Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hamster Day

Today at work we were doing an activity about guessing household items. These included things like band-aids, hair dryers and birthday candles. I told the kids that there was a family moving and talking about items they were holding but the students had to guess the name of the item. For instance: The Mom said, “I’ll put these in the bathroom cabinet. If anyone gets a scratch or a cut you’ll know where to find them.” (The kids figured out the item was a band-aid.)

A few items later, there was a question that said: The Dad said, “I’ll put this up in the bathroom. We’ll be able to put our dirty clothes in it when we get cleaned up tonight.” One student said the washer, another said the laundry and a third (I call him the honest one) said the floor. I told them they were close, but then asked them “What would the Dad be carrying into the bathroom to put dirty clothes in?” One kid said a basket and another one yelled out, “A HAMSTER!” As I was trying to clarify the word hamper another little girl, who just turned 6 said, “Ohhh, I have wanted a hamster my WHOLE life!!” ☺

Sunday, December 18, 2011


I think everyone has lots of traditions at the holidays and sometimes we do not even realize how important they are to us until they are gone. I guess I have been learning this lately because a lot of my traditions seem to be either changed or gone completely. I noticed one this weekend while we were at a get together for people at our church. It was held at a beautiful home and catered with fantastic food. Everyone was welcomed and cheery. Our kids got to have free run of the basement, including a pool table, foosball, art projects, games, books… and many other kids to play with. The adults were milling around and talking, enjoying the food and the open bar. The fireplaces were blazing and everyone was joyful and cozy!

The last hour of the party was singing Christmas songs. I am not a good singer. Never claimed to be. But I sure like Christmas songs. When I was a kid we sang Christmas carols at my Grandparents house after dinner. Most years Grandma even talked us into going to her neighbors and singing for them. I actually enjoyed doing it (we almost always got invited into the neighbors houses for a cookie or eggnog, plus they clapped and cheered for us so there was never really a downside) The last year I remember going my Grandmother actually pulled my cousin and I aside and gave us each a couple dollars because she appreciated us “teens” going out to cheer her neighbors… we took the money, even though we would have done it anyway. (We couldn’t let our Grandmother know we actually LIKED going…. we were teens!)

Sitting around the other night with lots of friends and singing songs from my childhood was a great way to remember the way I enjoyed caroling for Grandma’s neighbors. Since it’s a Christmas story I thought a bible verse would be fitting: "Do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and your children's children." (Deuteronomy 4:9) Hmmm, makes me wonder if I can talk my kids into caroling around our neighborhood if I gave them a couple dollars. ☺

Friday, December 9, 2011

"I wanna talk to Mom!"

In the car the other day the kids were talking about phones. Macy was impressing us by rattling off everyone's phone numbers very rapidly after I said that kids do not have to remember things like we used to in the "olden" days! It reminded me of the first time I called home to talk to my Mom after heading off to college. I dialed the number and was disappointed that it wasn't my mother that answered. I could not tell which one of my sister's had answered so I just said,
"Let me talk to mom."

The response was: "No!"

"Quit fooling around, just get Mom" I said.

"Who is this?" Now I was getting angry. I hated when my sisters played this game. I'd only been away at college a week. It was soooo funny to pretend they forgot me.

me: "Very funny, just get Mom."

"Tell me who this is"

me: "fine, this is Ilene, now get Mom."

"I don't know an Ilene"

me: "Would you quit?! This is your SISTER! Just get Mom!"

"I don't have a sister."

me: "What is your problem? Is she there?"

"My Mom is here, not yours"

me: "What is your problem? You know this is not funny at all, right?"

"Its my Mom, not yours. I am an only child"

me: "What? Who is this?"


I was slow, it is starting... (just starting) to sink in that I might have the wrong number.

me: "Is this number 234-5678?"


me: "That's MY number!"

"No, its my number"

It now, (suddenly and finally) occurs to me that I am far from home.... in a different AREA CODE!)

Monday, December 5, 2011

KC's Hooded Towel

At Dad D’s family Thanksgiving gathering, everyone gets a Santa Wish List form that we all fill out. It says things like what toys, electronics, house wares and clothes would you like for Christmas. Then it asks for sizes and colors that are preferred. The last question is what do you really NOT want. After dinner everyone looks through catalogs and newspaper fliers and talks to each other about things that they might like for Christmas. Our kids are accustomed this form and know exactly how to fill them out. KC found it a little challenging and did not know the “unspoken” rules of the family.

This picture explains the situation perfectly. She innocently wrote down that she did NOT want a hooded towel for Christmas. Immediately, Dad D’s sister dug one up and had it on her! She will probably get at least 1 or 2 gifts wrapped in hooded towels! Welcome to the family KC! ☺

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Real Parents...

Pepper and I spent most of the day today at a swim meet for Dill... tomorrow Pete has a meet. Last Thursday we had Macy's swim banquet. We've spent lots of time around chlorine lovers!

I love these shirt sayings.... but if I had one on today it would have said: "I am swim Mom so I have sore buns from sitting in cramped bleacher seats all day and a poor disposition right now because is it hot and crowded in the stands... but look, look, that's my kid, watch this!" ...but all that probably wouldn't fit on a shirt... :)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A big dinner

Our family took a recent trip to Frankenmuth to have their famous chicken dinner. Everything tastes great... the only problem is that there is SOOOO much to try that you practically have to be rolled out! Dill expressed how we were were all feeling when he wrote us a message on his menu: "My tummy thinks I don't feel good!" :)

Friday, December 2, 2011


Pepper and I were walking in the halls of the high school heading to Macy and KC's conferences. We were talking about now kids had more 'attitude' nowadays than when we were in school. I laughed and told Pepper that I thought we probably had some attitude back then too. She quickly replied, "Oh, no I did not. I had nuns for teachers.... we couldn't talk back or give them attitude. They would have sent us right to hell!!"

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Lil' Hunter

Here is a picture of Pete on our way home from hunting up north. I call the picture: "My favorite Hunter drooling on my Favorite Pillow!"

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A favorite Picture

Went for a walk the other night with Pepper and Kirby and took this picture with my cell phone.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Right, Wright, Write, Rite?

My 9-year-old really wanted to go to his friends house today. He got the address and made all the arrangements on how and when to get there. I did not think it would be too hard. The friend rode a district bus to school, meaning he lived in-district, so I knew there was a limited radius he could be.

Dill told me that the friend lived on Right Road. I did a quick Google search. My computer thought a minute or two then popped up a marker not too far from our house. I also had to drop KC off at a friend of hers so they could head to a movie so I did that first. I used my phone’s map program to get directions. It said there was no such road as Right Road. Dill checked with his friend and Dill said: “Its Write with a ‘w’ not R-I-G-H-T” Ok, so I programmed that into the phone and off we went.

Well, an hour later and with my low gas light on, we still had not found the house…. Or road…. or even stayed in the right town. And in all this time we had not passed one gas station. Things were not “right” with my phone’s directions!

To make a really bad day’s experience short…. My phone auto-corrected my road name by spell checking and finding the road “White" instead of "Write”! White Road is three towns over and is the very, very last road in a very off the main road mobile home park. There are way too many ways to spell the the name of the road Right! (get it?!)

Poor Dill got to see a very impatient and frustrated mom but at least we found a gas station before we had to walk! We finally found the house and Dill got to hang out with his friend. In the end the bad situation turned out alWRIGHT!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Matter of Perspective...

I have been working with a student that is probably one of the top 10 most challenging children that I have ever worked with. His language is non-existent. He cannot follow even the simplest one step command so his behavior appears poor. His comprehension and capacity for learning seems very low. Although he is much older, he functions at about the 9-12 month level. Even after years of trying, he is not potty trained. He bolts without much warning and has no danger sense. He bangs his head when he is upset- so much that he will make himself bleed or bruise. He eats non-food things like sand and crayons if not watched carefully.

