Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Abandoned at Tahoe?

I'm sitting outside by a roaring fire...alone for the first time in weeks and having mixed feelings about it.

The girls are skiing with friends. The boys are skiing with friends. I've been accidentally, I'm sure, stood up by my husband for a ski date.

I'm not all that sad about being stood up. Don't tell anyone, but I truly hate skiing. My two biggest reasons are that it's a mother's logistical nightmare and I'm afraid of killing myself.

I don't fear death as much as I fear a slow, painful frozen death that doesn't completely kill me, but leaves me in traction with no brain function.

That being said, I'm all geared up and ready to go, and happily sitting by the fire with my iPhone. If you see my man on the slopes, tell him I'm waiting...or not.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ariel the Christmas Cat

When Birk was four, we met Ariel the Christmas cat.

It was a bitter cold December night in Dexter, Michigan. The wind whipped through the trees and the sky was inky black. These are the nights where I am sure that Christmas lights throw some heat, if not for the fingers, for the soul.

An orange tabby cat arrived on the front porch of my parent's home. It meowed and meowed--cold and hungry at the front door.

In the country, there is a particular kindness to strays. We don't dial the pound, we feed and water and take them in. Many times strays became part of our family. Our best little dog ever arrived on that very same doorstep, and shmoozed her way in.

My mom is super allergic to cats, so there was no way this fluffy tabby was coming into the house. My kids did get to experience the country, farm life in that we found an old box, some old blankets and some food and made a comfy cubby for that freezing cold cat on that freezing cold night.

Birk, at age four, was particularly excited by this little creature. My husband, was not particularly excited, and in fact, thought we were all crazy.

Each night, the cat came back. The girls dubbed it, Ariel. My husband moaned and groaned, but my family, did what we always did with strays, and became attached.

A few nights before Christmas, it was especially cold. I was taking out my contacts when I heard the front door slam...followed by a scream.

I'm a mom of three, and at that time in my life, screaming was normal and crying was background noise. When Birk arrived at the bathroom door, gushing blood from her forehead, I was shocked.

The best we could tell from her sobs, she had hit her head on the door. Being no dumb bunny myself, I tried to make sure Ariel's teeth were not involved. Hysterical Birk insisted it was the door. We were travelling, and grandma and grandpa were not equipped with a first aid kit. I slapped hand sanitizer on that open wound in an act of desperation, and poor Birk howled herself to sleep.

The next morning, Birk woke up with a forehead the size of a watermelon. As parents, we knew right then, being hit in the head by the door was lower on the totem pole of options--being bit by a rabid cat moved to the number one position.

Flash forward to the local emergency room. Birk wavered slightly on her story, and now she was saying the cat scratched her. However, when you are in the ER with a possibility of a wild cat bite and rabies and the thought that your baby could possibly die--that had Christmas fun written all over it.

Meanwhile, my husband is not talking to me. My redneck, raised in a barn upbringing was not only not impressing him, it was to blame for this disaster.

Before we started rabies treatment, we had to try to catch and test Ariel. We arrived home, took off our boots, and heard a knock at the door: a six foot tall Michigan State Trooper was asking to come in and get a police report from us.

Nothing says Christmas like a State Trooper in your living room. We gave him the info, and super husband went out to trap himself a Chritmas cat.

Of course, luck would have it that Ariel was missing in action. She hadn't lived on the streets that long without developing some smarts. However, my husband tracked her, bagged her in a cat kennel and handed her over to Animal Control.

Meanwhile, our stress mounted. Tension was thick and we were terrified that Birk could be sick or worse...

Now, it's not like they tested that cat straight away, apparently the only sure fire way to test for rabies is to kill the animal, I'm still not sure I understand that. The secondary test? Five days of observation.

After sweating it out for those long days, turns out Ariel was not rabid and was not a girl--she was a he.

My family quickly reverted back to the people we are and discussed adoption and giving Ariel a permanent home.

I can't tell you how relieved you are when you find out your four year doesn't have rabies.

Ariel turned out to have aggression issues and was deemed un-adoptable. We still haven't ever really told our kids about Ariel's sad fate.

Birk turned out to be fine--and we never did get a staight story about what really happened that night. For Christmas, Santa brought her a shirt that simply said, "I make things up."

*NOTE: Typos, awkward language, and anything weird brought to you by the one finger hunt and peck typing method on my iPhone.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

All I Want for Christmas? My Luggage

Why do I love Halloween so much? For me, it's Christmas without the travel and hassel of gifts. We have decorations, lights, family, friends and candy! The spirituality factor is quite different, but I do not need to worry about saying Merry Christmas or Happy Channukah to the wrong person. I also am not personally offended if you're a Halloween Scrooge.

That said, all I want for Christmas is my luggage. Each and every year, we arrive at our destination to find one bag missing. Now, when you travel around Christmas, you don't travel light. Each bag is chock full of treasures. When one goes missing, and last year it was the bag with four bottles of very nice wine, you tend to panic.

Because this happens every year, and it happens with every airline no matter which we fly, I am quite calm about the process. We always eventually get our bag. Sometimes my suitcase has a more interesting travel destination than I do.

This year? We waited patiently at the baggage claim. I watched the carousel spin, gripping my claim check stickers, wondering which bag wouldn't show.

Guess what? I got ONE bag out of EIGHT. Seven bags were MIA! I understand my annual missing bag....but seven?

When you have no underwear, toothbrushes, or snow boots for three kids, then you know panic. I'm not going into the weeks of shopping and planning. No strategy could prepare me for this.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Alfalfa Sprout

There are some things, I'm sorry to say, that really sadden me. One is when I tell my kids in the morning that they need to comb their hair because they have an Alfalfa Sprout and they give me the blank stare. After constant examples, they understand what I mean, but they have no point of reference.

For all of my children, and some of yours, too, here is...THE Alfalfa Sprout:

And here it is in motion:

Monday, December 14, 2009

I Feel Like I Know You: Merry Christmas Back!

Every year we get a beautiful photo Christmas card from a family of six. The photo is gorgeous. The kids are adorable.

The mom and dad are smiling and in their Sunday best. There's not a hair out of place. The kids are smiling and their eyes are twinkling. They obviously look like the kind of kids that never whine or fight.

Year after year we get their very best wishes for a wonderful Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

The matter of the thing, is that, I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHO THESE PEOPLE ARE.

For over 5 years, we keep getting a card from these people. We don't even know anyone that lives in the state it is mailed from. We don't know anyone by their name. We have no idea who they are.

This year, I am finally sending them a card. I mean, after this many years, I feel like I'm stiffing them. And, after this many years, I feel like I know them.

Dear Mystery Friends,
When so many of my real friends forget to mail me a Christmas greeting, or I've dropped off their list, you are steadfast and reliable. It's like I feel like I know you after so many years of seeing your family grow.
Best Wishes for the Holidays,
Your Mystery Friends

However, when I send them a card from our family with our picture, maybe THEY'RE going to REALIZE that they don't know us either.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Portrait of a Mean Mom

That's blurry old me--Mean Mom. There will be at least three best-selling books written about the ways that I've ruined my children's lives. My husband might jump in on that money-making boat, as well. He's got some humdingers to tell, that's for sure.

