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    Wednesday, December 31, 2008

    The Cat Toy Story

    This little story goes out to Mild Mannered Missionary Mary, whose lingerie habits I’ve made known to the blogosphere. Enjoy for a change, Mary, my own humiliation in the intimates department.

    In honor of New Year’s Eve, here it is, The Cat Toy Story.

    Those of you who’ve read my “Anyone Lost Their Panties” entry, know that I’m a practical girl when it comes to undergarments. It may surprise you to discover that I occasionally spend more on underwear than a measly $6.99 for a three pack of panties. Yes, you got it, only on special occasions.

    Last Christmas, I was shopping at Target when I spotted a snazzy little black number in their pajama section. I liked it, but I was on a mission for Christmas presents, so I put myself back on course and steered away from temptation.

    Now for Christmas that year, I decided to do something a little different. You see, our anniversary is January 16th, so I booked a room at a B&B in Estes Park where Kory and I honeymooned. I wrapped up the pertinent information and stuck it under the tree as a gift for Kory.

    A few days after Christmas, I was thinking about our upcoming getaway, and I remembered the black lace nightie at Target. I was out shopping, so I took the opportunity to pick it up, expecting that it would be marked down for the after Christmas sales.

    Let me stop a moment and fill in a little back story. We had a special feline guest in our house this time last year. Mom’s editor was out of town for the holidays and had asked us to cat sit for Easy, a very fun and sweet-tempered kitty. We loved playing with Easy but somehow managed to misplace one of her cat toys, a long stick thing with feathers and a bell attached to the end. I suspect one of the boys absconded with it, thinking it was some sort of modified light saber.

    While I was at Target, picking up my skivvies, I remembered we owed Easy a new toy, so I swung over to the pet section and picked up a toy pretty much like the old one.

    Now I know all of you would have the good sense to throw some other things in your cart—garbage bags, laundry soap, Scooby Doo band-aids—whatever. I can be painfully clueless about these things.

    And so it is that I arrived at the check out lane with a black lace baby doll and a long, feathered, whip-like cat toy . . . on New Year’s Eve. I put my items on the conveyor belt and then the reality of the situation hit me. But what could I do? Explain to the clerk that the items were totally separate and had no correlation whatsoever? Like she woulda believed me.

    “Sure, ma’am. Whatever you say.”

    So, this year my second New Year’s resolution (the first was not to de-bone so much as a chicken breast for not only the year but the rest of my life—but that’s another story) is to be just slightly more aware of the world around me in hopes that I will not end up--flushed crimson at the Target check out--paying for a black lace negligee (on sale!) and a feathered cat toy.

    Monday, December 22, 2008

    Have a Cow, Man

    We bought a cow today. Well, half of a cow. Half of a dead cow—in the form of 450 pounds of meat. Being the sick puppy that I am, I named our half a dead cow Herbert.

    We had to drive to Kansas (otherwise known as Falcon to us citified Colorado Springians) to pick up Herbert. The boys were somewhat fascinated and horrified at the prospect of bringing home half a cow in our family van. Monkey insisted that he did not want half a cow, and Chunky was adamant that we get the front half of the cow. Who knows why? Better looking?

    As it turns out, both boys fell asleep on the way out to the Great Plains, and only Monkey woke up for the purchasing and loading of Herbert. I wish I could have slept through the process like Chunky did. I’m a bit sensitive to smells, and the minute I walked into the what-do-you-call-it—butchershop/pre-fab garage—I knew I couldn’t stay to watch the details. It seems Herbert’s cousin had recently shared in Herbert’s fate. That’s right, fresh hamburger anyone?

    In case anyone is thinking that Herbert was one of those cows who “fell off the truck,” rest assured that he was in fact a pampered bovine, even earning the term organic upon his death.

    We drove back to the Springs with Herbert in the trunk and ran through Wendy’s because it was late, and Herbert was still frozen. Once we got home, Kory faced the prospect of cramming Herbert into our freezer in the garage. Herbert didn’t fit. We stuffed paper-wrapped T-bones and tip roasts into the nooks and crannies of our indoor fridges and then called some friends. When their answering machine picked up, I whispered, “I need to know if you have a large amount of freezer space, and I need you not to ask any questions.”

    What’s the sense in having friends if you can’t mess with them once in awhile?

    So now Herbert rests in various locations throughout our city. Half of him went to live with our friends, the Woodhouses. I can’t imagine a warmer and kinder family for Herbert, or rather, that half of him. Some of him is just a mile or so down the road with our friends, the Pintos. I wonder if they’ll mind if we get a craving for sirloin in the middle of the night and pop on over to visit old Herb?

    And of course, we have a couple freezers full and a few bits thawing here. The boys quickly overcame their trepidation regarding the unusual way in which Herbert came to join our family. They are now quite eager to eat him. Anybody have any good beef recipes?

    Sunday, November 30, 2008

    Lunatic Turkey Trotters

    There are things in this world that I just don’t understand, like calculus, the Jonas Brothers, and the way my son’s brain works. And then there’s our neighborhood YMCA’s annual Turkey Trot—a 5 K held every Thanksgiving for nut jobs who think that running is an appropriate activity for Thanksgiving Day. Our house is on the trot route, so we have the pleasure of watching the wackos huff and puff from the comfort of our living room.

    Last year was our first Thanksgiving in this house, and somehow we missed the Turkey Trot memo our YMCA sends to the neighborhood homeowners. Thus, we were surprised to see groups of joggers slogging down our street. Our natural inclination is to heckle such industrious folks, and so we sat on our window seat and cheered and jeered. Kory made plans to loaf in a lawn chair in our front yard with a beer for next year’s event. But he must have forgotten his plans because the trot rolled around this year and Kory stayed inside (it was cold.)

    But evidently one of our neighbors was determined to spur the runners on. We could hear the Bob Denver songs he played on outdoor speakers from inside our house. I don’t know about you, but Bob Denver would make me run away.

    I think next year we should get some outdoor speakers too. In fact, the whole neighborhood could get involved in supporting the poor insane people who exercise instead of eat on Thanksgiving. One house could play Barry Manilow, one could play the Bee Gees. We could throw in some Falco, maybe a little Air Supply. And not to leave the 90’s rejects out, we could add Vanilla Ice and Ace of Base.

    You think I’m being mean, but I’m really not. Just think about it. You’re running, you’re exhausted, your lungs are burning. It’s freezing, but you’re sweating so your body is in perpetual confusion. You’ve made it through 4 of your 5 kilometers, but you’ve hit the wall. You can’t go on. And then. . . you turn the corner onto a street where every house is playing some form of ear-insulting muzak. At first you’re horrified, but then your fight or flight instincts take over. Adrenaline surges through your body as you realize that you must escape this twilight zone or spend the rest of your holiday with “I Saw the Sign” replaying in your brain every five seconds. Your second wind arrives, your muscles respond, and you sprint by the offensive houses, thankful for the kind homeowners who’ve provided you with the inspiration to finish the race.

    I may not understand why these people choose to torture themselves on the one day when gorging is not only accepted, but encouraged. But I do understand the need for people to help people, for neighbors to band together with the common purpose of ridding the area of fanatical joggers who make the rest of us look bad. And so I propose Operation Play Them Away to run concurrent with the 2009 Annual Turkey Trot. Who’s with me? Together we can get back to loafing.

    Thursday, November 20, 2008

    Friends Who Don't Count

    The other day we had a get-together with some close friends. One of my girlfriends was remembering a recent move that wasn’t exactly a cakewalk. When the other girlfriend’s husband said, “Wait a minute. I was there to help,” she responded, “Yeah, but you don’t count.”

    We all laughed because we knew exactly what she meant. These are the friends, who—barring life-threatening illness—will be at your door at 8:00 AM on moving day, rain or shine. You can call them in the middle of the night, and they will drive across town in their pajamas to sit with your kids while you take your spouse to the ER. They know your kids’ birthdays, your shoe size, and your opinion on thong underwear.

    They don’t count as friends because they are more than that. They’ve moved on to the obligation level reserved for family, but the difference is, they chose to. Well, maybe the husbands didn’t exactly choose. They just have to go where their wives do. It’s like, biblical, or something.

    I don’t know why, but Kory and I are blessed with more than our share of friends who don’t count. Yes, that means there are a lot of people, who, whether they want to or not, know my stance on stringy underwear. We might as well make it common knowledge to the voting public. I’m opposed.

    I’d just like to take this moment to thank our dear friends who don’t count for going above and beyond the call of friendship. For cleaning messes no one should even have to see, like diaper blow-outs, scrambled egg vomit, and my oven. For hauling our massive wardrobes up and down too many sets of stairs to count. For sitting with us in the hospital when Monkey came four weeks early.

    Everyone should be so blessed. Yikes! Where did this sentimentality come from? I’m going soft in my older years. And I know I’m going to get teased about this. That’s the only drawback to having friends who don’t count, they tend to remember things you’d rather they forget. Like my twenty-first birthday, when I put a napkin on my head and channeled Little Red Riding Hood. Yeah, I’m never gonna live that one down.

    Sunday, November 9, 2008

    Birthday Blunders

    I got a surprise phone call the morning of my birthday. A local flower shop had a delivery for me and wanted to make sure I’d be home. Are you kidding? Not only was I home, but I straightened the front room, brushed my teeth, and re-adjusted my ponytail for the occasion!

    As the wife of a romantically challenged engineer, I was flabbergasted. I never expected Kory to send me flowers, especially after I went a little overboard doing my own birthday shopping earlier in the week. I figured he must have realized that I was having a wee spot of trouble with the big 3-0 and decided to give me a boost by proclaiming his steadfast but rarely demonstrative affection.

    The doorbell rang. The bouquet was beautiful. The card was . . . mystifying. “Happy Birthday from Unpronounceable Name at Maxim Corporation.” At first, the only thing I recognized was the company my husband works for, but as I pondered the foreign-looking name, I vaguely remembered Kory mentioning a CEO from another country.

