Sunday, July 30, 2006


The most disturbing thing I saw this weekend:

Have you seen the latest feature in some airports? Or at least in the airport I was in ….. a video arcade for children (or extremely bored adults would also qualify, I suppose), set up next to the boarding/waiting areas. To help passengers and their kids pass the time while waiting for their flight by playing games. And not just any video games, oh no, not boring games like Donkey Kong or Missile Command or Tetris, either. But “Interactive” video games; the kind where you simulate an activity such as motorcycle racing, or Nascar driving, or downhill snowboarding, and actually sit in the drivers seat, or stand on a moveable platform. Basically, games that cost a lot of money to play.

Because it’s not enough that the airlines charge a bazillion dollars a ticket to fly anywhere. Or that you’re required to show up at the airport two hours in advance, and then as a captive audience, you’ll be asked to pay $3 for a soda, or $4 for a bag of m&ms (not that I would know about that personally, ahem) or $12 for a ham sandwich. Now, they’re gouging people with time to kill, and placing expensive arcade games nearby. I would have been really upset by the whole thing, but I was too busy eating my bag of solid gold nuggets M&Ms, and beating my own personal best score in downhill skiing.

The second most wonderful thing I saw this weekend:

The Exit Row sign above my seat on my flight home. The leg room that provided was FABULOUS!!! I’m spoiled forever now ---- if you can’t afford first class, at least try to flight Exit Row!

THE most wonderful thing I saw this weekend:

A fourteen pound, healthy, happy, loved, handsome little man named Nicolas.

Friday, July 28, 2006


He said: You were up awfully late last night.
I heard: What the hell were you doing on the computer until all wee hours of the morning?

He said: Really? A new web site? That sounds exciting.
I heard: Oh, great. Another freakin’ techno-geek project that she’s not going to be able to figure out and then I’ll have to listen to her bitch and moan about how it’s not working and how she despises technology but can’t live without it and I’ll have to pretend to be all sympathetic and act like I really care when really I'd rather puncture my own ear drums with dull butter knives.

He said: Well, if you like Caringbridge, why not just stay there?
I heard: Oh, for Pete’s sake, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it!

He said: Well, I can understand why you might feel that way, now that Kendrie is done with her treatment.
I heard: What? *MY* cancer experience isn’t worthy of Caringbridge to you?

He said: No, actually, I can’t think of anyone in the tech support department at work who might know about setting up a personal blog.
I heard: Blogger? WordPress? Typepad? You have not a single clue what you’re doing, woman, and don’t even try to drag my innocent, technologically-superior co-workers into the mess you are about to make.

He said: Do you think people would read a new blog?
I heard: What on earth makes you think anyone gives a flying rats ass about what you have to say?

He said: Well, I’m sure you’ll get it all figured out.
I heard: This conversation is boring me. Move on.

***This is why you should never attempt a logical conversation with your husband when you are already annoyed at him for some reason you totally can’t remember, but which you know was COMPLETELY his fault.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Kendrie -- Day 223 OT

Blaine -- didn’t like my “meh” ….. but happier today, as his prescription for narcotic patches finally arrived.

First of all, let me say THANKS to those of you who answered my pitiable plea request to sign the guestbook. I’m glad to know there are still people out there, and I hope I didn’t guilt you into signing more often (total lie; you know I want you to.) I was worried that the site counter was going up because my mom was sitting around hitting the refresh button all day, thinking that would make me happy ……… then so many of you popped in to say hello that I got all excited, like a puppy right before it pees on someone’s shoe ………. then, I got a guestbook signature where that person (Hi, Tyler!) told me that’s EXACTLY what he did, refresh the counter all day. (sigh) So, I have no idea how many people actually stopped by the site today, but LOTS of you signed the guestbook, which made me happy. And was totally worth confessing how desperately, sadly, pathetically needy I really am.

Another reason I asked, on a more serious note (not that my dismal need for validation isn’t serious, mind you) is that I am tentatively making plans to quit updating this site, and move my journal over to another blog site. Let me say, first of all, that I LOVE Caringbridge and have no complaints whatsoever. It’s just that although this site is free for me to use, it’s not free for them to host. The intent of CB is to help families in crisis, and I’m starting to feel a little guilty about perhaps overstaying my welcome, now that Kendrie is off-treatment. So, I don’t know. I’ll wait until the kids go back to school (THANK-HEAVENS-ITS-ONLY-NINE-MORE-DAYS-CAN-YOU-GUESS-I’M-COUNTING-DOWN-THE-MINUTES???!!!!) and then, while enjoying the peace and quiet around the house (NOT-THAT-I’M-EXCITED-FOR-THEM-TO-RETURN-TO-SCHOOL-OR-ANYTHING-DID-I-MENTION-ITS-ONLY-NINE-DAYS???) dink around with a new format. If my earlier endless circles in Dante’s Inferno of Hell adventures in technology are any indicator, I might adopt the “why bother teaching an old dog new tricks” philosophy and NEVER leave Caringbridge!

Soooooooo, enough about all of that.