My meaness came to mind this morning when I was looking through old photos. It's holiday time, so we need to whip out a card with some fairly recent photos--this is mainly so some of our distant relatives might recognize us at family Christmas parties and not call the cops.

A lot of the photos on iPhoto are actually movies from this summer--movies taken on my new iPhone, by then 7 year old Birk.

The charming summer memories last for the first 15 seconds, then I am in the background of almost EVERY single one, yelling, "Get off the dock with my phone!!!" Or, "Stop, you're using all of my battery!!!" Or, "Turn that off now, you are using up all of my memory!!!"

Someday, my daughter will pull up the files of these summer memories. She will sigh with wonder at the beauty of her childhood. Then her pleasure will turn to horror.

I'll be dead and gone, but will live on screeching, "Don't drop my phone in the water!!!"

Monday, December 7, 2009

Little Pitchers and Big Ears: Selective Hearing

Why is it that I can ask my kids 20 times if they've done their homework and get no response?

I can say one thing about a wacky relative in a whisper voice on the phone and EVERY TIME they will crank their neck around with whiplash speed and ask me why I said that?

Selective hearing.

It works the same way with my husband. He swore up and down on Thanksgiving that I never asked him to do X, Y or Z. I am 100 percent sure that I did.

It's kind of like a "If a tree falls in the woods..." situation. If you ask a question, and no one hears it, or acknowledges it, did you really ask?"

Amazed at the frequency of use, this week I started experimenting with the phenomenon. To my surprise, selective hearing is actually an addicting habit. Now, I find myself using that technique with my whole family.

Here's how in 4 easy steps:
  1. Say you are working at the computer. Stare straight ahead at the screen. If the request is one that just doesn't interest you, keep staring straight ahead.
  2. On the second request, keep typing and staring.
  3. On the third request, move to the kitchen and begin slicing carrots (keep the knife in hand, most grown ups approach you with extreme caution when you are brandishing a knife).
  4. If the inquirer is persistent or crying, you can finally say with a smile, "What did you say, dear?"
Of course, if you really have no interest in the tasks, tears or screaming, just continue along in you blissful blank state until the inquirer walks away.

This technique also builds the useful skill of people not realizing that you are really listening and spying on their conversations. This is quite good, especially with teens.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lice O' Rama

I got the dreaded call from Birk's constant companion's mother. Birk's BFF has lice again. Now, if two little girls, let's call them Thelma and Louise, spend 9 out of 10 vacation days together and one gets lice...what are the odds on the other NOT getting lice?

I'm thinking zero. The big donut. Zilch. Zip. Nada. Diddly squat.

Oh, please Lice Gods, not again. I will have to sell my daughter's Zhu Zhu Hamster that she got for her birthday on eBay to pay for another round of treatments.



The ever-calm Ruth's 11 year old advice: "What are you worried about, mom? It's not like they can hurt us."

Considering our electric bill jumped like a frog out of the frying pan, I guess they can only kick us with their little lice feet where it the wallet.

Monday, November 30, 2009


Yes, I am one of those moms. I drive a mini-van--Honda Odyssey, gold.

Let me tell you a little secret--I love that van. Do I love it enough to keep it for more than six and a half years? Not really. I often only drive myself around in that living room-sized vehicle...alone.

Sure it comes in handy for big purchases and lugging stuff home from Costco; but, I am ready to move on....kind of.

My Prius-driving, SUV-lovin' friends are high fiving me and whooping and hollerin' and celebrating the coming end of my vanhood.

I'm feeing kind of sad. Place here a sweeping montage of all the road trips, rummage sale finds and carpool runs we've experienced together. Sigh, my trusty van and I.

Ahhhhhh, the golden, stinky van. I have to start mourning you now, way before you ever disappear from my life...forever

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

birk's table

Sometimes you are thankful to be home. We just returned from a wonderful holiday in Calistoga. Although the kids had a fantastic time, they were oh so happy to be back home.

Above is a table set for Thanksgiving by Birk. She had every single stuffed animal in a circle around her room and set her own beautiful thankful, table–which of course doubles as a storage bin under her bed :)

May the happiness of the season find you! Sometimes the best thing is being in your own home and in your very own bed.

Milk Roulette

Sometimes it's good to be informed. Sometimes too much information is a burden. Take the milk carton debate.

1. One friend buys milk only in the glass containers. No nasty plastic seeping into the wholesomeness she pours for her kids.

2. One friend buys only milk in the paper carton. It is lined with plastic and wax (this is the world according to her, no scientific research have I done on this topic) and the exposure is better for her kiddies.

3. The third friend just buys the milk in the plastic and recycles the jug.

Actually I was surprised at how much plastic contains our food. I am trying to buy glass, but you can't always get what you want when you want it in the form you'd like to buy it in. Therefore, there is still a lot of plastic in my fridge, in my cupboard and in my body.

What does a busy mom of three do? Well, I play milk carton roulette. I shake it up every time I buy a new batch of milk. I'm recycling, I'm reducing, I'm drinking and taking my chances that at least one of these options reduced by one third is the less lethal.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Husband's Sneaking Around

We live in an enlightened little part of the world...some of the enlightenment is influenced by guilt.

Picture in your mind a sophisticated cocktail party: dim lights, candles, and beautiful, modern floral arrangements punctuating the landscape. Martini glasses dangle from bejeweled fingertips (both male and female) and the women's heels are expensive and high.

Skirts are short. Botox runs rampant across the faces of the thirty something plus crowd. Men wear jeans and shirts with faux holes that each sport price tags of $200.00 and up. The conversation? How to be more "ECO."

As a gas guzzling, carbon footprint the size of Big Foot, family of five, my husband and I asked ourselves, "Do we really need a 10 year old V8 Jeep AND a mini van?" After several conversations with the green enlightened, we decided to get off our duffs and adopt more eco-friendly transportation.

My husband is now the proud (?) owner of a Toyota Highlander Hybrid. It is sleek and shiny AND AS SILENT AS A STALKING PANTHER.

In the old days, I could hear him coming home from work three blocks away. The V8 would roar like a lion throughout our suburban neighborhood. I also could hear him in the morning, pulling out of the driveway sounding like a full drag race was on--though he was only just turning the key in the ignition.

Now, I have no idea where he is. I take the garbage out, BOOM, there he is finishing a conference call in the driveway. I slam the van in reverse, hit the gas to get the kids to school on time, and BOOM, his car is behind me. Turns out his morning meeting was at the coffee shop.

He is sneaking around in that shiny, black hybrid. In the old days, I could hear him coming up the street, so I could quickly get off and look like I was dusting furniture and making dinner. Now he opens the door and I jump ten feet off my computer chair. The full evidence spread on the screen before me of unbridled, online shopping.

I am getting jumpy. Those hybrids are stealth and it's freaking me out.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Where The Heck Did All Of The Halloween Candy Go?

I've always been able to brag about my kids (well, at least two of them, anyway) and their lack of sweet teeth. My son, John, usually keeps his halloween candy tucked away for almost a year. Ruth is much the same.

Birk is sleeping with a mound of wrappers under her bed as we speak. I never can count on scrounging candy from her.

But, my other two kids, they keep me in mini, snack-sized candy for a full year. At any weak moment, I can dip into their secret and forgotten reserves.