    And then I got it. Mr. Unpronounceable Name’s admin. assistant makes sure the employees’ spouses are recognized and affirmed by the company on their birthday. A lovely gesture, but also a letdown for obvious reasons. I was disappointed that the flowers weren’t from Kory.

    Here’s my take on the sitch. This company knows they employ a large number of socially inept head cases who regularly fail to comprehend culturally ordained expressions of appreciation. Why not do their engineers a favor, and—since they were going to send flowers to the wife anyway—put the husband/employee’s name on the card? Think of the happiness Maxim could generate simply by notifying the clueless engineer that his wife’s birthday approaches and giving him the option of including a personal message with the flowers the company will send.

    I mentioned my views to Kory when I called to tell him that his CEO sent me flowers, and being a fan of optimization, he thought I had a point. Of course, he was still in the doghouse. I recognize that it was not his fault that I got all excited about the flowers he didn’t send, but what can I say? I am a woman.

    Things went from bad to worse for poor Kory. Chunky and I went to Sams to pick up fixin’s for my birthday dinner party. When we went through the check-out, Chunky happily informed the cashier that it was Mommy’s birthday. Nice Mr. Sams Check-Out Guy then grilled me about my birthday plans and became indignant on my behalf when he discovered that I, not Kory, would be cooking my birthday meal.

    I went home and emailed Kory about Sams Guy’s opinion of him. For the record, I didn’t mind cooking the meal, especially since we were going out the next night—and I told Sams Guy that.

    Kory has a history of landing himself in hot water with me through no deliberate action of his own, so he took his disgrace calmly. Little did I know that this time would be different. Instead of accepting his unearned schlub reputation, Kory was determined to prove Unpronounceable Name and Sams Guy wrong. He showed up that evening with an armful of flowers, four cards, tiramisu, and new ink cartridges for my printer. I’m pretty sure the gesture was meant to sustain me for another ten years of marriage, but I was thrilled nonetheless. Until I opened the cards and realized why engineers should be excused from societal traditions like buying greeting cards. I got two sympathy cards, one princess card with a 0 added after every mention of a 3rd birthday, and card with a disgruntled baby’s picture bearing the words, “I hear you’ve got a big one coming.” Yeah. Okay, it was pretty funny. And I even got a crown with the princess card, so I can’t complain.

    All in all, my birthday was pretty memorable. Well, at least everything that happened before the pomegranate margaritas.

    Tuesday, November 4, 2008

    Obsessed Much?

    So I did something a little fanatical today. No, it had nothing to do with the election. Yes, I voted. Whatever.

    After I stood in line and played connect the dots with my ballot, I took myself over to Target to buy my own birthday presents. See, Kory and I have a good system. I either tell him exactly what I want and he gets it, or I just get it for myself. I’m never disappointed. Actually, I’m not hard to please, so when Kory goes out on a limb, it’s still all good.

    Anyway, I had one particular thing in mind—the Twilight soundtrack that released today. When I got to the store, however, they were still stocking, so I had to ask a helpful Target employee who had to go find somebody else who had to go to the back and get me my CD.

    There was a time when this spotlight on my rather immature obsession with the Twilight Saga would have embarrassed me. But here I am blogging about the experience, so obviously I’ve reached some level of tranquility regarding my geekiness. (Besides, I have a track record for humiliating myself at Target, so there’s not much I can really do to change my “That Weird Lady with the Cat Toy” title.)

    But it is true that I tend to go overboard on some things, like LOTR, Harry Potter, and now Twilight. But you know what? That’s just me. And what do we notice about my little obsessions? They’re all really good stories. So sue me if I still get weepy when I think about Frodo and Sam trudging through Mordor, or Harry walking into the Forbidden Forest to face Voldemort, or Edward and Bella…okay, I don’t get weepy about Edward and Bella. But you get the point.

    I will be—gasp, sputter, choke—THIRTY on Friday, and frankly, all hope for the label “cool” deserted me ten years ago. So I’m unapologetically embracing my inner dork, and I intend to have fun with said dork standing in line for hours on November 21st, signing petitions for Stephenie Meyer to finish and release Midnight Sun, and compulsively re-reading my old standbys, LOTR and Harry.

    And now, I’m off to change my Facebook status to “Vote Carlisle Cullen for President.”

    Tuesday, October 28, 2008

    Chunky in Love

    At the blissful age of four, my son has found true love. Our first hint at his infatuation came one afternoon after preschool when he confessed, “I love CeCe’s hair, but she does not want me to touch it.” We knew there was more to this story, but simply applauded him for exercising restraint.

    Soon Chunky was insisting that we stay late after school so he could play extra with CeCe, who also stays late. As I observed them, I had to wonder if CeCe’s method of entrapping my son wasn’t somewhat similar to how I landed my hubby. Basically, follow him around, do everything he does, chatter a lot, and occasionally attack-hug him out of nowhere. Hey, you don’t mess with a tried and true method.

    Chunky’s crush permeates our lives now. He’s always making plans about what he and CeCe will do when they grow up. These include sharing cupcakes, painting the house green (our house that is, since he intends to live with us even after he weds.) One day, out of the blue, he furrowed his barely-there blond brows and said, “My brother better not ever touch my girlfriend because she DOES NOT LIKE to be touched.” Good words to live by.

    While the adults in the house are constantly hiding giggles at Chunky’s dedication, I must confess I’m a little proud of his kind spirit. He is so selfless in his admiration, even denying his favorite habit—playing with hair. But there’s more. Those of you who know me, know that I avoid the cheese factor at all costs. I’m not overly sentimental, but when your kids do something that causes Heaven to spill into your everyday life, I figure it ought to be shared.

    One day, Chunky and I were sitting together, and he asked me why God made big people. Thinking he was confused about how adults come about, I explained that everybody is born a baby and then grows up.

    “No, no, Mommy. Why did God make people?” he asked.

    I was blown away by his question, but I tried to make my answer coherent for a four-year-old. I told him God made people to bring glory to Him, and that it’s our job to tell other people how great God is.

    Chunky grinned. “I want to tell CeCe how great God is.” He paused and frowned, “But I don’t know where she lives.”

    Oh! Heart squeezing! Eyes misting! Mommy pride soaring off the charts! I know, it’s sappy, but how could I not brag about my extaordinary little guy who will one day make a fantastic husband—even if he does move back in with mom and dad and paint the house green.

    Monday, October 20, 2008

    And Now it's Time...

    ...for another Mild-Mannered Missionary Moment with Mary. For those of you who are just joining us, this post is one of a series on my friend Mary, who suffered a judgment lapse one day and agreed to let me tell snippets of her adventurous life. So, here we go:

    I’ve had some good suggestions about my pajama predicament, but I have to hand the Golden Toothbrush of Originality to Mild-Mannered Missionary Mary. When she heard about the sad state of my non-sexy winter nightwear, MMM Mary recommended a cozy sweat suit with tantalizing lingerie sewn onto the appropriate areas. I thought this was a great idea since those undergarments are bound to look better on a sweat shirt and pants than they ever would on my actual person.

    Perhaps a few of you out there are surprised that Mild-Mannered Missionary Mary was the one to suggest this alluring pajama compromise. Maybe now is a good time to make it clear that Mary’s title is meant to be ironic. Think Clark Kent to Superman.

    But now that family life has Mary wearing her meek disguise more often, she’s discovered an interesting way to keep things spicy with Bill, the other half of the dynamic missionary duo.

    When Bill heads off on a dangerous mission, Mary likes to pack a little something in his hero gear so that he knows she’s thinking of him. Now this sentiment has backfired once or twice. Like the time Bill set off the metal detector in the airport and had to empty his pockets. Imagine his surprise when he discovered Mary’s underwire in his trench coat pocket. Or the time a mishap sent luggage tumbling from the overhead compartment. Out fell a leopard print item of clothing that had other passengers raising their brows.

    I guess it’s the thought that counts. And MMM Mary certainly is thoughtful. In fact, after this post, I bet she’ll be putting a lot of thought into whether or not she should revoke my exclusive reporter privileges. I hope she doesn’t because I think it’s important that the world know the truth behind the façade. Mary may look like an ordinary housewife, but underneath it all is . . . leopard skin tights?

    This Just In! Apparently MMM Mary and her globe-traveling husband (whom we call Bill) were once caught in a clinch at Tom Sawyer's Island in Disneyland. Never fear. Your intrepid reporter will get the scoop. Tune in next time for "Romantic Trysts: Superhero Style."

    Wednesday, October 8, 2008

    Discovery Channel Pajamas

    The nights are getting nippy here in Colorado. My husband has an alternative pronunciation of that word. No doubt yours does too, but we’ll leave them to their illusions of suggestive originality, shall we?

    The other day I crawled in bed to watch last year's tragically abbreviated season of Heroes with hubby. Only a moment passed before I was up again, pulling a second pajama shirt over my head and digging around in the sock drawer for some woolies.

    My husband groaned. In typical caring wife fashioned, I grumbled, “What’s your problem?”

    Kory responded with his best Discovery channel narrator voice. “The cold winter months have come at last, and the female of the species begins the laborious task of fashioning her thick winter coat.”

    I warned him immediately that there would be no mention of accumulating an extra layer of blubber for the harsher temperatures, but British voice-over guy continued.

    “The male of the herd finds himself increasingly isolated by the female as she prepares to weather the winter months. In frustration, he seeks other forms of entertainment, smacking his antlers into trees, destroying small woodland creatures, and challenging other males to pointless competitions for superiority.”

    I griped something about the poor female having to corral the young bucks while the dominant male showed off his prowess in senseless masculine pursuits and then we laughed and moved on to our show. (Does anyone else think the Indian professor on Heroes is yummy? Dunk that guy in curry and give me some naan!)

