happy halloween

And, this is the last day of the month AND the last entry of my month of daily blogging! Yeah! I did it! I only had to 'make' myself sit down to write a couple of times. The rest of the time I sat down, opened up the page and the words/subjects wrote themselves. I don't think I will continue blogging on a daily basis, but this exercise did get me back into the habit and reminded me how much I like to do it. Win-Win.

For today, I will post the obligatory photos of my kids in their Halloween costumes. They Trick-or-Treated last night, as our community hosts a 'Beggar's Night' from 6-8pm on the day before Halloween. Why not on Halloween night? Who knows. Just something strange that we just go along with and not question.

Ben - aka a Storm Trooper (3 sizes to big, but hey .... borrowers can't be choosers)

Ellie - aka a spotted horse (Maddi's old costume I added a couple of things to make it unique for Ellie)

Madison - aka Hippie Chick (got a 2nd use out of her themed outfit for school earlier in the week)

Total Spent on Halloween Costumes = $1.86 to add felt and some more yarn to the horse costume.

Total amount my kids wanted me to spend on store bought costumes = $75.00

Total amount of time they wore their costumes = 2 hours.

THAT is why I didn't want to spend money!!!!! I do feel bad for saying no to them, but it's not like I didn't have another option for them. Since the school district doesn't allow Halloween parties (so no costumes worn to school) the only time they would have them on would be for trick-or-treating. I hope the money saved now won't have to go for therapy later.



I am beginning to believe my daughters were born without empathy. During the '
episode of the ear canal invader' yesterday, the girls were ............... well, being snitty and selfish. It began with Maddi texting me letting me know she was ready to be picked up from school. I called her to let her know Ben just accidentally stuck a BB in his ear and could she walk home (under a mile, here folks) or see if a friend could give her a ride. I knew she was home when I heard the door slam, bags dropped and her stomping into the living room to assess the situation.

Comments from Maddi:
"Why did he do that?"
"Is it stuck" "
Why couldn't you just put him in the car to come and pick me up?"
"Did you call Dad?"

Comments from Ellie:
"I didn't tell him to do it!"
"What color is it?"
"Is it something of mine stuck in his ear?"
"When can you paint my nails?"
"I'm hungry. What's for dinner."

During all of this chatter I was holding Ben, calling Dave, performing minor surgery, seeking advice from a friend .......... in other words; I was a LITTLE BUSY HERE, GIRLS!
The girls took the hint and made themselves scarce until daddy walked in the door. Suddenly the chatter picked up and then they wanted to know what daddy was going to do about it. Five people crowded in the bathroom ........ with sharp object and vacuums within reach.

Then it happened. The comment to send me over the edge:

Maddi: "When are we going to the library? I have to return my book tonight and I want to look around for a couple more."

:: blink blink ::

She said this as Dave and I were leaning over the tub trying to hold a slippery-wet-5-year-old-boy still while we shove sharp instruments in his ear.

:: blink blink again ::

Not to be outdone by her older sister, Ellie slips quietly out, then bag in a while later with a note for daddy.

If you are unable to read 2nd grade writing, here is the translation:

Dear Dad, I have not
had a good day. I've missed
you a lot today. More than you think
to. Every second of
the day. Even when you are
home right now. All I want
is to spend time with
Love, Ellie p.s.
I hope you can
spend time with me.

Bust. my. heart. open. Then, get very angry. Really? Right now? Do you not see your brother in the tub with the squirt bottle in his ear? I know, I get it. Kids express what the feel when they feel it and how they feel it. As parents, though, we can't meet the needs of all of our children at the same time. We have to step back, evaluate the situation and see what needs to be taken care of first. I thought Dave and I were doing pretty good with this step. I mean, the plastic BB had to come out before Maddi went to the library or Ellie received some attention from her daddy. Right?!

