Saturday, October 31, 2009

Missing in Action: My Furnace

I wake up this fine, chilly, Saturday morning - and I'm freezing! I have frosty toes and a frosty nose - and I'm huddled under the covers shivering, thinking, "What the hell??!!"

Hubby comes in, peels back a blanket or two to find me, (or at least one eyeball - he's always satisfied if he can find at least one eyeball under my mountain of covers) and says, "Guess what?! Our furnace went out last night!"

"It went out?!" I mumbled....through chattering teeth. "Where the hell did it go? Tell it to come back. NOW!" The furnace NEVER asked for permission last night to go out. Nope. Not at all. Because I would have said an emphatic NO. It was very much needed here. At home. Doing its job.

Coincidentally, we were originally supposed to move yesterday from this house to the new house. But because of a few last-minute mechanical issues, the move was delayed until next week. It's very clear that the furnace thought it would have the old house to itself last night and decided to make a break for freedom - and go "out." Obviously, there was a furnace party somewhere - and now my furnace is M.I.A.

Boy, our furnace is in deep doo-doo when it decides to come back today. It is SO grounded.

Sometimes it's tough being a parent. Especially to wayward furnaces.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Flashback: Breaking & Entering

Halloween….the time of year when people shell out big bucks to go visit a seasonal “haunted house” where some loser kid jumps out, wielding a chainsaw, and scares the bejeezus out of them. The set has been decorated with care – the make-up has been applied with precision – and everything is carefully choreographed to provide the best scare and terror for the buck.


I was lucky enough to have a real, honest-to-goodness haunted house on my campus when I was in school. And not just any haunted house. Epperson House was featured on “Unsolved Mysteries” as one of the top five haunted houses in the country. It had a reputation for being one bad-ass scary place.
One dark (and of course, SPOOKY!) night, a bunch of us got a little too – ahem – inebriated at a party (I know – hard to imagine – getting drunk at a fraternity party. Go figure.) Someone had the stupid brilliant idea of breaking into Epperson House to hunt for ghosts.

With copious amounts of Everclear creating a false bravado amongst ourselves, we staggered walked through the campus streets to Epperson. Once there, we opened up the trap door in the back yard, climbed down a ladder, crawled on our hands and knees through a dark & spider-filled tunnel and eventually made our way up into the house. (What’s so amazing about that is not that we were able to so easily break into a campus building – but the fact that we didn’t break our necks in the process. Seriously.)

Once inside, our ghost hunting began in earnest. We tiptoed and crept through the hallways, our hearts pounding, palms sweating, and adrenaline pumping. Ten minutes into our illicit and illegal adventure –we saw the flashing lights of campus police headed in our direction – and so we scattered.

Did we find any ghosts? I’ll be honest – I was too inebriated to remember much. But – I DO remember being terrified. Was it the house? Or was it the fear of being caught by campus police? I’m not sure – probably a little of both. It was creepy. It was spooky. And it sure scared the hell out of me.

And it was free. ☺


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Password Purgatory

So I get to work yesterday and I have a total brain fart and I can’t remember my password for my computer. I type in what I think it is – nope. Uh oh. I try it again – surely I made a typo, right? Nope. Not happening. Panic starts to set in – this can’t be happening?! How can I not know my password?

Hmmmmm….do you think maybe it’s because the average person now has to remember about two gazillion passwords? Okay – I exaggerate – the actual number, per Wiki Answers, is over 80. But still – eighty passwords for a Middle Aged Drama Queen is about 79 too many.

I used to write my passwords and PIN numbers down. That cost me dearly. Several years ago, my purse was stolen – with my ATM card in it – and written in a black Sharpie on the back of my ATM card? Yup – my PIN number. The cretin who swiped my purse hit the ATM lottery that day. Merry Christmas, Imbecile. (Okay – I know – I’M the imbecile for writing my PIN number on the back of my ATM card. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Even the cop who took my report called me stupid.)

Fortunately for me, all it took yesterday was a few deep breaths and an impassioned plea to the Password Gods and my brain fart passed. But one of these days, I’m going to totally lose all functioning brain cells and nothing’s going to bring those 80+ passwords back.

When that does, my name will change from Drama Queen to Meltdown Queen. It will not be pretty.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I'm Sure It's Just Gas

Why are some people (okay – namely, me) – who are obviously very sick – or in a lot of pain - unable to seek medical assistance?

I do not like doctors. Or hospitals. Or anything related to the medical field. Which is rather ironic, considering I worked at a hospital for twenty years. But hey – the money and the benefits were good, and I liked my job. I just didn’t like all that “medical thingy stuff” that got in the way every now and then.

Flashback: Twenty Years Ago

I was pregnant, and two weeks overdue with my first son when I began having severe stomach pains after dinner. “I’m sure it’s just gas,” I said to hubby. “I’ll be all right.” At midnight, I reluctantly agreed to head to the hospital…arriving just mere minutes before my son decided to make his entrance into the world. I was blaming the spaghetti I’d had for dinner. Guess it wasn’t to blame after all.

Flashback: Ten Years Ago

I was 9 months pregnant with my daughter when – you guessed it - those severe stomach pains started up – and again – I tell hubby, “I’m sure it’s just gas. I’ll be all right.” Darn if he didn’t pack me up in the car and drive straight to the hospital – where my daughter decided to make HER entrance into the world a little bit later. And here I thought it was the Taco Bell I had for lunch. Guess not.

Several years ago, I again began having severe stomach pains. I wasn’t pregnant – so I was pretty safe in assuming that another child would NOT be making their entrance into the world that night on MY behalf. After two days of weakly assuring hubby that, “It’s just gas – I’ll be all right” – a forced visit to the hospital revealed acute appendicitis. Huh. Go figure. And here I thought it was my Chipotle burrito. Oops.