    Anyway, it seems that I now have the challenge before me of finding some, I don’t know, less-than-thermal winter night wear. Here’s the problem, you go to the store and you have two choices—slinky, skimpy, and shivery, or thick, toasty, and hideous. Yes, my winter pajamas could be mistaken for men’s. They’re plaid, shapeless, and, oh, so warm. It’s a dilemma. A real dilemma. But as long as I’m not adding yet another layer of insulating fat, I don’t think DH has any grounds for complaint. And if he does, well, surely there's a rabbit around to serve as a football.

    Wednesday, October 1, 2008

    If the Bowl Fits

    Chunky has always been a creative little soul. Unlike his logical older brother, he views the world with emotional framework, abstract connections, and sometimes downright weird ideas. Yesterday, he chose to bestow his particular genius on his unsuspecting grandmother.

    Kory and I had gone to a parent/teacher conference, leaving the boys with my mom. She was sitting in the living room when she noted Chunky making a little fort between the end of the couch and the wall. As making forts is by no means an unusual activity for a four-year-old, she didn’t think anything of it.

    But when Chunky trudged into the kitchen, rifled through the Tupperware drawer, and returned to his fort with a small plastic bowl, my mom’s interest flared.

    “What are you doing?” she asked my son.

    “Nothing,” he responded quickly and ducked into his fort.

    He emerged shortly thereafter with rumpled clothes and scurried back into the kitchen. Again he passed my mom on the way back to his tent. This time with a slightly bigger plastic container.

    "What are you doing?" she asked again.


    He burrowed back into his fort only to reappear within moments, shorts oddly askew. He secured a larger container and traipsed back to his hideout.

    “You need another bowl?” Mom asked.

    "The others were too little."

    "Too little for what?"

    “Nothing.” He disappeared once again.

    Mom couldn’t stand it. She tiptoed across the room and peeked over the edge of the sofa. There was Chunky, britches down, sitting on a Tupperware bowl. Mom bit back a chuckle.

    “What are you doing?”

    Chunky, clearly wondering what there was to question about the situation, merely raised his eyebrows and grinned.

    “Would your mommy want you to do that?” Mom asked, struggling to keep her face straight.

    Chunky shook his head ‘no.’

    “Let’s go to the potty,” Mom suggested.

    Chunky tried to stand up, but his little cheeks were stuck in the container. Mom had to de-Tupperware his backside, get him to the bathroom, and put all his makeshift toities in the sink without howling with laughter. If she’d lost her cool, Monkey would have gleefully joined the debacle.

    Now, if you’re like us, you’re asking “Why?” Well, I’m here to tell you, sometimes there is no why. There’s just a new idea and the fortitude to put it into action and stay the course, even if the first few bowls you get are too small to contain your vision.

    Thursday, September 25, 2008

    The Conference Part 2

    Holly the Hood Ornament

    If Kim Woodhouse were Batman, Holly would be Robin. Holly lives with Kim, does cool stunts, says funny things, and, I suspect, looks good in tights. I love hanging out with Holly, and she made our road trip even more memorable. She and I bonded over loading and unloading the car carriers. Holly would climb on top of Kim’s gargantuan Expedition and then bravely scale the mountain of luggage like a scrappy mountain goat while I waited on the ground to catch the flying suitcases.

    When we arrived at the hotel in Minnesota, Holly and I got an unpleasant surprise as we tackled the luggage carriers. Holly started undoing straps, and we both squealed as all the bug carcasses who met their maker on our drive came raining down from the folds of the carrier fabric. I’m sure any observers got a laugh out of the two of us girling it up while trying to avoid insect remains.

    I have the feeling that Holly’s presence contributed to the motivation of many a helpful male we encountered. After all, this girl is every junior high, high school, and college guy’s dream come true. She’s adorable, hilarious, and fun to be with—all in all, a secret weapon worth taking on any road trip.

    The Chocolate Cake Nazi

    When you’re sleep-deprived, excited, and stressed-out, chocolate becomes, well, essential. I probably gained five pounds over the conference from a little too much chocolate dependence. But one individual enforced a well-balanced diet with an iron fist. The Chocolate Cake Nazi saw to it that no one received their dessert before demonstrating clear effort on their meal. Her crusade was somewhat less than appreciated, and Kim and I like to think we had something to do with the overthrow of her tyrannical regime.

    It happened Friday at lunch. We sat in a huge atrium room, ten people to a table, eating and talking. With lunch winding down, plates were cleared and trays of chocolate cake distributed throughout the room. We finished our entrees, thanked our elderly waitress when she took our plates, and waited expectantly for the cake we knew was coming.

    We didn’t get it. We waited a little longer. Someone set a big tray of scrumptious slices of cake near our table. We smiled. “Can’t be long now.”

    No cake.

    Murmers. Whispers. Disgruntled sighs. The mood at our table darkened.

    Finally, we snagged the golden-yeared server and asked for our cake. That’s when Grandma Food Service went dictator. We were told that no one at our table would get any cake until everyone finished their meal. We glanced around our table to see who was holding up the works. Only two people were still eating and Kim and I had places to be, things to do, but The Cake Nazi wouldn’t relent. We were left to stare at the luscious cake only feet away from us.

    Mutiny burbled beneath the surface of our polite conversation. Just as we pondered the punishment for fetching our own cake, the last plates were cleared from our table and our long-awaited dessert finally arrived. By some strange coincidence (Hmmmm?!) Kim was chosen to write a comment on the noon meal. I’m not sure what she said, but for the rest of the conference, we arrived at tables already bearing dessert.

    It’s nice to know that little people can affect change where it is most needed. Let them eat cake!

    There’s just too many little things that were hilarious and loads of fun along the way. Mom brought the most irritating (and entertaining) travel game that had us frantically searching for “someone working in a field” “a red two-door car” “a doughnut shop.” Inevitably, we spotted all those things when we were NOT playing the game.

    Kim and I discovered that each of us brings a separate bag for our shoes. I felt bad about my little addiction because we were trying to keep the luggage down to a minimum. But when I saw Kim’s footwear suitcase, my guilty conscience flew out the window. And returned when poor Holly had to finagle the cases from atop the car.

    We should have video-taped our trip for posterity. The giant windmill blades being transported to every breezy spot in the U.S., the Stephen King rest stop in Nebraska with all the cats, that horrid, horrid smell in Des Moines—I wish I could preserve all of it (well, not the smell) to re-experience on a boring, winter day.

    I guess maybe I’ll have to put it in a book someday. Oh, and I’ll be inviting myself along the next time the Woodhouses hit the road.

    Wednesday, September 24, 2008

    Clothes, Conference, and Connections

    I’m happy to say many goals were met during my Minnesota trip. Not the least of which was Monkey’s continued state of cover-up. In fact, as far as I know, everyone involved in the whole experience managed to keep their clothes on. You may think this isn’t exactly a noteworthy accomplishment. I say, aim low and you won’t be disappointed. So congratulations to everyone out there who, for the last six days, has remained properly clothed. I’m proud of you, and so is your mom!

    I did have a phone conversation in the car on the way home (somewhere in the state of Iowa I’m guessing, judging by the smell of things) that caused me some alarm. It went like this—

    Monkey: “We went hiking, Mom.”
    Me: “Oh, that sounds like fun.”
    Monkey: “We saw a rattle snake.”
    Me: “You saw a what?!”
    Monkey: “Daddy threw a rock at the snake and hit it.”

    Once I quit using words like “venomous beast” and “innocent babies” and “clueless man,” I realized that Kory was actually protecting not only our kids, but other hikers on the trail by convincing Mr. Rattles to slither elsewhere.

    Okay, enough about the misadventures of Monkey, Chunky, and Rattle Snake Kory. Time to talk about the conference.

    I find it necessary to verb a noun in order to describe the experience. You see, everywhere we went, we entouraged. I attended the conference with two rather famous people, Donita K. Paul and Kimberly Woodhouse. Now, neither of these lovely ladies will toot their own horn. But, as you might suspect, I have no problem tooting.

    Donita K. Paul, who happens to be my mother, not only writes great stories that everyone wants to read, but she also has a knack for encouraging other writers, especially young ones. To say she draws people is like saying a black hole has a mild pull.

    The Woodhouse family, as you probably know, was on Extreme Home Makeover last year. But even if folks didn’t have the “Haven’t I seen you somewhere? Oh, yeah!” response, Kim would attract people like bees to a flower. She just has one of those personalities that makes you feel accepted and valued even if you’ve only known her for the space of a three floor elevator ride.

    So I spent the weekend in the company of greatness, but I’m not just talking about Mom and Kim. I met many gifted authors, a couple friendly and approachable editors, and some psyched-up newbies like myself. I got to pretend to be Susan May Warren for a few minutes at the Mall of America book signing. I got to listen to fantastic teachers like Angela Hunt, John Olson, Janice Thompson, and Randy Ingermanson. And, yes, I managed to coherently pitch Brandy and The Vine despite my tendency to freeze up whenever someone asked about my novel. My proposal will be going out, but I already feel successful and blessed.

    I’m back to Mommy in jeans and sandals now. The laundry pile is huge, the kitchen is a mess, and Monkey’s excitement over my homecoming prompted a few outbursts at school that got him in big trouble. But whenever I have a spare second, my mind slips into an inspiration hangover, and I feel ready to tackle my next book project and the next phone call from Monkey’s teacher.

    Tuesday, September 16, 2008

    Not Your Average Jitters

    Tomorrow I leave for the ACFW conference in Minneapolis where I will meet writers, editors, and agents, take classes on writing, and, hopefully, drum up some interest in my novel, Brandy and The Vine.

    ACFW (Association of Christian Fiction Writers) has a special e-mail loop for newbie conference attendees like me with some seasoned authors offering advice and helpful tips. The loop has discussed everything from pitching your book to an editor to the accessibility of the hotel coffee shop. Many of my fellow newbies are nervous about their first conference and understandably so.

    You might be curious about the state of my nerves tonight. Am I afraid of meeting a big wig from a publishing company and suddenly experiencing noodle tongue? Am I worried that my specially-engineered shaping undergarments will give up their will to fight in the middle of a lecture? Am I concerned that the snores of my roommate will make it impossible for me to sleep, and I will wander about the conference with luggage under my eyes?

