called the babysitter (who later said I sounded so stressed that she put both her contacts in at the same time to get over as fast as she could!) then called Dad B and Dad D to tell them the baby was here (they thought I was joking, but my voice convinced them to come back to the hospital!!)

I calmly got into the front of the ambulance and the paramedic got into the drivers seat and said, "Wow! What a great job.... beautiful baby too." I glanced back at Pepper and the baby. Relief and joy suddenly hit me like a slap to the face. I prayed and thanked God all the way to the hospital for giving me the strength to handle the situation. Once we got to the hospital, they put the baby in a crib with a heat light over it and everyone started dealing with Pepper. For some reason, seeing the baby laying there alone was more than I could deal with. I burst into tears. I could not stop. I realized how happy and terrified I had been at the same time. So many things could have gone wrong, but thankfully they didn't.

That was 7 years ago tonight.... 

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I'm cooking now

Took the car in today... they won't even look at it until Monday. Oh well, at least we won't have to worry about jumping it again to get it started. The problem with that car being unusable is that my truck does not fit all 7 of our family... it would seat 6 (uncomfortably!) Luckily, Sal has an extra car right now because her son is in medical school and left his car parked at her house.  It is a very small Saturn... very different than the big truck/SUV's that our family requires to haul us and our camper around. Pepper drove it today and said it felt like her butt was dragging along the ground because it was so low. Oh well, it is better than walking!!

Spent lots of the day cooking. It was nice to keep the oven going, since it is still very cold. The high today was 12.... and it was wickedly windy here too. So I got to use my new mixer that Santa brought me. I was making cheesecake. I grabbed this giant plastic bowl out of the cupboard, started mixing and the new powerful mixer was whipping around and suddenly the bowl flew right out of my hand onto the floor!!! Luckily (and surprising) the bowl landed right side up and didn't spill a drop.... it did spin around on the floor in a really cool way that I could not have done on purpose if I tried!! 

Since we had a "cold" day on Friday, we have a four day weekend... its only Saturday night and we still have 2 more days before school opens again (big smile here!!)  I am already back in winter break mode of staying up too late and not getting up until around 9... or later! Guess I better try to get to bed at a more reasonable hour tonight... we need to be at church early tomorrow anyway. Besides, tomorrow is Dill's birthday, which means early morning singing and gift opening. Did I mention this tradition is losing its appeal? The kids all really seem to like it once we get them moving.... guess the tradition continues!!


Chinese New year Celebration

The new battery in the car.... did not help. :(     Today the car still would not start. Grrrr..... Uncle K came and looked at it. He had a couple ideas of what the problem could be and ruled out what it wasn't. Not the battery, not the starter and not the alternator. Definitely a problem the dealership will need to determine. Cha-ing (sounds costly already!!)

Had a very nice dinner tonight at Skip's. It was part of our Christmas gift.... special meals at their house once a month.... we'll call them "Skip's Supper" here on the blog. We celebrated Chinese New Year this month. Good stuff!! Won Ton soup, sweet and sour chicken, Braised Pork, rice, almond cookies.... Skip is an excellent chef. She really gets a good workout adding our family to hers.... it makes 11 all around the dining room table. We are quite a large group! I feel guilty just standing around in her kitchen watching her cook.... she is quite efficient though and never looks like she needs much help. I am better at clean up and dishes anyway!! 

The kids really look forward to the dinners. Dill, Pete and Macy all got invited to go to a basketball game tonight with Uncle K. They all love basketball, especially Macy. They thought about it and said, "We'll miss Skip's Special Supper!!" I said yes, they would and then Uncle K said he'd buy them hot dogs at the game.... no way. All the kids opted for the supper. Uncle K said he'd try again some other time.

My two fortune cookies said: "The object of your desire comes closer" and "After all is said and done, often more is said than done!" Hmmm, that must mean I should be done typing and head to bed with the rest of my family. Tomorrow I deal with the car again!!