While in Yellowstone a few years ago, I hopped off my snowmobile and immediately hit the pavement, thanks to some invisible black ice. Despite the blinding pain in my arm, I shakily said to hubby, “It’s okay – I’m all right.” Only the unarguable sight of my arm bending in a wacky S-curve convinced me that a trip to the local hospital was in order. Broken in three places, and I got a nice hot pink cast and lots of painful physical therapy. Guess it wasn’t all right.

Why is it so hard for some of us to call a doctor? Or to seek help? Is it because some of us are wired to only give assistance and we have difficulty receiving it? We give and give and give – but don’t feel comfortable being on the receiving end. It’s an interesting conundrum and I have to believe that I’m not the only one out here in the blogging world that’s like this.

I’m only writing about this now because I have a headache that would bring a 900-pound Kodiak bear to his knees. And pressure – intense, painful pressure in my ears. And I’ve had it for several days now. And am I going to call a doctor? Or seek medical help? Nope. Not at all. It’s okay. I’ll be all right.

I’m sure it’s just gas.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

10 on Tuesday: When I Need a Good Scare

Halloween is fast approaching, and so ‘tis the season to watch those spooky, scary, suspenseful movies….I am really not a fan of this genre – I’ll take a nice, silly comedy any day – but in honor of Halloween, here’s a list of what I could watch if I wanted a good scare:

1. Halloween
Bad guys are supposed to die at the end of movies - everyone knows that – and yet…Michael Myers lived. Yikes.

2. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
This was on cable a few months ago – and I found myself drawn into the story of the doctor who realizes his town is getting taken over by aliens. I found myself shouting at the screen, “Run! Run! They’re coming!” Like he could hear me.

3. The Fly
I can’t get the image of Jeff Goldblum out of my head – which is scary enough by itself – but as a fly? Even worse.

4. When A Stranger Calls
Carol Kane as the babysitter – being terrorized by someone IN THE HOUSE! Truly a babysitter’s nightmare…well, other than the kids she’s babysitting.

5. Deliverance
Such happy, innocuous banjo music for such a terror-filled movie of campers being terrorized by hideous hillbillies. What a twisted movie.

6. Fargo
Speaking of twisted – the Coen brothers….need I say more? Fargo opens with the following text: “This is a true story.” I’m gullible – I believed it – and I freaked out. Silly Coens. Not funny, dudes.

7. Rosemary’s Baby
A mixture of rape by Satan (that can’t be good), uncaring doctors, nosy neighbors, and the pregnant woman who wonders if she’s going crazy – leading to one freaky flick.

8. Psycho
I’m a big Alfred Hitchcock fan, and I (being a Psych major) LOVED the Freudian element running through this creepy classic.

9. Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte
Funny story about this movie…I was seven years old; mom was out; and dad was watching this movie on TV instead of watching us kids. I watched, as well – and when the head came rolling down the stairs? It's an image I've never forgotten. Dad was in the doghouse for a long time over this little babysitting faux pas.

10. The Wizard of Oz
You read that right. Houses spinning around because of tornadoes? Flying monkeys? Wicked witches? Evil, mean trees in a dark, spooky forest? And this is considered a CHILDREN’S movie??! Yeah, right. I hate this movie. I really do.

That’s my list – movies that have gone "Boo!" and scared me to death at some time or other. What are YOUR movies that scare you?


Monday, October 26, 2009

My Good Taste in Music

When we gather around the dinner table as a family, I like to hook my iPod up to the speakers and play background tunes while we dine and converse. My iPod is filled with a wide assortment of music – rock, classical, country, hip-hop – and a parental goal of mine is to teach my kids an appreciation for all things musical – regardless of genre. If you’re a parent, you know exactly what I mean…. We want to “enrich our children’s cultural diversity” by exposing them to a wide variety of songs and artists. (Gee, that sounded good – so “lofty” and “Dr. Spocky”.... I’ll have to remember that in the future.)

The other night, as we were finishing up dinner, my daughter jumped up and said SHE was going to go and pick the next song we’d be serenaded with and enriched by.

I warned, “Don’t pick something stupid!” – half-jokingly, because if you’ve ever heard my 10-year old daughter’s taste in music, you’d say that, too.

At the EXACT moment I said that, and before my daughter even reached my iPod to put on her musical choice, on came the classic, unforgettable, oh-so-family-friendly, “Strokin” – by Clarence Carter. Blaring on the loud speakers for all to hear.

"Like THAT song!" I said - and then quickly glanced over at my hubby, who was giving me his exasperated look. (I seem to know that look very well. It always seems to be directed at me for some unknown reason.)

I put on my most innocent face, shrugged, and said, “I have NO idea how that song ended up on my iPod. Those silly kids must have accidentally uploaded it."

Do you think he believed me?


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Halloween Hotness

Has anyone tried to find an adult Halloween costume lately? Holy smokes – I had a party to attend last night, and so I skipped on up to the local costume shop – and about had a coronary.

Along the shop wall, there was “Sexy Witch”, “Sexy Ghoul”, “Sexy Roman Goddess”, “Sexy Pirate” – and, I kid you not – “Sexy Nun.” Seriously? What convent does “Sexy Nun” belong to??!? I looked for - but didn't see "Sexy Priest" - I guess that wouldn't have been politically correct, huh? I then turned the corner, and “Sexy Fairy” was staring at me. What??! Since when did Tinkerbell and the Tooth Fairy turn into sex goddesses?

I really must be getting old, because I just stood there, dumbfounded, at all the “Sexy” staring back at me. I mean, I try to be hip – I listen and attempt to dance to “Sexy Back” – but this was just beyond bizarre. And a little discomforting. I have a 10-year old daughter and I can only imagine what messages she’s getting when she’s shopping with me, taking all of this in.

What happened to the days when we’d put a sheet over our heads and cut out the eyes – and call ourselves a ghost? Now, it’s “Glam Ghost”. Or we have “Wicked Witch” – and the “wicked” isn’t referring to how evil she is, if you get my drift. Oh, and lookie here! We have – va va VOOM! – “Vivacious Vampire!” Geesh.