I met his mother the other day. She was very nice. Both mother and son are beautiful. He has her eyes and good complexion. She noticed another child that was in the building. The other child was in a walker and had obvious physical limitations. The Mother shook her head in a pitying way and told me how grateful she was that her son was mobile.

Since I know both of these children, that comment surprised me. The child with the walker is bright. That child is progressing rapidly, becoming more independent, making friends, and will, in time, be able to do most things by himself. This mother will probably always need to care for her son.

It must be true that God only gives us what we can handle and that everyone sees things differently. I remember seeing my children in the hospital for the first time and knowing… without a doubt, knowing that mine was the best. Of all those babies in their little bassinets I got the best one. Every time! To this day they are still the best ones of all the ones I could have gotten.

One thing I used to tell parents when I had to break the news to them that their child was eligible for special education services was that EVERY child had issues. No child was perfect. They were lucky that they now KNEW what their child was going to struggle with and they could deal with it. I hope it brought them comfort.

As I watched this boy and his mother head out the door they did do very well together. She gave him boundaries and expectations he could handle and he seemed to sense how much space she was comfortable with giving him. I am glad this Mother feels she got the best one. He will need her love and support for a long time.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Worst Case Scenario

Dill is our worry wart! He is the one that stresses at the little weather warning signal on the TV and gets nervous if there is a dark cloud over head or the wind picks up suddenly. Every morning we go through a ritual at breakfast. He asks what happens if it starts to rain. We tell him he'll have inside recess. He asks what happens if swimming after school gets cancelled. We tell him to ride the bus home. He asks what if no one else is home. We tell him to call us and then make himself a snack. He asks what if he has to go to the bathroom really bad when he gets off the bus. We tell him to go.

Dill has never seen that game about Worst-Case Scenario.... but I think he could either write a great version of it or win every time.

One of his last routine questions is to check to make sure Pepper has her phone. Pepper always has her phone.... but Dill likes to make sure. One day, he was distracted and forgot to ask about the phone before he got on the bus. Before the school bus was even out of Pepper's sight, her phone rang. When she answered it Dill asked, "Mom, do you have your phone?"

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Ball pits and Waterparks

When the kids were little I was always envious of them getting to play in ball pits. Now, I know that ball pits are gross and there are probably all kinds of germs in them but they sure looked fun! All those bright colored balls all mixed together like a happy rainbow and the kids getting to dive in and run all through them- I wished they had them when I was a little kid.

Its not like I never went in a ball pit. Looking like a good mom I went in and “rescued” my kids a few times….. even when they didn’t need or want my help. Come on, I had to have some reason to get in there and if I grabbed other people’s kids…. That would have been frowned upon!

But I have discovered something that is even better than ball pits. And it is completely appropriate for an adult with kids in the pre-teen to teenage range. A Lazy River. These things are great! Traveling around in circles with an undercurrent that keeps you moving along, There are little sprinklers along the way to keep you from getting too warm. Then there are the jets that spray up and tickle your feet or whatever body part you have float over them. The kids buzz around to try to time it so the adult gets caught by the dumping buckets, but once they soak you once they laugh and move on to other victims.

Waterparks in general are very enjoyable. There are the little shallow sections for little littles. The slide and sprayers are so small and simple it discourages older kids so the little kids have their own area. There are dumping buckets of all sizes and super huge slides for the older kids. Wave pools and water basketball are other diversions. Then there is the hot tub. I don’t know why there always seems to be 3-4 pre-teen type kids that love hanging around the hot tub with mainly adults. They jump in and splash and have a wonderful time bugging the adults. (At least one of these kids is usually one of mine, so it isn’t that big a deal)

I’d love to go to a waterpark that had two hot tubs. One for the kids that want to be rambunctious and another one that was adults only. If I owned a waterpark I’d make sure to have two. One with a trampoline or diving board or one of those big floating islands in the middle for the kids and the other one adults only….. maybe with a bar at one edge and a Starbuck’s on the other. Maybe I will even put a giant ball pit for kids and adults to play in… I can’t be the only adult that thinks those things look like fun! ☺

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cherry stem knot

Recently, the family went out to dinner. After dinner, we all got ice cream that had a cherry placed on top. Pete and Macy were discussing how being able to tie a knot in the cherry stem with just your tongue is an indicator of being a good kisser. Pete put his stem into his mouth and after a couple funny looks and scrunching up and furrowing his eyebrows a few times he stuck out his tongue and there was a perfect knot in the middle of his cherry stem.

Macy, not to be outdone, then stuck her stem into her mouth, saying she knew she was a good kisser. The rest of the family continued to talk and eat their ice cream waiting for Macy to finish tying her stem. She also made a few faces and looked like she was getting that stem knotted. Suddenly, with a surprised look on her face, Macy said, “I swallowed my stem!”

Oops, guess Macy needs more practice…. At tying knots in stems—maybe kissing too! ;)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

KC taler godt engelsk!

KC does really well with English so when she says something that isn’t quite right, it is pretty amusing…. And in my head -bloggable. (That fact often gets me in trouble with Pepper and is why she gets ‘veto power’ or all of my blog posts!!)

Two things have happened recently relating to KC’s English. The first one wasn’t that amusing, but made me take more notice of her speech for the second one. KC called Pepper about getting rides for weekend activities. The rest of the family was going on an overnight trip, so the options for KC were to either 1) come with us or 2) find rides and someone to stay with while we were gone. She called to say that a friend would give her a ride on Friday to a birthday party and on Saturday for a Halloween party. Pepper asked if she wanted to just spend the night Friday as well as Saturday. KC relplied, “Yes, that is what the parent recommended.” Then she said, “no wait a minute….. that’s not the right word….. suggested?” (As a speech therapist I can say those words are pretty close and shows how good KC’s English really is)

The second time I noticed KC’s semantic challenges was when Dill asked KC to play football with him in the yard. He said, “Wanna play catch with me?” KC said ok and as they were walking outside she asked, “So you are going to throw the ball and I am going to bring it back to you?” Dill, looked at her for a minute and said, “No, that is Fetch {stress on the /F/} We play that with a dog. People play Catch {he stresses the /K/}where we just throw the ball back and forth to each other. “ KC smiled and heads out to the back yard looking very pleased that she wouldn’t have to go scampering after the ball for Dill!! ☺

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

All Things Are Possible

Last week we went to dinner with a couple other families from church. The idea is to break bread with people we don’t know very well and share a bible passage after we eat and then discuss it. Our church does this for 5-6 weeks in a row twice a year. It is a nice way to meet people we might not normally get to know at the church and see them on their “home turf”. It’s held on Friday nights, so it is not a bad way to end the work week either.

The weeks passage was Mark 10:24-25. The passage is a little different, depending on which translation you use, but the gist of the message is that it is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle then for a wealthy person to get into the kingdom of God (Heaven). This passage bothered me a bit…. Being a well-fed, healthy American that has been well educated and pretty darn lucky in this life.

The other members of our little group discussed Bill Gates and Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt- all of whom they felt gave back, trying to help less fortunate people. Then they talked about wealthy people they knew that lived well and had more than their share. We totally avoided talking about us. Were we in a mansion? No, actually we were in a modest condo in an moderately affluent part of the city. We had just had appetizers and wine and a very nice dinner….. we all ate more than we needed and extra’s were put away in heavy duty self-closing Tupperware containers. Dessert, 3 varieties (plus popsicle’s for the kids) were waiting for us when we finished our conversation and digested a bit. The house was warm and the chairs were comfortable. The kids were running around playing X-box and then hide and seek having a good time. In my mind, we were bigger than those camels. And the doorway into Heaven seems mighty small.

I was thinking about the church conference I went to a couple weeks ago. There was a break out session about a church-wide outreach service project. Everyone in the church was invited to do community projects and help out others and improve other people’s lives. I was attracted to the idea and have even followed up with a few emails and conversations at church about doing a similar event in our church. But is that enough? Can anyone with a decent job and a checking account ever get to Heaven?