Happy Chinese New Year!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

No good deed goes unpunished

Our car would not start. Pepper took the day off to deal with the problem. AAA came and jump started it in 30 seconds first thing this morning. She drove around all day and it started every time. We had an appointment with the dealership, but it worked so Pepper did not take it in. This evening, taking Dori to Band, it would not turn over for me. Grrr... 

It was -3 and windy while I used my cheap jumper cables, I really was not happy. It finally started and I quickly drove up to Sam's Club to buy a battery. When I drove up a young mechanic was just moving a car out of the garage. I told him I needed a battery installed. He apologized but said they had closed 10 minutes ago. I did my best 'helpless girl' routine and told him I could not turn the car off. He sighed and said to pull the car in. I went to the front desk and paid for the battery. He looked tired and just rang up the sale. He said the car would be ready in 30 minutes. I thought that sounded like a long time... I was tired and did not want to wander around Sam's Club that long. But I didn't want the battery to die again either. I called Pepper and told her it was being fixed. She gave me... a shopping list!! It made sense to get Dill's cupcakes for school and batteries for his gift while I was there anyway.... but I really just wanted to go home! So, off I go to get the cupcakes and the batteries and the fruit roll ups that the little girl in Dill's class could eat because she is allergic to peanuts. 

After 30 minutes I am back at the counter at the Battery/Tire Department. My sweet, tired knight in shining armor/ mechanic came to the counter and said, "How do you turn off the alarm?" I said, "What? The alarm hasn't worked in 3 years!" Someone opened the door to the garage and I could hear the alarm wailing in the background. "Try the door code," I said and rattled off the number. While he went back to the garage I called Pepper to get other ideas and find out if the key pad to turn off the alarm was easily located. 

The door code did not work.

The car kept up its insistent wailing. Pepper came in my truck 20 minutes later with the key pad. I pushed it. The car went silent, until I opened the door. The wailing re-started. Pepper tried, then the mechanic tried. The store was closing.... the mechanic laid his head down on the steering wheel, I think he may have even cried. I knew he was thinking he should not have tried to help me. He should have stayed tough and said the garage was closed. He shook his head at the shrieking.

"Ok," I said, "Let's disconnect the battery and leave the car until tomorrow. I will have it towed to the dealership." My mechanic disconnected the battery... blessed silence. My ears still hurt. We decided to push the car out into the parking lot so I could get it towed first thing in the morning. Did you know that you cannot put the car into neutral if the battery is disconnected? My mechanic and I did not. So he reconnected  the battery.... the wailing immediately started again. I jammed the car into neutral, he pushed it back out of the garage. I stepped on the brake and put it back into park. The wailing stopped!! 

We both looked at each other, waiting for the sound to start again. It didn't. I jumped out of the car and apologized to the guy for making his evening so miserable. I had $10 in my pocket, so I handed it to him. He said he could not take a tip. I said, "This is not a tip. It is overtime." He said no. I said, "Please, go get yourself a beer with it... you really deserve it!!" He gave me a tired smile and without a word pocketed the $10. 

I'm worried about starting the car in the morning. It is supposed to be even colder. I sure am hoping the engine turns over... and if that d*mn alarm goes off.....    :(

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


January 15th is a hard day for me. My Dad died today, 17 years ago. My mom called me at the hospital I was working in and said that he had done great in surgery, woke up for a short while but than the doctor told her he had a 'setback' and had not re-awakened since. Trying to deal with doctors long distance was not easy, so I drove the 7 hours back to my parents to see what was going on. My father had had a massive global stroke. Since I worked in a hospital, my father's doctor tried to give me as much information as he could.... I was in shock the moment he showed me the MRI. I knew it was bad. I tried talking to my mother about choices we'd have to make and problems that we would have to deal with, but she just kept saying he was just tired and needed to sleep. My sisters agreed with my mother, they wanted to give him time. 

That gave me lots of time to think about my Dad.... he and I having swim races in our pool, him teaching me to ride a bike, then later driving his riding lawn mower backwards all through our yard because I told him I was afraid to drive in reverse. Vacations we'd taken with our family, then the feeling of us growing apart when I hit my teen years. My Dad struggled in school and could not understand why I would want to go to college. He liked to play and work hard and did not understand how I could be content simply reading a book. I didn't really understand him either. He drank too much, took dumb risks and counted on the lottery for his retirement (and my college) funds. 