    No. Not really. Maybe it’s just where I am in life, but worry over appearing professional isn’t what’s making me bite my nails. What am I concerned about?

    Public nudity.

    Rest assured, I plan to keep my clothing on for the duration of the conference so it’s not my modesty in question. No. It’s my boys’.

    See, the last (and only) time I was away from home for an extended period of time (this being a little over 24 hours) my husband and boys had, well, an adventure at McDonalds.

    Kory, being an engineer and thus sometimes clueless about life outside a cubicle, took Monkey and Chunky to McDonalds for the only sustenance a man knows how to procure—fast food.

    When Monkey said he had to go to the bathroom, my husband let him go. (Yes, I chewed him up one side and down the other for letting our son go potty alone.) Kory waited with Chunky in the play area, but when Monkey didn’t come back, he got curious. So Kory went to search the men’s bathroom. No Monkey. He was standing outside of the restrooms, wondering where Monkey was when a woman came out of the ladies and gave him an odd look.

    “Are you looking for a little boy?” she asked.

    Kory answered yes.

    “He’s in there,” she indicated the women’s restroom. “And he doesn’t have any clothes on.”

    Kory went into the ladies bathroom, retrieved our bare little boy and his clothes and hauled him into the men’s room.

    If the situation had been reversed (and it has been), I would’ve just put Monkey’s clothes on in the men’s room and let any guys who happened along just deal with the reality of a woman in the men’s bathroom. I mean really, is the world gonna end?

    So there it is. Some moms worry that their kids will eat only junk food while their away. Some worry that the house will be trashed and the homework go undone. Not me. As long as they keep their clothes on, I’m good.

    I’ll let you know how it goes.

    Friday, September 12, 2008

    Congratulations! You've been Gothed.

    You know your friends are weird when they show up at your house on a normal Thursday afternoon, looking like this.

    Actually, these, er, lovely ladies were celebrating the completion of my book, Brandy and The Vine and helping me get psyched about my upcoming writer's conference. In case you’re wondering, “Why Goth?” my novel is about a Goth girl who has an identity crisis and ends up with more of a makeover than she bargained for.

    I’m a newbie writer, but how could I not feel pumped about my first ACFW conference with this kind of support behind me? I plan on showing these pictures to any and all editors or agents I run into. Don’t you think that’ll get their attention? Just kidding. But I did feel incredibly special when the self-proclaimed first members of my fan club showed up on my doorstep like over enthusiastic trick-or-treators a month early. And for those of you out there (you know who you are) wishing you’d gotten the memo about this impromptu send-off, if Brandy and The Vine ever gets published, you’ll get your chance to don black clothes and dark make-up. My book launch party will definitely be a “costumes encouraged” event.

    Naturally, my friends (known to the world as Stevie, Goldie, and The Young One) convinced me to Goth-it-up a bit for some photos. We had a great time trying to look scary and failing completely.

    All weirdness aside—as if that were even possible—everyone should feel so blessed. When your friends are willing to scour Goodwill for chunky black boots, tear holes in their clothing, and paint their skin just to show their support of your creative strangeness, you’re either the struggling lead singer of a metal band, or you’re me—the luckiest budding writer on the planet.

    Wednesday, September 3, 2008

    Pedicure Panic Attack

    While I enjoy being a girl, I sometimes don’t have time for the higher pursuits of feminine beauty. I have two energetic boys at home, several writing projects going on, a house to run, a mom to take to Walgreens, and a husband to have fun with. Not to mention friends, church, work outs, and unexpected trips to the store for squeeze cheese. I’m a busy gal.

    So I let things slide. I don’t shave my legs until I spot park rangers scouting for elk herds on my shins. I don’t pluck my brows until they’re no longer plural, but singular. I put off my haircut until my clips groan with the effort of holding up my mop. I go for weeks forgetting the existence of eye shadow, earrings, and conditioner.

    My feet are probably my most neglected body parts. And unlike, say, my eyelids which pretty much stay the same whether I put eye shadow on them or not, my feet can get pretty, well, repulsive I guess is the word. When I do go in for my annual pedicure, the experience is nothing short of humiliating. Of course I can’t say for sure, but I imagine the conversation of the technicians, if translated, would go something like this:

    “Holy French Tips, Tiffany, this woman has the most hideous feet I’ve ever seen!”

    “Nah, Dianna. I’ve seen some stuff, girlfriend. Hers can’t be that ba—oh my great-grandmother! Those calluses are thicker than the Great Wall.”

    “I told you, honey. I’m gonna be here for an hour.”

    “Better you than me is all I can say.”

    “You would say that.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “I know you want to get out of here early.”

    “Oh, yeah? What makes you think that?”

    “I saw you out with Stuart last week.”

    “No, girlfriend. Wasn’t me.”

    “Yes it was. You had on the Gucci heels. I saw you.”

    “What Gucci heels, honey?”

    “The red ones. You gonna wear them on your date tonight?”

    “I’m not dat—wait a minute. What just fell off her foot?”

    “I think it might be a raisin.”

    “It was probably still a grape when she stepped on it. You better get out the gloves, honey. Who knows what else you’ll find.”

    Does anyone else have these translated dialogues going on in their brains while the pre-law student working on your feet chats with her co-worker? Maybe I’m just being paranoid, but today as I sat in the ambiguously massaging chair with my dead skin flying around the very determined looking woman attacking my feet, I was sure she was judging my pitiful self-care habits.

    Maybe it was the, “You come back. You come back often,” accompanied by the bead of sweat on her forehead as she battered and buffed my feet. Maybe it was the color of the water which started out blue but left the basin a murky, swamp-green color. Maybe it was the way the other employees of Lilac Nails gathered around to watch, slack-jawed, as my feet went from abominations to appendages over the course of an hour. I don’t know. But whatever the reason, I think I’m going to have to change to bi-annual pedicures if I’m to ever escape being labeled “That chubby woman with the disgusting feet.”

    Anybody ever see that Adam Sandler movie where one of his feet is black from frostbite? Mr. Deeds. I can just see Winona Ryder’s face crinkle with disgust at the sight of his foot even as she pounds on the ice trapping her. I’d probably get the same reaction were I to offer my revolting foot as a means of rescue to someone stuck in a frozen lake. “Hmmm, on the one hand there’s a frigid, excruciating death. On the other, grabbing that gruesome foot. Let me think.”

    More mani-pedi fun.

    Saturday, August 30, 2008

    Squeeze Cheese

    Anybody out there ever tried weight loss patches? They’re like birth control patches or quit smoking patches, with the possible exception that those (at least the birth control) actually work.

    Here’s a hint, if you slap a weight loss patch on your hip and your fruit salad is still jiggling when you take your hand away, you’re gonna need more than a Band Aid to trim those jigglers down. Ask me how I know this.

    Lately whenever I make a payment to Bubba—the obese personification of my credit card debt, for those of you just joining us—I feel like I’m slapping a weight loss patch on his big ol’ pot belly. You know, $300 makes Bubba ripple and shake, but when the fat sea calms, the volume remains.

    So it is with my diet and exercise efforts. One sweaty drop in a big, big bucket. This week I went in for a Commit to be Fit appointment at the YMCA. I know, doesn’t that sound serious? Like I mean business? My very nice personal coach asked if I’d like to do a fitness evaluation. I laughed at her. As if I need anybody to tell me I’m out of shape. Even if we’re just talking a matter of degrees, what’s the point? There are two options, you’re either fit, or you’re me.

    My coach had me climb on the stair machine for nine minutes. Would have been ten minutes, but I just gave up and rode backward down the revolving stairs until I landed in a heap on the gym floor. After all, one can’t become fit if one is dead.

    Next my coach put me through a round of torture devices known as weight machines. I seem to have strained some areas of my body I didn’t know existed. Right now my armpits hurt. Okay, yes, I already knew they existed since I have to cake them with deodorant before I go workout. But there’s some other spots, well, let’s just say I try not to think about them, but it’s hard when they feel like rubber bands about to break.

    I went back today for more pain and hopefully some gain, or loss as it were, but I must confess, I felt sorry for myself the rest of the day. Nobody should have to give up all the things they like to eat and be regularly murdered at the gym. My pity party plunged to a new depth when a good friend and I had a discussion about a secret, favorite food—cheese in a can. You know the stuff. It actually says processed cheese food on the can. How reassuring, it is actually food.

    Anyway, my girlfriend mentioned how surprised she was when her hubby brought home a can of squeeze cheese and a box of crackers for her. I was immediately jealous. Where’s my can of squeeze cheese? Where are my flowers, er, crackers? Doesn’t my husband love me as much as my friend’s loves her? After all, nothing says I love you like tangy, orange goo and a box of Chickin’ in a Biscuit. Really. I’m not being sarcastic even though you think I am. Bringing your wife the thing she craves is the ultimate romantic gesture because it says, “Not only do I know what you like, but I’ll go out of my way to get it for you.”

    Later on in the day, for reasons that still remain unclear, I found myself in a health food store. I wandered from aisle to aisle searching for the processed cheese food. Not one tiny, orange glop to be found. Sigh.

    I think I’m looking for love in the wrong place. If I’m after seaweed crackers, wheat-less baked goods, or liquid miracle grow for humans then Vitamin Cottage is the place to be. But if I want love, I guess I better phone my husband and ask for what I want. “Honey, would you stop off and get me some bacon-flavored processed cheese food on the way home?” I think my armpits need some anesthetic.

    Friday, August 29, 2008

    I Luurrv My New Blog Design

    Hey Everyone. It seems improving Bubba and/or myself is a lost cause, so management decided to revamp my blog instead.
    Web guru, lifestyle coach, and all around fabulous gal, Mangycat, took pity on me and stepped in with her magic wand.
    First she conjured the following snazzy photo from Flickr.com contributor, LisaBelle0705, who granted us permission to use this awesome image from her Photostream:

    Then Mangycat and I had some fun with my boys' Legos, some spaghetti, and an authentically dirty floor.