For Halloween this year, I’m going to stick to what I know best. I’m going as a Middle-Aged Drama Queen. There may not be much “sexy” in that – but hey - it works for me.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

It's Raining Leaves

Ahhhh….fall. I love this time of year. The absolutely gorgeous trees – chili on the stove – Friday night football games….crisp, blue skies...isn’t it wonderful?

And then…there‘s the leaves. Lots of leaves. Gazillions and bazillions of leaves. ALL on my yard. Seriously, where the hell did all of these freaking leaves come from? I swear my neighbors are bagging their leaves up at night and sneaking over and dumping them on my grass. Either that, or the leaves are having some serious sex out on my front lawn and reproducing a million times over every night. Because there’s no way on God’s green earth that all those leaves in my yard came from just my trees…!

Yesterday, it was raining leaves. Really. My cat and I sat and watched (we have no life) through the back windows – as thousands and thousands of leaves came down, every second, blanketing my grass with a carpet of red and yellow.

My cat watched in rapturous wonder – quivering in sensory overload as he planned his “cat strategy” by determining which leaf he would pounce on first. I watched in miserable despair – quivering in trepidation and resignation, knowing that all those leaves meant work for ME!

Yesterday afternoon, my daughter came skipping up to me in the kitchen and wanted to know what chores she could do in exchange for video game time.

Immediately, I had one of those “light-bulb” moments that are few and far between, but when I finally do have one – it’s usually pretty good.

Yuppers, I’m pattin’ myself on the back for THIS idea:

She's thrilled. (I can tell.) I'm thrilled. Life is good.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Where's CDC When You Need Them?

The other night was our Parent/Teacher Conference in honor of our youngest daughter, who’s in the 4th grade. Now, just the anticipation of a P/T Conference can send the average parent into a state of trembling, panic and gut-wrenching dread – but not Hubby and I.

We have seven kids. Let’s say, for the sake of numbers, that the oldest kids all had seven P/T conferences apiece (one per year – Kindergarten through 6th grade). There’s 42 conferences right there. You can easily see why we don’t even break a sweat any more when we walk into the school for the annual event.

In 42 previous conferences, we have heard everything there is to hear – the good, the bad – the ugly. We are certifiable professionals now on social skills, leadership skills, reading skills, science skills, geography skills, math skills – heck, we even know skills on improving one’s skills. We could write a book on how to ace the P/T conference.

So, you can imagine that our confidence level was pretty high the other night as we got ready to casually stroll in, sit down with the teacher, and hear what we’ve heard 42 times before. Nothing can shock us – nothing can surprise us – nothing can strike fear in our hearts.

Or so I thought.

An hour before we were to leave, one of my dear Facebook friends forewarned me that, upon entering the school, we were going to be walking into a virtual petri-dish of H1N1 – with every desk, every chair – heck, every pencil! – saturated with the dreaded Swine Flu virus.


I hope the teacher understood when we walked in, dressed in haz-mat suits, rubber gloves, face masks, and carrying a can of Lysol in each hand.


Thursday, October 22, 2009



Okay, enough of that, because that was like, really annoying. And I’m just the author of this blog – I can’t even imagine how annoying it has to be to you, dear readers. Thinking that I’m sitting here, on my end, all quiet and cozy and peaceful, lounging on my sofa in my warm slippers and fuzzy pajamas, reveling in the total peace and quiet…. and then SUDDENLY SHOUTING AND SCREAMING at you through the internet at your end. Is that just not rude? Not to mention, possibly heart-attack inducing on your end….Geesh.

Seriously, though – it IS (oops, there I go again, sorry) – International Caps Lock Day. (If you don’t believe me (but why would I make this stuff up, as it’s way too funny on its own??!), you can always Google it….) Today is the day we celebrate and pay homage to that little-used and pretty-much-pointless button on the keyboard that can really mess up a password if it’s accidentally turned on when typing said password. Not that I would ever do that – accidentally have my caps-lock button on when typing a password – because the Drama Queen never makes mistakes, as we all know. Ahem. Moving on.

Other than pointing out another (albeit, worthless) holiday that we celebrate during the year, there really is no other point to today’s blog. Well, perhaps it is to remind people to be discreet in their usage of the Caps-Lock key – it if it is overused, it will certainly lose it’s impact – not to mention, it will really become very annoying. And if it lost it’s impact – on top of being even more annoying than it already is – we would have to cancel today’s holiday.

Wouldn’t THAT BE A SHAME??!!!


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dear God: Please Protect My Son From Zombies

I am a mother. It’s only natural that I fear/worry/fret/obsess over my children’s safety when they are not with me. And today begins that dreaded time each year when I worry the most…because today? Is the beginning of Zombie week at my son’s university.

Yes – today is the first day for the next week (or so) when my son has to do everything in his ability and power to remain a human and not get eaten by the zombies that are now – even as we speak – roaming the campus. Shudder.

No mother wants her son to be eaten by a zombie – so I don’t think I’m alone in this. There are other mothers who are probably saying the same prayer that I am every day this week. There are other mothers who are probably frantically checking their student’s Facebook page every few hours, hoping against hope that their beloved’s status doesn’t say, “Oh yeah – got tagged today by a Zombie who proceeded to suck my brains out. It was really cool – and strangely gross at the same time. I am now a Zombie Warrior.”

A few months ago, during the annual Spring Zombie Attack, my son managed to stay human until the final battle. However, realizing his fellow few remaining humans were trapped and horribly out-numbered, he nobly offered himself up as a sacrifice in order to save mankind. Although I was understandably proud of him, I was, of course, devastated at his demise.

He was home last weekend for mid-term break. I said good-bye to him as he headed to his car to begin the long drive back to school. Suddenly fearing that it may be the last time I saw him in human form, a song popped into my head and I began mournfully singing, “Bradley, don’t be a hero – don’t be a fool with your life…..”