Another person at the dinner mentioned that Bill Gates planned to give away 90% of his wealth before he died. If Bill Gates gives 90% of everything he has to charity he will still have kept millions for himself and his family to live on. That is still more than most people will ever even see in their lifetimes. Will the door be opened for him? How about the guy that walks away from his family to live on the street and beg for money to buy beer…. Will he get in? He isn’t wealthy. What about the people we know that have a modest amount and share nothing? Or the people with very little and share as much as they can?

That passage is only one line in the bible but makes me wonder what chance any of us have of truly living up to the expectations the message sends. Is anyone doing enough? In my mind I see Heaven as empty as a church on Monday morning.

Luckily, I am a bit of an over-achiever so I read a little further. The next two verses explain that the disciples were a bit shocked to hear this news too. So they asked, “Who can be saved?” Jesus answered… “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible” Whew! That helps….. ☺

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Memories

Dad B and I were discussing our childhood Halloween memories. One of mine was having the choice to be either 1) a ghost (by cutting two holes in an old white sheet) 2) a gypsy (by wearing ALL of my Mom’s jewelry) or 3) a Hobo (an old suit jacket of my Dad’s with the sleeves rolled up and a handkerchief tied to a stick). Through the years of my childhood I was each of these choices and my favorite was probably the ghost (because I could wear my winter coat and still fit the costume over top of it). I also remember the year I was a hobo and my Dad used his lighter to burn the end of a wine cork and use it to make my face look dirty….. that was pretty cool.

Dad B also reminded me of the great Halloween costumes that K-Mart sold. They were $1.99-$2.99 and included two pieces. The coolest part was the mask. It was hard plastic with an elastic band that went around your head. It also had 3 holes in it. Two for your eyes and one for the mouth. I don’t think we were all mouth breathers back then, so I am not sure why they all had the ‘mouth hole’. Really the only thing that hole was good for was to cut your tongue when you (and by this I mean we all did it) stuck your tongue through it. It was always easier to get my tongue out through the hole then to get it back in again!

The other part of these costumes was the suit that you wore. It was one-piece outfit that you had to step into (while wearing pants to stay warm, so that was tricky) then you slid your arms in and tied the little tie that was in the back. It usually ended up looking very “bunchy” because of all the clothes you had to wear underneath…. Plus if it was cold you had to wear your coat over it anyway, so no one could tell who you were. While we were talking about these costumes Dad B made a great comment…. He mentioned that it was amazing that he survived Halloween because those K-Mart suits were highly flammable and his Mom was a chain smoker! They don’t make costumes like that anymore!! ☺

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Another school story…

The physical education teacher mentioned that the next week the kindergarteners would be using the parachute during Gym.

A couple students, who had been there for preschool all cheered and said, “Yeah, a parachute!”

One boy, who was not in preschool and new to our school had a nervous look on his face. The teacher asked what was wrong and he asked, “What are we going to jump from?” ☺

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Another good kindergarten story

At our staff meeting one of our teachers told a good story. She announced to the class and sent home a note saying that the next day would be “picture day”. We make these types of announcements in the hopes that the children will come in the next day in extra nice clothes with hair done and smiles ready for the camera. One little girl and her family misunderstood what “picture day” was. Rather than returning the picture packet filled out with a check for the pictures they wanted to purchase….. the girl brought in several pictures of a family vacation from last summer. They thought it was picture SHARE day rather than picture TAKING day!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Life with a teenage boy…

Pepper (walking into the living room): Something smells really bad in here.
None of the kids move or respond.
Pepper: Is there garbage or something in someone’s backpack? Does anyone smell that?
Pepper walks around looking for whatever smells bad. She gets close to Pete and the shoes he has removed and steps back in horror.
Pepper: Pete, is that your FEET?! They smell horrible!!
Pete: Laughing, says “they aren’t that bad.”
Pepper has gone to get Lysol for his shoes and sends him up for an immediate shower.
She looks over to me, with genuine concern on her face and says, "That CAN’T be normal!”

This is a letter to Pete’s children….

Dear future grandchildren,

If you get to around the age of 13 and become very forgetful, please know that you got that from your father. Thursday Pete went to swim club and forgot his bathing suit. The coach made him do dry land (basically run laps and sit-ups around the pool) instead of actually swimming with the rest of his group.

Then, Friday Pete forgot his camouflage clothes. Yes, here we are at deer camp and the boy forgot his camo. I told him to make sure he was packed and he spent lots of time hunting for his socks and duffle bag…. But he forgot his clothes. He also forgot his pillow, a blanket and his broad head wrench.

I shook my head in disbelief as Jay found extra clothes for him to wear. Of course JD had to side with the only other male here and mentioned the time he went deer hunting and forgot his bow! ☺

Monday, October 10, 2011


JD, Jay’s husband has been hanging out at deer camp all week on his own. It is very dark here when the sun goes down. And very quiet. Lexi, his daughter forgot her phone in the camper and one night he decided to use it as an alarm clock. At the scheduled time, the alarm went off. Unfortunately for JD, the ring tone was set for a “Gaggle of geese”. In the dead silence of the dark morning, the alarm made JD think he was being attacked by something out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie! Wish I’d been here for a picture….. must have been an extremely funny sight! ☺

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pepper's birthday

Today is Pepper’s 45th birthday. She does not really like birthdays. Oh, she likes getting gifts and she doesn’t mind being woken up by our family’s off-key singing. She loves the birthday cake her mom always makes for her and getting cards and flowers. She loves that we go out to dinner and treat her extra special. I think what she doesn’t like is that “plus one”. The kids we work with who are in kindergarten often ask each other “What’s your number?” Meaning: are they 5 or 6? But having a birthday is putting a lot of focus on that “plus one”.

My father used to always say clever things like “It beats the alternative” and “It not the years, it’s the mileage” which I think are both true. Personally, I sometimes forget how old I am and often need to do the math just to figure out what my current “number” is! (This could also be due to poor memory recall that could or could not be related to the aging process!)

Happy birthday Pepper! Thanks for spending so many of them with me. Looking forward to many, many more!! ☺

Friday, October 7, 2011

Deer Camp

Fall camping is much different than summer camping. While camping in summer you can often hear the laughter of people canoeing on the river or kids swimming and playing in the lake. We stay at campgrounds so the RV’s are close together. You can hear other people’s radios or the smell of bacon cooking in someone else’s camper. It is bright and sunny even on the days that there may be a little rain.

Camping in mid-October is very different. The trees look much more colorful with the leaves all turning vibrant reds and oranges and there is a cool breeze even on warm days that make you sense that winter is getting close. Rather than being at a campground, with luxuries like a near-by water connection, a sewer hose and 30 amp power (so we can run the A/C at the same time as the microwave) we are on state land. There is no water, other than what you carry in. The electricity is provided by a gasoline-powered generator that is attached a short distance away from the camper via a power cord. There is no one near us. We drove off the expressway to a highway then onto a back road. After awhile we turned onto a dirt road, then took a fork off that road to a sandy path leading to a hard-to-find-unless-you-know-where-it beaten path that is only wide enough for a 4 wheeler…. or very determined hunter/campers. If you drive another 15 minutes and take a couple hard to see turns…. That’s where we are. Alone. From the time we turned onto the first dirt road until we got to the campsite we saw no people and no camps. All we saw was a nice sized doe that ran across the road in front of my truck. I turned on my Google Maps once we were at the RV to pinpoint our exact location, it searched for several minutes before responding with “NO WHERE”.

The theme here is quiet and conservative. In the summer, at the campground, there is a plethora of activities and things for everyone to do: Fishing, swimming, bike riding, mini-golf, canoeing, bingo, karaoke, softball, the game room, beach, and activity sheets with things for the kids to do every hour. At deer camp there is very little noise. Pete and Lexi head out to hunt with Jay’s husband (JD) early. Jay and I hang out in the RV on our own, talking and drinking coffee. There is no one but the two of us until around noon when the hunters come back for lunch. After lunch there is target practice and checking on all the equipment and gathering firewood for the nights fire. Then it is nap time. Jay and I hang out by the fire pit now loaded high with sticks while the hunters sleep and re-energize themselves for another taxing session of searching for deer and not falling out of tree stands.

