Monday, December 29, 2008

Mom's Final Post

Mom, Indy and Kyle on a cruise in 2007. My mom loved to travel!

My mom, Janet Drusilla Ogden West passed away two weeks ago. She had just started a blog and this was her third and final post. I think it deserves an audience. She couldn't wait to start her new healthy life. She had no idea how healthy she would soon be. I can't imagine how pain free and healthy she must be now. She has been so sick for so long. She passed away from what the doctors guess was a heart attack. It was sudden and quick. We are all still in shock. So as we get ready to say goodbye to 2008, I felt it was a good time to post her final post. I am looking forward to 2009 and pray that it will be a better year. Here's to a new year.


The last three years have been a test of my faith, mental tenacity and physical endurance. I have an autoimmune disorder and have had medical problems related to this for the past 25 years.

Three years ago, about this time of year, I went into a coma. I had a new Dr. and I thank the Lord that he was there for me. He knew how to treat me and within a week I was out of the coma and getting better. Then I kept having flare-ups of my disorder and always seemed to be sick. I was put on large doses of Prednisone to stabilize me. Prednisone weakens the bones-I was soon to find out the hard way.

First, I broke my arm, then I had to have a hip replacement. A couple of months later, I was sitting in my reading chair and suddenly became cold and clammy. I told my husband to call 911-I thought I was going to die. I suffered a cardiac arrest. They shocked me 5 times at the hospital to bring me back and transferred me to a bigger hospital. The Dr's. said they had never had someone survive with their potassium level as high as mine was. My kidneys were affected and not filtering out the potassium. About a month later I was diagnosed with pneumonia and was hospitalized. I was out of the hospital and getting stronger when I almost passed out as I awoke to go downstairs. My husband caught me and said to put my arms around his neck and he tried to get me back in bed. I couldn't hold on to him and I fell and fractured both bones in my lower leg and dislocated my ankle. I had to have surgery and pins, plates and screws went into both lower bones and the ankle was positioned in place.

This was about a year to the day that all my troubles started. I was so ready to get on with my life. We even went to Las Vegas with me in a cast and My hubbie wheeled me around in a wheelchair. Then for eight months I battled with a MRSA infection which finally ended up with surgery to take all the hardware out of my leg. It's been 4 months and I am still having some difficulty walking.

In the last two years I have lost 70 pounds and it is easier for me to get around. In June I had a little scare. My Dr. said I had a mass on my pancreas. It was removed and was not malignant.

One week ago we came home from a Mediterranean cruise. My husband couldn't believe that I could keep up with him-walking all over the Coliseum in Rome, up 94 steps to the Acropolis, and walking through Pompeii on the uneven and quite dangerous terrain. This was a test of my strength and endurance and I passed with flying colors and know that I am ready to stay strong and take on the world.

Mom (waiting on her Caribbean drink) & Dad at Costa Maya, Mexico in 2007

I am done with all this bad stuff--I'm ready to live again! And next time we take a cruise it is going to be in the Caribbean with Reggae music and tropical drinks served by handsome men from all over the world. And if I see one more ruin I'm going to throw one of those rocks at my hubby for walking me all over the Roman Empire! But the good thing I found out was that I am back, strong and stubborn as ever. No more pity parties!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My Cup of Tea

I read the book "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin a few months ago. I have the worst memory. But, one thing that sticks with me from the book is that someone asked "With all of the pain and suffering in the world, how can God ignore it?" I too wrestle with this especially when I think of starving children all over the world. In the book, someone answers "God did do something. He sent you." Bam! Hits me in the heart and soul each time I remember it. It makes me want to be a better friend to everyone. One of our pastors months ago hit on this. God is everywhere. He is in you. He is in me. When you are being hugged by a dear friend, it is the arms of God hugging you. When you get a phone call asking how you are, God is speaking through this person.

I had 11 friends come to my mom's calling hours. Eleven! I had three come to her funeral. Three! Words cannot express how much love and support I felt. Someone commented how much I held it together at the calling hours. When you have the love and support of your friends, you can stand and talk to others about your Mom. You can hug them and make a little joke. You can hug your Dad and tell him it will be OK. You can pull it together. You really can.

I have written time and time again on cards "Sorry for your loss." "My heart is with you." "We will pray for you." I meant it every time I wrote it. And this week, I believed everything I read, heard and saw. God was with me through my friends and I am the luckiest woman alive. We have had a rough 2008. It was rougher than I could ever write about online and share with even my closest friends. But, I can tell you. I feel so blessed. I feel the love. I really do.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Jer & Aldee

Dear Faithful Readers,

Indy asked me to be a guest writer on her blog. A little bit about me, my name is Jer some of you might know me from winning the first give away on “I am not talking about it, I am just saying. . .” I know Indy through her younger sister Aldee.


In a time when so many people are facing hard times I am very thankful for those to those who have inspired so many of us to pick ourselves up from our boot straps and keep pressing forward. This year I have 4 people who have inspired me, my Aunt Gina, my Mom, my friend Aldee and my friend Marcel Jefferies.

I will start with my Mom who is a single mother who raised 4 boys. This year she finally bought her first house with her boyfriend. I am so very proud of her. She has the biggest hand in making me into the man I am today. My mom has inspired me for the last 24 years. She has taught me it doesn’t matter how many times you fall it matters how many times you get up. I hate to see my mom sad especially during the holidays when she stresses out about gifts. The best gift my mom ever gave me you cannot buy. What she has given me is worth more than all the money in the world. Not only has she given me the gift of life but she has given me her undying love no matter what I do. She will always love me and mom that means more to me than any gift you can ever give me.

My Aunt Gina has inspired me from the time I was a little kid. She always believed in me and she has been one of the greatest influences in my life. She has helped me with all my major accomplishments in my life. This year my Aunt and her family really stepped up and helped a friend in a time of need. Remember the Ohio wind storm in October? Most of Ohio was without power for 3 to 10 day. A friend of my aunts went to help a friend when a tree fell into his front room. As her friend was cutting the tree, the tree shifted and fell on him paralyzing him. Now his house is not accessible. My Aunt and Uncle have let him live in their ranch house so that he can live independently until they finish remodeling his house.

My good friend Aldee has inspired me for the last 5 years, but most of all this year. Everyone has been going through hard times, but she is the one constant that you can count on. No matter how bad it gets you can count on Aldee to be there with a smile on her face, to lift everyone’s spirits. This last year Aldee has really inspired me to reach for the stars and follow my dreams. She has been my teacher in life; she has taught me more about myself and friendship in the last year than I have learned in 10 years.

Marcel Jeffries was my rock. I only new him for a short time but he has inspired me for a lifetime. Marcel was a student who I worked with at John Carroll, he was blind and had cancer. I never once heard Marcel complain about going through chemo or the pain he most of been in. Marcel passed away this summer a month after my 24th birthday, he was only 19. Marcel taught me to see people for who they really are and not for what they looked like. Marcel taught me about the gift of life he was given. Even though it was not a long life it was a life that inspired many people. Marcel left footprints on this earth of giant proportions and I can only hope to someday do the same. I never got to say goodbye to my friend or tell him how much he has inspired me. I think about him on a daily bases, I wear a bracelet that says HOPE in his memory. MARCEL I HOPE YOU CAN HEAR ME NOW WHEN I SAY GOOD BYE AND THANK YOU FOR GIVING ME THE CHANCE TO GET TO KNOW YOU.

