Monday, October 17, 2016

I Don't Know About You, But I'm Feeling 82

I went to take care of some business at my local bank.  The friendly bank teller asked me, "How was your weekend?"  I stared back at her and said, "I wish I could remember that far back!"

I was invited to hike a 14-er (for you non-Coloradans that's code for a 14,000 ft mountain peak) and I replied, "I don't think my knee can take it."

There are hormone pills, iron deficiency meds and vitamin D supplements in my cabinet, I have an assortment of creams trying to address my childhood in the sun, and I even went off dairy/sugar/flour/all things bright and beautiful for a whole month trying to reduce my cholesterol.  It worked.  I celebrated with dairy/sugar/flour/all things bright and beautiful for the NEXT 30 days.  So maybe the point wasn't to improve my cholesterol so much as make me empathize with alcoholics who come out of rehab and immediately toast their sobriety with a beer. 

The point is, I'm feeling really old, you guys.  I knew it would happen, I just didn't expect it to be so soon.  At 45 my mom had a toddler and two kids in elementary school, but I'm shuffling around my house trying to make sure I don't mistake cool whip for eye cream.  How much longer before I accidentally frost those cupcakes with Preparation-H?  NOBODY KNOWS.  I've already been known to hit up Texas Roadhouse for their early bird special (the Dallas Filet needs time to digest, y'all!) so anything is possible.

In other news, I would like to update since the last post.  It's been 10 months, it's the least I can do.  I didn't think anyone would notice because reducing writing to once a year doesn't tend to draw an audience.  However, I have had a few emails requesting an update so this is for you.  Long story short:  all is well.  Short story long:  On the weekend that my daughter was leaving for her mission my son was two weeks into a very puzzling set of symptoms.  We had been in/out of various doctor's offices but the day before Samantha's farewell we were called into urgent care (that's right, THEY called US) because he had alarming results to the blood test taken the day before.  At 10am they told me they were worried that his symptoms were pointing to leukemia.  They drew more blood, put a rush on the test results and told us we should hear back by the end of the day.  When we got in the car Drew tried to remain calm and asked, "Mom, if I have cancer can I finally get a dog?"  It was funny/not funny.  When my phone rang at 5:30pm the buzz of nervous energy surrounding our visiting family went radio silent as they watched and listened for my response as I talked to the doctor.  Results were back to normal.  I repeated it out loud as I nodded to my family in the other room, everyone exhaled, and we went back to focusing on sending Samantha off in style.  Cactus coolers all around!

Samantha has been serving as a full-time missionary for Jesus Christ for 8 months already.  We receive weekly emails, and we got to Skype with her for about an hour on Mother's Day.  We look forward to being able to do that again on Christmas, but otherwise we only hear from her via email once a week.  Sometimes I have dreams that I am hugging her.  Only 10 more months.  I'm already planning her homecoming party.  I'm thinking...cupcakes?  I know I have some frosting in a drawer somewhere....

Sunday, January 31, 2016

It's OK. It's Not OK. It's OK.

The halls of my home are stilled, and quiet fills the air.  

There’s a gentle hum in the basement that comes and goes with familiarity.

The oven has been on all night; a routine move reserved for tried and true methods for the best Sunday roast.  

But these halls, the basement, the oven; they do not speak for me.

There is nothing quiet about the thoughts that wake my mind at 5:00am on a Sunday and refuse to retreat and let me sleep.  There’s nothing gentle or familiar about spending the last seven days in facilities all over town trying to figure out why my  15-year-old, 6’ 2” son can’t walk up the stairs without gripping the rails or eat more than a piece of toast.  Routine doesn’t even begin to make the short list of words to describe how I feel about putting my daughter on a plane with a few skirts and a toothbrush and telling her goodbye for eighteen months.  

People say change is good.  I support that notion when change is defined as, “Hey, let’s eat shave ice in Hawaii for Christmas instead of scraping ice off our cars in Colorado!”  But the kind of change that says, “Hey!  We don’t know what’s wrong with your kid and your family that you have devoted your entire life to is never going to be the same!  And while we're at it we're taking Downton Abbey off the air and Costco is replacing the Ghiradelli chips with the Kirkland brand,” is the kind of change that can shove it.  