There are tiny silk worms that dangle from the trees that I can see when the light hits them just right or they drop onto my computer keyboard. I can hear an occasional bird or a bee buzz by every so often and watch as the breeze blows leaves gently to the ground like soft falling snow. It is so quiet I can hear the soft snore of Jay’s bulldog, Dozer asleep beside the RV.

I’ve been looking forward to this trip since I came up to deer camp last year with Pete. I hope to do it for many years to come….. it is a fantastic way to end camping season. However, with my direction sense and the lack of signage in these woods it will be a miracle if I can ever find it again next year….. come to think of it, I may never find my way out!! ☺

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Metric System

First student: Teacher! Look how big I am now.... I weigh 62 degrees!
Second student: Are you learning metric?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Stone Fox

Me: How was school today?
Dill: Ok, but I can’t read the book I want to.
Me: Why couldn’t you read what you wanted?
Dill: Because I am only in the “O” reading group and it’s a “P” group book.
Me: What book?
Dill: Stone Fox. It is about a dog sled race across the snow. There is a dog that ends up dying, that part is sad; but the boy who is trying to win the race to help his grandfather wins, so that part is happy.
Me: Wow, so it’s a good book?
Dill: Yes. If I were a Director that is the book I’d turn into a movie.
Me: Do you want to be a director when you grow up?
Dill: No.
Me: How do you know so much about the book?
Dill: oh…. I read it last year.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Car Radio

Choosing a radio station in the car is always a challenge when there are lots of kids in the family. When I was always the driver it made sense that the driver (or Pepper in the shot gun spot) got to select the music. Now that we have teenage drivers and we are starting to let them use the radio while they are driving, it is getting more challenging. I really do not like rap or super slow or screamo stuff... in fact my favorite is no music at all. But... sometimes we scan through the stations and try to find a station everyone likes. So one day, Macy was driving and Pepper was scanning through looking for a station. Music started playing and suddenly Macy yells out, "Stop... I approve of this station!" I was sitting in the middle row, next to Dill. At the word "Stop!" I had braced for impact and threw my arm in front of Dill spilling his Lego people everywhere (to try to protect him from whatever was headed toward us!) Ahhh, the joys of living with new drivers! :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Youth Hunt

This weekend was youth hunt. That means that only youth age 10-18 can have a firearm and go deer hunting. Pete got his first deer. He was in a tree stand with a friend from church. The two had decided to give it 5 more minutes because football was starting soon.... and Pete saw 3 deer coming into sight on the far left.

He got one. An excellent shot. Today we spent a few hours learning to process it (next time I think I will pay to have that job done!) and we now have 30+ pounds of venison in the freezer. Pete can't wait to head out again. Lexi, Jay's daughter says she's going to get one too.... Pete says bring it on! We definitely have a hunter in the family! :)

Saturday, September 24, 2011


A friend of mine was at the ATM and discovered $11,000.00 more than she expected in her account. She was quite shocked to see the huge balance on her receipt and did not know what to do. Since it was after hours and the bank was not open, she smiled, held her receipt up and calmly explained to the video camera attached to the ATM machine that the error had been made. It may surprise you to know that no one inside the little ATM box responded. ☺

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Many Choices

One thing about having a foreign exchange student living with you is that you notice things that you could normally just take for granted. For instance, Americans like choice. If they are presented with one of something often the first question will be, “What else ya’ got?”

This was noticeable for the first time when we took KC to the mall to find a case for her phone. We went to the kiosk and the man saw what kind of phone she had and began pulling rows and rows of cases down for KC to look thru. By the time the man flew all around his kiosk there must have been 60 differently decorated cases for KC to choose from. She ended up not buying any, there were just too many options for her European mind.

Next we went to Target (this is Pepper’s favorite store… we go here a lot) to find shampoo and conditioner for KC. She could not believe that two rows of the store contained just shampoo and conditioner. For the sake of personal hygiene and some help from Pepper, KC did make a selection this time.

Tonight, KC is cooking dinner for the family. She told us that it is not a traditional Danish dish, but one she has made before and really likes. We went to Meijer’s for the ingredients… with the recipe her mother emailed her in Danish. There were a few challenges like going from metric grams to ounces and pounds, but the two of us figured that out like champs (and good guessers). There were also some linguistic challenges like finding spices… she translated one to “ther-ree-me” As a speech therapist I am a little embarrassed at how long it took me to figure out she meant thyme. She also had an ingredient listed called “sweet chili powder” which I could not find anywhere at Meijer’s. KC decided to just use regular chili powder and we’d get a little ‘kick’!

When we got to the noodle aisle, KC saw a package of “wide egg noodles” as we rounded the corner. It was in the gourmet section and they were called “Amish Kitchen” which is a brand I had never tried. (We go for the Meijer brand, what I have a coupon for or what is on sale) We put the over priced little devils into the cart and then KC looked down the aisle. Her jaw dropped. She could not believe that there were so many options. She read one box that said: egg noodles. She said, “Aren’t ALL noodles egg noodles?!” So we walked along and I showed her the spinach noodles and the tri-colored noodles and the gluten-free noodles….. not to mention all the space and size varieties. We ended up just sticking with the over-priced Amish ones and moved on.

I am looking forward to this new dish, it will be great to have the kids all critique something someone else cooks! I’ll let you know how it all turns out. ☺

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Funeral Discussions…

I went to my Grandmother’s funeral yesterday. Quite a few people were present considering she was 95 years old and she attended a lot of her closest friends and family’s funerals already. There were a lot of family and people I knew growing up that I probably really won’t see much anymore because she is gone. Funerals are sad. The place smelled like flowers and Leafshine (the stuff florists use to make plants look healthy) and the room was very sterile and bare with several chairs pushed up against the walls around the room. My Grandmother’s coffin was beautiful with gold and painted flowers and she looked very peaceful in her purple dress and simple wedding band.

There were lots of discussions and updates that people were sharing… including the fact that a certain speech therapist cousin of mine is pregnant (But shhh….. she doesn’t want anyone to know!) BTW… speech therapist cousin: everyone KNOWS! ;) Here were some of the best things I heard or overheard….

Aunt N has a fantastic British accent. My sister, who is in sales said she wished she had that accent because people with accents can sell anything. Aunt N. said (in her fantastic british accent) “Oh I know deary, the problem has always been that I must believe in something to be able to sell it. A long time ago I sold Mary Kay and this woman wanted to buy several hundreds of pounds worth of the stuff. I looked at her plain face and just had to tell the poor girl that it would do nothing to help her.”

Uncle L was up for a visit one Christmas from Georgia to visit Grandma. As they rode up in the elevator to see her, Uncle L carried a large box wrapped in Christmas paper. Uncle R was carrying nothing. Uncle L asked, “What did you get Mom?” Quickly, Uncle R responded, “A plane ticket to Georgia.”

My cousin was telling her kids about a time she and I went camping in our Grandparents new RV. We were probably about 12 years old and my Grandmother asked us to use the RV commode for peeing only because the tanks had to be emptied and she did not want them to get dirty. (There were flush toilets in the campground she asked us to use if we needed to) At the luncheon following the funeral, my cousin confessed that it was her that used the RV bathroom for more than peeing and how terrified she was on the whole trip that Grandma would find out.

My Uncle R was talking about a visit to my Grandmother when she was feeling down. She spent about 15 minutes talking about how tired she was and useless and un-necessary. She cried and said God was punishing her by keeping her alive and in the nursing home. My uncle barely hesitated for a minute before saying, “Mom, did you ever think that maybe God was keeping you here to punish ME?!” Grandma couldn’t help but burst out laughing.