Dave and I looked at each other and locked eyes. Without saying a word out loud, the conversation began: "We're in this together, right?" "You got my back, right?" "If you don't yell at the girls I won't yell at the girls" "Did you take the trash out?" Oh, wait ........ not that last one. But definitely the first three. We were united.


  • Ben's ears are clear of all foreign objects
  • Ellie got her fingernails painted and a snuggle with Dad
  • Maddi went to the library to return her book and grab some new ones
  • Dave went to sleep at 9pm; worn out by all of the action
  • I tore apart my bathroom searching in the crevices of make-up bags and baskets hoping to find a Valium. Defeated, I resigned myself to a cup of ice cream and some time spent with my nose in a book.


things not to put in your ear canal

Elbows, knees, pencils, Barbie legs, insects, batteries, Lego's, Star Wars light sabers, buttons, grass, plastic BB's, electrical cords, spit wads, camera memory cards, school buses ........ the list goes on and on. Sometimes, however, as much as we teach our children to keep things out of their orifices, nothing beats trying it out anyway. Yeah, this story is personal.

Earlier this afternoon I was working on the computer (okay, really I was playing the facebook bejeweled blitz and doing mighty well) when Ben so rudely interrupted me to say he had something stuck in his ear and it was hurting. When I tried to ask what it was, this was his response:

Ben: "I didn't do it on purpose. I really didn't. This small little ball got in my ear and just got stuck there. I didn't push it in or anything. I think it is really going to hurt!"

I grabbed a flashlight and observed the damage. I am proud to say I only asked him "WHY?" about 7 times. Sure enough, I could see the intruder firmly planted in ear wax, deep inside the ear canal. If you know me, I got a little excited about the prospect that I could whip out my tweezers and perform minor surgery. I love to pick, scrape and suction things from my children's bodies. Kind of like those monkeys who pick the fleas and ticks off other monkeys.


The tweezers didn't work. I called Dave and calmly told him what had happened. He jumped on the computer at work and searched Google for the best way to remove foreign objects from the ear. As long as it is not a bean (beans sprout quickly in a warm, moist environment ..... like an ear canal) it was deemed safe to try a couple of home remedies before heading out to the Urgent Care cesspool of germs down the street. I placed Ben on the couch and waited for Dave to come home. Then I got antsy and called a friend for validation that I shouldn't be freaking out and calling an ambulance. She agreed it wasn't an emergency, and gave me a couple of suggestions to remove the object. Then we switched topics and laughed about stupid things we and others have done when we were little. Friends rock.


Dave got home and had a look-see. Since he is a Geologist, he happened to have a hand-operated vacuum pump in the trunk of his car. He also grabbed a couple of coffee straws (thin diameter) to use at the end of the hose. MacGyver has nothing on my hubby. The end result was not enough suck to work, but too much suck might pop the ear drum, so the household vacuum idea was out.

Now might be a helpful time to show a diagram depicting what we saw:

You would think it would fall right out, but remember, ooey gooey ear wax was holding the ball in place. We put Ben in the tub and used a plastic bottle with a fine nozzle to shoot warm water into the ear. Surely the wax would loosen up, melt away and release the ball. Maybe we should try again. And again.

By this time I am out of ideas and decide to call the Urgent Car cesspool of germs down the street and let them know we are on our way. As I am getting off the phone, Ellie comes running into the kitchen screaming "It's out! It's out! Dad got it out!"

Whew. Co-pays and deductibles averted.

Apparently the water flushed away the wax, but Ben's ear had a little ridge holding the ball from falling out. Dave fashioned a 'hook' out of an ink pen cartridge and use the inside cartilage of the ear as a brace to get the hook behind the ball and pop it out. Bada-bing-bada-boom. Crisis thwarted.