The Snickers go first. Then it's Butterfingers and Baby Ruths. I morph into Three Musketeers and Milky Way bars as the pickings get slimmer. Then it's a toss up until I'm finishing off the Sweet Tarts, usually sometime in the spring.

If I'm super desperate, I sometimes find myself eating Raisinettes in June. This is only if Easter has been a sorry candy return holiday.

But folks, I went looking for the stashes, and we are down to the BARE MINIMUM. It's only been a couple of weeks since Halloween, and the usually reserves are reaching drought level.

What is happening around here? Was this a lean trick or treating year? If that's the case, we are going to have to improve our trick or treating skills and hit it harder next October.

Or, are my kids secretly turning into candy junkies like their mother?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Aging Genralization: What The Second Nine Years Of Primary Education Can Do To You.

Me, as a preschool mom.
Me, as an 8th grade mom.

I dragged my weary carcass out of the car and ran into the grocery store. It was 7:55 am. If all went as planned, I would have 4 large bottles of sparkling water and be out the door by 8:00 am. I ran the aisles as if I were in a sprint triathlon.

Luckily, I had sat bolt upright in my bed at 3:30 am and remembered that I was supposed to bring sparkling water for our teacher celebration at school. Girls in tow with store bought bagels and juice, I raced my mini van to school and got everyone and everything there on time.

Deflated and a bit defeated, I carefully drove my car around the school parking lot.

There, in the glistening morning sunshine, were all of these cute, spunky young moms with their little kids. Both parent and offspring were skipping on their way into school.

I was crackly, old lizard mother. I used to see those 8th grade moms and stare with wonder. Why didn't those strange creatures volunteer for everything?

Face it. They were experienced. They were smarter. I was young and dumb, and now I know. The game of life, oh so bittersweet.

Monday, November 9, 2009

We Have Lice--Tra La La La La I'm Being Taking To The Cleaners

Normal kids slump in their seats with embarrassment when they have lice. My kids jump and sing and broadcast it joyfully to the world. After all, there is no shame in lice. However, people do tend to lean away from you and avoid playdates and hugs.

We discovered a local shop that de-bugs you. It's a great place to go if you're filthy full of lice and filthy rich. Birk's first visit was $200.00. Our second visit was $300.00. I've destroyed three North Face sleeping bags in the dryer on high heat. I don't even want to do the math on that one.

Sorry, kids, we were going to have Christmas, but we decided to do "Lice" instead.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Best Birthday Gift Ever

It's not diamonds, or money, or unlimited massage. Nope. The best birthday gift took 41 years to arrive--it was my dear friend, Nicole, taking my 7 year old daughter home from school and de-lousing her.

Leave it to best friends to give you the best gifts! This gift of de-lousing came wrapped with a pretty bow that included stripping the bed and starting a load of lice-killing laundry.

Where was I? My other dear friends, Paula and Pam, suggested months ago that we all go into the city and have a spa day on my birthday. I arrived out of massage bliss to a very disturbing voicemail. However, up until that point, I was having a fabulous day. I obviously have great friends all around.

Nicole, didn't want to ruin my spa day, so she kindly took Birk to the "special salon."

After a few days of personal lice battle, I've realized that lice are going to be right up there with the cock roaches in the new order of the post nuclear bomb world. Yep, 20 minutes in the dryer will melt a $200 sleeping bag, but it won't kill lice. Hmmmmm.

Well, folks that's where I've been this week. Last week I had a sick dog. The week before that I had a boy with a fractured arm. Where would any of us be without our friends???

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

11 Year Old Guest Blogger: Ruth's Dream Vacation

If I could go anywhere in the world, I would go to Canada.

I would stay in our newly remodeled house and help my grandpa build some horse stables.

I would go tubing on our lake and maybe even try water skiing.

On other days, I would go on long nature walks, or take a trail ride with my horse.

Of course, I'd have to bring my cats: Patch to protect me and Sara to cuddle!

For dinner, I'd have soup and sandwiches or any other food that sounds good.

At the end of my glorious vacation, I will give the horse back to its owner (I was only renting it), pack up and go home.

I'll have lots of adventures to tell my family!!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Trickle Down Theory

My husband is working like a dog lately. I am juggling the normal chainsaws in the air, but I think soon I will not be able to operate such heavy machinery.

My favorite is stay at home moms that ask me what I do with all of my time. Don't my sisters in the trenches know? What are THEY doing with all of their time?

I am tired at being at FUNctions that are supposed to be FUN, but feel more like torture. I fantasize about staying home in my jammies and watching t.v. My time has been whittled to a nub and here I am, stressed out in my own little suburban way.

I'm on my way to the grocery store for some Calgon and some Zombie Zin. I hope it can take me away just enough to make it through the weekend, and next week, and the remainder of this year.

The trickle is getting more like a landslide of water that fills in all of the unfilled gaps. Time to get out the sandbags or swim like a wild, crazy woman.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

SHUT UP! And I Mean That In The Nicest Possible Way

Last night, my husband and I headed into the big city to see South Pacific. The economy being what it is, and time being at the highest premium, I debated long and hard before I dragged him to see this show.

Usually I splurge a little bit on the tickets. This time I didn't. We sat in the balcony, and while the seats weren't too particularly bad, I had the experience of sharing my experience with a Grandmother and her eight year old.

I am a mother of three and all for taking your kids to the theater. However, if you take your 8 year old boy to the Friday night performance, please use a LITTLE etiquette. do not go to the show and proceed to TALK the entire time explaining the show. Loudly.

Then, the teenager next to me began to text furiously on his cell phone. The show was not a stellar production, the lead actress carried almost the entire performance, but Whoa Nellie, you also do not text during the show.

Do not act in ways during a live performance that would get you shushed in a movie. Have some respect for the actors and for the people who paid good money to actually see and hear the show.

***********Optional Reading. Warning! High Horse Personal Advice*************
Well, I'm a big talker, but, here's some advice to that grandmother:

a. If you're taking your kid to the theater, rent the movie first. He will know the plot, the characters and possibly recognize the songs. You can talk talk talk and answer answer answer questions again and again in the comfort of your own home.

b. If you rent the video, you will know how interested your kid is in the actual performance. If your kid can't sit through the video, it's not likely he's going to make it through the first act squinting at people the size of peanuts from the balcony in the theater.

c. Discuss theater etiquette before you get there. This is like anything else. You do not run and scream in a library. You do not talk during the performance.

d. If you have a question, please use a quiet voice. Whisper to each other. Cup your hand and speak into the other person's ear. Even better, wait until a scene change or applause to discuss a concern or question.

e. I realize we all might have questions. Ask your question. Do not "chat" endlessly.

I would have been fine with a few questions. I love kids, I'm a mom and a teacher. The thing is, I really wanted that kid and his grandma to have a good time. I just felt like it was the adult that was setting the poor example.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Earthworm Gummies: Made in China

I love Halloween. Friends might say that would be putting it mildly. Over the years, our decor has morphed from cute stuffed witches to eerie skeletons, tombstones and body parts. The creepier the decoration, the more tempted I am to string it up in the tree in front of our house.

This year, I ordered Gummy Roadkill, Toe Jam Cotton Candy and Gummy Earthworms. All three varietals are extremely gross. My kids recognize the "show candy." They know this is only for display, and they wouldn't dream of tasting it.