Following the funeral, we all went over to my Grandmother’s place to see if there were any items we wanted to keep. My sister got my Grandmother’s Grandfather clock and loaded it into the back of her pick up truck. Everyone left at the same time, in his or her own vehicle. Uncle L caught up to my sisters truck so he could hang out the window as they drove down the road yelling to her, “Ya got the time?!!” :)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Heading to College

Great news! Dori was released from the hospital late Thursday and Dad D and I drove her home and got back early Friday morning.

Saturday we kept to Dori's plan and moved her into her dorm in the morning. The whole family went to the school and helped move everything in. She had a room change so that she was on the first floor and has a more accessible bathroom while she hobbles around with her removable leg cast. We helped move everything in and tried to help her make it look homey.

We met up with Pepper's parents and brother and all took her out to lunch. Then we drove back to her room. It was a little hard to leave her there. She looked little sitting in her wheelchair but also looked determined and impatient for us to head out too.

I sent her a text before I went to bed last night and she said she was feeling a bit lonely but was keeping busy. This morning, her message after church said she was not doing well. She felt self-conscious and not sure who or how to talk to in her new dorm.

I reminded her about my 'secret to being successful at college' and told her to keep trying. She seems to be doing ok today and will have lots of Freshmen activities to do tomorrow which should help her get to know more people. I think she will do great at school..... needing time for adjustment is normal when starting something new. :)

*Secret for success.... it is not just doing the classwork that makes one successful at college. Most people have no trouble with the required work in the classroom. It is 1) being able to connect with other people, even if they are different than you 2)be able to deal with all the red tape, non-sense stuff (like financial aid and registering for classes) and 3) believe that you belong there.

I sure am proud of her..... I will post updates on how well she is doing! :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cutting of the clothes

Coming into the emergency room as a trauma patient means your clothes get cut off. Dori learned this week that the ER staff don't even try to save the clothes. Her leather jacket and favorite jeans were split in two as they removed from her body. As the shirt was slit off, Dori said "Don't cut the bra!"

The man holding the scissors said, "Sorry, everything goes."

Dori looked at him and the other nurses around the stretcher and said. "This is a $40 bra and it is my favorite. You can cut everything, but NOT the bra!!"

Apparently, she had a very stern look or the female nurses around the stretcher had favorite bra's too.... but those scissors never came close to the bra. Dori has it safe and sound in her "My possessions" bag waiting for her discharge from the hospital. :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Motorcycle Crash

Currently, I am sitting in a hospital room in Virginia. Dori and Uncle K were in an accident on the 4th day of their 5 day graduation motorcycle trip. Dori has had an up and down day. The pain and meds she has each playing a role in her emotions. I have had an up and down day too. I was super charged to drive the 9+ hours to get to the hospital because I knew she was scared and lonely, waiting for us to show up. Dad D and I took off about 11 PM on Monday night and drove through the night and got to Dori before 8 AM. The hospital social worker thought we made excellent time. (My mom used to say that was “professional driver” talk for sped all the way) The day has worn on. It felt like 8 PM at Noon. I am tired and cranky myself but I try to be positive and not feel the ache in my neck as I rub her hair while she cries about the pain in her foot.

Dori has broken toes, a banged up knee and an impressive road rash on her face and backside. Uncle K was not so lucky. He has broken his leg in 3 places, a broken hip and pelvis. He punctured his lung and broken many bones in his face. He is intubated and has a cranial hemorrhage. He is not conscious. They want to operate on his hemorrhage but can’t because of his blood levels. Hopefully, tomorrow they can operate and K will heal as quickly as possible.

The story has changed a bit as we gather more of the story from the driver’s, witnesses and crash evaluation team. A deer ran into the road. Everyone agrees he came out of nowhere. A truck with the trailer slammed on his brakes when he hit the animal the trailer swayed and slammed into the motorcycle while it was in the slow lane. Dori was somehow tossed from the bike but Uncle K could not get free. He was dragged with the bike and trailer for several hundreds of feet before he could break free.

Looking at pictures of the wrecked bike it is obvious that Dori should not be in as good of shape that she is in. One of the things Dori said she asked Uncle K when they first started riding together was what she should do if there was a problem. He said, “I’ll deal with it. I might push you in a direction or even throw you off… but I’ll keep you safe.”

People can’t figure out how Dori flew free of the bike before the major damage was done. I can’t prove it, but I am pretty sure Uncle K helped her guardian angel and gave Dori a push to keep her from the full impact of the crash. I really hate that this accident happened but I am not sorry I let K take Dori on this ride. I know he protected her and he did what anyone that loves her would have done. I am grateful for the knowledge that he loves my kids that much…. And pray that he will be as unscathed as Dori will be from this accident. ☺

Mosquito’s Part 2

It’s interesting how a person’s priorities can change in the blink of an eye. I was sitting in my comfy chair last night, my only complaint was the mosquito bites I had on my arm from the walk Pepper and I took with Kirby that were itching me like crazy. My phone rang and I saw that it was a number I did not recognize. I answered it with my irritated “I-do-not-want-to-buy-whatever-you-are-selling” voice.

The woman on the other said, “Are you Dori’s mom?” Instant panic. Dori was somewhere south on a motorcycle trip with her uncle.

After I said yes, the woman told me she was at the scene of an accident involving a truck and a motorcycle. Dori and her Uncle were hurt and an ambulance was on the way. She said her family was traveling along the road and saw the accident happen. She said Dori was conscious and wanted to talk to me.

The woman stayed on the phone with me over 45 minutes. She told me when the ambulance came and then handed her phone over so I could answer health questions for the paramedics, after that I spoke to a state trooper about the incident report. This woman told me what was happening when they shut down the highway and when the life flight helicopters arrived. I got the play by play of everything that was happening from this woman and before Dori flew off to the hospital, she told Dori for me that I loved her. For those 45 minutes she was the only link I had to Dori, when she really needed me….. and through the whole thing I never felt one mosquito bite itch.

Thank you Karen from Boston….
At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have re-ignited the flame within us. ~Albert Schweitzer

Sunday, August 21, 2011


The mosquito's are horrible around here this summer! Worse than I have ever seen. There are these new 'super-size' ones here too.... they can bite through jeans and really hurt. I have been stung by a couple of them, and I seriously think they have little Red Cross pint size collection baggies strapped to their backs... they need them because they take A LOT of blood!

The sign above was up at a near-by store. It attracted a lot of attention... and hopefully a few bats!

Other signs that tell me I am not the only one that thinks the mosquito's are out of control this summer...

I drove past a neighbor the other day. She was headed from the house to her mailbox and was wearing a bee-keeper pith helmet!

We tried to put Kirby out on her run line that day... she looked at us like we were crazy! She looked me directly in the eye and I swear I could read her mind. She said, "Look Mom, I'll do my business super quick and we'll both go back inside away from these bugs! Don't you dare leave me out here with these little monsters!"

A few days later, Pepper and I went for a walk and we passed a women pushing a stroller that had mosquito netting all around it. She stopped to chat a moment and I commented on the netting. She told us it had come with the stroller but she had never seen the point of using it before this week. Pepper, the mom and I all looked at the little baby safe inside the netting girgling happily as we stood there swatted at bugs. You know we all stared into the little stroller and wished we could be in there too.

I suppose they will be around until the first frost... and as fast as summer is flying by, that won't be too long from now. :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

An Early Morning Conversation

Pepper: I dreamed we had a fish tank. But all the fish were dead.
Me: Why were the fish dead?
Pepper: They were in a bag with no water.
Me: Yep, that’ll do it. I dreamed I had a blue butt.
Pepper: A blue butt?!
Me: yes
Pepper: Did you dream you went to the doctor?
Me: No, it washed off.
{A few moments of silence}
Pepper: Are you waiting for me to interpret?!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Mirror, mirror on the wall...

There are probably about a dozen things I can say I really regret that I’ve done in my life. Most of poor choices I made I can at least say I learned from. These include making one of my best friends in high school cry because of something I did, ignoring my mom when she asked me not to leave her alone to go see a movie and not standing up stronger for a friend in college that was struggling.