Thank you to all the people who have inspired me throughout the years.
Love Jer

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Best Belly Ache

Last night, I laughed until my stomach ached. Over what? I really can't remember. It was the company. The ladies at my table made me sick with laughter. I haven't had so much fun in months. Seriously. What were doing? Really nothing. We gathered a group of women together to create a surprise for a friend who's husband has cancer. So, for hours, we worked on this little surprise (I will post pics once the surprise has been given to the family.) We worked. We ate. We drank (Coke for me) and we laughed and laughed.

I am going to invite people over more often like this. It didn't cost me much. Everyone brought something to share and it made me clean my house. It was a perfect evening. On the invite, I even included the words "store bought encouraged" for the food to share. I wanted a night with no pressure. No fuss. Just friends. And that was exactly what I got.

So why not pull out the datebook for January or February when the days are long and spring is so far away? Invite some people over that will make you laugh. Don't sell anything. Just some good conversation with great friends. I know I will.

I am so glad that I took pictures last night*. It is a night I never want to forget. It was a night when nothing extraordinary really happened except that friendships were deepened, new friendships may have formed and bonds were secured. It was a night to remember. Dear friends, I am so lucky to have you in my life. Thank you for your laughter, tears and belly aches!

*I will share real photos of the night once the surprise has been given.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Happy Day!

Ladies & Gentlemen, we have a winner! Jer won the Winter Dreams necklace. Congrats! Be sure to send me your contact information at my email address listed on my blog.

A huge thank you to Lara at the Shiplett Shop (link here) on Etsy. Lara is hosting a real life open house (with wine!) on Friday night. If you are not a psycho reading this in cyberspace, let me know if you'd like to join me and see her items in real life. Lara lives in the Cleveland area and I will be the designated driver. I am sure Lara would extend free shipping this week for "Not Talking" readers. Be sure to let her know when you are ordering that you found her on "Not Talking."

Big News:

We have some good news to share in IndyWorld. I am pregnant! I am due in July. I am more than a little apprehensive since I miscarried in May. Seriously, I am freaking out big time. So, please keep your fingers crossed and say a little prayer for me.

Congrats again to Jer. This was my first giveaway and it is really fun to give something away. Thank you for entering.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Who Says Nothing is Free?

Holiday Giveaway!

Everyone is watching their pennies this year. How about something free? Yes, free with no strings attached.

Lara Shiplett at the Shiplett Shop on Etsy (See link in red here) is giving Not Talking readers a chance to win a beautiful necklace called Winter Dreams. It is my favorite. (Hint Hint Lara.)

To enter: Check out her site and let me know which item is your favorite. Leave a comment for me letting us know.

You can receive and extra entry if you let your readers know about my contest. Link from your site to my site and let me know.

We will pull the winner next Monday.

And all readers will receive FREE SHIPPING through the Thanksgiving weekend. Just let her know you found it on it "Not Talking."

Good luck! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and have fun shopping!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Brainwashing the Preschoolers

Have you ever seen the propaganda of other countries such as Germany in the 1930's? You know that sick feeling when you see it? My stomach always feels funny when I see it. There is just something about propaganda.

Now before I get into this post. Let's explain some things about my family. I grew up in a very conservative family. My Dad only watches Fox News. Enough said. I used to be very conservative and have grown more liberal in graduate school and as a parent. I just see the world differently now. Before I had kids, I believed my children would NEVER play with guns. But, I also thought kids ate and slept just because you said so. It all started with water guns. Then Ryan fell in love with Star Wars and then we moved onto Star Wars light sabers and then "blasters" i.e. guns. Two of the most important, loving men in my life, my husband and my Dad grew up with guns and they no longer play with them or have ever been violent in their life. So, I got over my rule about guns. I am always thinking about how I feel about them. But, that is where it stands right now. OK. Now to the real post at hand.

Last Sunday, we went to see Madagascar 2. Before the show started, there were ads for tons of kid's movies. We were in the target audience. That is for sure. But, one ad made me sick to my stomach. As we sat and munched on our popcorn, there was an ad by the National Guard that ran. I couldn't believe my eyes. It was set up as a music video with a 3 Doors Down playing throughout the song. It was a long song. And in this video, there was tons of guns and situations that glorified the military. This is not the normal ad you see on TV. It is not. It was well crafted for young boys. It starts out as a man who joins the army to help others. It has helicopters, guns, disaster zones and soldiers looking heroic. Now, before you judge, I want you to watch the video. No commenting unless you watch it. And imagine you are sitting with your four year-old. The sound is extremely loud and it is completely dark. You can only see the military ad playing for three long minutes.

OK. I know that the military has to advertise. I expect teenagers to be targeted. But, I can tell you that my stomach hurt just sitting there while the military tried to talk my two little boys into their army in 12 short years.

I am not innocent when it comes to peace and raising pacifists. My kids have swords, guns and light sabers. I hope that they will understand the difference between play and reality. And I respect those that serve. My Dad was in the National Guard and I was raised in a very patriotic family.

Joining the military is a choice that people must make when they are old enough to understand the ramifications of the role and the responsibility that comes with it. It is unethical for our government to try to recruit children so early in their life. Isn't that what high school is for? The room was full of preschoolers and elementary children. Not high schoolers who will soon have to make the choice. I didn't need my six year-old to look at me and say "What is this song about and why do they have guns?" What do I even say? I could barely speak. I was sick to my stomach.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Surprises Do a Body Good!

Wow! What a mood everyone is in. The economy has everyone in such a bad mood. I have also noticed it on other blogs and in conversations with friends. Even my blog has been in the dumps. So, I got to thinkin, what makes people feel good? Surprises. There is nothing like a great surprise.

Yet another of our friends has cancer (no worries, nothing negative here to report. Keep reading). So, every three weeks, his supporters get together to surprise the family while he is receiving his chemotherapy. For the first chemo session, we decorated his house with a fall theme. People brought pumpkins, fall decor and surprise goodie bags for the kids. A large group of people are coming together to surprise this family every three weeks. I am starting to think that we are getting more out of this than they are. Surprises do a body good!

I have had people surprise me with a pie and sweet note (thank you SB.) and someone dropped some very cool coupons off for free goodies (thanks JB, I think. She didn't sign her name). Sometimes, a friend will add contact you on Facebook. That is a great surprise. That can really make your day. Sometimes, it is a real compliment from someone you don't expect one from. Sometimes, it can be a simple "I love you too, Mommy" from your child that NEVER says it unless you beg (hint, hint Ryan). What about a song that comes on the radio that you haven't thought of in years? Can you say "Rhythm is Going to Get You" by the Miami Sound Machine?
What great surprises have you had in your life? Is there anyone you could surprise? I will have to think about that. Life is full of surprises. Let's enjoy them.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Some Companies Are Making Money

Do you know that women buy more lipstick when the economy is bad? Really, they do. Lipstick sales are booming! From Avon to Estee Lauder, companies report a rise in sales of lipstick when the economy is in a recession. It must be because for less than $10 bucks, you can buy something that will make you feel better. And it doesn't put too much strain on the budget if you sneak a lipstick in now and then.

When I was a girl, my Grandma used to wear bright red lipstick. She was as tan as I am and very dark Irish hair. I loved her lipstick. But one thing really bugged me as a child. She always missed when putting it on. It was always smeared on the right side of her upper lip. Fast forward 30 years. Guess who does the exact same thing when putting on her lipstick? Me! Isn't that strange? More often than not, I have to fix my lipstick because I do the exact same thing. She died before I even wore lipstick so there was no make-up lesson gone wrong.