Tomorrow I will tell you about how Ben's loving and caring and concerned sisters reacted to the 2+ hour ordeal. For now, I am going to pretend it is bedtime and ignore any requests requiring a thought process.


something old something new

Something Old:

Maddi-girl's school is hosting 'Red Ribbon Week' and is creating themes each day to spread the message of say no to drugs. Today was Hippie-Dippie-Trippie day, which when you think about it, seems oddly paired with a no-drug message. Mads explained it as "say yes to peace, love and happiness .......... say no to drugs." Okey Dokey

Instead of going out to the Goodwill or Salvation Army store, we opted for the homemade look and style. Some white fabric triangles sewn into the slit of the pants provided the bell bottom pants and leftover white fabric turned into a headband. Maddi and her trusty Sharpies colored the peace signs over the blank canvas and viola, instant hippie.


Too school for school, man.

Something New:

I decided to add Maddi to my calling plan, and cancel the KaJeet subscription. The service is great, but I was tired of monitoring 2 accounts and the limitations you can place on the phone become irritating when you need to dial an unexpected number. In addition, Mads has proven responsible for the phone and I decided to let us both upgrade. She is now the owner of a new to her cell phone with texting capabilities, and I am have a shiny new Samsung Reclaim. Did I really need it? Heck no. Did I have to pay for it? Heck no. Did I sweet talk the salesperson into switching my number to the new one along with syncing my contacts/photo/schedule lists on my old phone? Heck yes. Did I waste copious amounts of time today playing with my new techie toy? Heck yes. It's nice to have something new every once in a while.

For updates on baby mighty mouse, visit my sister's website M & M's


blue squirrel, blue squirrel ....... what do you see?

What .......... don't you see?

I see a blue lawsuit staring at me!

True Story: A family walks into an I-Hop and while enjoying some yummy pancakes, a balloon 'artist' saddles up to the table.

Balloon 'artist': "What will it be young man?"

Boy says: "I would like a blue squirrel, please."

::several huffs and puffs, twist and turns later:: TaDa!

Younger brother snickers and says (with a lisp) "Mom ...... that thquirel has a penith." HeHe

This story was graciously donated by a good friend. Such a good friend that she brought over the blue squirrel so I could photograph it, knowing I would want to write about it. Hm ...... methinks she knows me TOO well. HeHe


day in the life

Monday, 10/26/09

5:45am - Wake up, drink coffee, check email & Google Reader

6:30am - Empty dishwasher, Make Lunches, set oven to CLEAN, wake up kiddos and get breakfast going

7:00am - Start laundry, gets kids dressed and backpacks filled

7:35am - Take kids to school

7:55am - Switch laundry, get dressed and ready for the day (yes, I drove my kids to school in my p..j.'s, but I don't get out of the car), second cup of coffee with breakfast, pay bills online

9:00am - Go to Aldi for main grocery shopping (spent $94.61), Head to Wal-Mart or items not at Aldi (spent $42.28 including 2 pair of jeans for Ellie) Go to specialty store for birthday present for friend

11:30am - Home to unload & put away groceries, clean out residue from oven, and eat a quick lunch of last night's leftovers while reading Sunday paper. Switch laundry

12:30pm - Prepare five hour stew for dinner, clean up the kitchen and wash the floors

1:15pm - Watch latest episode of Project Runway on the computer. Switch laundry

1:50pm - Divide the school lunch groceries into single serving baggies

2:25pm - Drive to Library to drop off books and pick up 2 on hold.

2:45pm - Pick up Ben & Ellie from school

2:55pm - Empty backpacks, clean-out lunch bags, sort school paperwork, snacks and talk about the day, switch laundry

3:30pm - Sort mail, bills, general big people paperwork. Made 6 servings of Jello, switch laundry, pull refrigerator away from wall and vacuum/wipe floor, mess around on the computer

5:10pm - Dave home with Maddi, put away laundry

5:45pm - Prepare biscuits, finish stew, make gravy. Family sits down for a nice dinner

6:15pm - Clean up dinner with Dave

6:30pm - Bath. All. By. Myself.

7:00pm - Computer to Blog and check email, Google Reader and Facebook

................... intend to get kids in bed, lunches made for tomorrow and lay in bed and read. Night Night!

p.s. - This is an unusually productive day. My power nap on Sunday afternoon provided me with extra energy for today.