Here’s another funny story (well, funny to *me*, anyway) about Kellen and pajamas. His first year of public school here in Georgia, he was in Pre-Kindergarten (Oh, my, was my tall, lanky 8-yr old son *ever* that young????) and he loved it. Which is what made that one particular morning even more confusing ….. the morning he refused to take off his pajamas and put on regular clothes for school. (Hey, I’m sensing a theme here!!!) Anyway, he refused. So I said fine, I’m not fighting you on this. I loaded all three kids up in the van, drove to the school, parked in the lot, handed him his book-bag, and told him to get out of the van and walk with me into his classroom. He practically started hyperventilating when he realized I was serious. I made him walk almost to the front doors in his pj’s, him near tears, before letting him turn around and go back to the van and change into the clothes I brought with me. Then I said, in my meanest voice possible, “Next time, I won’t bring clothes, and you WILL go to school in your pajamas!” And he’s never given me a hard time about getting dressed for school since. Until yesterday. Which, maybe he figured since its summer break now, who really cares??

You know, upon re-telling that story, and listening to it in my own head, it’s not really funny at all. In fact, it’s sort of mean. I’m actually a very mean mom. Hmmmmm. Who knew?

Anyway, on to the reason for today’s post: HOW STINKIN’ CUTE IS MY KID??????

These photos were taken courtesy of Flashes of Hope, who had a photo session set up the last time we were in clinic. It was nothing more than good luck on our part that Kendrie had an appointment on the same day they were set up at the clinic in Atlanta, and we got to have our photos taken. Flashes of Hope is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating uplifting portraits of children fighting cancer and other life threatening illnesses. The portraits, taken by award-winning photographers, help children feel better about their changing appearance by celebrating it. For families of terminally ill children, it's especially important to have a portrait that preserves forever the beauty, grace and dignity of their child.

In addition to the photographers, there was a make up and hair artist to help the kids, siblings, and parents “primp” for the session. Kendrie, of course, was horrified when they suggested she wear a little lip gloss or perhaps put a barrette in her hair. She looked at me like, “In the name of all that is holy, get that woman away from me with the mascara” …. But scruffy hair, t-shirt and all, I think she’s adorable!

I can’t tell you (actually, yes I can, otherwise why do I keep babbling on this site?) how thrilled I was when I received these pictures tonight. Truly, I think the photographer did a great job capturing her personality. And I always hate the way I look in pictures, but these …. are .......... not terrible. And hey, coming from me, “not terrible” is pretty good. Kendrie and I had a lot of fun doing this; the Flashes of Hope workers and volunteers made it an enjoyable, special time, and I appreciate that, and the keepsakes.

You should check out the Flashes of Hope website, partly to see the beautiful work that they do and just admire the portraits they have on their site, but especially if you have a child with cancer. They offer sessions all over the country, and it’s not only a lot of fun, but you get some fabulous photos out of it. Or at least I think so. I mean, we might not be supermodels ….. then again, Kendrie just might!

Kristie PS. Can you believe two of the soccer signs I put out yesterday have already been stolen?? Who *does* that? Who removes signs from a public intersection about something as innocuous as local children's soccer sign-ups???? Egads

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Kendrie -- Day 222 OT

Blaine, still meh ---- {A random word when people either don't know what to say, don't care, can't answer a question or are too drunk to form a coherent English phrase….basically, the verbal equivalent of a shrug of the shoulders. Although I think I would prefer the drinking thing. On a chaise lounge. With a little paper umbrella in the glass.}

I received a bulk e-mail the other day, sent to all the parents who’ve registered their children for fall soccer this year. The host organization was looking for a few volunteers to go around town and place signs at various intersections, letting the public at large know that registration is now open for everyone. This will be our family’s fifth soccer season and I figured it’s about time I supported the organization in a manner more substantial than simply buying hot dogs and soda at each game.

So I e-mailed back, said yes, picked up my posters yesterday afternoon, and promptly did NOT set them out last night because we had a big ole’ rainstorm come through. I’m all about the volunteerism, until it involves wetness and humidity, then you can count me out.

So this morning when the kids woke up, knowing the temperature today would reach a bazillion degrees, I told them to hurry and get dressed so we could place the signs out first thing, while it was still relatively cool outside. Brayden and Kendrie complied, but Kellen, well, we’re having a bit of an attitude problem with Kellen. Mainly, that his stinks.

After emphatically refusing to get out of his pajamas, despite my logical argument that if we have an accident, he’s not going to want to go with the police or in the ambulance in his pajamas, for heaven’s sake, he still didn’t want to change. Finally, exasperated, I said fine, just stay in your pajamas! (Insert deep, aggravated sigh on my part. How many more days until school starts???)

Obviously, the soccer organization wants the signs to be placed at well-traveled intersections, and they assigned me the three busiest intersections near where I live. The square mile or so around our house is still fairly rural, so I was able to simply pull the van over at the first intersection, put on my hazards, and hop out of the van. Kendrie wanted to help, so I told the other two to stay in the van, and then she and I put the first sign out. The grass was nice and soft from the rain last night, but I let her pound on the sign with a hammer, just so she could feel useful. Then, at the second intersection, Brayden wanted to help, and then at the third, Kellen said he wanted to help. This is how the conversation played out:

“Kellen, you can’t get out and help, you’re still in your pajamas”


“So…. Well, you’re still in your pajamas!”