So in honor my Grandma Indy, I'd like to share my latest favorites in lipstick. You may be cutting back but a girl still has to look good.

My latest fave: Loreal Infallible Never Fail Lip Gloss.
Normally, long wearing lipsticks look pretty good when you put them on. Then, hours pass and then your lips get really dry and strange looking. Loreal Infallible is more like a lip gloss. I am not wild about lip gloss but I love the way this lipstick feels. When the gloss wears off, you are left with a natural shade of the original gloss that looks good while you go with the rest of your day. You can pick this up anywhere for less than $9 and it lasts a long time. I have had mine for a couple of months and I use it daily. Also, don't forget to look in your Sunday newspaper. Loreal always has coupons and CVS has buy one, get one free specials often.

In case you don't care for gloss: Loreal Infallible Lip Color
This lipstick stays on forever and ever. Sometimes it stays on all night while I sleep. I like to wear it under a regular lipstick. It gives me a nice color that doesn't have to be reapplied. Who has time throughout the day? This lipstick is like your favorite pair of jeans. Just put it on and forget about it.

In case you want a regular lip stick: Mary Kay
I have tons of regular lipsticks in my collection. Time after time, I reach for my Mary Kay lipsticks. I am always suprised how long it stays on. For not being a "long wearing" lipstick, it outruns everything else I have tried that isn't considered long wearing. You may have to reply once a night when you are out, but you won't look funny in between bathroom visits. Worth every penny. The lipstick goes on smooth and looks great.

So do yourself a favor, if you need a little retail therapy, add one of these lipsticks to your shopping list or find a Mary Kay consultant. I am a lipstick girl and have more than I will ever admit. And if you have a favorite lipstick, don't be afraid to share it in the comment sections. You can never have enough lipsticks! Right, Grandma?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My 180

I interrupt my scheduled post to announce the best news I have heard in a long time. And before I share, I'd like to apologize for a mention of Christmas before Thanksgiving. It is such good news and once it gets out, it may have an impact on your shopping. So, here's to a head start that will save you a ton of headaches on Christmas Day.

Have you heard the good news from They are introducing stress free packaging of kids' toys. Yes, you read that correctly. No more toys wrapped up in wires and plastic. It will not take a trip to the emergency room for your little Johnnie to play with his toys right away. The toys will come in an environmentally friendly brown simple box. You will simply pull the product out and the child can play. Can you even imagine?

Jeff Bezos, CEO of of Amazon said that there are starting this packaging with their best sellers. And from there on, they will expand it to their line of toys. It may take some time. It is a multi-year initiative. Sounds good to me. I will wait as long as it takes and reward Amazon with my business. Thank you Amazon!

I have always loved Amazon. You can't beat their prices, free shipping and their selection. Often times, I have found their prices to be cheaper than the stores and with NO TAX. Delivered to my door without a shopping trip with screaming and fighting kids, priceless.

So forget what I said about shopping before Thanksgiving in a post a few days ago. There may be a run on the best sellers with the new packaging. Better make your list and check it twice. Getting shopping people. There's only 38 days until Christmas!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Beautiful Eyelashes

I was born with the whitest, smallest eyelashes. I am blonde thanks to Aveda but was born blonde thanks to my ancestors. No matter how much mascara I put on my eyes, they are still tiny and barely visible. Today, I spent time today staring at the most beautiful eyelashes and eyes. My friend Julie's son came for a visit this weekend with his dad and sister. At her eulogy, her pastor said that Julie once said she watched her son sleep for over a half an hour and never knew she could love someone so much. As I looked at his eyes today, I could only imagine the love she felt knowing her days were limited.

This weekend was harder than I expected. I knew that I would think of her often but I had no idea that I would feel so guilty. I just don't think it is fair that I am with her children and she cannot be here. I tucked them into bed tonight and nearly lost it. I hope she was watching from Heaven because I did it with every bit of love that I know she would have wanted to do.

Have you heard of survivor guilt? I have never felt it before but today, I knew exactly what it was. Julie and I were pregnant at the same time. We went to the hospital around the same time. Ryan was born a day before Julie's son. We were so different but so much alike. I promised myself to never write another post that made me cry about Julie. But tonight as her children sleep under my roof, I cannot ignore it. Julie, your children are so much like you and have so much love to share. I know that you have layed such a strong foundation for them and that they radiate the love you gave.

At the end of the long day day, it can so easy to rush the bedtime routine. They always need another drink, a quick trip to the restroom, their covers aren't right, they forgot their favorite stuffed animal downstairs... the list is endless. So many days I want to yell "I am off duty boys!" And there are days that I do. But, tonight, I spent a little more time covering them up, looking at them and saying a little prayer. Julie, your children are beautiful and I am so blessed to be able to tuck them in. So beautiful.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Me? Bah Humbug?

Harry Connick Jr. wrote one of my favorite Christmas songs. The words of "When My Heart Finds Christmas" are:

In my eyes are valentines
And Easter eggs and New Year's wine
But when my heart finds Christmas
My eyes will shine like new

All the days are kind to me
But fall too far behind to see
But when my heart finds Christmas
I hope it finds you too

Lately, I have wondered what is wrong with me. Why am I not more excited about Christmas coming? It is everywhere. I went to Walmart yesterday and tried to walk down the Christmas section. I couldn't do it. I am just not into it.

I then thought about when I'd put up the tree and decorations. I even scheduled an event in early December at my house to force me to get my decorations up. Should it be so much work and something I dread? What is wrong with me? I love everything about Christmas. I get into it 100 percent.

It then dawned on me. IT IS NOT CHRISTMAS! I shouldn't be in the mood to start my Christmas cards or shop for gifts. I can relax and enjoy Thanksgiving for everything it means to me. I can look out at the leaves and soak in their color. I can put out my turkey decorations and gear up for the big family dinner and the Macy's Thanksgiving parade. We can even make turkeys with feathers that list everything we are grateful for. We can't miss Thanksgiving and all of the memories.

Retailers almost had me fooled. I know they are hurting. But, I think America is hurting for more than retail therapy. We need family. We need to be grateful. We need each other. Don't be afraid to ignore the commercials, music at the stores and the Christmas aisle. It is only November and we have so much to be grateful for. Let's celebrate Thanksgiving. And eventually my heart will find Christmas. But for now, I have to count my blessings and be thankful.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lots of Energy

Do you remember some of you papers you wrote in college? Can you believe you wrote and believed some of the crap that you turned in? Sorry for the use of the word crap. I tried to come up with something a little better but my other choices were worse. Anyway, when I studied abroad, I wrote some papers about the development of gender. I really believed that it was environment or nurture that shaped a child's development and character. I never expected biology or nature to have so much to do with it. I would raise my children a certain way and that would be it. I knew it all. I was a career woman and I studied "Women's Studies." I am not sure I ever expected to have kids. I knew that I would never stay home with them. Never.

So here I am at home and my boys really make me earn my keep. They are all boy. They are constantly moving and chasing each other. They wrestle and come up with super hero scenarios. They love to tease each other and everything is a contest. Up and down the stairs. Fighting, yelling, running, chasing and teasing. That's all they do.

We had my beautiful niece's baptism on Sunday. At the luncheon afterwards, the boys (all of the boys not just mine) are running laps and laps around the house. One of my nieces was hanging with the boys and trying to keep up. The other girl, sitting in the corner with some tiny people and a house. Playing quietly.