He never even turned around.

So…bear with me if I seem a little distracted the next few days. You would be, too, if your oldest child was dodging zombies.


For more “zombie” stories – check out the labels on the right. You can read my son’s first-hand account of his sacrifice last Spring to save the human race. It will move you to tears, I promise….

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

10 on Tuesday: Things I Need to be Working On

Do you have a “to-do” list? I do – I can’t function without one. That’s probably because my brain can only hold so much information, and I think I reached maximum capacity a long time ago. Anything new – as in reminders to myself – have to be written down on my ongoing to-do list. Here’s the most recent list:

1. Christmas shopping. When you have 7 kids, 8 grandkids, numerous nephews & nieces, parents, pets, teachers, in-laws and out-laws and ex-laws to buy for – you gotta’ start early. REALLY early.

2. Pack. I really should be doing more packing and sorting and getting ready for the upcoming move to the new house. But, as any faithful reader of my blog knows, I don’t like packing. So this ain’t happenin’ right now. If there’s one thing I’m really good at, it’s procrastinating.

3. Rake leaves. We have 25 trees (hubby counted) in the back yard of our new house. We have 17 trees (I counted) in the back yard of our existing house. 42 trees shed a lot of leaves. Which equates to a lot of raking. Oh, be still my beating heart. I’m praying for a giant windstorm to come through and blow all of them down the street. I can hope.

4. Get in shape. Okay, that one made me laugh. Moving on….

5. Plan the Thanksgiving menu. Yes, it will be here before we know it. And the stores will be out of pumpkin pie filling if I don’t act soon. That would be a tragedy. Darn. Maybe I’ll wait on that one.

6. Eat healthier. Okay, that was another funny one. But it looks good on paper. (My mom reads my blog.)

7. My hubby would say I need to be working on my chronic stomach issues. I don’t know – I’m resigned to it and enjoy being the martyr. He keeps insisting it’s time to get a different doctor who can locate the source of my tummy pain. Frankly, I am tired of being poked and prodded and x-rayed and zapped. I can live with it, really.

8. Iron out the details for our Spring Break trip to Walt Disney World. If you know me, you know that I am a stickler for details – and I like a well-organized vacation. We’re almost done with this – but just a few more tweaks and we’ll have the perfect trip planned. I’m a Disney junkie, so I can’t wait. ☺

9. Read. I read every day – but books are released faster than I can consume the print. Stop it, publishers! Let me catch up! I need a moratorium on books!

10. Last, but not least: Do nothing. Yup – you read that right. Some times I need to remember to work on “nothing” –just sittin’ back – chillin’ – livin’ in the moment and doin’ nothing. Just breathing. I don’t do that often enough – does anyone?

What are YOU working on?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Stuff Happens

I am busier now - when I’m not working- than I ever was before. How does that happen? Like today, for instance? I have four meetings. FOUR meetings!

This morning, I meet with the movers to go over the stuff you go over with movers – you know, all that moving stuff. This afternoon, I head downtown for a monthly COAD meeting. (Coalition of Organizations Active in Disasters). I go to represent the Red Cross, and we meet to discuss all that disaster stuff. This evening, at 6:00, I have a Mission meeting at church, to discuss a whole bunch of mission stuff. And then, at 7:00, it’s our quarterly Dream Team meeting at church – to discuss “dreams” – or the future of the church stuff.

That’s a whole lot of stuff.

Makes me want to retire. Oh, wait a minute…. I AM retired.

Hey – something’s not right here?!!?!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

It's So Not a Blob

So, Friday was the School Carnival. I capitalize it because, as any parent and/or child knows, it is The Event Of The Season. It is the event that children quiver in anticipation of, and parents quiver in fear of. Because, as we all know, you can’t have a School Carnival without volunteers. And we all know how much fun THAT is, volunteering at the School Carnival. To me, it’s the equivalent of cleaning my grout in the bathroom…with a toothbrush. Oh, the joy.

Many, many years ago, I somehow got suckered into volunteering at the Face Painting booth at the School Carnival. I pleaded and whined and cried that I had absolutely NO artistic abilities at all – to no avail. I then threw myself down and beat my fists, wailing and moaning, hoping against hope that the shock value alone of a grown woman on the floor would make them change their minds. It didn’t. I was a warm body, and that was good enough.

The evening of the School Carnival, I gamely sat myself down in the artist chair and thought, “How hard can this be? Surely I can draw hearts and balloons, right?” My first victim – oops, I mean customer – sat down and immediately asked for a little white pony.

“Ummm….how about a nice red heart instead?” I suggested.

“I WANT A PONY! NOW!” the little monster screamed.

So, I picked up the paints and did my best rendition of Flicka on a Face. Not easy on paper – but imagine working on a cheek that has two square inches, at most, of drawing room. And the cheek is moving, no matter how many times I told it to hold still.

When I was finished, I held up the mirror to the little "angel" so they could admire my artistic abilities.

“THAT doesn’t look like a pony! It looks like a….a….BLOB!”

Now, I’m not an art student, but even my untrained eye could see that this wasn’t a blob. It was a…well….a whitish “thingy” on a cheek.

After three more dissatisfied customers left my booth with unidentified colorful thingies on their cheeks, the School Carnival Coordinator pulled me from Face Painting and put me on the Cake Walk.

Now, THAT, I could handle.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Oh, A Disaster Next Week? Let Me Check My Calendar

I like my life very planned…I like order…I like to KNOW what is coming up…What I don’t like are surprises. As a volunteer with the Red Cross, it would really be ideal if we could plan when a disaster was going to happen, so I could schedule it accordingly on my calendar. You know, as in, “Oh, lunch next week? Let’s see - I have the dentist on Monday, a disaster on Wednesday – which will probably take at least 2-3 days – but Thursday works for me!”