Mostly, this is because last year we gave out Bags of Blood. These tasted so disgusting, my children will no longer try any old kind of candy. Therefore, I order the grossest, un-tastiest props that I can find. Not only is it gruesome, it saves my waistline.

Of course, all of these novelties are MADE IN CHINA. It's stamped all over the individual wrappers and boxes. I could care less, I mean, we're not eating that stuff or anything. My friends have a strict NO CHINA policy on food and plastic (this candy is probably considered both). They've told me the horrors, I adhere.

Recently, we had the new neighbors over for cocktails. Their daughter grabbed a root beer-flavored Gummy Earthworm. I had to embarrassingly admit that it's origin was China. The mom looked at me as if I was from the Moon. Apparently, she had no personal embargo on China.

Why I would be more embarrassed to have a product MADE IN CHINA, rather than the fact that I actually had candy shaped like realistic earthworms, escapes me.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Dog Gone It!

11:30. We climbed into bed and settled in. My husband and I, both exhausted from a day of hurdles had just successfully booked flights for two trips. We had been meaning to do it for months, but life gets in the way.

He turned to me and said, "Honey, where's the dog?"

"She should be right here," I said peering over the edge of the bed. I was content with accomplishment and sank into my fluffy pillows.

"When's the last time that you saw her?" I couldn't answer that question, so I hauled my carcass out of bed and started searching the house.

Kiki, our collie-lab mix, is getting older. She often falls asleep somewhere in the house, and if it's her bedtime, she'll stay there. She's very quiet.

Hmmmmm, the last time I saw her was when I was outside doing the recycling. Satisfied that she wasn't in the house, I opened the door and called for her. No dog.

I put on my shoes and a sweater and went out into our quiet, dark and deserted street. Whistling and calling. No dog.

My husband, who would choose this dog over me in a crisis, joined me out in the street. When his whistling had no luck, he told me to call the police.

One might ask, why we would call the police? Well, we've been down this road before, and the last time, many years ago, she was found at the police department.

This is not to be confused with the time she dug herself under the fence, escaped into the neighbor's yard and took a tour of the neighborhood. I was 8 months pregnant, but I hauled the kids out of the pool (still dripping in our bathing suits) and combed the neighborhood frantically looking for her.

And that is not to be confused with the time some man called and had found her in the next city.

With this kind of record, I called the police. They didn't have a dog, but they did just see the Animal Control truck leave town. Gulp.

I called the Humane Society. They, of course, were closed, but they did have an "Animal Emergency" number. Was this an animal emergency? Considering my husband and his love for this dog, uh huh.

I dialed the number. After a few rings, the Animal Officer confirmed that indeed he had Kiki in his truck. He asked for our address and said he would bring her right home. Thank goodness!

The scary white van appeared. The officer, very nice, opened the door, and viola! Kiki bounded happily out of the Animal Control van. Her tail was wagging, her tongue hung out to the side--she had just been on her best adventure ever.

Friday, October 2, 2009

16 Years of Marriage:16 Things...

How did that happen? Glad it did. I feel so lucky to have found who I truly consider my soul mate.

He loves me even though:
  1. I shop too much.
  2. Organizing anything requires making a HUGE mess and you can never be sure it will ever be back to normal again.
  3. I have crazy ideas.
  4. I have no domestic abilities--at least none that I can locate.
  5. I like to do last minute things that require dropping everything...and often shirking responsible responsibilities.
  6. I have a dreadful sense of humor--often dark and black.
  7. I hold grudges like a bull dog terrier holds on to a sock in its teeth.
  8. I have impossible standards of loyalty.
  9. I'm not a good driver.
  10. I love halloween.
  11. I make a lot of redundant purchases.
  12. I don't know where his socks are.
  13. I don't like to make phone calls.
  14. I'm midwest tacky.
  15. I prefer sleep to exercise.
  16. I like to dress funny instead of sexy.
16 Things He's Taught Me
  1. Put the perishables away.
  2. You really should exercise.
  3. Michigan football Saturdays are akin to holidays
  4. You can get to the airport seconds before you plane is supposed to leave and still make your flight.
  5. You can also buy your tickets last minute--it just costs more.
  6. Summers at the cottage are enjoyable, in certain ways.
  7. Our kids can do their chores.
  8. You can be a workaholic and still have fun.
  9. It's o-k to be messy, just not for too long.
  10. You can drive 11 hours and not stop for gas or restrooms.
  11. You can not talk all of the time and still say a lot.
  12. Naps are good and necessary.
  13. Being in love is really, really special and good.
  14. You should be able to always operate your husband's phone and be able to turn off the alarm.
  15. You should like EVERYBODY.
  16. Most of all, I've learned about unlimited kindness and generosity. He is the kindest and most generous person I've ever met.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Acupuncture--I'm Getting the Point

I've now had three sessions of acupuncture. I do feel better. Is it the wonder of acupuncture? I sure wish there was a "Control Test Deb" and a "Normal Deb" so that I could really scientifically prove that my non-insurance-covered treatment is working.

The biggest thing I'm taking away is the logic of the treatment. Here's the conversation:

Doc: How are you feeling.
Me: Tired.
Doc: Well, what are you doing today?

This is where I list all of the places I've been and plan on going before my head hits the pillow.

Doc: What did you eat today?

This is where I rattle off the mishmash of food and caffeinated beverages that I've had so far in the day.

Doc: How many hours of sleep did you get last night?

This is where I calculate out loud the bedtime, interruptions, awakenings and alarm clock settings.

Doc: Do you hear what you just said?

Whew, it's like I'm with my mom, and she says, "Do what you think is best." My failure to feel rested is an open book on the examining table.

Am I crazy? Yes. But, I'm starting to get the point.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Tree Swing

A couple of years ago, the girls were outside with some old rope making a swing on the tree in front of our house. Making a swing that looks like a noose will alarm any mother, so I bought a cute little wooden swing.

That cute, little swing lasted about thirty seconds. Sometimes, you have to choose form for function--the next stop: plastic.

I was sure that our plastic days were over. I felt even more foolish spending money on a purchase that was bound to be obsolete as soon as I hung it.

I have to tell you... that swing sees constant action. Kids of all ages can't resist that thing. Teenagers to toddlers, it is always occupied.

I guess we all have the need to swing.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

P.S. How Many Times A Week Can You Feed Your Kids Frozen Pizza And Not Feel Too Guilty?

Just wanted to ask... but only want to know your answer if it's going to make me feel a little bit better.

Does it count if it's a different brand each night?

The More Thing Change The More They're Different

It occurred to me at 5:05 am, that I am becoming Zombie Mom, Zombie Friend and Zombie Wife. I could add Zombie Blogger, but I've learned this is a secret life that most of the people I know in real time don't care about and think is a waste of potential exercise time.

I'm spending time taking my son to visit potential high schools that we can't afford, ferrying different children to different events and I'm barely covering the minimum of what my house needs to keep purring along.

I've got four lights burned out in a dark laundry room--the tricky, special trip to the hardware store kind of lightbulbs. My front entry light is also broken, with the little nub of the teeny lightbulb stuck in the crack.

The flowers that were beautiful weeks ago have turned to seed, and in my allergy enlightened state, it was all that I could do to drag them out the door and put them on the ledge outside the window.