We visited some friends for the weekend a few months ago. The kids created a small obstacle course and were jumping into piles of pillows to entertain themselves. All in all, they were good. They hardly argued or fought. I was telling her how happy and relieved I was that my boys were good during the visit. She looked at me a little funny and said "Whoa. That was good? I thought they had a lot of 'energy'." That is a nice way to say "wild." She has two little girls and when they get yelled out, I am always wondering what they were doing wrong. They seem like angels to me.

Everyone keeps telling me that this will all pay off when they are teenagers. I will not have teenage girls and hopefully none of the drama. I told a new mom I know to just keep repeating to yourself "This is just a phase. It will pass." I need to really believe it myself. Everyone also says that I will miss this time when they are older. I hear you. But, man. I could take a few days of a little less energy.

Don't let the tuxedos or smiles fool you. They have lots and lots of "energy."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I Am Under Construction

Do you have any strange fears? Nothing serious. Just weird?

I realized that I have a funny one today. I was driving to preschool and they are doing road construction on one of the sides of the road. You have to wait your turn and a hard working person turns the little stop sign to let you know if you should stop or proceed slowly. So here is my fear. I have a fear of being the first car in the line. "Where do I go? What if I go in the wrong area? What if I go at the wrong time?" I know it is silly. I can follow directions. I can wait my turn. But, I do get a little nervous when I am not sure where to go. I know they will work on this road for the next week. Part of me wants to take a different route. The rational part of me says that I most likely will not be the first car. And if I do, I can figure it out. Funny how the mind works.

Do you have any irrational fears?

Right now, Ryan is afraid of the dark. This is new. He won't go upstairs to get something without someone with him. He can't even turn on the light. I was like this as a child. Thank goodness it isn't a permanent condition. Can you imagine being a parent who is afraid of the dark? For fun, I looked up the phobia. It is called Nyctophobia. It would be an expensive phobia to have with all of the lights you'd have to have on everywhere you go every day and night of your life.

If you have a fear and you'd like a label, check out You can enter your fear and it will help you pinpoint your phobia. And just for the record, I couldn't find any road construction phobias. I am relieved about that. Tomorrow morning, I will talk myself into taking the road that is under construction. It will be OK. I will be fine. And we will keep the night lights on for Ryan. Just in case.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Expensive Lesson Learned

We walked in making jokes about how we were dressed. We didn't intend to meet at this really nice restaurant. Our local hangout was closed because of winter hours. We were stuck with the restaurant next door.

So, we sat down and asked the waiter for a suggestion for our wine. That is code for "bring us wine that is good but at a good price." I made the mistake of turning my nose up at Stagg's Leap. Nothing personal against the wine. But, we had it recently and I just don't care for it. Anyway, the waiter brought us the wine list. We asked for a suggestion. He gave it and we took it.

All good until the bill came. Our eyes almost popped out of our heads when we saw the bill. It was a $100 bottle of wine. Now, you are reading this thinking you would have asked about the wine he suggested. You wouldn't have. Not in this place. You would have felt awkward and cheap. You would.
But let me tell you, as much as I enjoyed my 2 glasses of wine, I feel sick that I spent the money. Just sick. There are times when you enjoy spending money on wine and times that it is not necessary. Girlfriends, I enjoyed your company but it was just too much money. We are watching our budget and really being particular about where we spend our money. Drinking it all made me sick.

So just so we are clear Mr. Waiter, you would have received a 20% tip from the lovely ladies tonight. But instead, you received $1. 50 for your outstanding suggestion of Cask Cabernet of Napa Valley 2004. It was good but I still have a sick feeling in my stomach. Lesson learned. It just stinks that it was such an expensive lesson to learn.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Baby Mama

Top Ten Signs You Shouldn't Have Trick or Treated at My House Last Night*

10. You fill out a french maid's outfit.
9. Your voice cracks when you say "Trick or Treat."
8. You are hoping for extra candy to bring to your office
7. You are worried about the candy going to your hips.
6. You aren't wearing a costume but carry a pillow case.
5. You drove and your truck is parked out front.
4. You are taller than me and I had to reach up to put candy in your bag.
3. You wondered if you should be a nurse or a naughty nurse.
2. You wore aftershave.
1. You are a baby mama (you brought the baby and her treat bag)

*Most of these really happened last night. Thanks to my sister, hubby and MIL for their help. We weren't talking about our trick or treaters, we're just saying....

Indy & Hubby at a Halloween party.

Kyle as Darth Maul minus the mask and double light saber

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Using Funk to Get Out of the Funk

Last week, I wrote about what a funk I've been in. It is time to start climbing out of it. In addition to the usual plan of exercising, sleeping and trying to eat better (i.e. something more than Reese Cups) I have noticed that music really helps my mood. Now, if you would have asked me a few months ago what kind of music would lift my mood after a friend dies, I would have guessed that maybe U2 would help or how about the lyrics of the Indigo Girls. Nope. Wouldn't work for me this week. The only thing I can listen to? Prince and the funky music he creates. Now, I am not talking about the Prince songs you are probably remembering from the 80's. He has gone on to create some really cool, funky new music that would surprise most people that haven't listened to him since Little Red Corvette. There is just something about the horns, amazing piano and drum beats that he composes. It works for me.

Now, I listen to this funky music a lot and really loud. My poor children. It is hard to drive and sing and look respectable driving my silver minivan into the preschool (and church) parking lot. I like to dance and I do in my seat. Today, a woman from preschool followed me home the whole way. I was jamming and wondering what she thought I was doing.

So, I am going to recommend some cool Prince songs that you can sample on iTunes if you are feeling a little crazy or even down. They are sure to make you move your feet and stop feeling sorry for yourself. The song that keeps being played over and over again "Get on the Boat." You can't listen to it without moving. "The Word" is a slower funky cool song. I love the beat and his voice. And if you are still reading "Black Sweat" is just plain fun.

OK. I know Prince doesn't work for all and probably not most. What works for you? What do you listen to when are feeling down? I pulled up iTunes when I started writing this post and it is blaring "Black Sweat." Please excuse me while I get up and dance.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Almost Lost Him to the Royal Throne

Before I start talking about toilets, I wanted to say thank you for all of the love and support I received this week. Not only from the comments, but from the phone calls, emails and Facebook messages. At my sister's party last week, I opened up to a former supervisor. I told her "I have no idea why I blog. I sometimes think I will quit but then I can't stop." She then said "You must get something from it or you wouldn't take the time." She is right. This week, I got so much support from everyone. I know it is one reason I write. Thank you for taking the time to show your love and support. I felt it. Now back to toilets and laughter....

"Ewww! My hands are in the toilet! Ewww! My hands are in the toilet!" I screamed and yelled at my kids. While I had my hands in the toilet and screaming, I was really thinking I have to catch this stinken frog or my husband will kill me. I just paid $10 for this thing. I then realized that I should be more worried about my children losing their frog to the royal thrown. Ry and Kyle will cry if I don't catch the little bugger before it goes into the hole in the toilet. They raised him from a tadpole. It would be traumatic to lose him. Who knew aquatic frogs were so darn slippery? Then I yelled "I think I have him. Quick, grab the aquarium. I got it. I got him." The kids couldn't stop laughing at me. They couldn't wait to tell Daddy when he got home from work about Mom's hands in the toilet.

Ry's frog squeezed though the hole in his aquarium as I was emptying it out. There is a correct way to do it that was described in the froggy "how to booklet" but I couldn't find the plastic piece that I was supposed to use. I thought I could just tip it gently and I could keep the frog in the container. Nope. They are extremely fast and slippery. The frog is bigger than the hole. But he just slipped out. See the hole in the top of the dome in this picture below?