I do have to be fair, though.

My phone has buzzed incessantly this week with messages and calls from loving family and friends.

There have been gentle nudges from divine intervention to remind me that this little family of mine is no accident and is never going away permanently.  

I am routinely thankful for the good people who surround me and make the stresses of life easier to shoulder.

Mercifully, that is all too familiar.

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Same Boy

The boy who has an hour before a lacrosse game but waits until five minutes before we have to leave to ask me if I've seen his navy blue shorts...

The boy who comes home from school and plays on his phone for 2 hours but waits until it is time for bed to put in a load of laundry and then has to wait another 45 minutes so he can put it in the dryer before morning...

The boy who has enough clothes in a pile on his bedroom floor to clothe all naked children in every third world country but claims he "has a system"...

The boy who was sent into the store to buy himself a winter coat and came out with a canvas windbreaker ("It's FINE Mom")...

He is the same boy who looked me square in the eye and told me I was a good teacher.
He is the same boy who went into Costco to get the protein shakes he needed and came back with a 2-pack of Vitamin C because he knew I wasn't feeling well.
He is the same boy who when I asked, "Would you rather bring in the trash cans or unload the groceries?" replied, "BOTH."
He is the same boy who says things like, "I just want to curl up in a ball and eat boxes of candy surrounded by a bunch of cute puppies."
He is the same boy who dressed up in a unicorn costume to deliver a birthday gift to a friend of mine that needed a good laugh.
He is the same boy who was summoned by an adult last week to ask a certain girl to dance and he immediately agreed.

The boy that drives me crazy but that I am crazy about... the same.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

What A Difference A Year Makes

Exactly a year ago I was in my family room pacing back and forth, sobbing and absentmindedly running my hands through my hair as I tried to understand what was happening to me.  I didn’t feel upset.  I wasn’t necessarily panicked (or so I thought).  I felt like I was under control but my body was responding otherwise.  It’s not like nothing was going on;  I was preparing to drive my oldest child, my daughter, off to college the next morning.  But I was happy for her!  And I am not dramatic!  (Much!)  So what was with all the crying?

I couldn’t understand it but I knew I needed help, so I called the only person I knew with the ability to calm me down. 


I have a lot of questions for Him on a regular basis, but on this night I only asked him one.

“Will you come with us?”

I uttered a few other concerns in my prayer.  Something about it being January...icy roads…two girls in a car for 11 hours…driving across Wyoming…oh, Wyoming, I’m sorry for whatever you did to deserve being Wyoming.  Do the overpopulation enthusiasts know about you?  Because I feel like it would help.  I’M GETTING OFF TRACK.  Sorry.  Heavenly Father, I know you love us.  I know there are bigger problems in the world than sending my daughter off to live in Idaho for seven months but…actually, no.  THIS IS THE BIGGEST PROBLEM FACING AMERICA.  Just, please.  Will you get in the backseat and come along?  We could really use your company.

And He did.

I swear, He did.

I felt peace.  I slept that night.  We got in the car the next morning, sang along to “500 miles”, took potty breaks at Little America, and drove to Rexburg, Idaho without incident.  However, it’s not the “without incident” part that truly gave me comfort, it was the comfort itself.  I am humbled by the peace that comes from a loving God and I felt it keenly during the next three days.  I felt it as we shopped for groceries.  I felt it as we unpacked and set up her room.  I felt it as I hugged her for the last time before returning home, and I felt it as I slept that night in an utter state of calm.  I hope you guys are paying attention because I just divulged that Heavenly Father can bless you when you go to Wal Mart in a town of 25,000 people where 15,000 of those people are students who are also all going to Wal Mart for the same reason.  I’m telling you, He is a big, flippin’ deal.

Fast-forward to the present day.  Samantha has been through a whole heckofalot this year.  A lot of it crappy, a lot of it not crappy at all.  But there’s something amazing I observed as I sent my child to live somewhere else away from my bottomless supply of toilet paper and Honey Comb and it is this:  Heavenly Father didn’t leave her alone.  In the midst of the crap and the not so crap He was there for her, and she listened to Him.  She asked questions, and He gave answers, and as a result of many months of searching she has decided to serve as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  She will pack 2 dresses, 4 skirts, 3 shirts and a few personal items and move to Tucson, Arizona for eighteen months and try to teach people about the Savior, Jesus Christ.  With the exception of a weekly email and Skyping twice a year I will not see or hear from her for a year and a half.