Alas…that is not how it works, as we all know. Disasters seem to have this annoying tendency to just pop up out of nowhere, and always at an inconvenient time. But, when one is a volunteer, one assumes this risk – and reacts accordingly. One is used to getting a phone call at any hour of any day – and reacts accordingly. One gets used to the unpredictability of it all.

I was on my laptop Tuesday evening, reading blogs, checking out news sites, and chatting with friends on Facebook. One such friend is a fellow Red Cross volunteer and was on call that night for fire calls. At about 8:30 that night, she posts, “Oh – I just got called – on my way to an apartment fire! See ya!”

Apartment fire? This doesn’t sound good. Fires, in and of themselves, are not good. However, Red Cross volunteers dread hearing the word “apartment” associated with a fire. It escalates the situation – the response – the need – everything.

I quickly turn on my TV to watch the news, and they are reporting that it is now a 2-alarm fire in mid-town Kansas City. Over 50 units are affected. I looked at Hubby and said, “Uh oh. I think we’re going to be opening a shelter.”

Sure enough – at midnight, my phone rings, and it’s Headquarters. A shelter has indeed been opened, and they want to know if I can be in early in the morning to manage the day shift. In my sleepy state, I mumble, “Uh huh” – and later, I wonder what exactly I just agreed to.

I end up spending all day Wednesday and all day Thursday at the shelter – tending to client needs, talking and laughing with the clients, answering questions from the clients and Red Cross management and other shelter workers, giving out sweat suits and food and hugs to the clients, addressing problems, running to meetings with management to discuss our response, doing paperwork, dealing with media & interviews, running up the stairs, answering 327 phone calls, running back down the stairs - oh yeah – better snarf down a bag of chips for a quick lunch – because it’s only noon - and then the cycle starts all over again for the afternoon, until my shift is done, ten hours after it began.

And I love it. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Because, when it’s all said and done – if we helped ONE client with a little bit of hope – and a little bit of healing – and a little bit of inspiration – it was all worth it.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Dead Batteries

Wow - it's Friday? Really? Where the hell did my week go?

More importantly, where the hell did my energy go? And my creativity?

I am drained. I have nothing.

I am recharging my batteries today (and perhaps tomorrow...and uh, perhaps Sunday, as well!) and after I am juiced up, I will post something very witty and very clever and very amusing.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Out of the Mouth of Babes Part Deux

Bonus Thursday! I had already posted this morning about what my younger son said to me last night - which was wonderful...after I posted it, I went over to my older son's Facebook page to see what he was up to...and found this amazing note he had written early, early this morning. It is absolutely mind-boggling - and I had to share it with my dear readers....Enjoy.

Sleep Cometh Not

Good evening, world. Yes, it's another one of those nights. What's that? Why, yes, I have tried counting sheep, thank you. It does not help that the dog will not vacate the bed; she seems to believe that it is HER bed and she is only deigning to share it with me.

The sad part is that it is true.

Canine ramblings aside, I have generally found that lying awake after an hour spent trying NOT to lie awake means that it is time for me to vomit yet another one of my half-baked romantic ideas on philosophy forth onto the Internet. I confess, this one is even more half-baked than any of its predecessors, but, dammit, I'm tired and I want to go to bed! So. Here I am.

Recently, I have wondered if it is impossible not to love humanity. Not humanity in general, mind you. Not the great voluminous mass of homo sapiens, that murders and rapes and pillages and battles and pollutes and generally untidies things. Not the species as a whole. We do have rather a lot to answer for.

No, I mean that I believe it is impossible not to love each individual person one meets. It is only recently that I have come to appreciate what a great gift our brethren are - each one his own person, with his own desires, wishes, needs, wants, ideas, dreams, passions, quirks, and yes, qualities. How can one fail to love each of these magnificent creations that every day swirls around us by the hundreds?

It was something I noticed about romantic love that first put me on to it. Have you ever noticed that the girl you're in love with is the most beautiful girl in the world? Perhaps you didn't think so when you first met her, perhaps you were quite convinced some other lady was the most perfect creature that ever lived. But notice as you fall in love with her, her every quality seems magnified, her every flaw minimized, until indeed in your sight she does indeed seem to resemble an angel. It is love that works this wondrous transformation. Love that can change someone from just another stranger into a soulmate, one who you would share every struggle with. Love gentles the beloved's rough spots, makes the bright spots even brighter, and focuses almost solely on the excellent and admirable aspects, almost never on the despicable and mean.

Well, why can not this same principle be applied to those we are NOT in love with? Why not the stranger who randomly trips you as you jostle your way to class? Why not the lunatic driver who is thrice nearly the death of you with her mad lane-changing habits? In essence, why must we wait to know a person before we decide to love them or not?

No reason at all, that I can see. Many times one can spot the magnificent qualities of individuals without even meeting them personally. Are these not worthy of admiration? Many times one is surprised at the depth of character and the nobility of spirit that one finds in even the meanest of individuals. Why should this be so? Far better to simply assume that those qualities are present, and have them prove otherwise, than to so underestimate a human being!

It works on people you vehemently disagree with on the most personal of issues. For example, there is Christopher Hitchins. He is a vicious atheist. He launches the most vituperative attacks on religion imaginable, charging it with every ill that ever afflicted human society. As a budding priest and missionary, I might take exception to such attacks, and yet I love him. Why? Because, as vicious as Hitchins is, underneath it all lies a wondrous love of the Good, an affinity for Truth. Hitchins' attacks are based on the idea that what Religion does is WRONG, and is harming billions of people. How can anyone not love a man so dedicated to doing what is right, to trying to help so many of his fellows, even if it means doing one of the most terrifying things conceivable and striking at the very foundations of their beliefs? This is an admirable thing he does.