I washed my hands at least ten more times that night. I am a freak about germs and I still can't believe how long I had to fish around that toilet bowl to get that stinken frog. One of my friends at preschool told me the other day that I am a good mom for boys. We have three hermit crabs, three aquatic frogs, tons of fish, a dog and cat. Yep, I am a boys' kind of mom. A boys' kind of mom who better figure out a better way to clean out the aquarium or at least buy more Purell.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Long But Not Long Enough Goodbye

Dear Julie,

When I got the call, I didn't even cry. I have been crying for the past three months so much that I am pretty shocked that I didn't break down when I heard. But, I saw you last week. You looked so tired. So ready to go. I knew it would only be days. So when I got the call tonight, I didn't even have time to sit down. The kids were running around chasing each other with a weapon of some sort. The alarm on the stove was going off, the kids were screaming and I was trying to get details from my husband about your passing. Instead of my own pain, I just wondered how Joe was handling it and who had to call for the ambulance. Is that how it works? I have no idea.

We had big plans. We were going to go on a vacation again together. All of us. I am not sure if you knew it. My husband and I always talked how some summer, all of us from law school would rent a house in South Carolina on the beach. We'd put the kids down to bed and spend the nights talking and drinking wine. Maybe in a couple of years. Who knew we didn't have that long.

It has been a long goodbye. But the end was so quick. I thought there would be more off a battle but pancreatic cancer doesn't provide time for that. It has only been three months since you were diagnosed. I knew it would be a near impossible to beat pancreatic cancer. But, I thought we'd have more time.

Each night, we talk about you and your struggle. And each night my husband eventually falls asleep. I would lay there and pray for you and begged God to help you through this struggle. Last night I prayed for your family as they gathered around you to say goodbye. I never understood why the term "broken heart" came about until last night. As my husband slept beside me, I cried so hard that my heart hurt. I just couldn't believe you were leaving.

Dear friend, I hope they have a glass of Cabernet ready for you up in Heaven. You are free from pain now. This weekend we will celebrate your life. This will be one of the hardest weekends of my life. How do you say goodbye? I have no idea. But, I promise to gather around Joe, Robert and Suzy and shower them with our love and support. You were an incredible person with the best smile. I will never forget your laughter. You always made me smile and laugh.

We love you and we will never forget you my dear friend,


Wednesday, October 22, 2008


We've been a funk here in Indyworld. A real funk. My husband and I talk about it each night. We both know we are in one and we can't crawl out. Before I go any further, let's talk about how normal this funk is and that it's OK. Our friend Julie is slowly passing away. That would be enough to put anyone into a funk. The economy stinks and there is pressure to cut costs from our budget. It is tighter than ever. Funk! And election coverage doesn't help. Let's get this election over with now. Let's get it over before we get any funkier over here.

While I write this, my husband has decided he can be in a funk no longer. He is working out downstairs on our treadmill. I am taking a different approach. I am watching High School Musical on Disney and eating Reese Cups. My husband asked if I was working out with him. I told him I am going to remain in this funk for a little longer. I need to. I will come back up soon, but for now, I will watch bad TV, visit Facebook 1,000 times a day and do absolutely nothing. I need this now. I am recharging. I am tired of doing. I want the funk.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I Am Not So Bad!

I was watching Live With Regis and Kelly last week. Regis wasn't there so Anderson Cooper filled in. I love Anderson Cooper. I do. He is great. Anyway. He was talking about one of his favorite shows, the Real Housewives of Atlanta on Bravo. Have you watched it? It is unbelievable. I have watched the other seasons of this show but this year, it is blowing me away. Not in a good way!

As I watched my first episode of the year, my husband walked in and kind of looked at me funny. What the heck am I watching? I was wondering too. Why is it fascinating to watch people like this? As I sat through the episode I thought about what Anderson Cooper said on Regis. He said that he watches because it makes you feel better about yourself. I get it. I understand what he means. As I sat there, I was thinking, "At least I am a better mom than that lady." "At least I am not so materialistic." "At least I can handle a kid's birthday party without a drink from the bar." Well, maybe not. Anyway, I am amazed that people live like this. With the rest of America worrying about the rising cost of food and the economy, it is hard to believe that there are women who have make-up artists and hairdressers at their house every morning.

So people, set you DVR just once in the next week. Make yourself watch just a smidgen. Watch as much as you can stomach. And reassure yourself that you are a good person. You have almost normal friends and you probably live a pretty normal life. No one would want to tape my life. And that it good thing.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

She's Always on my Mind

Last night, my sister had a Mount Union College Homecoming party and housewarming party. She now works at the College and bought a house in Alliance. We had a great time catching up with her friends, work colleagues, neighbors and important people in her life.

We drank sangria. We ate good food brought by friends. We caught up with one another. Throughout the night, I kept a secret from everyone. They wanted to know how life was treating me. What do I do with myself? How do I stay busy? How are the boys? McCain or Obama? How is Indy?

I couldn't tell them the truth. I couldn't even go into any details. I kept a smile on my face and kept up the small talk. But there was only one thing I was thinking about off and on. My good friend "Julie." She has pancreatic cancer and we just found out this weekend that the fight is almost over. She will be sent home for her last few days to be with her family. She has only days, maybe a couple of weeks to live.

We have traveled to the hospital in Columbus to see her. She wouldn't let us touch her for fear of germs. I just wanted to grab her and hug her and cry. I wanted to tell her how sorry I was and how much cancer "sucks." She wouldn't let us. She didn't know the fight was over when we visited her. Thank God I didn't know. I am not sure I could have gotten through the visit.

When I walked out of the room, I looked back one last time. I looked into her eyes. I knew it was the last time I would see her alive. I just knew it. She looked so scared.

So, in between all of the conversations and smiles on my face last night. My heart was breaking. My dear friend "Joe" will have to bury his soul mate before Thanksgiving. I just don't know how he is getting through this. I am four hours away and I can barely think of anything else. My prayers but not my tears are running dry. I ask God for peace and support for their family.

I have to be honest. You always hear "Life is short." But when it seems like everyone beats cancer and everyone lives until they are over 80, it doesn't seem like life is so short. The last few weeks have caused me to shift my perspective. I am enjoying my children a little more in the last few weeks. I try to not rush them and I sit and watch them more. I try to say yes more often. I am more patient with my husband. Little things don't bother me as much as they used to. My cat scratched my new curtains this weekend while we were gone. Did I care? Not at all. Honest. So much more important things to care about. It is just not important. People are important. Curtains? Not so much. So, I guess life is short afterall. I am learning. Thank you Julie for my lesson. I promise to never forget.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Too Much Skin in the Bathroom

"Are we heading the right way to the bathroom?" I asked.

"Yes, it's downstairs on the left."

OK. I walked into the bathroom and it was a sort of laundry room/ bathroom combo. A candle was lit. It was clean. They were expecting their guests to use this bathroom.

But guess what they left out? A big ol' stack of Playboys. Yep. Right across from the toilet on the dryer. I couldn't believe my eyes. They were stacked neatly and everything was dusted and clean around them. I thought maybe they were vintage. That would be kind of fun to see Playboys from the 50's. Nope. On the top, the most recent edition. Whoa!

Now, I am not one to really care if someone looks at Playboy. I worked at Waldenbooks in grad school. I saw a lot of pornography sold. Many were sold to people that seemed really normal and conservative looking. I don't want to get into a discussion about pornography. Not my thing. Hopefully not my husband's thing but apparently, our friend's thing.