It is Sunday night.
Tomorrow is Monday.
Hubby is home from traveling.
My sister had her baby.

I have to keep reminding myself of these four things because I am feeling discombobulated. Out of sorts. Floating.

I hope to get a good nights rest and wake up well rested. My wish for tomorrow is to hop back into the family routine and feel 'in the moment' for the duration. Too much to ask?


paying it foward

Years ago when I was on pregnancy induced bed rest, friends and family were there for me at every turn. I was overwhelmed with the selfless acts of kindness and wondered how I would ever pay them back. As time went on, I realized I would never have the opportunity to pay back the same generosities, but I could pay it forward to others in need.

The past couple of days I have been with my sister, her husband and their baby daughter, Megan ....... otherwise known as 'Mighty Mouse'. I refilled water cups, laundered clothes, grabbed food, tidied up the hospital room, wrote down gifts and the names of the gifters; basically all the little things that can fall to the wayside when a new baby arrives. As a new mom, you never want to ask any more of people than you are already receiving. Guests come bearing presents, food and offers to help out in any way, so you graciously accept what is given.
You feel tremendous guilt if you ask for more ......... so being able to provide that 'more' to my sister was fabulous.

I am so blessed to have the availability of time and the understanding of my husband & kids to allow me to pay it forward, just a little bit. I have so much more to 'pay', and am excited to explore other ways to keep the kindness going.

By the way, both Megan and Jess are doing great. Megan has earned her nickname because she is so small, but extremely mighty. She is under the lights for excessive bilirubin levels but is off all supplemental oxygen. Jess is running out of her adrenaline high and will need some extra snoozes for the next couple of days. What a true blessing their challenges are so small giving the circumstances.


two posts in one day

Only something miraculous could cause such an event. One has:

Megan Elliot arrived this afternoon by emergency C-section. My newest niece is a tiny 4 lbs 4 oz and 6 weeks early, but is healthy and strong. My super-powered-strong sister is recovering and celebrating her release from bedrest. I will have to get the final day count from her, but I think is was around 80 days, with about 3/4 of those days spent in the hospital. I cannot express how proud I am of my sister for doing everything possible to make certain Megan spent as much time in the womb as she could. I have always referred to my sis as a Rock Star, but today she earned the title.

I will be meeting the little pumpkin tomorrow, and will have photos to share soon.

Welcome to the world and happy birthday Megan!!!!!!

feeling the sarcasm today



ode to George

Facts about our family cat:

Name: George Francis Allen Abu (insert our last name)

Born: May 1992 ......... yes, he is 17 years old

Adopted by Dave & Amy, pre-marriage: December 1992

Weight: 8lbs, fluctuating by .5 a pound or so, ever since he was grown

Talents: Fetches beer bottle caps and brings them back to your feet to throw again

Nickname: Claw-less Ball-less George.

Loves: Catnip, Tuna from a can, the salt off of pretzels, hiding under the sheets while the bed is being made, warm bodies and laser lights

Loathes: High pitched noises, cleaning out his ears, the smell of his poop (he runs at full speed from the litter box after he has done his business), an empty water dish

Misc info about George:
  • George has never been kissed, or anything else for that matter. I feel a little sorry for him, but he doesn't seem to mind. He has witnessed carnal actions by his human caretakers, however, but doesn't seem to care that he has missed out.
  • George completely ignored Maddi when she was born, giving her a sniff and a sneer upon meeting. When Maddi was 3 and we moved to Iowa, George ordained himself as her personal protector and rarely left her side.
  • If a member of the family leaves a blanket or piece of clothing on the floor for too long, George will pee on it. He only started this behavior since he has aged, so I am giving him grace about it rather than rub his nose in it.
  • George vocalizes his desires in several different manners.
  1. A loud, long 'Meooooooow' means the door to the laundry room is closed and he cannot access his litter box. Or, he needs his water bowl refilled. Now.
  2. "Puuuuuuurring" like a lawn mower means he is happy and you better not stop adoring him.
  3. Short frilly "mews" means he wants the tuna bits left over in the can. Now.
  4. A loud, low-pitched "MOW" sound signifies he has gotten outside and eaten grass recently and presently needs to expel it from his stomach. Now.
  5. And, finally A most recent discovery of which I am a little nervous to admit. Last night I picked him up from Ellie's bed and he said "Mom" ......... clear as day. (or night, as it was) So, what do you think of that?!