Other big ones: breaking into my elementary school because I wanted to play “teacher” the summer after 6th grade. I was arrested…. On Father’s Day… by far, not my brightest moment. Then there was the time I out ran a state trouper because a friend would not get her head… and upper torso… down out of my open sunroof and I could not afford {another} ticket. Disclaimer: This is not recommended and only worked because I zipped off the expressway into a neighborhood I was much more familiar with then he was…. And it was dark.

Most recently I regret letting my sister and Dori put mirrors all over the walls of her room. Several years ago, when we first moved into the house and my sister wanted to pay to decorate their rooms I thought it was great.

This week: not so much.

Pepper and I are now trying to take down all the mirrors (Pete is going into this room after Dori heads to college and we couldn’t get him to say he’d keep the FORTY mirrors that decorated the room!)

Redecorating in August is never recommended…. Especially in an old house without a/c. It is about 103 degrees in the upstairs bedrooms. Plus because we are taking off sharp pieces of glass, gloves and thick shoes add to the hotness. But we are working under a time crunch because KC (our new exchange student) is coming soon and we’d like the rooms done before she gets here.

All this hotness is actually the reason I am blogging this…. Avoiding. Pepper is ready to head back up and work on Dori’s room more, but as long as I keep typing I can get out of it. I am trying to look very studious and pretend I don’t notice that she wants me to come help. [sigh] She isn’t going to be patient much more…. I guess I better get back to work before I regret something else! ☺

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Tomato Hornworm

This worm is BIG! He invaded my garden with a lot of his family and friends. I was not happy! :(

The whole family has spent lots of time trying to get all his cohorts out of my tomatoes. Unfortunately, by the time I realized what they were they ate most of my little potato plants.

The funniest thing about the situation was the look on Pepper's face when she accidentally touched this big fella! She did not realize it was a worm and just reached out and touched it with her finger.... and it was a bit squishier than she expected! She isn't really a gardener, or an "outside girl" or a bug lover at all... so when she touched it her look was very funny. I wish I had taken a picture of that look, but it does make me smile just thinking about it!!

We have the worms pretty well under control at this point. I paid the boys .10 cents per worm that they removed so they were quite motivated. Tomatoes are starting to come in... I can't believe how fast this summer is going by!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Dog Walking

Every morning of our camping trip Pepper, J, Jay's sister and I took our dogs for a walk. We took 3 dogs with us, although we could have taken more since both J and her sister have more than one dog. (We have more than one cat..... see previous blog to know how I feel about that!)

Anyway, we walk along our usual route which is mostly side roads with lots of fields and cow pastures. J and her sister are training their dogs to follow without a leash.... I don't take the chance with Kirby... she still has the attention span of a nat. (picture Doug from the movie "Up") So both of the other dogs are bipping in and out of the grass by the ditches and Kirby is zig zagging between them. J's sister and Pepper are making comments about how Kirby is going at least double the distance of the rest of us because she is going back and forth so much across the road. Although I am being innocent and quiet here, just minding my own business and not saying anything J pipes in with, "Yeah, Kirby takes walks the way Ilene canoes!!"

Is that even fair? I canoe just fine! I was just being quiet and innocent, enjoying a morning walk....see how they pick on me?!! :(

Friday, July 29, 2011

Another Macy Story....

Macy is doing very well in school…. Now. She is going into 10th grade and is doing just fine. Things were not always this way. Middle school was rough. 6th grade seems to have a tough curriculum so Macy was kept busy just trying to keep up. It is kind of a transition year. More lectures and homework but a lot of busy work like coloring maps and writing sentences for spelling words. So behaviorally, things did not become really rough until she entered 7th grade.

Macy needs structure. She needs limits and she needs to be held to them. That is what we told all of Macy’s 7th grade teacher’s. We explained that Macy can be challenging, she will take an inch and run a mile. Almost all of Macy’s teacher’s appreciated and followed our advice, with one exception: Mr. B.

We went in before the first day of school and talked to Mr. B. He was Macy’s science teacher. He had years and years of experience. He was quiet and reserved and just said to us that he could handle his students. We said ok, we were happy to hear it. Pepper and I told him to let us know if there were any problems. He called us for a conference about 4 weeks later.

When we came in to the room Mr. B. seemed pretty confident that he was still in control. He said things with Macy were going well. He said she needed about 5 minutes at the beginning of the class to make jokes and be funny and then she sat down and he could run the rest of his class. This did not sound like a good idea to Pepper and I. We asked if any other student in the class got this privilege. He said no, but it was ok. He and Macy had an agreement and he even seemed amused by our girl. We left a little concerned.

About 5 weeks later, we got another call to come in and talk to the science teacher. At this meeting, Mr. B explained that Macy was now making jokes and keeping the class off topic for 15-20 minutes per class period. He mentioned that he was having trouble with her making off topic remarks even during his portion of the class. We again told him that Macy should not be given ANY time to act out. That he should stop giving her these special ‘comedy central’ times and make her participate like the rest of the class. He said no, he thought that would be too harsh at this point in the year but maybe after the winter break he would get things back on track.

Our next meeting, just after the winter break had Mr. B a little more upset. He had taken away Macy’s time in the front of the class, so she was just standing by her desk and talking over him and when he asked her to leave the room, she would be loud and disruptive about it. Several other staff members were present at the meeting and they decided to set up a plan to reward Macy for being good in the room. These rewards included getting to leave the room early at the end of class, special treats from the social worker and suckers from the office. The team also set up ‘break times’ for Macy to be able to leave the room if she was becoming overwhelmed. All these rewards were to be doled out by Mr. B to ‘re-establish his authority’ in the classroom. Throughout this meeting it was clear that Mr. B was not finding amusement in our daughter anymore.

We went a good 4 weeks without hearing anything and I am a firm believer in the theory “no-news-is-good-news” when suddenly we received messages to come for a meeting. The most concerning thing about the request was that Pepper and I BOTH had phone messages to come in for a conference from the teacher, principal and social worker. Six phones messages to come in to talk about your child in one day is NEVER a good sign.

When we came to the meeting we immediately noticed a new player at the table. This gentleman was introduced to us as the union representative for Mr. B. Uh-oh. I am on the executive council of our school union…. These people did not get called in without reason. The hair on the back of my neck stood up. I knew this was moving to a new level. The principal told us that the issue with Macy had become more serious and explained that Mr. B would give us the details. When I looked at Mr. B I saw a man who would have rather been tied to a busy subway train track than talk at this meeting. He stammered and sweated and gave no eye contact while he explained the problem.

In a nut shell, and after a very long and drawn out distraught explanation, we learned that the problem was that Macy was loudly saying in the front of the class that Mr. B was looking at her chest instead of in her eyes when he spoke to her. She basically was calling him a pervert. This terrified Mr. B. …with good reason. Teachers lost jobs, careers, family, livelihood, everything over these kinds of accusations. I truly felt bad for the man, but also… in the back of my mind I kept thinking: I TRIED TO TELL YOU! WHY DIDN’T YOU LISTEN!!

The union rep explained that the simple fix would be for Pepper and I to sign a form stating that we would not hold Mr. B accountable for the information Macy was saying in class. It took me about 3 seconds to say absolutely not. I was not signing away my child’s rights to be heard and I had no idea what was going on in that class nor did I know Mr. B well enough to trust his story.

The principal came up with an alternative suggestion. He felt we should change Macy’s class to another science that was offered at the same time with a different teacher. It took me about 10 seconds to say no to this idea too. I could see the teacher’s mouth drop when we explained why. Pepper and I explained that if we moved her now Macy would know that every teacher had their limit. We said that for the rest of her school career she would push and taunt and make life miserable for any teacher that she did not like until she could get out of the class. We explained that on several occasions we tried to talk to Mr. B and tell him about Macy and he told us each time that he was an experienced teacher and he could handle her. At this point, feeling the threat of defeat Mr. B. looked at us with tear-filled eyes and said he could not handle Macy. I felt bad for him, even though he couldn’t give Pepper and I eye contact…. He really did only look as high as our boobs.