One of the most interesting things about him was how good he was at reading the people around him. My sister got that gift too. He could say or do one thing that could make a person feel like they were the only person in the world that mattered or he could say something that made them feel like pure crap. He had lots and lots of friends. Everyone knew and loved my Dad. At his funeral the procession of cars was unbelievable... 

He knew I loved Pepper before I did. It was not a good scene. It was Christmas break and I had known Pepper almost a year. Pepper came to visit and my Dad thought we were too close. He said very unkind things, put his fist through the kitchen window, hit my sister (because I ducked) and kicked Pepper and I out of the house. He told me he would not pay for me to go back to school and he did not want me to be around Pepper anymore. Not at all how I expected that holiday to go. The next day I called my Mom and she wanted me to come back to talk to her and my Dad. My Dad apologized and said I could go back to school, but he wanted me to strongly consider marrying Scott. I said I would think about it, but we all knew I never would. Things got better between us for the remaining years of his life. He never asked about Scott or Pepper and we both just avoided topics that we knew we would not agree on. 

So there I was at his bedside, watching machines breathe for him... knowing how much he would hate being kept alive when he was so helpless. It was sinking in to the rest of my family that we were never getting Dad back. It really hit me about the fourth day I visited. I always held his hand while I was in his hospital room. As I drove back to my parents house I could smell my Dad's scent on my hand.  Until that fourth day, on the way home it did not smell like him anymore. I knew that it didn't matter if the rest of my family was ready... we were losing him. 

He died alone. A snow storm hit the area and Mom refused to let us go back to the hospital. We were all sitting around the kitchen table when we got the call. 

Mom sold the house later that year and she left lots of our furniture behind too. A few years later, I was in my old neighborhood and pulled into the driveway to look at the house I grew up in and had so many memories of. I was looking at the big tree I stood beside with my box of 64 crayons on my first day of kindergarten and the front porch railing I leaned against as I had senior prom pictures taken with Scott. The woman that was living in the house waved to me and came out and asked what I was looking for. I told her that I was raised in the house and she welcomed me in to see the changes she and her husband had made. It was weird seeing our old furniture mixed with their new things. We were in the basement, near my Dad's old bar when she turned to me and said, "I want you to know... he's ok. He is still here. We see him sometimes walking around the yard." I knew immediately that she meant my Dad. Standing there, the idea scared the hell out of me but it sure felt like he was there. The woman said I was welcome to come back any time I wanted. I haven't taken her up on it.... yet.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

22 year anniversary...

Pepper and I are celebrating 22 years of togetherness this week. I am reaching way back in my memory to recall the occasion....

Anyone that knows Pepper will be surprised to learn that it was she that first introduced herself to me. She is usually the shy, sort of stand offish one--- at least between the two of us. But at the time we met, I wasn't interested in meeting anyone new. It was the second week of second semester classes and I was still very unhappy that Jay was no longer at school with me. I had pretty much decided to finish out the school year and accept my high school sweetheart's marriage proposal. I had seen Pepper around campus a few times and in the class we had together, but beyond that I had not really thought about getting to know her better. On the 14th our sociology professor announced that we would be having our first exam the next time the class met. After class, Pepper came over to where I was sitting and said hi. She said she knew we both lived in the same dorm, because she had seen me there and wanted to know if we could study together for the test. I said sure and we agreed to meet in one of the study lounges in our dorm after dinner that night. We studied our class notes for about 15 minutes and spent the rest of the night together talking. We talked about our families, our friends, what we wanted to do after we finished school. We talked for hours and the time just flew. The sun came up the next day and we were still sitting in the study lounge! I had never met anyone before that I clicked with so quickly! I am so grateful to Pepper for saying "Hi" to me that day.... and for the 22 years since.