do as I say, not as I do

How often is this message relayed to your kids? Not in a literal sense, although I have found those words slipping from my tongue from time to time. More often the message is relayed through actions. Actions our kids witness. Actions our children will someday choose to emulate or decide to go against.

Example: Living in Iowa, Maddi will be eligible to receive a learner's driving permit at the tender age of 14. As in 25 months from now .......... eek! Because, ya know, she needs to drive the tractor through the fields before she feeds the chickens. All before the butt crack of dawn.

She is already observing the rules of the road as she rides shotgun in the miniature van:

Statements and Inquiries by Maddi directed towards me, the driver.

"Why didn't you use a signal when you turned, Mom?"

"The light was yellow and you sped up, Mom. Aren't you supposed to slow down, Mom?"

"Shouldn't you always have both hands on the wheel, Mom?"

"You shouldn't talk on the cell phone while driving, Mom. I heard that on the news."

At first I was irritated and told her to respect her mother and button her lip about my driving style. Come on! It's bad enough when Dave is sucking in air through his teeth when I stop too closely behind another vehicle. Now I have to answer to my daughter? Shouldn't she be in a 5-point harness in the middle of the back seat playing quietly with a board book? Who told her she could have opinions ...... let alone express them?

After checking my pride at the door, I realized she is simply observing, not trying to imply I am a bad driver. In an other words, grow up and be the parent, Amy, because THIS is a teachable moment.

So help me if I ever hear one of my kids say this

Which get's me thinking; what ISN'T a teachable moment?

Remember the first time your little cherub faced toddler said a swear word? Exactly one second after you did. And, remember watching your 'little mommy' put her dolly in time-out because the dolly was naughty? These moments are funny because you realize she is simply imitating adult behavior, but at what point is she actually digesting the information? When will she use that swear word appropriately and intently?

If I really sit and think about all of the things I do that I don't want my children to repeat, I get overwhelmed. How can I be perfect all the time? How can I be the perfect role model? When can I give them the perfect answer? The answer is never, because perfection isn't real. I certainly want my kids to know THAT!

So, I will strive for better. I will remind myself I am a teacher, as well as a parent. I will explain to Maddi my mistakes so she can learn to do better. I will take the mature route and hold myself accountable for my actions, because being a parent is my number one job. I may not have fully realized that when Dave and I first decided to have kids, but I cannot let ignorance be my excuse.

How will I cope with the pressure?

I will find time to be with my hubby so we can swear, drink, smoke and make out in a car like we used to ......... before becoming parents.


ten guilty pleasure

Today I will let you in on my ten guilty pleasures. In return, I would like for you to share one of yours in the comments.

1. Internet Window (browser) Shopping. I love to find new stores and products online. I also love to visit tried and true online stores. I browse, I salivate, I even go so far as to put items in my Shopping Cart. Then, with a click of an exit button I leave the store, empty handed. Uncommon Goods is a spot I can browse for hours.

2. Ben & Jerry's Coffee Heath Bar Crunch. Major yummy-ness. So yummy, in fact, I might make on of these just to make my enjoyment last even longer.

3. Watching Project Runway. This is a wee-bit more difficult now as we have canceled our digital tv service, but I searched online and am able to stream past episodes from here. I like to pretend I will be talented enough someday to be on the show.

4. People Watching. I haven't done this is a while and I must put it on my to-do list. Walk around the shopping mall and just observe the wackiness.