I am a month away from dropping her off.  I haven’t started pacing and sobbing or pulling at my hair in bizarre, desperate ways, but I feel it coming and I sense that my plea to God will be similar. 

“Will you go with her?”

And He will.  

“Will you stay with me too?”

And He will.

And this time I don’t have to cross Wyoming.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


Until this morning, no one had ever threatened to call security on me before.  But this mama bear was not one to mess with today.  I had been waiting by my phone for Samantha to send me the signal that she was warming up for her final race of her high school career.  Seven years she had invested in this sport and we were on our way to see her run one last time.  I will not miss going to track meets, but I will miss watching my baby girl lap that track and fight to achieve her goals.  She sent our signal and we headed out.

This year has been hard.  Cross country season was a phenomenal letdown as she had high hopes and painful injuries that kept her from doing what she worked three long years to accomplish.  It tested her commitment, her drive, and her faith but in impressive fashion she looked past, forward, and more importantly, she looked up.  Her body has been holding up during track season despite coming home on multiple occasions with bags of ice wrapped around her calves, but she had yet to push through that final wall.

The 800 meter run is her main event and all year she's had a goal for a specific time.  She had come within 3 seconds of it before, and within 5 or 6 seconds of it on multiple occasions.  It doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but when you’re only running two laps you would be surprised how hard it is to close that gap.  Today was her last chance.  The League Championships are a 2-day event and they hadn’t charged for day 1, but as we approached the entrance on day 2 we discovered that they were charging to get in.  “That will be $13,” she said.  We were unprepared – neither Cory nor I had any money.  “Well,” the cashier said, “there’s a 7-11 across the street where you can find an ATM.”

The race started in 10 minutes.  My head got hot and I replied, “Sorry, but I’m going in to watch my daughter race right now.  I’ll have to figure this out later.”  “Alright then, I’ll just have to call security,” she spit back.  “That’s fine, you do that,” I managed as I made my way past her with Cory and Drew in tow.  I had butterflies in my stomach the whole ride over and the threat of security only heightened my anxiety over this last and final event.



These words have become all too common lately.

I knew how important it was to her to do well, and I didn’t want to see her walk away disappointed again.  As I watched her line up I said what I always say under my breath, “Come on baby girl, this is your time.”  The gun shot off into the air and they were off.  Seconds and hundredths of seconds began ticking away on the scoreboard as they rounded off 200 meters, then 400 meters, and she looked strong.  Fierce, upright, determined; her first 400 meters had her leading the pack.  With my palms face together and poised at my lips, I watched intently as she headed into her second lap.  “Come on baby girl, this is your time.  Your last chance.”  When she passed in front of me I screamed my normal, “Go baby! Go!  You can do it!” but unabashedly added, “I LOVE YOU SAMANTHA!”  The seconds were ticking by but I knew she was having a good run and I prayed for her to have this moment.  I knew she deserved it - payment for a grueling year, reward for never giving up, and joy for finally achieving one more personal record.  As she crossed the finish line I shot my eyes up to the scoreboard before flashing them over to the coach on the field, gripping his timer with force; my answer was confirmed by his reaction – with a fist pump in the air and a sprint to meet her at the finish line I knew she had done it.  She did it!  I couldn’t believe it.  She was finally having her moment – she bent over in exhaustion before running over to the coach and giving him a hug.  A moment later I saw her look up into the stands where I met her distant stare – she found me, raised both arms in triumph and I raised mine in the air to match it.  

I was crying by now, and it took a few more minutes before I got to hug her myself and tell her how proud I was of her.  She cried into my shoulder as we held each other and managed through her tears, “Thanks Mom.”  When she pulled back I spotted the huddle of team members rushing over to congratulate her as I stepped aside and paused to take it all in.  Lots of smiling, hugging, and celebrating ensued. 

Her moment. 

My girl.