By the way.... we both "Aced" the test, but I got a higher grade than Pepper did! It was about the last time that ever happened!!  :)

Hey Pepper.... 11

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I'm sorry I love you!

Kind of a boring today, so I think I will just write a quick story about something I wrote a couple days ago....

When I was young and my parents would argue, my Dad would always send flowers the next day as an apology. He would always call the local florist and have a dozen roses sent to the house. Now, Mom liked the flowers but they did not always work on her. When I was about 12 my Mom got some flowers and opened the card. I could tell she pondered the card for a minute, then suddenly burst out laughing. When Dad got home he saw that Mom was waiting for him... not usually a good sign. Mom handed Dad the card and said, "Read this."

Dad read it, then read it again... it said: "I am sorry I love you" With panic in his voice he said "I did not say that! That is not what the card was supposed to say. It was supposed to be: I am sorry. And I love you!!!..." then he said he was going to call the florist and complain. Mom just smiled and said, "Do you want to fight with the flower girl or make up with me?!" Dad was no fool! (wink, wink!)

From then on whenever they argued, Dad sent flowers with a card that said: "I am sorry I love you!" And when he called the flower ladies on the phone usually tried to talk him out of it... thinking he was making things worse for himself!! Mom forgave him every time.

So, whenever I find myself on route to the doghouse I use Dad's line. It usually gets me out of trouble too! ;)

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Kiwi's Birthday

Today we celebrated Kiwi's 17th birthday. She doesn't really turn 17 until Wednesday, but we took her out to dinner tonight. The weather was horrible.... we drove s-l-o-w-l-y all the way to Monroe in 4 wheel drive. Cars were slipping and sliding... but slowly and steadily we made it. 
The highlights..... Kiwi loved her new Nintendo DS system we gave her and shared her huge 'death by chocolate' cake dessert that the manager gave her special to celebrate her day (plus we were a HUGE group, so I am sure he felt it was ok to comp it!), all the kids enjoyed the trivia and Texas Hold'em games, Dad B salivated over the giant screen TV's and was trying to mentally rearrange furniture to fit one in his house. Pete is very good at Texas Hold'em but needs to work on his poker face. Dori and Macy are both pretty good at trivia (read: they beat Pepper and I!!) Dill was sleepy and got his gum stuck in his hair on the way home. I actually ate ribs--- with my fingers! I hate finger picky-up, messy food... but I did it. I left my fork on the table! Anyone who knows me knows this is very un-me. Dinner was good though, we all had a very nice time.

Also had a snowball fight with the boys. Pepper and I against Dill and Pete. We won, but barely! Next year we are in trouble. Both boys have very good aim!!

All the girls went to the mall with their friends, they are SUCH TEENAGERS!! But they had a nice time and went to all the "cool" stores that Pepper and I usually try to avoid when we are at the mall. The highlight was that they all got along pretty well, even Dori and Macy (small miracle!!)  and said it was a fun day.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Healthy, wealthy and wise?

Ann Landers once said that when a couple argues about money... it isn't really about money. I think she was right. But today, Pepper and I had a little tiff about cash... or the lack of it. We spent about $100 more than we wanted at Sam's Club and it stressed both of us. Now keep in mind that we didn't buy diamonds or some luxury item. It was laundry detergent and carrots and chicken and potatoes and hamburger.... but it still threw us off a bit and we got into an argument. It was a long week and we are both pulled in lots of directions with work and its easy to get into a disagreement with each other because we've had lots of practice and survived it.

I think if we took a poll of our family and friends they would call us pretty well off in the scheme of things. In fact they would probably laugh to think that we could get into an argument over $100 lousy dollars. We have a big old farmhouse that we love, 2 cars and a fifth wheel RV to vacation in. We both have good jobs that are fairly secure, even though lots of jobs around us aren't. We also have 4 healthy, beautiful kids and can afford to invite a foreign exchange student into our home for a year who we already love like one of our own. Plus we have each other.  So, even though I was mad as heck a couple hours ago, and it felt like this $100 was gonna do us in...  Ann was right, it wasn't just about money. It was just stress and even when I was maddest I knew we'd get through it. Our friends and family would be right... we are well off. Don't get me wrong... we are still cash poor.... but who isn't nowadays?! 