5. Chewing Gum. And, popping bubbles. It is so not lady-like, and I can't stand it when other people smack their gum, but I LOVE to do it. I am loving Orbit's new Pina Colada flavor.

6. Reading Books. Yes, I consider this a guilty pleasure because I am not reading for business ...... just pleasure. I am loving the Goodreads site so I can keep track of what I have read, & more importantly, place books on my to-read list. If you sign-up for the free service, don't forget to add me as a friend so we can share titles!

7. Not Sharing. Once you become a mother you have to share your body, food, drinks, space, privacy, clothes, spit, friends, DNA, ............ EVERYTHING!

8. Good Coffee. Unfortunately, this usually equates to a Starbucks run. Hey, I live in Iowa ....... my selection is limited.

9. Product Packaging. Um, hello? And, look at you, cutie. This one is a work of art. Oh, and one more. It's like getting a 2 for 1. The product AND the beautiful package.

10. Magazines. Ya know, little books. At least I am getting my fix at the library verses buying one at the store or paying for a subscription. My favorite? This one.


because it's fall

Today is one of those days I am regretting posting daily. So, because it is fall, I will post photos of Elle and Ben playing with the fallen leaves. Maddi was inside with her friends, so she did not partake in the annual jumping into the leaf piles, but no worries. We have 3 big trees and countless opportunities to make more piles.


the innocence of childhood

Last night my baby attended her first dance. Well, to be politically correct, it was the '6th grade middle school social', with a deejay and a dance floor, but not boy-asks-girl-to-go type of thing. She met up with some friends, partied for 2 hours, then brought 2 of her friends home to have a sleepover. Bed by 11pm and up at 8am for some cinnamon sugar pancakes.

I was struggling with the fact she is growing up, and hearing the giggles and screams of three prepubescent girls made me a little sad. Wasn't it just yesterday she was toddling around in a fat diaper and singing Ba Ba Black Sheep?

The sleepover turned in to an all next day event, with the parents of the other girls happily leaving them to our care. What would the girls do all day? Listen to music? Search YouTube videos on the computer? Play truth or dare? Whisper about boys while laying on Maddi's bed, flipping through teen magazines?

As it turned out, they immersed themselves in play. Imaginative play. Creative play. Innocent play.

My heart is bursting with pride and admiration. These girls spent over 6 hours dreaming up the idea and figuring out the details and playing the final product:

The Taylor Swift Board Game

First they created the playing pieces: Taylor Swift images from the computer, printed out on card stock, cut out and hot glued to rocks so they would stand on their own.

The design of the game board is based on the letters "T" and "S", for country singer Taylor Swift.

The board itself was decorated with scrabble tiles, more photos, ribbons, stickers and markers.
The individual squares of the playing board contained trivia about Taylor's life. With the role of a dice, you moved your 'Taylor' along the T & S and followed the instructions on square you landed on.

Look at the details of these colored tiles they glued down! LOVE ........ it's what I have for this day.


prayer for my sister

A Mother's Prayer for

Her Unborn Child

Blessed and Merciful God,

Thank you for the gift of life.

Thank you for the life of the child growing inside of me.

Thank you for your love that is shaping and forming

this child's life into divine perfection.

Thank you for shaping this child's mind.

Thank you for shaping this child's bones.

Thank you for shaping this child's destiny and for

writing it upon her heart.

Thank you for filling this child's entire being with
loving light.

Thank you for knowing and calling this child's name

even as it is being formed.

Thank you for showing me how to love this child
before it is born.

Thank you for giving me a healthy appetite for
foods that are life giving and life sustaining
while this
child is growing inside of me.

Thank you for giving me peaceful rest while this child

is growing inside of me.

Thank you for keeping me from harm and danger

while this child is growing inside of me.

Thank you for peace of mind while this child
growing inside of me.

Right now I give you all of my concerns for the
health, strength
and well-being for the precious life
growing inside my body.