It works on people you have never said a word to in your life. Nearly every day, these last few months, as I've gone about my business on campus or about town, I have found it nearly impossible to keep a smile from my face. How can I not be joyful, when I am surrounded by so many people? Arguing, laughing, teasing each other, ignoring each other, each one just trying to make his or her way through the world, just working, just walking, just living, just being - it is one of the most glorious feelings in the world, to be surrounded by this society. The best description that I can give is to think of Christmastime. Now imagine that that feeling of fellowship with all men happens every time you go out in public and you'll be close. It is enough to drive one mad. Glorious.

"Oh, what a piece of work is man. How noble in reason. How infinite in faculty. In form and movement, how express and admirable. In action, how like an angel. In apprehension, how like a god. The beauty of the world, the paragon of animals..."

How can one not love humanity? Even if they do not merit it, the world it creates for one to live in is nevertheless so joyful, so closely approaching what I imagine to be the sum total of human happiness on this earth that I'll live there anyways. So what if they do not merit the love I give them? That is for critics and cynics to decide. Besides, if we reserve love only for those who truly deserve it, well, depending on how we define who deserves it we shall either end up loving everyone or no one at all. Which world would you rather live in?

Hellfire and damnation. I fear that I'm becoming an idealist...

Oh, son...I love you.


Out of the Mouth of Babes

I spent all of last weekend on a road trip with my 16-year old son, enjoying all the delights and attractions that Norman, Oklahoma has to offer.

Last night, my son sat down beside me and asked when we could spend even more time together – just the two of us – because hanging out with me was “way cool.”

Biggest. compliment. ever.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Coat Phobic

There is a serious epidemic going around, and I’m sorry to say that my children have succumbed to it. Yes, they are victims of the extremely serious, very scary “coat phobia.”

The symptoms include an unwillingness – or inability – to determine weather appropriateness and putting on a coat. Yesterday was a very good example. My daughter comes skipping down the stairs before school in a t-shirt and shorts. Now, mind you – the temperature at that time was a balmy 46 degrees. The forecast called for a cold front to move in by lunch, with temperatures dropping to 42 with a cold drizzle falling.

On top of the gloomy weather forecast, my daughter had a field trip scheduled yesterday that would require her to be outside for most of the day. So, I calmly told her she needed to march right back upstairs, put on jeans and a sweatshirt, and get her coat. The eyes rolled back in her head, but she turned around (grudgingly) and trudged back up the stairs.

A few minutes later, she comes back down with the mandated jeans and the mandated sweatshirt – but no coat.

“Where’s your coat?” I asked.

“I don’t need a coat. It’s not cold.”

I broke the news to her that it was only 46 degrees outside – and dropping. She needed a coat.

“Watch,” she says. “I’ll go stand outside right now and show you that it’s not cold.”

I informed her that stepping outside for one minute to prove a point to me was not the same as standing outside in an open field – in Kansas - for hours. No comparison. No argument. No discussion. “GET THE COAT,” I calmly said. (Calmly, because, as you know, I never raise my voice with my children…ever.)

According to the American Psychological Association, the suggested treatment for a phobia includes behavior therapy, modeling, and biofeedback. Strangely enough, they don’t mention giving the coat phobic patient “dagger eyes” as you STRONGLY suggest wearing a coat, while threatening to ground them if they don’t comply. Huh. I don’t know why it’s not mentioned in their treatment manual. It worked for my daughter.

Are your children victims of this tragic disease? Or are my children unique in their aversion to outer garments in cold weather?


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

10 on Tuesday: Quirky Things About Me

This week is the week from hell…my calendar has something on it EVERY single day and night – NO blank spaces!!! What’s with that?! I can’t stand it when I have no blank spaces on my calendar! Anyway, I don’t have much time – or energy – to do a “really cool” 10 on Tuesday, so here’s one I could do quick and easy. Quirky things…those things that make a person an individual….or “unique”…or just plain weird.

1. I am a little (okay, some people would say “a lot!”) OCD…I hate messes and disorganization and chaos, which is weird when I’m a Red Cross disaster volunteer – because, as we all know, disasters are messy and disorganized and chaotic! And yet, I thrive when I’m on a disaster scene. Huh. Go figure.

2. I don’t like anyone touching my face or my ears. Especially my ears. I will slap your hand away if you attempt to touch my ears.

3. I love catalogs. And they love me. I get hundreds of catalogs in the mail – especially this time of year. I am in catalog heaven right now. My mailman is in catalog hell.

4. I love to vacuum. I really do. I love vacuum lines on my carpet. They relax me. How weird is that?

5. I am not ticklish – which drives my kids crazy – as I love to tickle them. They do not get any revenge if they attempt to tickle me back. It just doesn’t work. I was born with tickle immunity.

6. The sound of someone clipping their nails is enough to send me over the edge. Seriously. I. hate. that. sound. My anxiety, blood pressure and tension will increase 10-fold if I hear someone clipping their nails. I seriously have to walk away.

7. I like solitude but I don’t like silence. I will always have the stereo on – while at home or at work – in the morning, I’m listening to news, traffic and weather – and the rest of the day? Music. Any kind of music – I love it all.

8. Speaking of music, I love to crank up my i-Pod when I cook. I will have the music on full blast and will dance with abandon in the kitchen, totally embarrassing my kids. Especially when I dance to “Sexy Back” by Justin Timberlake. My kids hate that. ☺

9. I love to play hide-and-seek with my cat. I hide and he finds me. The other two pets just look at us like we’re crazy. Which we are – but in a good way.

10. I don’t like plaid shirts. On me. On others. On anyone. Bleh.

So, my Top 10 Quirky things – what is quirky about YOU? Do we share any quirkiness? Or am I just plain weird?


Monday, October 12, 2009

To Tell? Or Not to Tell?

To tell? Or not to tell?

And no, I'm not referring to the "Don't ask, don't tell" debate that is currently raging in the question is directed towards parents....

While I was out of town this weekend, my 10-year old daughter had a playground accident at school on Friday afternoon. Hubby left work immediately and drove Dear Daughter (DD) to the emergency room, where she was diagnosed with a broken nose. Plastic surgery is in her future, but not until she is a little older, per doctor instructions.