22 years ago this week I met Pepper. In college. Our professors gave her the name Pepper... and they called me Salt. Because we were always together, we still are. Are we wealthy or what?!!

BTW... Dori just came in to ask for money. She wants to go to Victoria's Secrets tomorrow to bra shop with a friend of hers from school. In her mind, bras are a necessity and therefore should be paid for by me and Pepper... its not a bad theory but why would I have felt so much better if she told me she was buying bra's at Penney's or the softer side of Sears!?!

I'm sorry I love you Pepper! :) 11

(inside joke, right Pepper? Maybe I'll blog about it some day)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

These boots are made for walking

This morning the boys were getting ready for school and Dill asked how many inches of snow fell last night. Well, the news had said we were going to get 1, however from the view out our back porch it looked like we had more like 2 or 3. Pepper said, "probably 1-3 inches, why?" Dill replied that he was trying to decide if he should wear his shoes or if it was enough snow for him to wear his boots. I said it looked like quite a bit of snow and why couldn't he wear his boots and put his shoes in his backpack. Dill explained that his teacher would make him wear his boots outside for recess if he brought them even if he didn't need them. Pete asked Dill why that mattered. Dill replied that he didn't want to be the only one wearing boots because they'd all think he was weird. I thought I had a good response when I said, "Honey, its January. If you lived in Hawaii you would look funny. But you live in Michigan.... boots any day here would look just fine." He wore the boots... and came home from school saying he didn't need to.... indoor recess. 

Our walking group almost doubled in size today! We looked like quite the little club speed walking around the school. Lots of people were impressed by how fast we cruised around the building... but it was nice that a few of them actually joined us. Our times around increased to 25 (we usually due 10 to 20 laps)  Pepper and Skip (AKA... the long legged walkers) thought adding the extra laps would be fun and rewarding... but I couldn't tell you why. All I could hear was Megamom complaining about her shin splints!! We all survived the extra laps... but boy am I grateful for advil and a hot shower!!

Thanks for reading. :)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hump day

I'm not in a great mood tonight, so this will probably be short. It was a long day at work since I stayed at school until my meeting at church.... well, I zipped out of my building to join Megamom and Skip for a walk, then had to run over to the "Clothes Closet" to help Sal (short for "shops a lot") sort through clothes for families in our school district in need. It is amazing how many people donated clothing items over the holidays, so there were tons of bags to go through! 

My meeting at church started at 7... and gratefully was over by 8 or so. I called to check on the kids before it started. Dori said they had all been getting along... until I called. OK... I knew Pepper had ordered pizza and the TV show was selected by majority vote, all was well at home. The meeting was draining. Our church is suffering from declining pledges and increasing expenses. A universal problem but still frustrating. The discussions were lots about what we can't do, don't have funds to get or that we need volunteers for. Maybe it is hearing that there is no money at our church and also no money in our schools and then looking at our empty checking account that is frustrating me right now... but I could really use some rich friends/family.... or maybe just one lucky lottery ticket! 

After the meeting, the priest stopped me to talk about Macy. Macy is being difficult in youth group. Its not that I am surprised... Macy is our 'extra faith' child and can be difficult in many situations. I just did not want to deal with it tonight. I was tired and ready to go home. Priest B wants to meet to talk about how to make Macy's group time be more successful. Sure, I'll just add that to my to do list.... 

like I said, I'm grumpy. I'm going to go see what we have in the kitchen that is chocolate.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Not MEGA mom!!