Right now I call forth your grace, mercy and the

loving light of your presence to fill my being and
sustain the life growing inside me.

Prepare me for this birth.

Prepare my mind.

my body.

Bless me and this child that her birth will happen
and effortlessly, under the grace of your peace.

I give your angels charge of this child.

I give you charge over my entire being.

I give you thanksgiving and praise for this blessed life

growing inside me.

May this prayer be lifted, heard and accepted into
highest realms of all that is good.

For this I am so grateful.


Iyanla Vanzant


Stay still and in peace, Jess. I love you and am soooooo proud of you.


my baby

Who is this young woman?
When did she grow up?
How did she become so beautiful
Why can't time stand still?

In other news, one of my Facebook acquaintances posted a video about "The Fun Theory". Here is one example:

Go to The Fun Theory website for more information. I just love this kind of stuff!


budget helpers

Yesterday I complained, quite a bit I might say, about miscellaneous budget busters. Today I am in a different frame of mind and will write about budget helpers.

May I present:
Packing a lunch for school

I will use Benjamin as an example, simply because he is easy to please and I remember what I packed in his lunch sack this morning. If he were to purchase a hot lunch at school, we would spend $2.30. Not too bad, but multiply that by 5 days a week for 1 month .... not so cheap. Sure there is the convenience of not having to take time to pack the lunch, and our grocery bill would decrease some by not purchasing lunch food, but I am going to do the math to compare.

Ben's Lunch (In a store bought Star Wars insulated plastic lunch bag ......... he won that battle)
  • 1/2 Peanut butter & Jelly sandwich on wheat bread = $.14
  • Sliced Bell peppers (yellow only, please) = $.17
  • Homemade Jello (buy the box, make 3 servings) = $.17
  • Chips (purchased in a big bag and divided out into single servings) = $.09
  • Juice (Mix w/sugar & water, poured into a reusable bottle) = $.06
Grand Total of packed lunch = $.63

Now, I have 3 kiddos, remember? So, Hot lunch vs. Cold lunch?

Hot lunch for 3 kids/month (Maddi pays $2.40 at the Middle School) = $140
Cold lunch for 3 kids/month (rounding up cold lunch to $.70ea) = $42

Ellie and Maddi have the option to select 1 school lunch every 2 weeks, and they usually do. Ben refuses to get hot lunch at school because: "Mom, YOU make my lunch!." Yep, he is certainly a little man-in-training. I apologize now to his future wife.


budget busters

How the heck can I put together a workable budget when every time I turn around, the kids have brought something home from school requesting funding.

Just today, by email and school notices sent home, we have been asked to:

1. Purchase a t-shirt for middle school. To show pride. To wear in the band performances. Really ...... completely optional, but major guilt attachments. = $10

2. Middle School Yearbook. Because ya know, on the last day everyone signs yours and you are a social pariah if you don't have one. = $20

3. Home Room mother requesting money for class Fall party ..... THIS Friday. Oh, and can you come in and help, too?! That would be great. = $3.00

4. Another Home Room mother requesting bags of candy for the Fall party pinata. And if you could ...... come in and help THIS Friday ........ on the same day and time as your other child's party. Play favorites; they won't care. = $10

5. Birthday party invitation for Ellie. THIS Sunday. Yeah, bring a gift = $15

6. All of the above coming on the heels of Family Fun night where we dropped cash to fund all of the stuff the school wants to do but doesn't have money for. = $25 ........ yeah, real fun.

7. UPDATE: Maddi wants to go to the 6th grade social THIS Friday. To, um socialize with friends. = $5

Total Request Amount in 1 week = $78

How am I supposed to get ahead when all of this miscellaneous crap is pulling me back?

Oh. I am supposed to TAKE a crap and then my money problems will be solved.


in an instant

In an instant, I smelled something burning and grabbed Dave to help me investigate. Once we realized the washing machine was the culprit, I took the kids outside while Dave grabbed the fire extinguisher ...... just in case. Conclusion: the motor is fried. Consequence: Mama's going to be making some trips to the laundromat. Thank goodness we discovered the problem quickly and were able to prevent something more damaging.