Samantha stayed behind to cheer on her other teammates for the remainder of the meet while Cory, Drew and I headed for the exit.  We hit yelp for the nearest bank, grabbed some cash and I went back to pay the cashier.  “Hi,” I said as I approached the kiosk.  “I believe I owe you $13.”  

And security never came.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Phone Call

These days when the phone rings it’s usually one of two possibilities.  It is either a telemarketer or it’s my friend Jill calling to tell me she almost hit a goat/clown/wild turkey.  Jill’s not a good driver and she used to live in Montana so those references are not fabricated.  That’s not the point of today’s story, although sometime I would be happy to share how she got lost going from Provo to Orem (helpful hint: when you pass Thanksgiving Point you’ve gone too far) or how it used to take her 20 minutes to get to my house which was only a mile away.  But.  Today’s story is about a telemarketer.

The phone rang last night and my 13-year-old son, Drew was closest to the one downstairs so he picked it up.  “Hello?” I heard him answer as I simultaneously grabbed the upstairs phone and hit “Talk”.  That’s when I heard the woman on the other end begin her pitch.  “…and with your generous donation today of $75 you can really help us make a difference….”  Drew listened politely as he made his way upstairs to hand the phone over to me.  When he got to me, however, I turned him away and mouthed silently that I didn’t want to talk and told him to handle it.

Game on.

After said telemarketer made her pitch Drew grew emotional with her and responded while Sam and I listened on the other end on speaker.  “Well, I’m so sorry but I have 5 kids and I just lost my house and…” *sniff *sniff “…I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO!”  He was not too emotional to invite suspicion so the telemarketer showed mild concern.  “Oh, wow.  I’m so sorry.  I definitely understand.  (Um, really?)  But, you know, you don’t have to do $75.  You could just do $50 and pay it off over time.”  How thoughtful and generous of the telemarketer lady!  Realizing he needed a little more grease on his wheels, Drew upped the ante.  “And my MOM JUST DIED!”  I wondered if the woman would know she was being played at this point but it seemed as if this new revelation made her genuinely concerned.  
“Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry.  That’s terrible,” she said.  And then, “How old are you?”  
Abort!  Abort!  We’ve been found out!
But Drew didn’t back down.  “About…32.  Almost 33.”
“Oh,” she continued.  “You sound more like you’re in your early 20’s.”  Seriously lady?  Are you actually falling for this?
“Wow, THANKS!” Drew responded, as if he felt complimented on appearing younger than his age rather than the other way around.
“Well, I’m so sorry for your loss.  I don’t want to bother you, maybe we’ll call you again some other time when it’s more convenient.”
“Ok, thanks.” Drew said, and hung up.

The three of us then dissolved into laughter on the floor of Samantha’s bedroom and the poor telemarketer lady ran off to her next victim.  Preferably they are nicer, more attentive, and are willing to part with seventy-five bucks.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


As I shut the back sliding glass door behind my 13-year-old boy this morning, there was a fresh two inches of powder on the ground.  He quietly made his way to the bus as I headed toward the front to shovel our driveway.  When I came back I glanced out the rear window and saw the trail he left behind.  It felt rather symbolic of the last few months and elicited the following thoughts:


The babes I once held close
To whisper away the cries
To rock to sleep
To hold
Just because I wanted to.
I was their everything.

They learned to walk.
My hands outstretched
To catch (just in case)
To steady
To encourage
To engulf in a hug when they made it.
Aside from fruit snacks
I was their everything.

Their feet grew.
Their world got bigger.
Their strides grew longer.
Now they walk
They run
They jump
They do everything.

But the trail has shifted.
The footprints face away
Instead of toward me.
Positive they know what to do
Positive they know the way
But I wonder.
Are they ready?
Have I taught them everything?

It is what I want for them.
It is how it is supposed to be.
This hollow breath in my throat
It has nowhere to go,
No way to feel right.
Have I done my job?
Is this all there is?
Is this everything?

Dear God,
I hope you know what you’re doing.
Lead them
Guide them
Walk beside them
Please make sure my babies make it.
They have to.

They are
After all
My Everything.

Drew's footprints left in the snow this morning

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Phase I’m In

I’m considering writing a book on Parenting.