My husband is working late and getting up early. Some freaky alarm went off on his new iphone, and now I'm up for the day at 4:05. Speaking of his new iphone, all of my own iphone chargers and accessories have disappeared, hmmmmm. Maybe that's why he switched to the iphone.

My house needs painting inside and out. We need new windows and I've got a stack of unclaimed papers and bills a foot and a half high. I'm terribly behind on e-mail and...


I will stop whining and get on with my day. After all, I get to talk to 8th graders about a fundraising rummage sale in 3 hours.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Nyquil, Acupuncture and the path to Alcoholism

My allergies have been kicking my butt. The eyes: puffy. The nose: runny. The sinuses: like a brick on my face. Coughing, sneezing, red, runny eyes: good gracious, I'm an allergy commercial. My husband is surely thinking, "How did I marry that?"

I play a game with myself, it's called inconsistently taking medication. I take a few allergy pills here, a hit of the good old nose spray there...some local honey (tastes like candy, yum!) emergen C, vitamins... Sometimes I take it, sometimes I don't.

My doctors have been shaking their heads for years. "You live with two cats, a dog, you sleep with down pillows and comforters AND you have carpeting???" I am stubborn. I refuse to give in or give up.

Now I'm on the way to get poked full of needles. After 4 years (remember that stubborn thing?), I've taken the advice of my good friend, I'm off to see the acupuncturist.

The funniest thing? My drug of choice is Nyquil. I knew it had some alcoholic content, but in my desperation, I've never actually looked at the label. It says right on it "10 percent alcohol." 10 percent?

Yikes. Might have to take a few shots of Nyquil to give me the courage to get me through that acupuncture appointment.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Canadian Chronicles 2009: Hearing (Alien) Voices

Look carefully at this picture. Please note two things:
  1. This picture is taken at the end of the season. During our Augusts in Canada, you would NEVER find this many flashlights in the actual flashlight spot. You are actually guaranteed NEVER to find a flashlight when you need one.
  2. The Green Alien Voice Changing Device.

In the picture, it's fairly easy to spot. In real life, you can't miss it. Thank you Godmomma Wendy. This was a birthday gift for John when he was quite young. If you want to give the gift that keeps on giving, give the Alien Voice Changer.

Every one of our children and our friend's children, our friends, their friends and probably the dog has used the Alien Voice Changer. It's been annoying the crap out of everyone for at least eight years.

Three more things to know:
  1. It's been designated an "OUTSIDE ONLY" device. This, of course, initially means nothing, you just have to keep on yelling that phrase to get it to go away.
  2. It's been forgotten and discovered so many times and used in so many different creative ways, that we have to make new rules for it ALL of the time.
  3. It is excellent to awaken teenage boys by younger sisters. Expect bruising and blood.
I don't know where the GM (godmother) found this delightful instrument of torture, but I think I need to find out and send her family one of it's own.

The real reason for the cottage is that you can send all of the obnoxious stuff people give you there--then, you can forget it for the better part of the year. However, then you only use it for one month of the year, and then, kids, well, it lasts almost forever.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Lots Of Bloodsucking, And It Wasn't Just The Twilight Series

Need I say more? Although this is just a cool moth, those skeetos were at least this big!

Due to the wet, humid weather, the mosquitos were out in numbers never seen before. Decades from now, we will tell stories to our grandkids about the summer of '09 and it's monster-sized, insatiable bloodsucking mossies.

I will never smell the odor of citronella and not think of this summer. We coated ourselves in the organic, most natural defense system that we could buy. It cost $15,99 a bottle, and somewhere in the onslaught, I was wishing for good old "Off" with all of its toxicity--and some heavy duty DEET.

Weeks later, I still look like I'm recovering from the chicken pox. It's funny that we all read the whole series of Twilight and watched season one of True Blood whilst being sucked dry in real life. You could say I'm scared for life, due to my inability to not itch myself raw.

My most vivid memory is of Paula, in her bed, target spritzing individual mosquitos.

Ever heard the term "so bad it's hilariously funny?" Two days in and that's exactly where we were...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Why You May Want To Remove The Bubble Wrap

When you go on trips, sometimes you forget things. Sometimes it's your toothbrush, sometimes it's your underwear, sometimes it's your contact lens cleaner. Paula and I forgot that when you go on vacation without your husbands, YOU have to do all of the work. By yourself.

Arriving at the cottage in the pouring rain, it quickly became apparent that it was going to be a vacation powered by mom-power. Who was going to unload the bursting SUV? We were. Who was going to unstrap and haul the bubble-wrapped kayak off the top? We were.

The saddest part is that the list grew infinitely before our eyes:
1. Unpack? Moms, check!
2. Make the beds? Moms, check!
3. Put the melting groceries away? Moms, check!
4. Cooking
5. Cleaning
6. Laundry
7. Entertainment
8. Referee
9. Tuck in.
10. Doctor
11. Wake up
12. Watch over
13. Damage control
14. Fix it crew
15. Emergency clean up crew
16. Driver
17. Menu planner
18. Disciplinarian
19. Bed time story reader
20. Cleansliness moniter

I could go on and on. You, sadly, can probably get the picture. We had no one to shirk our duties to, unless it was each other.

By the time we had unloaded, sorted and made some food for the kids and various other things on the above list...we were too tired for wine, scrabble or anything else. Our first day of our big Girl's Trip and we were asleep. 9 pm EST. I think the little girls were still awake and running around.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Canadian Chronicles 2009: Are We There Yet?

And the rain rain rain came down down down.

Everywhere we went, the people were complaining about how it was the worst summer ever. We of course, hoped that we had brought bright, sunny weather from California. We refused to buy into the foreshadowing of gloom and doom.

Alas, we loaded our purchases into the car, tried to keep a stiff upper lip, and braved the torrential downpour.

At the sport's store, the nice man lashed the new kayak on top of the car, ignoring the pelting drops. He was Canadian, and he was making the best of it with smiles and sarcasm.

We drove slowly and carefully away from civilization. I squinted through the glass, trying to keep a steady eye on the road through the water-soaked windshield. The words 'Cabin Fever' kept slipping into my mind. As we twisted and turned out of civilization, I had flashes from "The Shining."

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Canadian Chronicles 2009: One Good Idea Is All It Takes

It all began, like so many things do, over a glass of wine. My good friend, Paula, and I were wanting for a little adventure in our stay-at-home-mom lives. We only had one glass of wine. If we had two glasses, we might have come to the realization that a girls trip should not include "girls" under the age of 10.

But, as far as we knew, we were planning the getaway of a lifetime. We decided to hit the family Canadian cottage early, before all of the summer guests arrived. We plotted quiet nights, lazy mornings and lots of girl time. Kayaking, frolicking in the water and delicious food danced like visions of sugar plums in our heads.

Reality hit hard and fast. The bickering began on the plane. You might have guessed it, the quarrel was over the window seat.

The window seat has long lost its appeal for me. I now prefer the quick and easy exit of the aisle seat. I love not having to lope over strangers two or three times in a flight to stretch my legs and make a run for the bathroom. This should be why a person might take yoga, so they can bend themselves like a pretzel over the legs, bags, reclined seats and trays between themselves and freedom.