We were at a clambake. They had about 30 people there. There were friends and relatives and WORK ASSOCIATES. They knew we were all coming. All of the lights were lit leading their guests to this bathroom. Why did they leave out their Playboys? Why did the wife let her husband leave out the Playboys? Just makes you wonder.

As my husband and I giggled our way out of the downstairs, we were both talking about how I had to write about this. If only I would have brought my camera to capture the whole picture. Well, not the whole picture.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Book Club Gone Wild

Dear Borders,

Is business really that good? Really?

On a busy Saturday afternoon, one of your employees hushed my small book club. Your employee said we were being too loud. We all looked at each other. Really? We are really that loud?

As we sat there in shock, we made plans for the next book club. Next month, it was already scheduled for a member's house. December, we better make it Panera. They won't care if we talk and laugh.

Usually, the book club walks around and selects books for the upcoming months. Can you say "Missed sales?" I won't be buying my next book club book at Borders. I am sure there would have been some coffee refills after the meeting. Cha ching. More missed sales. Ticked off ladies with Christmas season approaching rapidly. Can you say "Amazon. com?"

Before I left and before we got yelled out, I was dying to go and buy a tea and browse the bookstore. I even brought some coupons to use. But, you better believe that I made a quick get away after our book club snuck out quietly.

So Borders, is business really this good? Too good to let a book club talk and laugh on a busy Saturday in the cafe? You are not a library. And for years our book club hasn't had a problem at your store. Maybe it is because the economy is doing so well and your company doesn't need the support of book clubs. Shocking. We are one wild book club. Almost throw out of Borders!


A book lover who used to love Borders in Cleveland, Ohio

P.S. In true Indy letter writing fashion, I will be sure to send a copy of this letter to the store and their headquarters.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

All Alone At the Zoo

"I wonder how they know each other. Their toddlers look like they are Ryan's age. They are all talking. They all seem so close. Man, I wish I had some friends to go to the zoo with. I had friends at my last job but then I quit. It is so hard to make new friends. I've got to meet some other moms."

I remember the day like it was yesterday. This is pretty surprising because I have mommy brain and can't even remember what I did yesterday. So anyway, back to my day at the zoo. I was standing there by the elephants. Ryan was small. It was probably our first trip to the zoo. I stood near some moms who seemed to look and act a lot like me. Except, they were all friends and I was alone. I walked closer so I could hear them talk. Yep. They are good friends. And man, why don't I have any mommy friends?

Do you remember those days? I remember my first playgroup. I was worried because the moms would come for lunch back then. I obsessed for weeks about what to serve. Can you believe I cared? I worked hard on a homemade potato soup with crusty bread. And guess what? No one came. Everybody was sick. We were first time moms so it was probably a sniffle. We still get together six years later. But now, we do it on our own without the kiddos. We meet for dinner and drinks and catch up throughout the year.

I remember moving and meeting my new playgroup. I was so nervous to walk into the house. I had nothing to worry about. What a time saver that playgroup was for me. They had it all figured out. They knew what preschools were good, where to shop, what to do, where to go and they knew everybody. Thank goodness I joined that preschool PTA and sent in that playgroup form. I can't imagine my life without those women in it.

Time has changed and I was just invited to join another group of mothers. I have a strong group of friends and tend to take on too much so I am not sure I can add another group to my list right now. What a nice change this is. I am in a good place and feel so lucky that there are women that have gotten me though the baby, toddler and preschool years. Dear friends, thank you. We've grown and changed so much in the last six years. I am lucky to be able to call any of you up for a trip to the zoo and you'd be there.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Guess I Like to Write More Than I Like to Cut & Paste

OK. I need something positive up on my blog. The last post weighed heavily on my soul all day.

(Warning, if you are a scrapbooker, please, please, please keep reading past my first sentence. Don't give up on me.)

I am not a scrapbooker. At all. One Christmas, my mother-in-law gave me a huge kit with everything needed to create scrapbooks. This was during the time when EVERYONE was into it. Remember a few years ago? I tried to create a book. I just could not get into it. I worked on it. It wasn't pretty. I just couldn't put my heart and soul into it. So when my second child complains about not having a book (thank goodness he is a boy and hopefully will not care), I will try to explain that there was a huge fad going on in the U.S. I felt forced by mother's guilt to create these books even though it wasn't my type. I didn't stop creating the book for Kyle because I loved him any less or that he was my second born. It was because I did not care for the art of scrap booking. It just isn't my thing.

When it was Ryan's first birthday, I let go of the guilt and realized that I couldn't force myself to create these books. Just couldn't do it. So, I created a journal for him. The perfect part of this journal? I only had to write one time a year. Once. So, in this journal, I write a letter to each boy on their birthday. I write the names of their friends, the type of birthday they had, what they like to eat, what they are learning in school, their personality, words they say a little funny that I don't want to forget. Things like that. I often catch myself writing at other times. I try to write down their Christmas list or their favorite gifts from Santa. But, I am only allowed to guilt myself into writing one time a year. And you know what else? They aren't perfect books. They have a few pages of scribbles from Ryan as I tried to write when he was playing beside me. I write quickly and they are probably a bunch of misspellings without spellcheck. They are real and they are from the heart.

Here is an excerpt from his birthday letter when he was two:

You are such a sweet little boy. You are gentle but at the same time, you have a fun spirit. You love to laugh, be goofy and dance. You move your head to music that you hear and smile like crazy. You are always smiling.

I am so glad that I wrote it down! I was so tired with a newborn at this time that I am shocked that there is actually something written down and that I can read it.

God willing, I will give each child their book when their wife is pregnant or when they are ready for it if they don't have children. The book captured the beauty of their age and shows how much they were loved. Yes, just like scrapbooks do for the artists that create them.

So, before I was a "blogger" I was creating a special place for my boys to read about their lives. I had no idea that I would ever write so many stories on Blogger about our life. I won't give up their birthday books. Hopefully, I will print out these stories and add them to their birthday books when they are ready. This is a hobby I can stick with. No guilt needed.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

More to Give

As many of you know, one of our dear law school friends has pancreatic cancer. "Julie" is 4 hours away from us. She's had a bad week. She is in the hospital with pneumonia and blood clots. The battle continues. We wanted to go and visit this weekend but we couldn't reach anyone. Their voicemail box was full. No one responded on their Caringbridge site and cell phones were off.

We felt so helpless. We've offered to help with the kids. We've offered to do anything. They say that they have enough help. They have a million people helping them. When I read the thank you's on their message board, I often wonder, what are these people doing to help? I wish I knew. What am I missing? I want to help them get though this. I want to help them to help ME get through this.

We also have a local friend that was just diagnosed with cancer. I can be more involved with this family because they are local. I am kept up to date by friends and I am active in trying to help in any way I can. As a group, we are working together to cover meals, babysitting, play dates, surprises and support.

It occurred to me today that although I can't be there for Julie as much as I need to, someone else is down there in Dayton pitching in. Just like we are here for our local friend. Our local friends have friends from all over the world who probably feel as helpless as I do with Julie.

I am trying to focus on what I can do to help while being 4 hours away. All we can really do is pray. I honestly have never prayed in my whole life as much as I have in the last month. I am sometimes in a constant dialogue asking for support for her husband, the children, the friends, her parents and for Julie. I ask for a miracle. I am praying with everything I have. I honestly didn't know I had it in me to pray this much. Once again, I ask you to skip the comments but take the time to say a small prayer for not only Julie but my local friend with cancer. Miracles are needed. And that's something I can work on being hours away.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Your Dollar is Worth Something

Six coffees at Starbucks.