CHAPTER 1:  It’s hard.
CHAPTER 2:  It’s fun!
CHAPTER 3:  It’s pretty hard.
CHAPTER 4:  It smells weird. 

I’m telling you, you’re going to want to buy multiple copies.  One thing I learned when I got pregnant for the first time is that people enjoyed making jokes about how I wouldn’t sleep for 18 years, as if that was going to be the hardest part.  Newsflash:  It’s not.  Don’t worry though, if you’re a parent of young ones I’m not about to tell you how easy it is to have small kids now that I no longer claim that phase of life.  The only scenario under which I would return to that period of time is if I could do so in 2 hour increments, and if I could choose the increments to be after naps, before bedtime, and during a Disneyland ride followed by ice cream.  And for the record, you will sleep again and it won’t take 18 years.  However, you will still have sleepless nights. 

Right now it’s 5:00 am and I’ve been up for 45 minutes already.  Not because my baby is awake and screaming but because the world is awake and screaming at my babies and it stresses me out.  Here’s a little note I would like to write to anxiety:  In the future I would appreciate it – and I mean “appreciate” in the way I appreciate not bleeding to death –  if you could wait at least (at least!) until 7:00 am on a Saturday before you nudge me alert with visions of doom and woe.  ARE WE CLEAR?

As a parent of teenagers I’m learning that most of the things I have worried about are not the things that are worrying me.  I guess I convinced myself that if I could keep my kids off drugs, immorality and free from kidnappers the only thing left to do was bask in glittery fairy dust.  But so far I’ve done all that and yet here I sit, at 5:00 am, already waiting for the day to be over.  Nobody told me that one of the hardest parts about parenting would be watching your kid meet rejection and disappointment; that one day you would see a host of kids heading off to a party that yours wasn’t invited to.  That you would stand on sidelines watching other people's kids light up the "stage" while yours sat on the outskirts waiting to be noticed.  That you would have to witness your kid leave the room after bad news to assume a position face down on the couch with a pillow over their head so you wouldn’t see them cry.  Nobody told me that seeing your kid hurting would be worse than a thousand needles in the eye.  Oh, and the needles are on fire.  And coated in cayenne pepper.

Another hard part about the phase I’m in is figuring out how to “be there” when you’re not the one they want to talk to.  Oh, I almost forgot about CHAPTER 5:  YOU’RE NOT THE ONE THEY WANT TO TALK TO.  Except I’m sure your kids won’t be like that.  (They will probably be like that.)  I try to appeal to them by getting out the scrapbooks and showing them pictures of when we used to cuddle on the couch but it doesn’t seem to ignite warm feelings.  So then I try buying them their favorite chocolate milk and they love it!  They hug the gallon like it’s their best friend.  You might think this is the right time to go in for a hug yourself. 

It’s not.

You’re supposed to leave the chocolate milk at the door and get out.

I am fortunate, because our good times are good and we have a lot of them.  There’s a big difference in conversation when you can talk using full sentences – we’ve come a long way from Samantha telling me to “push it out, mama” back when she was small enough that we still had to share a public bathroom stall.  But this part - the disappointment - was easier when they were little, when tears could be wiped away with my hand, love could be showered with hugs and kisses, and peace could be restored with Cheez-Its and The Aristocats.

Oh, I know it’s only temporary.  I just didn’t know it would be this hard.  And seriously, it ALWAYS smells weird.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor (Day) Intensive

I don't know why it's so hard to get a family of 4 to agree upon something to do together, but it seems that we have never been good at it.  I suppose the "divide and conquer" approach that Cory and I have had has mostly worked, but there are some negative side effects.  For example, we were never the family who said, "Hey, we need milk.  Everyone hop in the car we're going grocery shopping!"  It was more of, "We need milk.  If I go to the store by myself I can pick the cereal I like best, you get to stay here and watch TV, and the kids won't talk us into getting the gross fruit snacks."  It worked for us.