However, when you are seven, the window seat holds the magic of the fluffy clouds and the people and places as tiny as ants. The world looks nice and tidy when you are gliding over the geometry that bisects and trisects the landscape. The most mighty of reasons the window seat rules you may ask? When you have it, no one else does.

This theme popped again and again throughout the trip. Possession is 9/10ths of the law, and when someone else has something, that makes it all the more important that you have it, too. When you don't have it, and you are a girl under a certain age, the whining can turn an 8 hour trip into at least 16 hours.

When we got off the plane and got the rental car, the girls started to fight about who had to sit in the middle seat. Paula and I looked at the mountain of bags--we were going to have to work a small miracle to fit them in the car. Our eyes sagged with fatigue, and the whining, the whining, the whining, kept right on going.

We still had a two hour drive and the task of picking up a kayak and strapping it to the roof. Girls getaway? Are we there yet?

Credit Card Pond Scum--Welcome Home

Arriving home to a three foot high stack of mail, I settled in to find out what I've been missing in civilization. I opened my first bill from Nordstroms. It was for $20.00 and dated end of July. Ot oh. What did I buy at Nordstroms for $20? Yikes, better pay that right away.

Further into the stack, I find the second bill from Nordstroms: $40.00, and it was dated mid-August. They charged me a $20 dollar late fee??? Well, it stinks, but it's not the end of the world, right?

Further into the stack I open the third bill from Nordstoms. Now I owed $43 dollars and in blazing letters I had:
1. Been reported to the credit bureaus
2. Had all of my wonderful Nordstrom points revoked

I grabbed the phone first thing in the morning, just wanting to explain that, had I known that I owed $20, I would have paid it. I've been out of the country, blah blah blah. I'm not a bad person and I wanted to pay that bill ASAP.

I dialed their number. Busy signal. Dialed again and again and again...busy, busy, busy. When I finally got through and pressed the appropriate buttons, entered my account number and settled in to talk to a human, I was informed in that computer voice that my wait would be 61 minutes to talk to the customer service representative.

61 minutes? Are you kidding me? Apparently, I'm not the only one in trouble over at Nordstroms. I tried to call back to just pay my bill over the phone...BUSY. I called back 9 times and finally was able to pay my bill.

I'm still determined to speak to someone about this, but in the meantime, the card is being cut up and I've been forbidden to shop there by my husband. It's funny how you can lose a good customer over $40 in this economic climate and time of customer service that's been taken over by computers.

I am sorry for the rant, and as soon as I get it all together, there is more to come about life in the wilderness, the practicality of outhouses and entertaining 100 of my closest friends this summer!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Frida Kahlo Flashback

The crowds were thick, but this was quite a wonderful exhibit of Kahlo's work and life. If you have never seen her work before, don't miss it. If you are a fan, get there right away. If you are open about art and experiencing art, take your kids.

I tried to determine if it was appropriate for kids by reading reviews. As some of Kahlo's work is quite graphic, I wanted to know which paintings were on display. That tactic didn't work. Most of the paintings that I thought might 'creep them out' were there. My kids did say a few paintings were gross, but my 6, 9 and 11 year old were super silent with their audio tours and took time to thoughtfully study the paintings.

I centered our trip around Frida's extraordinary life. There are people that curl up into a ball when life throws them a challenge or two, and then there are the others. Frida took lemons and made lemonade-sometimes bloody lemonade, but damn, look at her bio!

I talked to the kids about her ability to express what was happening in her life through her work. How she used art to help her communicate, contemplate and understand her life.

We discussed the power of Frida's eyes in her self-portraits. How her talent has the ability to invoke her spirit right there on the spot. Frida is in the room, she is looking over your shoulder and she is looking at you from her paintings.

Just for parents thinking about taking their kids (and there were tons of kids there!), here are some of the paintings we saw that might be considered graphic for youngsters. Considering all three of my kids have seen Ghostbusters and Iron Man (sorry, St. Peter), All in all, I think it worked out to be a good learning experience.

Afterward, 9 year old Ruth did say that she would never paint a picture with blood spurting out of her nipples to express her pain. I asked what she thought the blood might have symbolized--she answered a broken heart...but she still wasn't painting herself nude. Her dad will be relieved.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Thinking About Frida Kahlo: On The Way To Visit The MOMA

I am doing a lot of desperate things this summer. First, it was taking my 6 year old daughter to Mamma Mia. Now, I am shuffling my kids off to the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the San Francisco MOMA. My delicious, food blogging, buddy humored me by saying she'd join me.

As I went through Frida's biography with my children, the six year old kept ohhhhh and ahhhhhing over the gorier pics. Remember, she's the one poking the dead crow with the stick over and over. Of all the kids, she just might be my fellow Frida fan.

This desperation is part of my summer plan. If part of your kids go to camp part of the time, and your other kids go to camp part of the other time, then none of your kids are ever in camp at the same time. This leads a mom to be craving some adult activities. I knew it would happen, I just wanted it to happen for good and not for evil.

Now, I did have 5 days in a row of 3 hour blocks of time, why didn't I see Frida on one of those days? To tell the truth, I shopped and enjoyed shopping in my cone of silence. You see, you can take kids to the movies, you can take them to the wackier art exhibits, but you can't shop in small boutiques or antique shops in quite the same way.

I will give you an update.

Oh, and my kids are all going to see Buddy Guy and George Thoroughgood tomorrow at their first ever concert. I'll let you know.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Auto Parent

A post written last summer while the older 2 kids were away at camp:

Day four of sleep away camp. Birk and I have been bonding over our divergent interests: she, the dvd player; me the computer. Hours go by where she plays quietly in her room. Hours go by that she is using both hands to hold my face and say "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!"

Something occurred to me on the fourth visit to the restroom at a restaurant yesterday. Germ-phobe (yes, that too) that I am, I am looking all around the bathroom stall with a sharp eye for pathogens, while listening to my daughter sing. My foot is tapping with impatience and I'm wondering if it's really fair for me to tell her to concentrate and hurry up one more time. Yes, my revelation was that it occurred to me that I have been living on Auto Parent mode.

The magic of having older kids is that they take their sister to the bathroom. They take their sister to the park. They are willing to play with plastic animals and the wooden farm house for hours. Ugh! My poor daughter is stuck with me for another week and a half, alone. Boring, tired, playless mommy.

When I try to sift the moments that we spend together, I see that much of the time we barely interact: making and serving breakfast like a zombie while I scream for everyone to hurry up or we'll be late; zooming along in transit to one activity or another while tabulating the endless lists in my mind; dropping them off for school; picking them up; transit; dinner; bedtime race; bed.

I am sometimes hearing the question, the story, the thought as she talks in the back seat. I find myself lost and nodding or asking her to repeat herself. I'm tired of auto parent. Where's the control thingie so that I can turn myself back on?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Canadian Chronicles: And Yet, It Doesn't Suck

When you watch someone take their very first bite of a s'more as their face is dimly lit by flickering bonfire--it doesn't suck. The cooking and prepping and bedmaking and tidying and seems to fade into the distance when there are happy faces around the bustling dinner table.

When the moon hangs low in the sky, candles are flickering on the dock, stars are shooting overhead and the milky way is sparkly and distant, yet close. Friends and family sit back in the muskoka chairs and sigh, and it sure doesn't suck. Pass the wine.