    Mangycat worked some voodoo this afternoon, and now my blog has a spectacular new design. Take a stroll by and check out the new look. I've gotta get back to my happy dance.

    Saturday, August 23, 2008

    Muscle Relaxer Hangover

    This week, my doctor prescribed some muscle relaxers for me because I seem to be unable to relax even when I sleep. I don’t understand this, but nevertheless, the sad state of my neck and jaw points to a serious teeth clenching problem. And so, my doctor recommended two separate prescriptions, one for in the day, and a stronger, more sedating med. for nighttime. He gave me samples of the daytime pill and told me to try half a dose.

    So I took half a pill before bedtime, watched a movie, and didn’t feel any different two hours later. I know what you’re thinking, but, no, I did not take the other half and repeat my Vicadin disaster. I just figured I’d take the whole pill the next night and see if that made any difference. Meanwhile, I went to sleep. I woke up around 3 a.m. weighing approximately one thousand pounds. The reason I woke up gradually became clearer. Aside from kids crawling in bed with you or loud teenagers mistaking your sidewalk for a urinal, what other reason is there for waking up at 3 a.m.? I HAD to go to the bathroom. I felt like Shamu after he drank all the water in his tank.

    I’m not sure how long it took me to get out of bed, but once I finally hoisted my anvil butt up and off the mattress, I faced another challenge—getting to the bathroom. I dragged my redwood trunks across the bedroom and into the bathroom where I encountered yet another problem. My fine motor skills seemed to be affected by the muscle relaxer too. Just take a moment and imagine the difficulties this caused. Door knob. Light switch. Toilet lid. Er, um, . . . . Toilet paper. Toilet lid again (BANG!) Door knob again. Faucet. Towel. Back to gross motor skills.

    I made it to bed once again and passed out like a tranq-ed elephant. By seven a.m. I’d lost about three hundred pounds, but helplessly plastered to your bed by invisible weights is no way to face exuberant boys in the morning. At least, not if you want any hope of surviving the morning ritual of pounce, thump, and roll. Thankfully, I was able to communicate my incapacitated state to my husband, who bravely defended me from the attacking hordes until I was able to roll my massive self out of bed and hide in the closet.

    The heaviness subsided as the morning went on, but I wasn’t prepared for Slow-Motion Mom. This hit at 11:04 a.m. as we exited our van and began the short hike from the parking area to Wonderland Ranch for Kory’s company picnic. My husband took off hauling our gear in the wagon, and the boys happily followed taking side trips to pick up irresistible pine cones and sticks. I was still at the van. I took a few steps. They were half way to the first building. I walked past a tree. It took five minutes. By the time I finally got there, they’d dumped the gear and thoroughly investigated all the air jumpers. All I can say is, Daddy had to move double time to keep up with two boys while Mommy moved half time and kept up with nobody.

    I think it’s safe to say that I’m very sensitive to medication. Thankfully, slow-mo is better than barf-up. I’m thinking I need to try Prozac or Zoloft next. I’ve always wanted to fly.

    Thursday, August 21, 2008

    Mild-Mannered Missionary Moments with Mary

    The first thing you need to know is that I’ve been given permission to share the misadventures of my friend Mary with my wonderful blog readers and random strangers who happen along Breathe In Breathe Out in their search for tips on asthma management. I think Mary’s exploits have left her a few muffins short of a continental breakfast. There’s no other explanation for her giving me free reign to relate her wacky experiences however I see fit. So let’s get to it. Here’s the first in what will be an ongoing tell-all peek into the life of a mild-mannered missionary, mom, and married woman.

    The Decoy

    Mary grew up somewhere. I’m thinking it was California because she looks like one of those babes you see everywhere in Cali. You know--beautiful blond hair, big blue eyes, and a cute little figure that makes me jealous. At some point, probably between the ages of 16 and 25, she met a charming and dangerous man. We’ll call him Bill. Mary fell in love with Bill despite his predilection for radical service to God. They got married. I’m sure there’s more to this story, but that will have to wait for another time.

    Now, Bill was (and is) a pretty wild guy. His idea of fun is sneaking Bibles into places where the government contends they’re not wanted or needed. Bill knows differently. So does Mary. She and Bill took a little trip to China back in the nineties.

    Their mission? Establish a base camp in Hong Kong. Smuggle Bibles across the border (this was when Hong Kong was considered part of the Western Empire, before China’s lease with Great Britain was up—yeah, I don’t understand that either.)

    The plan? Members of the team, including Bill and Mary, would hide Bibles in suitcases along with normal stuff like clothes and hair dryers in order to fool the scanning machines at the border. In addition to suitcases, there were other means of concealing the Bibles—skirts with pockets sown on the inside. Obviously, the skirt wearing fell to Mary, since Bill would attract too much attention in one. (Mary says he has really nice legs.)

    So, the day the operation was going down, Mary donned her clunky, Bible-laden skirt and thwacked her way to the border patrol station. Bill, being the extreme guy that he is, threw caution to the wind and loaded his backpack with Bibles, not even adding so much as a sweatshirt to conceal the contraband.

    Mary got to go first. Being particularly suited to the role (blond hair and all), she decided to go for the dumb tourist approach. She moseyed her way through the checkpoint, ‘forgetting’ to put her suitcase through the x-ray machine. She only got a few steps before a guard caught up with her, waving his arms and yelling, “Hi. Hello. Hi. Hello. Hello. Hi.” Two words—unmistakable meaning. Mary made a valiant, “Who me?” argument, but nobody bought her clueless routine.

    They scanned her suitcases and found the Bibles. Our lovely, and very innocent-looking Mary was hauled off down a long hall to a cold room where she met Hel Ga, the sole member of the Chinese Gestapo. Hel Ga confiscated all the Bibles in Mary’s suitcase while Mary nervously pondered her precarious place in the universe. When Hel Ga finished with the suitcase, she turned to wide-eyed Mary and demanded she remove the Bibles on her person.

    Mary, having already lost one of her intellect muffins at this point, decided to continue with her dumb blond routine. “What Bibles?” she asked.

    Hel Ga pointed to Mary’s skirt.

    “Oh, those Bibles.” Mary rooted around in her skirt and produced a couple of the books.

    “All of them,” said Hel Ga.

    Mary turned on the baby blues. “That is all of them.”

    They searched her, removing Bible after Bible from her skirt.

    Mary feigned surprise. “Oh, look at that. Where did those come from?”

    After taking every last one of her precious Bibles, Hel Ga held the door open and told Mary, “Welcome to China.”

    With tears in her eyes and a much lighter skirt, Mary shuffled off to find Bill and tell him what a failure she was at the whole Christian espionage game. But Bill wasn’t at all upset by Mary’s incident. In fact, he was grinning. While Mary provided an excellent distraction, Bill got through the check point without so much as a peep into his backpack. Mary was labeled ‘The Decoy’ and learned that she could use her special gifts of a pretty face, eye-catching figure, and uncannily accurate silly woman impersonation to further God’s kingdom by getting caught.

    Next time in Mild-Mannered Missionary Moments with Mary: The story of the Puking Angel.

    Saturday, August 16, 2008

    Back to School Bewilderment

    Monkey started back to school this week. I confess our district’s back-to-school routine fascinates me. First, the kids have an open house night when they can come to school, meet their new teacher, and drop off their wheelbarrow of school supplies. That was Tuesday night. Nothing happened on Wednesday. The official first day of school was Thursday. So the kids went two days and then were off for the weekend. Next Monday, they go back, but Thursday and Friday are test days so they’re off again. Then, of course, we run into Labor Day weekend with Monday off, and just for grins, they get Tuesday off too.

    What exactly is going on here? I’m confused, and I’m an adult. What’s a first grader supposed to think? “Am I in school?” “Why was I in school yesterday, but not today?” "Why in the world should I go to school tomorrow?"

    My theory is, the powers that be are trying to ease the kids into school without the children even realizing it. You know, a few days here, a few days there, and eventually, the kid looks up sometime in October and discovers he’s in a classroom. “Wait a minute here? What am I doing in school? What happened to summer? Weren’t we just playing in the sprinkler, and what are these pumpkins about?”

    Actually, this is good preparation for life. I don’t know how many times I’ve looked up and said, “Hey, who are you? Am I married to you? When did that happen?” And, of course, there’s, “Why is this kid calling me Mommy and expecting me to feed him?” And the classic, “Wait a minute, I’m 29? 29!!!”

    Yes, these bewildering moments descend upon me frequently. I’m perpetually dazed and wondering just how I acquired the latest inch on my hips and that long gray hair that surely I should have noticed months ago. “29?! Really?!”

    At least I know my kids are getting practice in bewilderment. Makes me rest easier knowing they’ll be prepared to have no idea what’s going on or how they ended up where they are. After all, functioning amid total confusion is an important life skill. I should know.

    Excuse me, there’s this kid here asking me for chips. I have the feeling he’s going to take it personally if I don’t give him some. Wait a minute, how long have we lived here?

    Saturday, August 9, 2008

    My Husband's Ambition

    Early in our marriage, my husband crossed some unknown airborne allergens with some soy and corn. He topped that off with a walk through a weedy field, and the whole mix put him into anaphylactic shock. What he remembers most about the ER is the oxygen tank. After they hopped him up on Benadryl and Epinephrine, he was pretty comfortable, and with the oxygen on, he found he didn’t need to breathe as often as usual. In fact, he had to remind himself to breathe, because the oxygen pumped in regardless of whether or not he moved his lungs.

    Since that night, it’s been Kory’s dream to somehow get back on that oxygen. You see, engineers are smart, but they’re also somewhat lazy. If they can find a way to do something quicker and easier, they’ll pursue it. Even if it’s just breathing. I know, it doesn’t make sense, but if you know any engineers, you know it’s true.