Hubby never told me about this - not Friday night, when we were on the phone, nor on Saturday night...I didn't know about it until I got home Sunday night and found the ER paperwork on the kitchen counter. To say I was freaked out and upset doesn't begin to cover it. Hubby didn't want to upset me, he said - and what could I have done anyway? I was six hours away - and had ridden with friends - so I had no transportation available to me. He further defended himself by saying that it wasn't life-threatening....but still....

I would have liked to know - I don't like surprises of any sort.

And so the question... Do you tell? Or don't tell? Was he right in not telling me? Was he wrong?

Just wondering....


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Secret Rebel

A day for the memory books....

So begins our day in Norman, OK - just me and my son, Taylor. Today is the BIG day - the OU vs Baylor football game. Taylor is so excited he doesn't sleep much Friday night. I, however, sleep very well. Such are the benefits of an Ambien!

The forecast is partly sunny with a high of 59. We dress in many, many layers, knowing we will be outside for most of the day. After a quick breakfast, we hop in the car and head the 5 miles or so down the road to Owen Stadium. Parking is easy, as I have a Student Parking Pass - life is good.

We head to Campus Corner, which is the "happenin'" place before the game. Much to our delight, we found Billy Sims, the 1978 Heisman Trophy award winner, signing autographs.

Eventually, we made our way back to the Stadium and got there just as the Baylor football team was coming in from the bus.

The game was scheduled to begin at 2:30 pm; the gates finally opened at 1:00 pm. Taylor wanted to be one of the first ones in - can you tell he was a little anxious for this game? Here he is - and yes, our noses were almost bleeding in these seats - but they were pretty good seats...albeit a little shady for most of the game! Brrrr......

Now - I did indeed indulge my son by setting this weekend up. I indulged him by getting the football tickets. I indulged him even more by dressing in OU colors.

But - I had to draw the line somewhere...I've always been a bit rebellious, and today was no exception. You can dress the outside of me in crimson and cream, BUT - my heart will always belong to the University of Missouri...!

Eventually, the Pride of Oklahoma marching band came out and performed on the field. Exciting!

Then, the team came out - and we were pretty close to this, so this was even more exciting!

And the MOST exciting? It was 2008 Heisman Trophy award winner Sam Bradford's first game back in weeks after an injury. That was cool! And he played the entire game. Even better!

OU ended up wining, 33-7.

Good game. Good crowd. Good times. Now I just have to defrost a little bit!


Hey - It's Not Dumbo, But....

A few weeks ago I had one of those terrible epiphanies when I realized I was a horrible, horrible mom.

Now, I know my dear readers would probably disagree with that (and I humbly thank you), but alas…it’s true. I’ll explain why.

Many years ago, I took my oldest son – a huge history buff – on his “own” vacation to Gettysburg and the East coast. Just me and him - no siblings. During a week’s time, we immersed ourselves in military history – exploring museums and battlefields and witnessing reenactments. Son was thrilled.

A few years ago, we took our daughter – at the time, five years old – on the “Princess til’ You Puke” package tour of Disney World. Haven’t heard of that package? Why, slap a Disney princes costume on a little girl every day for a week, all the while eating and dining and riding with every character that Disney has to offer – until you’re about ready to puke from all the magic and sugary sweetness that Disney has to offer. Hubby and I were exhausted by the time that nightmare –oops, I mean “experience” – was over. Daughter was thrilled.

In between these “solo” trips, we’ve indulged our children in some pretty awesome family vacations – but as a “group” experience. You know the drill - we’ve shared a mini-van; we’ve shared motel rooms; and we’ve shared all the joys that siblings bring on a vacation - as in those wonderful "touching" moments that only happen between siblings.... ("Quit touching me!" "I'm NOT touching you!" "Yes, you are." "No, I'm NOT." And so on and so on and so on...500 miles down the road.)

And then, this summer, it hit me. I had horribly, horribly neglected my middle child. I had never taken him on HIS “own” vacation. Somehow – he had been forgotten. The overlooked, forgotten middle-child syndrome. Oops. I am a horrible mother.

Time to rectify that. So – I set up a weekend trip to Norman, OK – which, in my son’s mind, is the equivalent – if not 10x better – than Disney World and Gettysburg combined. It’s the paradise on earth that he dreams about every night – and has for many, many years. (Don't ask me why - it makes no sense to me. I cannot explain it.)

So, here we are in Norman…his “solo” trip. We took a tour of the campus yesterday – shopped at the OU bookstore – watched some sorority girls playing in a charity basketball game – and we’re getting ready for the big football game this afternoon against Baylor. We’ll be in the stadium – in the end zone – with 82,000 other crazy, rabid fans. And the icing on the cake? We found out last night that Sam Bradford WILL be playing today. Yowza.

Life doesn’t get much better for my 16-year old son. Hey – it’s not Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg. It’s not the Dumbo ride at Disney World. But to my son – it’s everything. He’s happy. And that makes me happy. This is what a happy 16-year old looks like - a rare moment - see that big smile?


Friday, October 9, 2009

Proof That My Baby Was Switched at Birth

On my blog, I write about important things, such as shoes…and football…and chocolate.

On my son’s blog, he writes about….well, I’m really not sure what he writes about, because frankly, I can’t understand it. Here’s a sample:

…When the war at last started in the spring of 431 (the Spartans violating a thirty-year period of peace by invading Attica), both sides claimed detailed grievances. The Corinthians, that rich city of the Isthmus, felt that Athens earlier had belligerently intervened on the side of the rival island of Corcyra against it in a series of disputes. Megara chafed under an Athenian trade embargo and asked for Spartan support. The Aeginetans, that eternal rival of Athens at sea, the “eyesore of the Piraeus,” claimed that Athens interfered in its internal affairs and looked to Sparta to preserve its sovereignty.