For all the work and exhaustion, there is reward. So, no matter how many guests we get the pleasure of hosting in a summer, we just keep inviting them back to share in good times together. No woman is an island, or a lake, or a cottage.

Gotta run, Birk just told me she re-arranged her bedroom. Get ready...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Boy Does This Suck For You

I was making beds in the guest cabin. Ruth entered the cottage, screen door banging in that fabulous only in the summer way. :

"Mommy, whatcha doin'?"

"Making the beds for your Aunt and her family. Want to help?"

"O-k. Mom, you make beds a lot here."

"Sure seems like it."

"I never see you do that at home. This is hard work."

"Next we need to make dinner for 20. Funny vacation, huh?"

"Yeah. Boy does this suck for you."

Oh, tell me, young one.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Canadian Chronicles: Summer Diary of a 12 Year Old...Dogs, Limos and Long Lines at Customs

My son said it would be o-k to share a bit of his summer journal with the world.

The first entry:

Today was a flying day. First thing that morning, we got up and got our bags ready. Luckily, Dad hadn't booked a car beforehand and so he had to rent a LIMO! (yay!) So we drove to the airport with our dog and got on our first plane.

After putting our bags on the plane, the flight was about 1 1/2 hours long to Vancouver (Canada) and after going through customs, which took like forever, we went to get lunch and dinner for the plane.

We went through security and got on the plane for four more hours and I watched 2 movies and played Game Boy the entire time.

At the end of the flight, my sister had drawn a picture of the plane, so she and Dad went to show the attendants of the the flight. Apparently the attendants liked it so much that they showed it to the pilots. Then the pilots invited my sisters into the cockpit at the end of the flight and they got to turn off the engines.

We got in late and tonight we get to stay at a hotel.

Well, mainly when I was reading this I was thinking that we are a long way from Laura Ingall's Little House on the Prairie tales.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Canadian Chronicles, Part 2: Beds, Breakfasts, Best Buds and Tired Bones

When we disappear from our normal life into the Canadian Wilds, we re-emerge in an old fishing lodge that sleeps 11--if you put everyone in a bed. We can sleep 7 more on various couches and futons. Heck, lots more people can sleep on the floor if we squeeze 'em in.

This is not to mention a playhouse that sleeps many children in a triple decker bunk (our record is 8), a treehouse that sleeps two and a guest cottage that sleeps 6 in beds. Once again, if you get creative, you can find a lot more space.

Our cottage is a full-time Par-tay House. We love the company we keep, but making 12 beds and washing the sheets and re-making 12 beds makes one mom very tired. Ummm, and I'm not very good at housework--you know, the cooking and cleaning stuff. I like to bake desserts and make margaritas, but cooking for 30 continuously, is not my forte.

Especially, when the nearest real grocery store is an hour and a half away. If you drive fast, our local general store is only 20 minutes away and might have bread that day and might not. It's fair to say some days I am whipping up culinary creations out of a box of mac and cheese, a cucumber and a can of Campbell's soup. Unfortunately, I'm getting pretty good at it--I was after all raised in the midwest.

I am very tired by the end of the summer with no date nights, no take out and no housekeeping service. I arrive back to our normal life and people ask me about our summer vacation. Honey, my real life is vacation and my time in exile is my penance. I'm not water skiing, sleeping in a hammock or hiking in the woods.

No, I am running my own all inclusive resort with a limited staff of me, and for some reason...I like it. It's the job I love to hate. Good friends are good guests and they always lend me a hand and their many hands make light work. Bad guests should switch cocktails glasses with me, so as to make sure I'm not poisoning them.

We have so many awesome memories of the time spent on the lake. It defines our summer and it sure makes it feel good to come home.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Canadian Chronicles: The Essence of Summer

Once a year we leave our civilized home and head for the boonies of Northern Ontario, Canada. Our lakeside cottage is named the Cambrian Cabin, but has been called the Big Red Barn by young Margaret Wise Brown fans, and houses our boat Old Smokey. We go days without showers, weeks without pedicures and a forever of August without wristwatches, computers and schedules.

Our only constant is 5 pm cocktails on the dock and watching the day slip into night. We sit quietly and spy loons, dragonflies, mosquitos and even bats as the pink sun sets into the trees and night falls. We light the bonfire, make smores and gain at least 10 pounds by the end of the month.

Sound like heaven? Sound like bliss? The kids run barefoot all in and around the lake. The dog needs leash nor collar and she roams as freely as the kids. It's definitely a quieter, gentler existence. The people are friendly, you know all of the neighbors and there is a natural neighborhood watch that defies forming an official group and posting signs.

Days are spent in the hammock. Swimming, sailing, wind surfing, kayaking, and canoeing are the modes of transport. The lake is quiet, clean and sleepy. There are lily pads, gargantuan dock spiders, frogs, toads and fish of every size to catch, study and throw back.

At night the stars glisten and shoot across the sky. The milky way swims above our heads as we watch in wonder. This is the kind of sky that makes you contemplate the universe--where does it begin? Where does it end? We stay up reading pointless novels and we sleep in lazy and late.

The water laps against the shore, the loon calls and it is the essence of summer through and through.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Flashback: First Official Day of Summer

This was my Saturday last weekend...

1. Woke up early. Bought donuts, juice boxes, ice and yogurts at the local grocery store. Dumped ice in cooler in back of the car and added the snacks, picked up husband from coffee shop and high-tailed it to a 9:00 Coach Pitch Little League Game. Tried to find my little Cleveland Indian who had been at a sleepover the night before. Collected her in the field parking lot from a friend's sitter. Hustled her late onto the field. Watched game, helped serve donuts.

2. Returned home and cleaned house (hid junk and paper piles), husband went under house to wire outdoor speakers.

3. Gathered gear for a swim party and the next round of baseball, so that we could rush from one event to the next.

4. Drove in circles on the way to the swim party, Google maps had failed me, yet again.

5. Arrived to have 45 minutes of adult conversation about my stress level.

6. Left fabulous party to drive John to baseball.

7. Rushed to store to buy sunscreen, a sandwich and a LARGE latte, realizing that I was VERY grumpy and hadn't had food yet that day.

8. Husband still under the house wiring...

9. Watched half of John's baseball game.

10. Drove to pick up Birk, who had stayed at the party with her BFF.

11. Took Birk to McDonald's (OMG, did I just say that?) because she was crying from exhaustion and starving and we had to get back to the game.

12. Couldn't locate Ruth, who had stayed at the party with her BFF.

13. Returned home to finish tidying, put out drinks and food for an on again, off again, on again school cocktail party.

14. Luckily pre-mixed margaritas sometime around step 3.

15. Help Birk put up a banner made of packing paper on our front step that said, "Moms and dads cum AND exit this way." We're talking 2 feet by 11 feet held in place with scotch tape and rocks.

16. Open wine, lit candles, located Ruth. Made arrangements for my parents to meet BFF's parents at Toyota dealership (complete with driving directions) to get Ruth and BFF and take all kids to Kung Fu Panda.

17. Quickly changed clothes and shoes.

18. Lit candles. Opened wine.

19. Greeted guests and finally had time to sit down and have a glass of wine. Was told I look too much like a housewife that night in my thrown together outfit. Careful, cocktails will bring out the honest in a lot of people.