    Now, about the time I really got enthusiastic about writing, Kory got it into his head that should I ever make a living off my work, he would retire early. But since being at home would drive him bonkers, he thought he might get a job as a Wal-Mart greeter, which fits in perfectly with his oxygen tank/fewer lung movements fantasy. That’s right, my husband’s goal is to tote his oxygen tank around Wal-Mart, waving cheerily to harried customers, and probably spending his breaks in the electronics department. Sniff. “Aim high, my love.”

    So, being the supportive wife, I am pursuing this whole writing books thing. In fact I’m going to a huge Association of Christian Fiction Writers conference in September. When I asked Kory to help me prepare a one sheet (kind of like a resume for a specific book), he enthusiastically agreed. After all, he used to be a graphic designer. But I wasn’t ready for how far he’d go in preparing a sample of my work to hand out to editors I might run across.

    The other night he proposed we burn CDs with my resume, picture, and sample chapters. I have to admit, it sounded pretty good, until he suggested we include some footage of me running on the beach. I had to draw the line. All that would get me is a shot at being the “before” spokesperson for a Weight Watchers campaign. But it’s nice to know he believes in me, even if it is only a means to an end, namely, his oxygen tank.

    Monday, August 4, 2008

    Spicy Enchiladas

    I’ve never been what you would call demure. My poor mother tried so hard to raise an innocent little lady, but instead she got a daughter who once smuggled mini bottles of alcohol into a U2 concert in her bra. (I knew that extra padding would come in handy someday!) Yes, the wild side has always had a certain appeal to me. But I do have standards. You’ll be happy to know they’ve elevated somewhat since the sloshing push-up incident.

    Take bodice-rippers for instance. While I enjoy a good, full-bodied romance as much as the next twenty-nine-year-old mom (maybe even a little more), I simply can’t tolerate a book with a plot existing solely to move the hero and heroine from one clinch to the next. Frankly, I find that boring. Give me some hidden desire, an undercurrent of passion, intense longing, but please, keep the heaving body parts to a minimum. I have an imagination.

    That’s why I fell in love with Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga. Don’t get me wrong, these books are hot. I wouldn’t let my thirteen-year-old daughter read them—if I had a thirteen year old daughter. (Of course, if I did, she’d probably be like me, and I’d be in a world of hurt even without books about sexy vampires.) But I found the Twilight books refreshing because they were incredibly sensual even while arguing for old fashioned ideas like reserving sex for marriage (be that a living or undead commitment) and even respect for human life. I know, shocking, isn’t it?

    I’m not saying the books are above reproach, but I enjoyed the plots, characters, and fantastic writing as much as I enjoyed the sizzling romance. I read all four books in about a week, which meant several late nights. I’d force myself to go to bed around 1:30 where I would find my cutie-pie hubby dead to the world. I’d snuggle up next to him, feeling a little more affectionate than I usually do after midnight, and he would reward me by lifting his head a quarter inch off the pillow and mumbling something sexy like, “fnurg,” which means, “I am not awake, but my body told me to react in case a psychopath has joined me in bed and is contemplating testing my reflexes with something sharp." Ah, your classic wrong place, wrong time scenario.

    More than once, I’ve found myself embarrassed over my more va va voom tendencies. When we go out with our friends, I’m the one laughing with the guys over that marriage joke that crossed the line a little bit, while my sweet girlfriends are blushing appropriately. Oh well, I figure, God likes spicy enchiladas as much as He likes cheese quesadillas. Pass the hot sauce, baby!

    Thursday, July 31, 2008

    Monkey's Diet Solution

    Monkey has never been very interested in food, and he’s convinced the rest of the world should share his view that mealtimes are unnecessary.

    I remember when he was a toddler, I’d follow him around with a handful of Cheerios, sliding one in his mouth whenever I got the chance. Plenty of people told me, “He’ll eat when he wants to. He won’t starve.” But I wasn’t sure he ever would want to eat, so I force-fed or rather, distract-fed him.

    Now that Monkey is six (almost seven), his life revolves around video games. We make him earn his video time and take “brain breaks” as we call them, but, if given his way, he’d happily climb into one of those chairs the blobs ride on in Walle and link himself permanently to a screen. Of course, being Monkey, he’d be the only skinny lump on a hovercraft.

    I said that we make him earn his time, which is a challenge. Usually, by the end of the day, I’m so worn down from battle that I let him play his games right up until dinner time. It’s not easy to get him to come eat, but when we finally get him away from his beloved Lego Star Wars, he gets to the table and realizes that Daddy is home.

    He eats two bites of his meal and then the harassment begins. He begs Kory to come play with him. Now my husband, like most normal people, is interested in food and eats an average amount for a tired guy who worked all day and probably mountain biked at lunch. This is not acceptable to Monkey.

    After his first attempts to get Daddy away from the table and into the living room—where they can sit before the TV like odd statues with flickering eyes—fall on deaf ears, Monkey starts to get frantic.

    If Kory should have a second helping, Monkey goes off the deep end. “NO, Daddy, NO! Don’t eat more! Don’t take another bite! Pleeease, Daddy, please. Don’t eat that!” This goes on until Kory either finishes or cracks. Monkey is pretty persuasive.

    So here’s my idea: I think we’ll start making CDs for frustrated dieters. If you send us $25, we’ll customize a CD for you with Monkey hollering at you not to eat. Just pop it in your CD player at mealtimes and see how far you can get into your dinner before the screaming six-year-old makes you lose your appetite.

    I really think I’m on to something here. And just in case you have any ethical problems with my plan, we’ll promise to put all the money in his college fund, that is, if he has any brain cells left to take with him to college.

    Wednesday, July 23, 2008

    My Puke Story

    Recently I visited the home of a very sweet and fun lady who is also chronically ill. She was having a bad day and worried that she might throw up in front of me. I told her not to sweat it because I have one of the best, meaning most embarrassing, puke stories ever.

    And so, without further ado, my puke story. Because humiliation--much like stupidity and misery--is meant to be shared.

    Last summer, we hosted an incredible young man for a week. He was here for the same (now annual) young writers’ retreat that I blogged about a few weeks ago. The night Jacob arrived, I started feeling a little icky. The next morning I woke up with tonsils so swollen I could barely talk or eat. Strep! I have an extensive history with Strep, so I’m pretty good at recognizing it.

    I went in to see the nurse who actually recoiled when she saw my Strep bugs growing in the doohickey they use to test the skin they’ve scraped off your throat with the barf stick. (Aren’t you impressed with my knowledge of medical terms?) I got a shot. You know where. And then the nurse practitioner offered to give me a prescription for a narcotic pain-killer. I did the Rambo-Mom thing and told him, “No. I’ll be fine.” But it sounded like, “Nn, Ul b fund.” He asked if it felt like I was swallowing nails. I nodded.

    So I came home with a safe little syrup that only had half the power of Vicadin. I took the smallest recommended dose, one teaspoon, and lay down on the couch. Nothing. No relief. No wooziness.

    Fast forward four hours. I’d promised my friend, Dianna, who organized the writing event, that I would participate in a special critique night with the teens. I didn’t want to let her down, so I took a teaspoon and a half of the narcotic, choked down some soup, and got in the van with my mom driving, and Jacob, our Southern gentleman house guest, riding in the back seat.

    By the time we arrived at our host’s home, I was dizzy, nauseated, and shaking. I managed to get downstairs to the quiet basement, where I proceeded to hallucinate every time I closed my eyes for the next three or so hours. The odd thing was, I knew I was hallucinating, so it wasn’t scary, just mildly entertaining. I missed the entire meeting, but when it was time to go home, I was starting to feel better.

    I got back in the van, ready to be home and in bed, but as we drove, my cold sweats returned and my stomach roiled. By the time Mom pulled the van into the driveway, it was clear I’d have to run for it. In retrospect, I should have just found a dark corner of the yard or maybe headed for the pond. (Wouldn’t that have made DH happy?)

    I scrambled up the steps, hand clamped over my mouth, but the bathroom was just too far away. You know how when you put your finger over the garden hose, it creates pressure and the water comes out with the force of a fire hydrant? It’s the same with barf. I managed to spray the walls from my foyer, down the hall, and into the bathroom. Yuk!

    When I emerged from the bathroom, I found my mother and our house guest, cleaning the walls. I was mortified! I’d met this guy all of a day ago, and here he was scrubbing vomit from my walls. I feebly protested Jacob’s assistance, and he said in his adorable, Southern drawl, “Aw, this is nothing ma’am. Last week I learned how to artificially inseminate cows.” Later my mom told me they had to get out a step stool because neither of them could reach as high as my missile-launcher-mouth could.

    You may ask why I would willingly share this with everybody. The answer is that moments like these, while miserable at the time, are meant to keep us humble and maybe ease another’s discomfort later on. Otherwise, those embarrassing moments are useless, and who wants to endure humiliation like that for nothing?

    Thursday, July 17, 2008

    The Lego Slave

    Okay, so we all know that another word for ‘mother’ is ‘slave.’ This all-encompassing servant hood starts seconds after birth, and as far as I can tell, continues indefinitely. I’ve almost given up on ever being free and have transferred my energies to trying to make my task masters slightly more polite about their demands.

    This is sort of weird, though. A typical demand goes like this: “MOM! Get me milk!” To which I respond in a calm and almost sing-song voice, “Mommy, will you get me some milk please?” See, I’m modeling how I want them to ask. But more often than not, the response I get is just “Please.’ Hey, it’s a step in the right direction. I’m also constantly finding myself saying “Yes, ma’am” to myself. Wow! I have such good manners.

    Anyway, recently I’ve attempted to train the lords of the house to walk with their indentured slave into stores, church, and the Y instead of running ahead of me. Naturally, bribery was part of the equation. Hey folks, it works! I kept two baggies and a box of tokens in the car with me, and each time the princes walked with me and held my hand all the way into the building, they earned a token. When they earned twenty, they got a Lego set.