Now tell me that the hospital, 20 years ago, didn’t accidentally switch babies and send me home with the wrong one.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Shoot the Designer

...and I'm sorry, but these? Are just ridiculous.

Actual shoes worn on the runway in a fashion show in Paris this week. Designer: Alexander McQueen

God Save the Queen

Recently, I’ve been a little under the weather. Considering that lately, even the weather has been a little under the weather – it’s not a big stretch. My head feels stuffy; my nose is runny; and I punctuate every thing I say with a giant sneeze. I don’t know who that’s driving more crazy – me or my family….probably my family. Because I’m to the point where I really. don't. care.

I have very high expectations when I am sick. I expect the world to stop rotating on its axis and all life, as we know it, to come to a screeching halt. This is, of course, so that the entire world’s focus can center on me and my needs when I’m not feeling good. I expect to be pampered and coddled and indulged by everyone who is in my kingdom. After all, I am the Queen (it says so right up there in the title of this blog) and isn’t that what one does for the Queen? Especially a sick Queen?

Unfortunately, this Queen is also a mom…and life does not stop when you’re a mom. Especially when the dad travels and is out of town a lot. So – this mom is still doing all the normal “mom” things – going into the office at work; coming home and fixing dinner; throwing laundry into the machine; paying bills; taking care of the pets; and helping with homework. All while sneezing, sniffling, and having a pity party.

Where are my ladies-in-waiting? Where are my attendants? Where is the court jester who can make me laugh and help forget about my cold? Did I give all this up when I signed on to being a mom?

Yeah, I guess I did.

Hmmmm….was it worth it?

Yeah, I guess it was.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Local Hero

Meet my friend, Joe. Let me tell you a bit about Joe.

Joe is a volunteer with the American Red Cross – which is how I met him. He’s been with the Kansas City chapter for many years, and is a walking encyclopedia of Red Cross information. The ARC has taught me a lot of things; I like to say that half of what I know I learned from training classes– and the other half I learned from Joe.

Joe taught me how to drive this big old truck – which was initially pretty scary for someone who’d never driven anything bigger than a minivan. But with Joe’s patience and persistence, I’m a pro with this thing – driving it all over the country and back on several disasters. The truck, or “ERV”, is Joe’s baby – over the years, when I’ve been out on assignment, Joe will call me…ostensibly to check on how I’m doing, but I know that he’s really checking on the ERV. I always tease him about that.

Joe is a former Marine; he tries to be all tough and gruff and drill-sergeant with me, but underneath it all, he’s a big marshmallow. Don’t tell him I said that – it would ruin his tough guy image.

Recently, Joe singlehandedly applied for – AND received – a grant on behalf of the American Red Cross that will allow our chapter to do some amazing things for Kansas City veterans in the next year. This wasn’t a little, itty-bitty grant – this was a HUGE grant. He has also given over 6,000 hours of volunteer time to the American Red Cross – helping out with local fire disasters, as well as national disasters.

I’ve told my kids that if they surround themselves with amazing people, then they will get to be a part of – or witness – amazing things themselves. I try to do this myself, surrounding myself with people who inspire me. Joe is one of those people.

Last night, Joe was recognized as one of the recipients of the 2009 Neighborhood Excellence Initiative Awards.

These awards recognize people who improve our community and make Kansas City better for all of us. Joe got to invite several friends to the reception at Union Station – and I was extremely honored that I was one of those invited. I gladly switched out my usual Levi’s for some fancy duds and headed down to the Station to honor Joe. I was thrilled to see him getting kudos for all of the wonderful things he has done for this community.

Joe, surrounded by friends from the American Red Cross

I hope you are surrounded by amazing people; people who teach you and inspire you. Don’t wait for a recognition ceremony to tell those people what they mean to you – do it today.

Semper Fi, Joe – I salute you.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

10 on Tuesday: Things I Will Never Do

Life is short, and I’m all about being adventurous and trying new things…or continuing to do the things that work for you.

However, there are (at least) ten things I will never do, and I thought I’d devote today’s “10 on Tuesday” to those things that aren’t going to happen:

1. Sky dive. I don’t think any explanation is needed here. I already have a severe phobia of planes – and heights – so I don’t think you’ll see me jumping out of a plane any time soon. Kudos to those who have done this. I salute you.

2. Wear FMP’s. Used to. Not any more. I now wear “sensible” shoes…like Keds. ☺

3. Bungee Jump. It’s just like sky-diving, only with whiplash at the end. That doesn't sound like much fun to me.

4. Get another tattoo. The first one hurt plenty, and it ain't going anywhere. One is enough.

5. Scuba dive. I have an irrational fear of being underwater - I know, it doesn't make sense, which is why I say it's irrational. I admire people who can do this - but it will never be me.

6. Shop at Walmart the day after Thanksgiving. I don’t care WHAT price the flat screen TV is. It would NEVER be worth it to me. I hate crowds.

7. Eat asparagus. Ick. Not in this lifetime.

8. Stop watching football. Just gouge out my eyes the day I quit watching football.

9. Golf. As someone once said, “When I hit a ball, I want someone else to go chase it.”

10. Win an Olympic Gold Medal. Or any Olympic medal, for that fact. Unless they give out Olympic medals for being the best, coolest mom in the world! ☺

Monday, October 5, 2009

Beauty or the Beast

So – what’s your perspective in life? Are you a glass-full or a glass-empty type of person? Do you see the good? Or the bad?

Our new house is coming along – we’re hoping to move in by the end of this month. I was out there this morning for a few hours, and took some photos. It struck me that I could either focus on:

….the beautiful view out of the hearth room windows….

….or the mess....

I could focus on the beautiful backsplash in the kitchen that takes me back to Italy….

….or the mess....

I could focus on the beautiful view from the living room windows…

…or the mess....

In each of these cases, I choose the beauty. If all you're seeing in your life is the mess - or the "beasts" - move! Step back. Change your focus. Change your perspective.

Choose the beauty. Lose the beast.