20. Chatted, drank, served. Drank, chatted served. Served, drank, chatted. Listened to new speakers that husband had trolled under the house to install all day.

21. Cleaned up with husband.

22. Found three pairs of riding boots and three helmets in the garage, horse camp starts on Monday.

23. Packed partially for trip with husband to NYC.

24. Watched Army Wives-don't know why we were doing this...

25. Discussed party liability when too many cocktails are served. Hoped our guest were as sober and responsible as they claimed to be.

26. Set alarm noting that I had four hours of sleep before the alarm went off.

Summer started officially for our family on Friday. Hope summer doesn't kill me.

Friday, July 17, 2009

More About The Ark: Maison Marecage 1916?

Maison Marecage* (or MM, the Maison, or the Marecage)  is the tiny "hipped roof," dark-colored, white-window-framed ark in the center rear of this photo.  It is referred to nowadays as being on the wide water of the creek.  As far as I can tell, this photo is from around 1916.

The MM is located on the boardwalk on a section known as "The Spur."  Therefore, anyone out on The Spur is called a Spur-ite.

*Pronounced something like:  May-zon Mare-ah-cahge, for people unfamiliar with French like myself.  This name came from the brilliance of our friend, Paula.  Due to my husband's continuing dismay over the name "Swamp House" and it's staying power, she suggested we use the French translation.  Apparently, anything sounds better in French.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mom's Letter To Her Summer Camp Kid

John's at sleep away camp, Day 9. No letter home...yet:

Dear John,

Are you o-k? Are you having fun? Did a mountain lion carry you off? Were you eaten by bears? I do think you actually did get on the right bus, because I saw you in a picture from camp that your counselor's sent me. You looked pretty happy, but maybe they said that they wouldn't feed you if you didn't smile for the picture. I know how much you like to eat.

Since I haven't gotten a letter yet, I'm wondering if you wandered off from camp? Did you take a wrong turn on a hike? Are your counselors afraid to tell me that they can't find you? Maybe they figure that you're just as lost on Saturday as you are today, so they might as well tell me that they've lost you when I go to pick you up.

On the other hand, maybe you are locked in a cage with the other boys because you are all too hyper and the counselors need a break? Or, it could be that you won the video award and you and all of your friends are in the special video room with the big, comfy couch and videos and movies on 24 hours a day with lots of sodas and chips--therefore no time to write your mom.

Seriously, we all totally miss you and look forward to seeing you when you get back. Write, write, write, write, so that I can hear about all of the fun that you are having with both your old and new friends.

Love, Mom (Remember me? I gave birth to you!)

P.S. If you can't find a pencil, maybe you could scratch me a note in a piece of wood or a stone. Don't send me a smoke signal, though, I don't want you playing with fire. :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Night Camp

About 5 p.m. last night I birthed the brain child of Night Camp. Spending quality summer time with your angels seems like a good idea in early summer or even earlier in the day, but by 5 p.m., aren't you and your kids ready for Night Camp?

Tired from the long day? Exhausted from running your kids willy nilly to playdates and random half day camps? Just broken up your millionth sibling fist fight of the day? Cleaned up another spill of something sticky all over the kitchen floor? Confiscated the Guitar Hero guitar and kicked your kid's off the computer or Wii again?

Drop your kids off at Night Camp. It opens as early as 4:30 p.m., just about the time you are contemplating another caffeinated drink or your first glass of wine. Drive up in your car and we'll meet you at the passenger's side door and whisk your children off to a land where you don't plan the activities or figure out where their next meal is coming from.

Our counselors are all under the age of 15 with lots of energy. Our camp motto is simple: if your kids are still alive when you get back, then we are doing our job. You don't have to worry, and at 5 pm do you really care? Night Camp will be all your kid's desires wrapped up in endless movies or computer time or video games, they will love it and you will be oblivious to it under the Don't Ask Don't Tell program.

Bars and fine dining are conveniently located down the street. We will even deliver you kids home and tuck them in, if you need to catch a movie, or a nap, and not be disturbed. If your kids are anxious about night camp, have them read below. It won't take much for all parties to declare this a win-win situation.

Kids! Parents driving you crazy? Come to Night Camp and play Guitar Hero on full volume 'til your mind is numb and your fingers are blistered and cramping. No one will nag you here. At Night Camp we allow endless behavior that would make your parents cringe. Watch YouTube unsupervised with your friends or just watch the same iCarly episodes over and over and over. Come on, you know you never tire of watching the same episodes more than once. Get rid of your parents, eat pizza and candy and ice cream with no one constantly monitoring your every move. Kids, you need Night Camp as much as your parents!

Day Camp: $450 a week. Night Camp: priceless.

Who's with me?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It's Summer, So You'll Likely Find Me On Twitter

When it's summer, for me, all things blogging turn to twitter. My ADHD can't keep up with the lack of regular routine. I'm a GO-er. I'm not sure what the general definition of that is, but here's mine: whenever someone suggests anything remotely fun, I'm ready to GO!

Trip to the beach? GO! Impromptu BBQ? GO! 8:00 movie for all the kids? Hey, it's summer, so we GO!

Stay home and wash dishes or go out to eat with friends? GO!

I don't stay at home much on a normal day, but when we have no scholarly commitments, I'm outta here.

Therefore, my blogging life usually suffers. I'm running around in a summer spin and I just keep spinning. Spin or be spun by something else, I say.

If I'm not blogging here, I'm blogging on the GO as Mombshells on Twitter...follow me and I'll follow you!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Thelma and Louise Summer Camp for 6 Year Olds: Flashback 2008

It's day 5 at the beach house, and we haven't seen Thelma (Birk) and her sidekick, Louise, for days. As soon as we arrived, the BFFs, disappeared into their self titled "dorm."

The mini mighty amazon girls settled in Kid Animal-House-Style: clothing everywhere, snacks hidden under the bed, a big jug of spring water and bedding in a twist. They were stocked and locked like they were in a bomb shelter. The biggest battle for these warriors? Brothers, bed time and lack of sugary snacks.

Seriously, these girls could be on Kid Survivor. Once in a while they pop up asking for a dry towel or a new dvd, but they are mostly locked behind their self-made, masking tape posted sign on the door that says:


When they o.d. on movies, spring water and bananas, we might catch a glimpse of them--hair snarled, still in pjs or bathing suits. Ruth is the voice of 9 year old reason and keeps a sisterly watchful eye, but for the most part, the 6 year olds are running wild.

If they happen to clean the windows with Shout, at least it's good, clean, fun, right? That's what makes the most excellent summer memories, good times, good times...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Ark

Well, if you have heard rumors about an ark, they are true. I am told I can no longer refer to it as "Swamp House." All I can say is that the first time George laid eyes on this place, he was grinning ear to ear.

He was still grinning ear to ear through the pest inspection report. It was like the pest inspector just drew a big red circle around the entire structure and declared it infested. He was still grinning ear to ear when the building inspector declared part of it a "tear down."

And he was really grinning ear to ear when he dragged his old kayak out of it's 6 year hibernation and plopped it into the creek.

I am charmed by the history, the unique lifestyle and the gorgeous views. I guess I finally got my 100 year old, um, house. George got his cottage location northwest, as well as an office. Our parents get a place to come and enjoy extended stays. We all win, except the pests, I hope.