    Today was Lego day, so we went to Target, and they each got to pick a set. We’ve graduated to big boy Legos which, as you know, opens up all kinds of possibilities, particularly for the Star Wars obsessed.

    After a busy day of running errands, we came home with Legos (and without chocolate syrup. Darn, I forgot!) All I wanted was to lay on the couch and contemplate why shopping and driving doesn’t count as an exercise routine, but the two masters had different plans. "Mommy the Lego Slave! "

    I put together a semi truck, a race car, and an impossibly complicated Star Wars spaceship complete with a laser shooting mechanism that nearly brought me to tears. As I’m writing, Chunky just brought me said ship which naturally fell apart again. Luckily, Dad is finally home and, as an engineer, actually studied this stinking spaceship design in college. “You’re turn, Honey.”

    So Legos are a blessing and a curse. They get results in the behavior department, but put a crick in my neck and make my fingers hurt. I think the slave needs some time off for a manicure.

    Friday, July 11, 2008

    The Week in Review

    Well, the week started out strong. You see, for the first time in six years, I actually got paid. And I’m not talking about the change I found in the dryer. In a delightful and highly unexpected move, Random House actually mailed the first part of our advance promptly after Mom and I signed our contract. I put a chunk of my earnings on Bubba, and he showed improvement immediately. It’s not fair really. I tried rubbing cash on my hips—nothing.

    At least Bubba reciprocated by accompanying me to Pilates on Monday. I was quite graceful as you can imagine, but poor Bubba looked like a drunk harbor seal. We were both sore for days after. Pilates is not for the faint-hearted. Mom keeps asking me what Pilates is exactly, and I tell her it’s basically intense, excruciating stretching.

    I managed to stick to my low carb ideals until Wednesday, when I attempted to make and eat an egg salad sandwich on a low carb tortilla. This disastrous endeavor prompted me to ransack the fridge for leftover Chinese. From there, it only got worse. Ice cream, Mexican food, fried mozzarella sticks—and that was just lunch yesterday!

    Bubba and I tried to make up for our indiscretions today with 30 minutes on the elliptical. Since my ear buds are always falling out, Bubba tried to entertain me by singing the tunes on my MP3 player. I think my favorite was his rendition of “The Burn” by Matchbox Twenty. Followed, of course, by R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts.”

    So, no progress this week, but there’s hope for next week. At least that’s what Bubba says, but I’m definitely feeling the need for a shopping spree.

    In other news, Blue Cross Blue Shield will be getting an unusual claim in the near future. On Thursday, I discovered the weirdest bruises on Chunky's legs. I rushed him in to see the doctor. Our very wise (and thankfully very patient) family doctor said, "Hmm, let me just try one thing." Then he proceeded to wipe off Chunky's bruises with an alcohol swab. Turns out the dye in his black athletic shorts rubbed off on his legs when he sweat. I don't know why this never occurred to me since I've already seen the results of dye in food. Anybody else out there freak out the day after your child had their first neon blue frosted cupcake? Yeah, that color doesn't naturally occur in nature or in a diaper, and that's all I'm saying about that. Anyway, like Megan Dimaria says, "No sense being dumb if you don't show it!"

    Thus ends the week, with little accomplished but hopefully something learned.

    Sunday, July 6, 2008

    Bubba and I are Fat

    Recently my husband informed me that we’d reached the credit limit on our Capital One card—no small accomplishment since they’ve been raising our limit every time we got anywhere near it for the past year or so. Now, I really do understand financial concepts like not spending more than you earn, and living below your means, and debt equals bad, saving equals good. But I must confess, sometimes those sums of money that appear in our bank account and then disappear seem a little abstract, you know? They’re just numbers on my computer screen, and they basically shift from column to column. It’s all rather boring. But I think my husband might like it if I found a way to make it more real and thus actually start to care about which column the numbers are in.

    And so, I have decided to think of our Capital One debt not as a large sum of money, but rather as a massive, rather gelatinous person. Sort of a mix between Jaba the Hut and Harry Potter’s Uncle Vernon. I’ve named him Bubba. See, we all know that women are relational. I figure, if I imagine the debt as some poor individual desperately in need of someone who cares enough about him to come over to the house he’s stuck in and do a Sweatin’ to the Oldies tape with him, then I might actually get the results my husband desires. Namely, a skinnier, healthier Bubba.

    There’s another bonus to having my new friend, Bubba, in my life. See, I’ve been needing an accountability partner for my own exercise routine. I figure Bubba can help me out since I’m helping him out. The little platinum version of him can go with me to the Y, and while I’m pumping away on the elliptical, he can cheer me on. And when he and I are tempted to charge a mocha frap or a supreme gordita, we’ll be stronger together. It’s not good for Bubba, and it’s not good for me. Yes, Bubba and I are fat, but now that we’ve found each other, there’s hope. In this crazy, mixed-up, carb-laden world, Bubba and I reached out, joined our pudgy fingers and vowed, “No more!” Cue Inspirational music. “No more.”

    Wednesday, July 2, 2008

    Teens in Capes

    Recently my house was overrun by teens in capes. Well, they weren’t all wearing their capes at the same time, but I’m pretty sure all thirty-three of them had capes. You’re thinking there’s a logical explanation aren’t you? Let’s just throw out some possibilities, and you can guess which one is true.

    a. Our house was the epicenter of a mock catastrophe thereby attracting all of the world’s superheroes-in-training.
    b. There was a huge mistake in venue for a small Star Wars convention.
    c. I’ve started a ministry to youths suffering from vampire delusions.
    d. Our family had the pleasure of hosting some very creative teenagers in town for a writing retreat.

    If you guessed number one, you’re obviously aware of my boys’ ability to back up a toilet. If you guessed number two, you might have heard about Monkey’s obsession with Lego Star Wars. If you guessed number three, you might have read some sample chapters from my current work in progress, Brandy and the Vine. If you guessed number four, you’re right, but definitely not much of a risk-taker when it comes to test taking.

    I’ve never had that many people in my house (five of them stayed with us for about a week), and I’ve certainly never fed that many people before. It was an adventure. (In case you’re wondering, chili, hot dogs, cheese dip and chips were on the menu) My boys loved having lots of big people around to pester, and my mom was treated like a queen by some of her favorite fans. But my poor husband sort of wandered from room to room with a bewildered look on his face, as though he’d come home to find an alternate universe existing in his own house.

    You see, to me this is pretty normal. I grew up with kids like these because my brother tended to attract intellectual oddballs. I mean that in the nicest way. Aside from being incredibly smart, polite, and well-bred individuals, these teens march to their own drummer, or maybe zitherist. They write stunning prose, they compose and perform their own music and plays, they draw, they read voraciously, and yes, they make and wear capes.

    I know they get weird looks from people. Maybe it bothers them. Maybe it doesn’t. But either way, they choose to stick to their creative pursuits, and you can bet their determination will pay off.

    And did it bother me that while they were here my boys took to wearing bed sheets? Not at bit. After all, in my book, as long as they’re wearing something, we’re doing pretty well. And I wouldn’t mind a bit if they grew up to have half the talent and kindness of those caped crusaders.

    Viva La Weirdos!

    Friday, June 13, 2008

    Anyone lost their panties?

    It all started innocently enough. One Sunday morning, I went to the women’s restroom at church. I quickly scooted into the second stall, thankful that, for once, there wasn’t a line. But to my consternation, there on the floor of my stall I saw a pair of tiny, black, lace underwear.

    I pondered.

    Of all the places I might expect to see abandoned panties—the gym locker room, a Victoria’s Secret dressing room, the stage at a Justin Timberlake concert—church certainly was not one of them. Who did they belong to? Why had she taken them off? And what sad state of distraction was she in to be wandering around church sans underwear and oblivious to her skivvy-less state.

    Then I got to wondering what God thinks of black lace underwear. I’m not legalistic in the least, but is church really the place for lace lingerie? Don’t get me wrong, if I were wearing such an item of clothing, it wouldn’t be the risqué nature of my undergarments distracting me from worshiping God, but rather the itchiness of the fabric. Maybe that’s why they ended up on the floor of the women’s room.

    I did what I’d come to do and then went to the counter to wash my hands. Another woman entered the restroom. She went into stall number two. Then she came right back out and looked at me, one eyebrow raised. “Did you drop something?” she politely asked. “No, they were there when I came,” I replied. Still have my granny panties, thank you very much.

    She looked back at the minuscule panties. Her voice tinged with reluctance, she asked, “Should we take them to lost and found?” I wrinkled my nose. She frowned. Clearly neither of us wanted to carry our anonymous sister-in-Christ’s g-string to the church office. We agreed it was best to leave them be in case our natural friend became aware of a draft beneath her skirt.

    I don’t know what became of the black lace underwear, but I have a vision in my head of a grizzled janitor poking at the tiny pile with the handle of his broom. Far better that than my other mental image: an associate pastor holding them up in front of the congregation. “Panties? Anyone lost their panties?”

    Friday, June 6, 2008

    Summer Fun, Bribery, and Dodge Golf

    It’s not always easy for our family to have fun. Often Monkey’s sensory problems or Mom and Dad’s expectations/impatience get in the way. The following is a sample of issues that have ruined family fun time: “I don’t like my shoes.” “What is that smell?” “Ralph is staring at me.” I should explain that Ralph is the name I gave to an unfriendly-looking Indian chief in a painting at Texas Roadhouse. I thought giving him a name would make him less scary. Turns out, it only made things worse.

    So now that summer is upon us, I’m trying to think of fun things to keep my kids busy, active, not drooling in front of the TV. Both boys love the water, so swim lessons were an obvious choice. Maybe not so much. We had to bribe them to participate in “fun time.” But after a week, they’re used to the structure of class and doing better, but I did some brain-tickling eye rolls for the first couple of days.