But on holidays like today when we have the whole day to spend together, nobody, and I mean NOBODY is on the same page about what to do.  I anticipated this, but I also had a vision in mind about what I wanted.  I tried to approach it diplomatically when my "Let's go on a family hike!" idea got shot down. 
Me:  "Okay, so Dad wants to golf, Drew and Samantha want to hang with friends, and I want to go hiking.  What can we do to make everyone happy?"
Drew:  "How about we invite friends over to watch a golf movie while Mom walks in place?  Everybody wins."

You see why this is an uphill battle.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

That I Might Not Shrink

I’ve been open about the fact that I had to seek outside help during a rough patch in my life.  Depression hit me rather soundly after my son was born - it took me a year before I realized I wasn’t going to snap out of it on my own and I sought the professional help of a therapist.  I’m not ashamed of it.  The 12 oz bag of milk chocolate chips that was on my shelf yesterday and is now mysteriously gone, THAT I’m ashamed of.  Beginning my morning with toaster strudel and a game of Candy Crush, not super proud of that either.  But therapy…I recommend it.  If I had $100 a week just sitting around, gathering dust I would still go but with the skyrocketing costs of milk and butter and no plans of becoming a vegan it’s just not in the budget.

We had some good times, my shrink and I.  We laughed, we cried, and on some twisted level I convinced myself that he must have really enjoyed having a client like me that wasn’t as troubled as some.  (You think I’m narcissistic because I have a blog?  Ha!  Child’s play.  *I* thought my therapist LIKED ME BEST.)  “I bet I’m a joy to have in class!” I would tell myself.  Then, as I handed him my last check and told him I would call if I had any relapses he informed me that I was his last client – he was hanging up his hat on private practice and was going to write a book, attend to corporate level needs, and focus more on talking to larger groups about parenting and the like.  I went home and wrote in my notebook 150 times, “This is just a coincidence.  This is just a coincidence.” 

Then again when I dig deep, (AS HE TAUGHT ME TO DO) I realize that we had some rocky times, too.
Shrink:  “You seem to have a lot of irrational fears.  Where do you think that comes from?”
Me:  “Oh, I don’t know.  Maybe because my home was robbed three times as a child and strangers went through all of my stuff?”
Shrink:  “Really?!  I guess I missed that.”
Me:  “It’s in the file of 75,000 questions you made me answer so you could get to know me better.”
Shrink:  “I should totally read that sometime.”

I haven’t seen my therapist since I walked out of his office on that last visit.  It’s been ten years.  Sitting in church on Sunday the woman standing at the front of the room was announcing the details of an upcoming event.  “You and your spouses are invited to attend this Parenting class.  It’s going to be really good.  Our speaker is going to be Vern’s Therapist.”  Of course they didn’t say “Vern’s Therapist”, but DUDES.  Let’s not miss the point.  The point is: My therapist.  Is coming!  TO CHURCH! 

The lady at the front of the room was trying very hard to convey that this guy was going to be really good.  Should I pipe in?  “Hey you guys, she’s right.  I used to pay this dude a hundred dollars an hour to complain about all of you and he totally took me from zero to hero by the end of the year.  Mark your calendar.”  I chose to remain quiet.  (And now I have that in writing.)  The truth is, it will probably only be awkward if he doesn’t remember me.  THEN what?  I’ll be standing there going, “Remember?  I shut me eyes, you told me to visualize So-And-So’s head and I threw stuffed animals at the wall as hard as I could?”  Then, if it still doesn’t register I could just lean in, smile, look him in the eye and give a quick nudge to his side and remind him, “You know, I was your favorite? Then all of the sudden it will hit him like a Viking during hard labor and he’ll be like, “VERN!  Oh my gosh!  How ARE you?”  Then I will regale him with all of the details about how awesome the last 10 years have been.  

And then maybe it won’t be so weird that my shrink came to church.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

80 Year Spin

Last week my Dad turned 80 years old, and soon my mom will follow suit.  We decided to celebrate with a big party and with half our constituency already in Utah, that became the center of our festivities.  Some of the adults smuggled in caffeine and there wasn't a single jell-o dessert, so it was pretty much a rager.

The older I get and the more I learn about my mom, I am blown away at our similarities.  This thrills me and terrifies her, though in her defense she has never been skinny dipping and in MY defense I have never tried to pass off carob as a suitable chocolate substitute.