Hurray!!! Megamom joined us for our daily walk after school today. She said it was because she was worried that her secret id meant that I thought she was a "Mega" (as in super-sized) Mom. That is not what I meant at all!! I am just so happy to know someone with more kids than me! Actually, now that I think about it, the first time I ever saw megamom she really was huge!! It was at our school district's opening day "pep" rally for teachers one year.... she was called down onto the stage.... I think it was to answer a question or win a prize, she was quite pregnant and actually was super-sized!! :) But she is not now.... big that is, I have no idea if she's pregnant again!! ;)

Yesterday, swim club started for the boys. The pool water was very cold because they turned the heater off during the winter break. The water temperature was 72 degrees. All the kids complained. Their skin turned a little blue but no pain, no gain right?!! The way this swim club works is the slowest swimmers (and those that can barely not sink) are in lane 1 and the kids move up the lanes as they become better swimmers. Pete has been in lane 5 or 6 for the last year or so, and Dill has been very content in Lane 1 since he joined the team a couple years ago. At breakfast this morning, Pepper asked Dill if he was still in lane 1. His response was, "No, I was the last survivor in lane 3." 

BTW... my suggestion for raising the water temperature was for the kids to pee in the pool. Pete was shocked and said, "Mom, sometimes I swallow a gulp of that water. That is so gross!!" Yeah, right... like I believe my boys have never peed in the pool. Dill answered that question quickly by responding with, "I peed in it. It was still too cold!!" Both boys laughed guiltily. I know my boys!!!

Monday, January 5, 2009

School's In!!

We all made it through the day! The kids all got up in time and made their school bus. Pepper even got up early to walk (I slept in until I HAD to get up to be on time for work!) No one was even grumpy! I think that even though everyone here had a very nice break, it was good to get back into our normal routine.

At school, one of my students missed the bus, but he came in only about 10 minutes late. (Teaching special ed means NO ONE is ever absent!!) I think I have the best attendence in our whole building!! The school secretary said that the entire staff was present today. The first time all year that there were no subs in the building. Today, was not a difficult day at school for me. The OT was in for about an hour (an extra adult in the room helps) plus my students had Music, Gym and Art. They don't stay very long in any of the specials classes, but tomorrow we have no specials.... that makes for a very long day!

After school, Pepper zipped out of school to watch Kiwi's bowling tournament, I walked quickly with Skip (we usually walk 20 times around the building.... today we only walked 10) because I had to get the boys to swim club. Megamom, another friend and teacher at school was supposed to join us, but she wimped out!! I haven't been keeping up with our walking routine at all through the break... so even 10 laps wore me out. I can't believe how sore I feel tonight.... I only took two weeks off! I do not get how walking can make my butt so sore... I must be walking wrong!! :) Hopefully, if I keep it up the walking my pain will lessen (I only like to be a pain THERE for other people!!) :)

Happy Monday all!!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Too young....

I remember being 16. Maybe that is why having a daughter that age is so scary! I'm not saying I was a horrible teenager.... but I definitely wasn't perfect. Dori is actually a very good kid... mostly. She has enough attitude for 10 people and is NEVER wrong! Our biggest problem is she is too courageous and smart.... great qualities for an adult, not so for an "its all about me" teen. In the last day or so lots of things have happened that make me realize that she really is growing up fast.

Yesterday in her facebook profile she wrote that she really loves her boyfriend Ned. I have told her since her first boyfriend (in fifth grade) that I did not want any thoughts of sex until she was dating the same person for over a year. Now I am wondering how long she has considered herself dating Ned. She has known him for a couple years now because our families go to the same church. I don't think they've actually been dating more than a few months. I am torn between staying quiet and wondering how long they've been dating and risking reminding her how close to the 'year mark' she may be! 

This morning she asked about going to the movies with friends... including Ned. Pepper asked how she would get home. (We will be near the theater when she needs to get there, so I had already told her I'd take her) She made a few calls and said one of her friends (also 16) said he would give her a ride home. Hmmm... I just don't trust any 16 year old driver, but I really do trust Dori and we did tell her to problem solve... and she did. I do need to cut the apron string at some point, don't I? I was just harassing Skip this morning for still helping her son (also 16) make his bed. This age is so hard!! They are little kids one day and grown ups the next!! Now she just said that the rest of the group are going ice skating but she and Ned still just want to go to the movies. Two lovebirds alone in the dark theater... no wonder I am going grey so fast!