    Summer fun also brought asthma to our little Monkey. I diagnosed this in April, but our doctor finally agreed with me a week ago. So Monkey had to learn to use an inhaler. Normally, they give kids with asthma breathing treatments, but that requires sitting still for ten minutes. Nope, not an option. So out came the bribing technique once again. We told Monkey we’d take him to Mr. Bigg’s if he successfully used his inhaler for a week.

    I’m happy to report, it worked. So yesterday we visited Mr. Biggs. I’m always a raging ball of nerves at these places because Monkey and Chunky are fast, destructive, and diabolically clever. (Also they have weird ideas about the necessity of clothing—but we’ll save that for another entry.) And of course, you never know when a random smell or uncomfortable shoe might attack and render family night unconscious.

    It turns out, our evening was a success. No one got lost or injured, despite the invention of our new game, Dodge Golf, and no one screamed until we got home. (Will have to tell Kory he must learn to live with the smell of his socks and stop waking the neighbors when he takes his shoes off at night.)

    No one should have to work this hard to have fun, but hey, my boys are worth it, and I’ve discovered the ultimate power play. It goes like this: “If you don’t _______, I’ll take away your Playstation.” Power! Power! HA HA HA! Power!

    Friday, May 30, 2008

    Public Service Announcement

    Last week, Megan DeMaria offered her family’s saying, “No sense being dumb if you don’t show it” as comfort for my humbled state. Well, this week I have to say, “No sense being dumb if other people can’t learn from your mistakes.” And so, my public service announcement:

    When you go to an automatic car wash and they give you damp towels to clean the inside of your car while you’re vehicle is pummeled by high powered hoses and thick foam, by all means wipe down your dashboard, steering wheel, and seats. But please don’t clean the buttons that control your automatic windows. This is simply not smart. However, if you do unwisely choose to scrub these buttons with your towel and the inevitable occurs, please have the presence of mind to calmly and quickly ROLL YOUR WINDOW BACK UP. Screaming and ducking will not do any good.

    I hope this little reminder is helpful to those of you who share my accident-prone nature. Maybe it’s a lack of foresight that gets me into these jams. Whatever the case may be, at least I know I can kill two birds with one stone. On busy days when I haven’t had time to shower, I can always go through the car wash with my windows down. Hey, I bet I could bathe the kids that way too!

    Tuesday, May 20, 2008

    Dunderbunny Strikes Again

    When I was little and would get myself into scrapes by not using my noggin, my mom and older brother would affectionately call me “Dunderbunny.” While never as impulsive as my son, Captain ADHD, I still managed to act without thinking a little more often than one might expect.

    However, now that I am a responsible, almost-thirty mother, my fluffy-headed alter ego is gone for good. Or so I thought until today.

    Now, before I tell you what I did, let me tell you my private, prideful opinion of myself. I think I’m smart. Yep. I do. I have reasons. Want to hear them?

    1. I managed to graduate from college magna cum laude after giving birth to the first prince of Denmark thereby submitting myself to eternal servitude of His Majesty the Great and Drooling Monkey.
    2. I am married to an engineer. Engineers cannot abide stupid people. Therefore, I must be smart.
    3. My mommy has always told me I’m brilliant, and who could be more unbiased than her?

    They’re good reasons, huh? Now, I know I’m not a rocket scientist, but I’ve always thought I was on the curvy side of the bell. As it turns out, I’m flatter than I thought, intellectually speaking.

    Today I got into the car to take Monkey to school, opened the garage door, and backed out. Problem: my friend Kim’s Expedition was right behind me. Dunderbunny strikes again! Yes, I crunched her car and my van, but I couldn't have picked a nicer person to hit. She assured me that her schedule was open for a fender bender at this time and made it sound like I’d done her a favor by hitting her car today instead of yesterday or next week.

    My husband didn’t find my timing quite so convenient, which goes to show you, there really never is a good time to be stupid. I guess I better try some IQ builders. Maybe if I wag my head from side to side that’ll beef up my brain muscles. No, that’s not working. I feel dizzy.

    Thursday, May 8, 2008

    The World According to Chunky

    As you already know, Chunky is my youngest son. He began earning his nickname minutes after he was born. Whereas big brother barely eats enough to keep a bird alive, Chunky came into this world with a healthy appetite. He was a roley-poley baby, but at four, he’s lost most of his baby fat. Still, next to his string bean brother, he looks like a dumpling, so the nickname remains.

    God blessed my little guy with a great big heart. I remember sitting in a waiting room with him when he was a toddler. A baby was crying, and Chunky insisted that I “kiss baby.” He was so adamant that it took some convincing to keep him from hauling me over to the wailing child.

    We knew pretty early that Chunky had inherited his Mommy’s and Grandmommy’s creativity. He loves to tell stories and listen to stories. Mom and I consider him an official collaborator on our turtle and dragon kids’ books. Roger the turtle is one of his best friends, and Chunky is constantly inspiring me with his love of this imaginary character.

    When Chunky was in the throes of potty-training, he also became fascinated with the concept of family. Everything was a family, blocks, trees, cups, whatever. Even his socks were brothers according to him. One day I accompanied him on one of his more time-consuming trips to the bathroom. When he was finally finished, he surveyed his accomplishment. A look of excitement spread on his face and he said, “Mommy, they’re a family!” Then his little face fell and he said, “But, they stink.” We flushed the unfortunate family, and they were never heard from again.

    Chunky is an extraordinary little boy, but he definitely possesses that mysterious power of knowing exactly how to irritate his older brother beyond what he can endure. Tussles are common in our house. In fact, the first thing the boys do upon waking up is have a wrestling match, on Mommy and Daddy’s bed, while Mommy and Daddy are still in it. They’re far more effective than an alarm clock could ever be. But people tell me that one day soon, they won’t want to even be in the same room with their parents. So, for now, I’ll try to enjoy my morning ritual of a yank on the hair, a kick to the gut, and a screech in the ear. After all, nothing says ‘I love you’ like a teeth-rattling elbow to the jaw. Just ask any first grade boy.

    Monday, April 28, 2008


    We survived California! Here’s a quick run-down: You have to pay the airline extra for a suitcase that weighs over fifty pounds (see “Packing Insanity” post.) Sea World is incredible for us mountain-bound folks, but skip the San Diego Zoo unless you love to watch animals sleep. Legoland can impress the teeth right out of a kid. I like fish tacos, but no one else in my family does. Harbor seals are good for your self-image. Monkey does not like Valley Girls and doesn’t mind telling them so, politely. Don’t climb Tarzan’s tree house at Disneyland after walking through five amusement parks in five days. Do not assume that twenty minutes is enough time to buy ice cream before the Pixar parade (thankfully the boys didn’t miss it, just Rachel and I.) Bubba Gump restaurant is the best place to eat near Disneyland. DO NOT, under any circumstances and for any reason, eat at Captain Kidd’s. Little boys think turbulence is fun.

    We had a blast and came back exhausted, infected, missing teeth, and in Chunky’s case, four years old. He had a birthday party at Disneyland and even got to meet the Mickey and Minnie characters. Chunky’s new stuffed Mickey Mouse is his prize possession now. Unfortunately, Mickey has eaten every meal with us since he joined our family. This morning Mickey had Honey Nut Chex—decidedly less messy than tacos.

    You may be wondering about the title of this post. In writing circles, we talk a lot about POV or Point Of View, meaning whose head the author’s in when he or she is telling the story. I’m pretty sure the folks at Disneyland study POV as well, but for them it means Point Of Vomit. Just how long can someone spin in a tea cup before they hurl? How many times can a person be turned upside down on a roller coaster before they lose the absurdly-expensive, hockey-puck burger they ate for lunch? How many shakes of the Star Wars simulator does it take to induce nausea? What exactly is the Point Of Vomit? I’m sure it’s someone’s job to find out. I’m just glad it’s not mine.

    Wednesday, April 16, 2008

    Packing Insanity

    No, I am not "packing insanity" like an action hero would "pack a gun." Although, if the ability to inflict insanity were a weapon, my little boys might be arrested for concealing it behind their adorable smiles. (Side note: Monkey lost his third tooth last night and his grin is irresistible.) But back to my suitcase-induced mental breakdown.

    Our family is leaving for California on Friday, and this means I'm packing for three people. My sadly deluded husband suggested packing light for this trip and only taking one suitcase for he and I and one for the two boys. In case your math skills are as pathetic as mine, that's 2 suitcases for 4 people. (If a train left Colorado at 1:55 p.m. carrying all of Evangeline's necessary clothing, what time would it arrive in California? Please take into account the Rocky Mountains and Evangeline's considerable shoe needs.)

    Adding to the stress of inadequate space has been the heaps of laundry and summer clothes to go through. You see, summer is still two months away for us Coloradons, but all weather reports indicate sun and warmth in California (no complaints there.) So I had to pull out last summer's shorts for the boys and, of course, Monkey has sprouted like an aspen over the winter, making last year's shorts humorously high water on his stick legs. Naturally, this meant shopping. Which I did. I know what you're thinking, but, yes, in the middle of my crazy week, I sacrificed time to shop. I am a saint.

    So today I went at those two measly suitcases with a vengeance. I filled my half (huh-hum, three-quarters) of our suitcase and then went on to the boys'. I piled sixteen outfits in their medium-sized suitcase, and let's just say, it will take an act of God to close that thing. You know how God closed the door of Noah's ark? Well, this will go down in history as the miraculous zipping of the suitcase.

    Now, Monkey and Chunky (that's my three, soon to be four-year-old) were downstairs peacefully playing computer games. I should have known, right? Well, it was so peaceful because Chunky had helped himself to graham crackers and blueberry Pop-tarts, then returned to play PBS kids on MY computer. It seems that graham crackers and blueberry Pop-tarts when enjoyed directly over a laptop keyboard, form a kind of crumby glue. I'm not sure my 'hhhhhh' key will ever be the same again.

    Those of you who are mothers know that you always pay dearly for a bit of quiet time. That's why I'm glad this vacation will be non-stop activity. Surely there will be no expensive equipment damaged. Then again, we are taking the camcorder.