Twelve cups of tea at Starbucks.

Two shirts at Target.

Dinner at Denny's on Kids Eat Free Night (Tuesdays and Saturdays).

One and 1/2 visits to McDonalds for you and your kids.

Five issues of People Magazine.

Movie tickets and a popcorn for you and your hubby.

A hardcover book from Borders.

My late fees at my local library.

What do all of the items listed above have in common? They all cost about $25. It doesn't go far. Right? It does. It really does.


Check out

Kiva is an amazing organization that helps people around the world loan money to help others. We're not talking about crazy Washington politics here. We're talking about an organization that helps the world's poorest people. These people are too poor to apply for loans from banks. And instead of that relative that never returns the $25 you lent him last year, the people on Kiva pay you back. Yes, they pay you back.

I was just paid back last week. I nearly forgot about lending the money. I lent it last year. The best past for me was relending it. I didn't have to worry about spending the money again. I already spent it last year. When I first joined Kiva, I offered a loan to a Mexican man. He wrote on the Kiva site:

"I urgently need to add another room to my home and install a floor because my family needs more space. My home is very small and only has 2 rooms: the living room, a bathroom and a kitchen. I am asking for $1000 to build a room and lay a floor."

So, my $25 was added to money from others to help reach his $1000. He then paid it back in installments throughout the year.

My next $25 was loaned to a woman from Cambodia. On the site its states that the woman and her husband were married in 1997 and have three children: one daughter and two sons. One of her sons is in school.

The woman has been a silk weaver for nine years, a skill she learned from her sister-in-law. She sells her finished products to the middle man in the village, who takes them to sell in Phnom Penh, while her husband drives a horse cart to haul dirt for leveling house foundations. Now, she is requesting a loan of $250 to purchase cows for raising.

Money is tight for everyone. I don't have a lot of money to give to just any organization that moves me. This organization is different. Kiva states that it empowers the world's poor. You can help change the life of someone with a few clicks of your mouse. I can't tell you how satisfying it was for me to be repaid for this loan. It was the best $25 I have spent in a long time. I often feel so blessed and wish I could do more to help others. This site helps you do just that. It connects you to real people with real needs. I can skip a few visits to Starbucks and Target to pay for a loan that changes people's lives. And they pay you back. Amazing.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sit. Bark. Beg.

My kids are picky eaters. Super picky. While making dinner tonight, Kyle could wait no longer. He grabbed the Pup-Peroni dog treats and started eating them. He's done this before and of course we've said that it is gross. We tried to explain that the meat in dog treats aren't meant for little boys. He doesn't care. He loves them. We then bought him some real beef sticks to eat instead. They are harder to chew and he didn't care for the texture. He just loves Pup-Peroni.

So, I was checking out their website to see what was in the treats. It reads:

With hearty beef taste and a mouthwatering aroma, it's no wonder dogs (or your small child) simply can't resist our Original Beef Flavor. Don't forget to take a package along so you can treat your pup (or small child) wherever you pal around!

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein
24.0% Min.
Crude Fat
12.0% Min.
Crude Fiber
2.0% Max.
24.0% Max.
IngredientsBeef, Meat By-Products (This is the part that scares me), Soy Grits, Sugar, Liver, Salt, Propylene Glycol, Garlic Powder, Caramel Color, Natural Smoke Flavor, Potassium Sorbate (used as a preservative),Sodium Nitrite (for color retention), Red 40, BHA (used as a preservative), Onion Extract.

Feeding Instructions: Feed as a snack. (Before dinner, if you food is not ready and your child is staaaaaarving.)

I know most people have eaten a dog treat or two in their childhood. I haven't but I can name a few relatives (not naming names here). I won't even try the treats that Kyle keeps eating. Kyle isn't just nibbling. He is grubbing. He loves them. With the economy as bad as it it, maybe Pup-Peroni could expand their market to include picky children. Or, I can use the treats as incentives for Kyle to clean up his room or practice his speech therapy homework. Kyle is 4 so how old does that make him in "dog years?" And yes, you better believe I will print this out and make sure he receives a copy of this when he gets older.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Not A Soccer Mommy But Have To Be

I am so not a soccer mom. I am by definition but I am so not good at it. Ryan played on Saturday and a coach's wife came over to sit with me. "What's the score?" Hmmm. Good question. Wasn't even paying attention at all. Hmmm. Should I guess? Lie? Hmmmm. "We've scored a lot of goals." That's how I handled it. She was happy and she didn't ask anything else. If my son isn't playing, I am pretty much in la la land. I just enjoy the sunshine, weather and I people watch. That's how I get through an hour of practice and an hour of soccer a week.

I am also bad at preparing for the weather. When Ry was a little kid, soccer was canceled at the first sprinkle. Now, even during a downpour, games are played. It is a lot to remember. You have to have large umbrellas for the games. If you have a little one and you sit down, you will get soaked. It has to be a golf umbrella. You have to bring a jacket no matter what the weather. You think you know what the weather is like when you leave the house. It somehow changes when you are on the field. I have yet been able to get the clothing right for a game. Last week, it felt chilly. I wore a sweater (I am always cold) and a long sleeve shirt. People were there in shorts. I was sweating and shaking my head that I somehow messed up again on the clothing.

The snacks are also a problem for this soccer mom. My coach has not organized a list. This may sound great to some of you. It is not. No one one knows who is bringing the snacks. I don't feel that my child will starve without one. He is so darn picky that he only eats about 1 in 5 snacks offered at the field. My problem is that every week I am worried that it is my turn. I leave the snacks in the van just in case. But, every week someone else brings them to the field. What a pain. Just give me a date and get it over with.

My husband played soccer until he graduated from college. There are a lot of soccer games in my future. With two boys, I know there will be a lot of sporting events in my life. This is our first attempt at real sports. They have real uniforms. They are playing real soccer. And I am turning into a real soccer mom.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I'll Finish This Post Later

On my counter top sits thank you notes. They are from my son's birthday party that was held on August 23rd. They have been written for weeks. Most have been signed by my six year old. That was no easy task. I have bought stamps. I have yet to address them. You'd think it was such a horrible task to do. I can think of much worse. But there they sit and have sat for about two weeks now. I moved them for the weekend babysitters into my ginormous pile but they are back now to their resting spot. And instead of address them, I am writing this silly post. I pretend I am so busy but I did practice piano earlier today so you know I'm lying.

What else have I been meaning to do? I have to make an appointment with a specialist for Kyle. It would take more time to call a friend. I made notes in my date book reminding me to make this call. I even made a sign that hangs in my kitchen. I keep putting it off. Why not just make the darn call and get it over? I have no idea what my problem is.

When I was a student I would thrive on deadlines. I was a communications major and somehow I thought I was more like a journalist if I would wait until the last minute, work late into the night and turn it in. I wasn't any better as a high school student. I procrastinated with every project.

So, I am trying something a little different with my children. My son had a lot of homework to do this week. He is a kindergartner and he has a different worksheet to do each night. They all came on Monday and are due on Friday. He wanted to know why he had to do one page a night. If he could only understand what I am trying to teach him. I remember the tears as a child being so tired the night before homework was due and begging not to do it. My son still has the tears and is begging me not to do his work. But as a mother, I can't imagine it any other way.