In an instant, my sister's Placental Previa could decide to act up and pull away from her uterus. This is the EXACT reason she has spent the last 30 days in a hospital and has another 23 to go. Soon, but hopefully not too soon, it will be all over and she will have her little baby girl safely in her arms.

In an instant, someone's minivan rolled off the interstate and landed a good 50 feet from the road. Four semi-trucks were pulled over and more help was on the way. As we drove along, we noticed an ambulance, a firetruck, a couple of volunteer EMT vehicles and a highway patrol car speed down the opposite site of the road with their lights and sirens blazing. Dave and I looked at each other and wondered what could have happened to have that vehicle lose control. Yelling at their kids to be quiet? (We did that) Adjusting the volume or DVD screen or putting another movie into the player? (We've done that before) Reaching to find a ringing cell phone? (Yep, been there) or divvying up the food just purchased at the fast food joint one exit back. (Eerily, we had just completed that task)

In an instant, lives change. Sometimes the mark left behind is small and manageable and life continues on as if nothing ever happened. But sometimes, the mark left behind is permanent and life as you know it is not recognizable.

Yes, I am going to say, "hug your children now" followed by "tell your husband he is the greatest" and then I'll tell you to "remind those you love how much they mean to you" because ......... this is an instant, too.



Right now fear, doubt, anxiety, tension, and disharmony
Are reigning supreme.
But there will come a time when this world of ours
Will be flooded with peace.
Who is going to bring about this radical change?
It will be you; you and your sisters and brothers.
You and your oneness – heart will spread peace
Throughout the length and breadth of the world
God has infinite children,
But the name of His fondest child
Is Peace.

Peace we achieve
When we do not expect anything
From the world,
But only give, give, and give
What we have and what we are.

I meditate
So that I can inundate
My entire being
With the omnipotent power of peace.

Slowly and steadily you have to silence your mind
So that the peace – dove can nest in it.

O dreamers of peace, come.
Let us walk together.
O lovers of peace, come.
Let us run together.
O servers of peace, come.
Let us grow together.

From “Wings of Joy” by Sri Chinmoy


what is real?

Today I have one foot planted firmly in panic and the other foot dangling above the icy cold waters of reality.

It began with an overnight of broken sleep. Three people, then four, all crowded into a king sized bed with everyone fighting for space and covers. A few times I woke to find my arms stolen for pillows and little legs tangled over and under my own. Each time interrupting a dream filled with snippets of my unconscious thoughts trying to make sense of my crazy reality.

"Life comes at you pretty fast," so says Ferris Beuller. Sometimes too fast for the sensible parts of your brain to keep up. Each person handles this in a different manner. Mine manifests into panic attacks.

The physical symptoms are bad enough: rush of cold tingles through your veins, rapid breathing, racing heart rate, itchy scalp. The emotional symptoms are terrifying: Am I safe? What is real? Who is watching me? Am I loosing it?

I really wanted a Zanax. I could have used a stiff drink. I contemplated my ability to procure illegal drugs. A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G that would help me escape myself .......... knock me out and wake me when it's over.

Instead I am choosing internal dialogue with myself. Dangerous, I know. My father always tells me, "The mind is a scary and dangerous place. Never go there alone." But if I don't try, I am afraid I am going to surrender to the F.E.A.R. = False Evidence Appearing Real.

One minute I feel my foothold in panic start to loosen, and the next it is sucking me back in. The thing about being a wife and mother, however, is the rest of your family keeps moving along. I want to stay with them today. I want to hold the joy of the moment in my hands, not watch it flutter away right in front of my eyes.

Real is right here. Real is feeling the wave and riding it out. Real is time passing. Real are my children's needs. Real is looking into my husband's eyes and speaking volumes without opening my mouth. Real is what I want, so I will keep plugging away today until both feet get wet.