Recently my parents were here visiting and my mom said she wanted to go into a clothing store.  This was highly uncharacteristic.  She couldn't have shocked me more if she had said, "I'd like to send the Obamas some flowers."  So I quickly obliged, wanting to support her in this sudden act of bravery.  She was looking for an outfit suitable for an upcoming wedding, so I began flipping through hangers.  Before offering up any particular suggestions she coached me what to look for by saying, "I try to stay away from the manlier looks.  I haven't been called 'Sir' in a while."  Oh the huWOmanity.  At the same time I also knew that mom was not the shmoofy type either, so I set out to find the most egregious assault to her senses as I pulled out a black organza ruffly number covered in black and white overlapping hearts and said, "Hey Mom, what about this one?"  I held it up, assuming she would instantly recognize my jest but she surprised me and responded with a cursory glance, "Oh yeah, that's pretty."  I dropped it to my side, disappointed that she didn't realize what I was doing and said, "Mom!  I was just kidding," to which she answered, "Oh good, I was just being polite."  And all was right again in my universe.

I really, really love my Mom.

During our party there was a point where the siblings gathered together and presented my parents with their respective gifts.  My mom received emeralds, her birthstone.  My Dad received a canvas collage of every single member of his posterity from his children down to his great grandchildren - proof of a promise made to him long ago.  My oldest brother, Mitch, shared a story as he presented our gift to my Dad that I had never heard before.  I'm sharing it again here, because I don't want to forget it.

Mitch had just returned from a two year stint as a missionary for our church in Argentina.  He was trying to figure out what to do next with his life, and had wild aspirations.  One day he sat in the front yard talking to my Dad about it while I and my younger brothers played nearby.  (Twelve years separates me from my oldest brother, so we would have been roughly 9, 7 and 5.)  Per Mitch's account he turned to my Dad at one point and asked if he was happy with his life's choices (becoming a high school Biology teacher, having 7 children, small income, big responsibilities) adding, "I mean, Dad?  Haven't you ever wanted to change the world?"  At which point my father gestured to me and my younger brothers playing in the distance and said, "I did."

I really, really love my Dad.

The last 80 years have been good to my parents and as you can see, many of those years have been good to us too.  So, here's to my Mom and Dad.  For not setting fire to the joint when we made them blow out their candles, and of course, for changing the world.

With my kids at the Broadmoor Hotel

Blowing out their candles

Friday, August 9, 2013

Once Upon A Time...A Fairy Tale For The Underprivileged

Once upon a time I went five whole days without showering and nobody even died.  Yes, I survived Girl's Camp.  It wasn't even that bad.  A fairy tale, really, if you happen to find cleanliness and civilization to be cumbersome.  Yesterday I was in a store looking at birthday cards and there was one with a cartoon sketch of two bears standing outside an apartment door.  The caption quotes one bear saying to the other, "Look here Earl, all you have to do is push this little button (the doorbell) and out pops a snack!"  Maybe that's funny for regular folk, but coming face to face with a bear has a way of making bear jokes seem...not hilarious.  But despite our bear sightings prior to camp, we didn't see one all week.  We made sure of it, which is why when one of our girls was barfing outside her tent because she was dehydrated we were there shoveling it into a bag.  I guess bears like human vomit.  Filthy animals.  That's when I decided that shoveling vomit at camp is the equivalent to pricking your finger and becoming blood sisters at a teenage bonding ritual.  I'm just saying if any of my camping cohorts ever needs a kidney....

Once upon a time I went five whole days without using a real toilet and I almost died.  I'm pretty sure you don't want me to elaborate on how 250 people went a whole week on 6 port-a-potties, but I'm also pretty sure I never asked you.  Here's the thing - it's not great.  As in, the gas station Subway bathroom we hit on the way out felt like a Marriott in the springtime.  At one point some well meaning campers tried to label one of the "bathrooms" a #1 zone only to allow for at least one stall that wouldn't stink to high heaven.  That turned out to be...ineffective.  Also, high heaven = not far enough away.  On a positive note, the graffiti on the port-a-potty walls was quite motivational at this Christian based camp.  I'm just saying, have you ever witnessed a line from Lincoln penned at a KOA?  I DON'T THINK SO.