I will lead by example. I will at least work on addressing five of my envelopes before bed. I will make myself send five a day. I will make that doctor's appointment before I pick Kyle up for school tomorrow. I will help Ryan with yet another worksheet after school tomorrow. We'll get it all done. We'll just do a little bit a day so there are no tears.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More Time Than Money

My friends and I were at a surprise birthday for one of our friends on Friday. As a conversation starter, someone asked "Who's watching the kids?" I told them it was Lisa, a friend of ours. I am in a babysitting co-op and we take turns watching each other's kids. I have only paid for a babysitter twice in my life. I go out a lot and leave my children with sitters often. I have more time than money so it is perfect for me and my family. The best part is that if any emergency comes up, I know that I have 25 women to call for help. I also feel safe knowing that all of my friends know the sitters. We know each other and I have sat for them. I never have to worry about whether my sitter can handle an emergency. They have real life experience as moms and they can handle anything.

When I have written in the past about my babysitting co-op, some people have said that they wish they had a babysitting co-op. There is no reason why you can't start one. You may think you are too busy. I just squeeze it in. I have the children here to play with my kids during the day. My kids think it is a play date. I then pick certain Saturdays when I really need hours. One Saturday every couple of months helps to keep your babysitting hours up in your "bank." It really doesn't take a lot of time.

Here are some tips to get started.

Step 1. Send out an email to all of your friends asking them to come to your house one evening for a meeting.

Step 2. Ask the friends who have said they are coming, tell them to bring at least one friend.

Step 3. Have your friends bring their calender. Ask that each person schedule at least one sit. Also have them schedule a monthly meeting day. We meet on the third Tuesday of the month. Ask your members what works for them.

Step 4. As the head of your new babysitting co-op, create a folder to keep track of the hours. Have each person that babysits email you when they have sat. Email me and I will share information about how to break down the hours. If you have one child, it is one hour per child. If you have two children, it is 1.5 hours per actual hour. It get confusing without the chart. Email me and I will email it right out to you.

Step 5. Treat your hubby with a date night with FREE babysitting. Once you go out, your husband will be sold on the idea. Free is good.

Step 6. Take that first step to start your own co-op. I can't imagine my life without one. In fact, I am in two. Yes, two. When I run out of hours, I use the other. So in fact, I have about 50 women that I rely on each month.

At our last meeting, we had a woman trying to get her child from school, to dance lessons and then somewhere else. She had a day where it just wouldn't work to be at all places at once. I said "It takes a village to raise our children." In reality for me, it takes a co-op or two.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Busy Doing a Lot of Nothin'

I saw a friend I hadn't seen in awhile. She asked what was new. There is a lot going on in my life. Not much of it is new. We were at a party. The music was screaming loud. What could I really yell over the music that would make sense? Imagine me yelling over the music "My son started kindergarten a few weeks ago." "We are drywalling our basement." "We received some new office furniture from my husband's company." That wouldn't make much sense and she probably wouldn't hear me so I just said, "Nothing new."

She then went on to suggest some activities for me. She must have assumed I was bored. She suggested that I start selling items on EBay. Hmmm. Tried that. I do it now and then. Check. Got that taken care of. She then went on to suggest some more hobbies. Hmmmm. I must really seem bored (or boring). I think this lady is a stay-at-home mom too. She must understand how you can stay busy all day and not really have much to talk about. She must know.

After the party, my mind (as it always does) works overtime. I am pretty busy for a stay-at-home mom. I don't have much energy to add anything new to my life right now. But, maybe I need to work on my party conversation skills. I could add that to my list of things to work on. I will add that right to my list of making my hair appointment, playing with my sons, making lunches, cleaning up the toys, date nights with the hubby, phone calls with my sisters, visiting my parents and in-laws, writing this blog, reading as many blogs as I can get to, putting my photos in albums, organizing my jewelry box, trips to parks, making dinner and organizing my spices. Right, I will add party conversation skills to my list.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Years of Practice

I was not a good piano student. I never practiced. Well, maybe the day before the lesson. In fact, I was so bad at practicing, I became a great sight reader. I could play whatever my teacher put in front of me for the week. The only problem was that I never got any better at the piece because I didn't practice. I took lessons for at least 12 years. Without practicing, you can't really learn to play.

I ran into my piano teacher when my children were babies. Standing in Walmart while trying to keep track of my two year-old and keep my baby quiet, she asked me if I still played the piano. I almost laughed in her face. Practice? I didn't practice when I had weekly lessons. I have two babies here. I can barely shower and I never sit down. Sit down to practice a piano? Are you nuts? I don't even own a piano. You see, I quit my job, we bought a house we can barely afford, my husband left the firm to work in house and now we have two kids. I can't even afford a piano. So no piano teacher, I don't still play the piano.

I didn't say that but I swear I thought it. She was so sweet when I said no. I felt so guilty.

Skip ahead until last November. I came up with a plan to buy a used piano. I wanted my sons to take piano lessons. I had to have a piano. I would take some birthday money from my parents, sell some large ticket toy items on EBay and buy a used piano off of Craig's List or EBay. My husband thought I was losing it. Who buys a piano off of EBay? I did. Sight unseen. Yep.

Guess what else I bought two weeks ago? My old brand of piano books that I had growing up. I am learning to play piano all over again. I was shocked at how much I remember. I guess I must have practiced at some point. Even if my piano teacher made me play the song 14 times in my 1/2 hour lesson, it must have sunk in because I can play it now.

So Miriam, my old piano teacher, it has taken me years to get here. But, I am finally practicing my piano.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Have To Tell Someone

When I was in fifth grade, one of my best friends told me a secret. It was a secret that I knew that I couldn't keep to myself. Nanette told me that was being molested by her father. She told me that her dad was touching her. I didn't talk to my parents about it. I didn't tell anyone at first except my teacher. When I told Mrs. Ruff, I remember the look of horror on her face. She believed me and the school moved quickly. I often wonder what happened to her and how her life turned out. I do remember that her parents divorced. The secret stayed pretty much a secret and her life went on.

I had to tell someone. I feel the same way about an Oprah episode that I watched yesterday. Oprah is passionate about child predators. She is a survivor herself of a molester. On her show, she had brave young girls talk about what is what like to be sexually molested. They were so strong and brave as they shared their stories.

On the show, they also showed how molesters are creating information systems online to share with other molesters. One of the most horrific things is that molesters are teaching others how to molest children of all ages including a baby. Yes, a baby. The molesters are also creating Internet systems where they are raping children on live video on the Internet for their viewers. Imagine a sort of You Tube for molesters. It went on and on. I became more angry and sick as I watched.

So what can we do? The first thing they reminded viewers is that the people "on the Internet" are your neighbors, realtives, people at church, friends you see at soccer and people in your community. Molesters are everywhere. You have to second guess everyone around your children. Everyone.

Women all over the world are blogging. We are on the Internet too. We must rise up as mothers and protect our children. Demand that our senators protect our children. Help pass the the Protect Our Children Act called Senate Bill 1738. It is BIPARTISAN bill. How to do this? Visit Oprah's site. It will lead you to your senators. You can send a prepared email. You can write your own letter. You can send a letter. You can call. We have to move quick. Senate will be adjourning for the rest of the year in a couple of weeks. You must act quickly to send your message.

You have to do something just like I did for Nanette. Somewhere in your neighborhood tonight, a dad will walk down the hall with his video camera and do unspeakable things to his little girl. You have to tell someone. Tell Congress to fund this bill.

I'm Not Talking About It, I'm Just Saying...