Work is going to be a big issue soon too. She wants a car. She wants more independence. We want that for her too... but planning for summer this year will be hard. I want her to go camping with the family. Its hard to plan our trips knowing Dori may have a demanding work schedule to deal with. Plus there is the whole Ned issue. Do we let him come with us? How close will we be to that damn year mark then?!

There is a glimmer of hope for our maturing Dori. Yesterday she asked if she could stay after school on Monday and just hang with friends until she had to work at the pool (she teaches swim lessons 4 hours per week). I told her we needed her home to meet the boys bus because Kiwi and Macy both had meets after school and someone needed to be at the house. She said ok. No crying, pouting, arguing, or stomping out of the room saying life is unfair. Just ok. She is thinking about the bigger picture, outside of the Dori bubble. Maybe Pepper and I are doing ok on this parenting stuff after all.


Friday, January 2, 2009

Paint Job

The boys came downstairs with a plan. They decided it was time to repaint their bedroom. It was just painted two years ago. My sister "S" came to visit and let all the kids pick out paint. At the time they agreed on a "Blue's Clues" theme... which definitely had a limited life span. The room is actually very cute. It has green grass along the bottom and blue sky with a big sun. Originally it also had real kites attached which gave it a sort of 3D affect. 

So down Dill comes this morning with a sheet of paper from a spiral notebook. He hands it to me without a word. I look at it. It says: "black, brown, white, purple, gold" all spelled correctly, but in definite kid scrawl.  I say, "Good morning! Ok, what is this?" Dill says, "Pete and I want to repaint our room. Those are the colors we want it. Come upstairs we will tell you how." I say, "How about you make a picture of what you are thinking and I will take a look." That sends the messenger upstairs to discuss the issue with his brother. Within minutes both brothers come back. Pete is now in charge of the situation. "Mom, we don't need a picture we know what we want." With great sweeping arm gestures, Pete explains, "We want the whole ceiling purple. The wall behind the bed white on my side and brown on Dill's. Then the other wall by Dill gold and the magnetic wall black..." Dill chimes in here that black attracts the sun and will warm the room. Pepper takes over and suggests that they narrow the color choices to two. They head back upstairs to discuss. Back down several minutes later they tell us they have decided on purple and gold... guess we'll have to think about how we're gonna make that work!

Our vacation is winding down. The girls aren't even downstairs yet... they are gonna have a hard time when we need to get back on our school schedule! Guess we'll deal with that throughout the weekend.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Welcome 2009!!

I'm really having a great school break. I am feeling tired and did not get all the things I wanted to get done but I did get to do a lot of things I didn't plan on too. The visit with LM and family went great... I am so glad they came to stay with us. All of our traveling to Dad B and Dad D's family was nice. Visiting Pepper's family was enjoyable and Jay coming down to visit also went well. I am so glad we have started planning our summer camping trips. The weather was weird during this break... we had snow on Christmas, but also had rain, sunshine, sleet and hail since the break started. The temperature varied from 5- 60 degrees in just two weeks. Last night the kids went to Dad D's family and I have heard from most of them.... they all had a great time (and are probably still sleeping!) Pepper and I went to Skip and her family's for a fondue dinner that was very tasty. Since we have now done it two years in a row, I think it is a 'tradition' from Skip's point of view so I am happy to be a tradition in their family's life.  Got great gifts there too.... almost everything I wanted!! ;)  Again, I did not guess correctly, I think I need more practice since I used to be so good at guessing what I would get!  They gave our family  a monthly dinner from January until June.... second year for this gift too! (perhaps another tradition in the making!! :) LOL!!)  I can't wait to tell the kids, they were so disappointed last year when our "coupons" wore out. They really loved getting to go over for a special dinner, plus Skip's son has a Wii!!

Today has been very relaxing... slept in, woke up when we wanted, lots of cuddles, Pepper and I made breakfast together and have just been doing what we wanted all morning. Its almost 1... I guess I should think about taking a shower and getting dressed... or maybe I'll see if Pepper wants to take a nap.... such a nice way to start a new year!

Thanks for reading.... Happy 2009!