Once upon a time our Camp Directors were mistaken for lesbians and I laughed so hard I could have died.  One night our tent and cars were decorated with rainbow colored plates by some "neighbors".  We thought we had cleaned them all up but the next day when our leaders drove to town for some emergency supplies they stepped out in all of their back to nature glory and discovered a rainbow of color still attached to the front grill of the truck.  I'm sure the guys at Ace Hardware didn't judge.

Once upon a time I climbed a massive tree and jumped off and totally didn't die!  And just for good measure I did the Karate Kid stance from the very, very top.  With my tongue sticking out, because apparently I want to send the message that this activity is a Gene Simmons kind of crazy:

 Once upon a time I woke up from 5 days of camping and it was time to go home and all I could think about was getting a shower so when I walked in nobody would die.  I was met with this lovely display - Cory's idea, Samantha's execution, Drew's signature channeled from the 1st grade:

Once upon a time I went five whole days without a shower and a toilet and I jumped off trees and shoveled vomit by flashlight and nobody died.  And then I came home and showered and caught up on Drop Dead Diva and we all lived happily ever after.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

"I'm Going To Have A Heart Attack And DIE Of NOT Surprise"

Life can be surprising.  Case in point:  Matt Lauer is still relevant, 48 hours is actually only a one hour show, and Maury Povich is still on television.  [Side note:  For the longest time I avoided reading Tuesdays With Morrie because I thought it was a book about paternity.  What a nice surprise to learn that it was about death and relationships!  Mostly relationships.]  Of course, none of these hit me quite as hard as learning that my best friend had never heard of a taquito, but that’s a story for another time.  I’m still waiting for news that Calista Flockhart ate a sandwich one time and that Bill Maher is dating a Republican but in the meantime I’ll just have to settle for, oh I don’t know, trying to find a sweet, ripe honeydew.  Keep those goals attainable, folks. 

Life also has a side that’s NOT surprising.  Like Lance Armstrong being a tool, Mama June wearing camo on her wedding day, or a 20-year-old marrying Hugh Heffner.  NOT for his money.  I’m also not surprised to see Miley Cyrus spiraling downward (Hannah Montana TRIED to warn her) and if I had a nickel for every time an NFL player got arrested well, I might make more money and serve less time than they do. 

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball and misleads you with something you think should surprise you when really, it shouldn’t.  It’s like those $1/scoop Chinese restaurants.  You go in thinking, “Wow!  Really?  Only $1 a scoop?” and you pile your plate high.  Then about an hour later when you’re in the bathroom for the 7th time moaning for the Diarrhea Gods to show mercy you act surprised again, as if…come on, man.  You HAD to know.  It’s also kind of like me with running.  I actually enjoy running, which surprises no one else more than me.  I completely blew my own mind when we were on vacation a few weeks ago - the Cruise was sponsoring a 5K on the private island upon debarking and I GOT EXCITED ABOUT IT.  People.  You need to understand the significance here.  I got excited about something that didn’t involve the words, “cupcake”, “buy one get one free”, or “Hugh Jackman called back”.  Are you feelin’ me?  I talked Samantha into doing it with me and we had a lot of fun.  I was surprised how much faster I was at sea level.  I was not surprised at the amount of sweat dripping from my brow which could have re-filled the Caribbean.  I probably shouldn’t have been surprised that when I finished and arrived at the shore where Cory and Drew were parked, ripping off my shirt was like trying to pull a wetsuit off a sea lion in heat.  At that point I didn’t want to fuss with changing into my swimsuit because I was hot NOW, and instant relief was available only a few feet away.  So, down to my sports bra and shorts I was headed straight for the ocean and said to Drew, who was waiting for me to go in the water, “Alright, let’s go!”  He shrunk back behind the umbrella and said, “Um…does anyone else want to go?  I don’t want to go with mom anymore.” 

I guess when they say, “Life is full of surprises” it’s just a nice way of saying, “One day your adolescent child who sucked on your DNA for nourishment inside of your belly will grow up to eat all of your Cheez-Its and tell you thank you for this Caribbean vacation by dissing you at the water’s edge.”

Then again, I guess that shouldn’t surprise me.