As a compromise, a para-educator was placed in the classroom for the remainder of the year. Not to help with academics so much as to be an extra set of adult eyes in the room to make sure everything was handled appropriately. There were to be no more special treats or rewards for Macy…. She was to be treated like everyone else, although breaks were still permitted because those seemed to be most effective.

When we got home we pulled Macy aside and told her she could not talk meanly about Mr. B anymore. She told us what she said was true. We asked her if it was nice. She admitted no. We asked her if he ever touched her or did anything inappropriate. She said no, but he gave her the creeps. We said we understood, but that wasn’t illegal. (We agreed about the creepiness but did not say so!) We explained that she had to pass his class and being nice and respectful was the only way that would happen. (Macy was actually very good at science so the grades were never a concern) She tried to argue and we told her if she did not pass we would make sure she had Mr. B again the following year. (He did teach 8th grade science too….. but I’m sure he’d have opted for early retirement rather than have Macy a second year!) That fact was enough to keep her in line for the rest of the year though. We did make it through 7th grade science with Macy….. she got her lowest grade ever in science that year…. But passed. We were very grateful. ☺

A Happy Camper

Isn’t this a beautiful RV behind Pete? It isn’t ours. We would actually be spending our camping days in a tent if it weren’t for Uncle K loaning us his RV. (Uncle K’s RV is not the one pictured…. This one is actually Pepper’s parent’s neighbors. This one is way out of my league…. And a teacher’s pay grade! I did get a tour of this one though!)

During Dori’s graduation party he mentioned to Pepper that his was available and Pepper said, “Thanks!” But Uncle K misunderstood and thought she was being sarcastic and really did not want to use it. (Pepper really is more of a room service type gal! She only camps because I like it.)

Pepper realized he thought she wasn’t serious and stopped him saying, “”No, no! I’d love to use your RV…. It will keep me from having to stay in a tent!!” Uncle K thought that was pretty funny. I took the first chance I could to go over and learn the ins and outs of his RV so I would know how to work everything.

This week was hot…. Heat index over 100 hot… so the A/C in the RV was definitely helpful! Both Pepper and I have though of Uncle K fondly many times this trip because his RV was sooooooooo much better than tent camping would have been! (When it wasn’t super hot it was super rainy!)

Uncle K sent me a text and asked how everything was and I replied to him saying that everything was great except that I did not tighten the sway bar enough on the way so it rocked quite a bit while I was driving. His reply was typical Uncle K… he quickly shot back another text saying that he didn’t think he’d ever hear me complain about a rocking RV!! ;) I am a happy camper!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Macy is home!

We’ve been camping this week, but we went home to pick up Macy from the airport. She had been in the Boston/Acadia area for 12 days. That felt like a long time to me, but she knew the group she went with and I knew she’d have fun.

Their plane was late. Over an hour late and Pepper and I got to the airport early in anticipation. We had large airport coffees that just made me feel jittery and even less patient as we hung around waiting. The other parents sat together with Pepper and I and chatted about everyday things.

One Mom was getting frequent updates from her aviator husband that was home online following the location and speed of the plane and sending them to her. “23,000 feet and 433 miles per hour”,she’d say. Then a few minutes later, “27,000 and 447 miles per hour”. It was interesting and I said little prayers to myself thankful we weren’t getting messages like “15,000 feet decelerating fast….” She did have a few horror stories like pilot error and engines being turned off accidentally mid-flight, but these were mild and all turned out fine, nothing too bad considering she probably knew worse.

Baggage claim, where we were waiting is in the basement. So when the kids got off the plane and headed to meet us they have to come down an escalator. We saw Macy at the top of the escalator at about the same time she saw us. There was an older woman with what had to be a grossly over-sized carry on suitcase standing just in front of our group. Macy looked antsy and anxious enough to get to us that I was worried for the woman’s safety. I knew there was no way Macy could get around the woman safely. I sent little mental messages to her to relax and try to be patient. At the bottom, Macy squeezed expertly around the woman and made a beeline right for us. The hug she gave me almost knocked me off my feet. It was so good to have her home.

We heard lots about her trip and saw lots of pictures (Macy had taken over 800 pictures in the 12 days she’d been gone) Admittedly, many of them were of “Hotties” that Macy passed on the journey. It is good to see a trip through the eyes of a 15 year old again. We heard lots about the hiking, the music, the long drives, people they met on the way… but my favorite story actually happened after we got back to camp.

When we got back to the group at camp, J asked Macy if she’d had fun. Macy said, “Yes, it was a good trip, but I missed Salt and Pepper even more than I missed my cell phone!” In the world of our 15 year old, that is big, really big. ☺

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fridge Cleaning

This is our fridge. It is right after I have cleaned it and before we went grocery shopping. Notice the glass shelves in it? Pepper and I did not buy this fridge, it was in the house when we moved in. But years ago when I lived with my Mom, she and I bought a fridge. She wanted one with white shelves and I wanted one with glass shelves.

I said I ‘liked the look’ of the glass shelves better and she told me that if we got that fridge I would be the one that had to clean them, implying that stains and spills were more obvious on clear glass. I agreed. Similarly to the way Dill agreed to clean the cat boxes every day if we let him get his cats, Jinx and Binx. Meaning, I had no intention of holding up my end of the bargain past the first week. And, also similar to the way we are making Dill clean the cat boxes, my mother had no intention of letting me out of the fridge cleaning task.

So, I cleaned the fridge out every week or so on grocery-shopping day and I started liking those stupid glass shelves less and less. When Pepper and I had to buy our first fridge for our first home, I insisted on white shelves. Pepper did not seem to care one way or the other so we bought the one with white shelves. Do you know what I learned? White shelves stay no cleaner than clear ones! Ok, maybe milk doesn’t show up as well on the white, but any other spill shows up just as well, if not more so!

When my mom came to visit I mentioned this fact to her and she just smiled. Then she said, “I know, but I always hated cleaning out the fridge.”

My mouth dropped because I realized I had been duped! By my own mother! I realized that had I said I really liked the white shelves all those years ago, Mom would have implied that those were harder to clean and I’d still have been the one to have to clean them!

Nowadays, I’m still the one that usually cleans out the fridge, although if I ignore it long enough Pepper will take on the task. Every once in awhile when J comes to visit she will take it upon herself to clean it out and it thrills me when she does. But no matter who cleans it, opening the fridge and seeing clean shelves always reminds me of my mom and how she tricked me. I can’t help but smile. ☺

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Lucky at Love

Last week, Pepper and I got into a pretty big argument. We both knew we were right and the other person was wrong. We also both knew the other person was making a much bigger deal about the situation than was necessary. And we were both tired. We decided that it was an insurmountable disagreement. It was over unless the other person admitted a million wrongs and swore a blood oath to always admit their failure. Ok, it wasn’t that bad, but when you are mad it seems that way.

An amazing number of people in our lives seem to be ending relationships.

When I was little, my parents had an agreement that the one that decided to end their relationship would be the one to take the kids. All of them. 100% of the time. No shared custody there. They joked about it but they did stay together. Neither ever left for long. They would have heated arguments and things would get slammed. Dad would usually leave for a while but he came back. Once when I was about five I asked him why he came home. He told me Mom wouldn’t let him cross the street by himself. Huh, I thought at the time, she wouldn’t let me do that either.

As I am getting older, it seems like I see these distinct ‘life phases’ Pepper and I are going through. We went to lots of our friend’s graduation parties, then lots of weddings then lot of baptisms and birthday parties and now graduation parties again for our kids and our friend’s kids. There are funerals, retirement parties and hospital visits too…. Life seems to be following a well- beaten path that is comfortable and predictable. What isn’t comfortable is when dear friends and family around us suddenly end relationships. A lot of these relationships were ones that I was around to see the beginning of! The names of these couples roll off my tongue as easily as Tom and Jerry, Peanut butter and Jelly and Laverne and Shirley. Yet they split up.

The day of our big fight began as any other. Our whole family was getting along splendidly. We went out for the evening to see a ball game and had a great time. On the way home Pepper and I both said things that we didn’t mean. Well, maybe they wouldn’t have meant anything mean if we weren’t both so tired when we said them. But, we were and the argument snowballed even though the temperature was well over 90 degrees.

Instead of going to bed by 1 AM and dealing with it in the morning (and realizing it was just because we were tired) we stayed up until almost 5 just being mad. The whole time I wasn’t talking I was thinking in my head about the failed relationships of the people around me and how hard it was going to be to split up and deal with the house and finances and the kids and how horrible my life would be without Pepper. At 5 AM we hugged and called it a truce. Neither one of us choose to discuss the issue. There really was nothing to say that would have been better or more effective than that hug.

When our friends call us and tell us they are breaking up they will casually mention how lucky Pepper and I are that we are still together. In my head I think: It isn’t luck. It is hard work. It is compromises and listening when you are too tired to think. It is seeing the best things about someone when you really want to focus on the worst. It is knowing that there are a million great reasons to stay for every bad reason there is to go. It isn’t luck at all. But I am Irish and in my heart I do believe in luck…. So my quick answer is “Who else would want to have me?” Luckily, Pepper does. ☺

Monday, July 25, 2011


This is one of our cats, Jinx. He may look dead, but he isn’t. He and his sister Binx both came from Dad D’s sister’s house. They are both Dill’s. He thought it would be great to have pets, however he is regretting having ever said, “I’ll clean the cat boxes every day if I can have them, please, please, please!!” He does not like that we’ve been holding him up to doing the job. (Now he loves to say, “Let Pete do it, Please, please, please!!”)

I am not a cat person…. I like dogs. This fact is unknown to our cats. That is probably one of the reasons Jinx is laying in front of MY closet looking so cute. As I was taking this picture I was standing in a wet towel…. Wishing I had pulled out my clothing BEFORE I got into the shower!
For some unknown reason all three of our cats like to lay on the back of MY chair while I am in it. They never sit on the back of Pepper’s chair, they never sit with the kids. They all try to fit on the back of mine. If they were smaller this might not be such a problem. As it is, they typically half sit on the back of the chair and at least partially sit ON MY HEAD. I do try to be tolerant. Then they will start swishing tails, flicking my ear or thumping on my head as if to say, “please move, your head is in my way” Pepper thinks this routine is hilarious, me, not so much.

My favorite cat, isn’t even our cat. He sort of just showed up one day and is living in our garage. I was completely opposed to naming it or feeding it, because I thought that would make him feel welcome and too cozy. I wanted him to go back where ever he came from. Dill asked if it could possibly be pregnant…. We had not been close enough to it at that point to see the boy parts. So Pepper and I both ‘snuck’ out a little food for him that night because we were worried for the kittens. (I said I didn’t like cats, everybody likes kittens) Since then he has been on the same feeding schedule as our other cats.

This cat has had a “hard life” look that I admire. One of his ears has a cut along the top edge, like someone took toenail clippers to the tip. I told Dori one day that I thought we should call him “Clip” but she said it sounded too much like a word I didn’t even know she knew, but shouldn’t be surprised, she is 18 after all. It has many names at this point, Dumbledore, Captain Tuxedo, Kitty. I keep trying not to let any of them stick. I think who ever his real, permanent owner is some day should get to name him (and I am trying not to let that person be us!)

I know we should take him to the humane society. He really wants to be someone’s pet. He is super social and loves being around people. Sometimes when I am working in the garden he comes up behind me and rubs against my leg. It scares the heck out of me every time because I think it is a big spider or something. I worry though that no one will get past his rough exterior look and he won’t get adopted. I suppose I will need to make some decision by the time the weather starts to get cold. I think he already feels like he has a home…. But a FOUR cat family?! I am really trying hard not to be a cat person.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Camp guests

It is the middle of July and I am finally camping! …and blogging. I have been asked (read: reprimanded) by several people wanting to know why I have not put up any new posts lately. I guess my only excuse is that I have been doing other stuff.

For many camping trips, if we have room in the car, etc. we let the kids bring a friend to hang out with. It makes things go much smoother because then Pepper and I do not have to be the main “cruise directors” of each trip and have to find entertaining things for everyone to do… friend can provide entertainment.

Nothing teaches you better how truly trained your own children are until you take others for a long weekend! We took one kid (a friend of Macy’s) that lost his bike (we felt so bad that we couldn’t find it that we bought him a new one) We thought it had been stolen until a park ranger showed up with it at the end of the trip! Another child loved to poop. Seriously… in the RV. Big time. I am not sure what his mother fed him, but it wasn’t pretty… and the ventilation in our camper wasn’t as good as I thought. Pooping in the RV isn’t a big deal… its not like we make our kids hold it or feed them only hard cheese, but the shower house/flush toilets were just up the drive… our kids just know to use those. Many of the friends were messy. Underwear left in the middle of the floor, wet towels on the couch, spilled milk and cereal on the table those were all to be expected I suppose. One little friend of Dori’s woke up in the middle of the night. She came into our room and stood crying over us until we woke up…. That startled me a bit.

This trip we have brought just the boys (Dori is in Europe with Kiwi and Macy is on a church trip). We also brought along 2 siblings from church. These guests are (so far) my favorites. They are experienced campers. I am sure they could teach me a thing or two about ‘rustic’ camping. Boy guest is accident prone, daring and chatty. A lot cuter and more clever than I ever gave him credit for in church. Girl guest is charming. Polite, helpful, quiet but seems to be enjoying herself and a good leader for all the boys. She does a good job keeping boy guest in line and will also call for help saying things like, “He is not listening to me…. Could you tell my brother to step back from the fire before he burns his eyebrows off…AGAIN?!”

I was a bit worried about bringing them. One is vegetarian and the other is allergic to dairy. We eat lots of meat and dairy. As boy guest said, “Dairy products make me get really puffy and vomit…. A lot” Oh goody! And girl guest mentioned that her tofu hamburger could not come into contact with any meat products. A little tricky when cooking for 6 on a grill smaller than the average comic book.

But darn if they aren’t the most independent, self-sufficient kids I’ve met. They hauled in their own stuff, found spots to stow their gear, set up their own tent, bait their own fish hooks and I only have to tell them things once! We’ve had them with us less than 24 hours, but things are looking good so far.

I am a bit concerned that their Mother will be mad at us when we return. I am sure she won’t be happy that they ate pop-tarts for breakfast (they had never had anything except the whole grain kind they get at the food co-op). They also went up to the camp store/arcade. I went to check on them… Boy guest was holding a plastic rifle shooting at make believe bad guys and girl guest was watching, a candy cigarette dangling from her bottom lip. :)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

One down 3 to go...

Dori graduated today. The ceremony was celebrated by lots of family.... it all went beautifully. We are very proud. Now just Macy, Pete and Dill to go.

Yea Dori!!! :)

I Approve...

We have had a car radio incident. Macy is usually the one to ask for music in the car and is the most picky about the station. Pepper was scanning through stations the other day to find a good one. Apparently, a good song came on because Macy suddenly yelled, "Stop!" Scaring the heck out of me, the driver. We discussed with Macy that she could not just yell "Stop!"

A few minutes later, Pepper found a popular song, from the back seat, Macy calls out, " I approve of this station!!" :)

Dad B's birthday card

We celebrated Dad B's birthday yesterday. We ran to a few different stores to get him his gifts and birthday cards and had everything in the car and set to go. We'd also grabbed a graduation card for Jay's son. We were headed to the grad party first so I found that card. I told Pepper that I signed all of our names on the card. When we met up with Dad B and Dad D we gave him the gifts, the card from the kids and the card from Pepper and I. As I was handing the card to Dad B I said, "Did you sign my name to the card too?" Pepper said, "No, you signed my name!"

Oops, we gave Dad B a blank card.... well, my birthday coming up, he can use the same blank card for me!! :)