“So? I don’t care”

“You don’t? You wouldn’t be embarrassed to get out of the van in your pjs? With all these cars driving by?”

“No, I want my turn to bang the metal stick in the ground with a hammer.”

“Seriously? But you don’t have any shoes on”

And as you might have already guessed, the conversation ended with Kellen hopping out of the van and helping me pound the sign into the ground. In his pajamas. Not only his pajamas, but his bright, loud, CHRISTMAS pajamas. And? Wearing his sister’s pink sandals.

When the truckload of migrant constructions workers drove past and whistled and honked, I wasn’t quite sure whether they meant me or Kellen. Sadly, it was probably him.

So if you’re local, and you’re driving down Rt. 41 and see the CGSA signs, that’s the work of one grumpy lady and three kids, one of whom looked like he escaped an insane asylum.


PS. Is there anybody out there????? My site hit counter is going up at the same rate as normal, but in the past two days, the guestbook has only been signed six times. And two of those were from the same person! Hello? Hello?? (echo …. Echo …. Echo…..) Are you there???

Monday, July 24, 2006


Kendrie -- Day 221 OT

Blaine -- meh.

When your child is diagnosed with cancer, it goes without saying, your entire world is rocked. Families make unbelievable changes to accommodate the necessary treatment schedule; parents change jobs, quit jobs, move in with family, have family move in with them, move to another city, or state, or as in the case of our online friend Dani, another country with a whole ‘nother language. Truly, some of these lifestyle changes can be huge.

Some are not as big, but important in their own right. Even something as simple as a cold can be a big deal to a kid on chemo. Chicken pox? Huge deal. So you become (or at least *I* became) much more aware of the germs and viruses just floating around out there, waiting to pounce on these immuno-suppressed kids and wreak havoc. And so you make changes, some big and some small, to do anything in your power to keep your child healthy.

Like anything that you do for a long time, these lifestyle changes can become habit. And then permanent. Even now that Kendrie is off treatment, I am still on Purell Overdrive and will douse anyone and anything that comes within arms reach. I have no doubt my Purell fixation is a bona-fide, permanent lifestyle change. As is our swearing off hot-tubs for all eternity. According to our oncologist, they are forbidden for kids with ports, due to the high levels of bacteria in the water. Think about it …. warm, wet, moist …….. Ick! I get skeeved out just imagining it. And hey, if our oncologist, who said Kendrie could swim in any body of water she wanted during treatment, to include rivers and lakes and pools; the same oncologist who is so laid-back he makes Tommy Chong look like an ADHD patient, if THAT GUY says no hot tubs, then I say no hot tubs, either. Ever. Gross. Don’t even splash me with hot tub water or I hose myself down like that radioactive lady in Silkwood.

But a few of our lifestyle changes, those that we embraced at the beginning, have been relaxed now that she’s off-treatment. I no longer fanatically use anti-bacterial wipes to clean off shopping carts and restaurant tables and chairs (although I probably should). I no longer wipe down a hotel room upon first entering (again, probably should.) Used to, I wouldn’t let the kids eat chocolate chip cookie dough since it has raw eggs in it (Notice I say *the kids*? You better believe *I* still ate it, I just waited until they went to bed to do it!) Now, it’s ok for her to eat it …. Just like the salmonella risk posed by reptiles is ok, so she now chases frogs and turtles and tadpoles and lizards (and anything else she thinks she can catch) with glee. We outlawed public drinking fountains (why not just lick every kid in your school on the mouth?) and I’d prefer they STAY outlawed, but I have a sneaking suspicion the kids drink out of them when they know I’m not around.

So, by relaxing a few of these restrictions, I feel like we’re taking baby steps away from the world of childhood cancer. And here’s photographic evidence of my most recent baby step:

I bought dishtowels again!! Excitement, thy name is Kristie!!

Immediately after diagnosis, I threw out every dish towel we owned and we became an Official Paper Towel Family. Need to dry your hands? Grab a paper towel. Need to dry a dish? Or a cup? Or some fruit? Or a spill? An entire gallon of milk? Grab a paper towel. Or half a roll.

By my estimation, we have gone through approximately 990 rolls of paper towels since Kendrie was diagnosed. Enough to pay for a family weekend getaway, or perhaps put in that underground sprinkler system Blaine’s been wanting.

But you know what? Worth every penny, if it meant we weren’t spreading germs and bacteria all over the kitchen by using the same dish towel over and over. And sponges. Oh, gag, don’t even get me started on sponges.

So why go back to dish towels now? Well, we haven’t gone all the way back; we still use tons of paper towels. It just feels great to wash a clamshell of strawberries and only use one towel. Or cut up a veggie tray without going through eighty paper towels as I wash off the cutting board and knife between each item. Of course, now I’m obsessive about only using the dishtowel one time and then washing it, so any paper towel savings I expected to bank, I’ll now spend in detergent and water costs.

But that’s ok. It’s all about the baby steps, right? Just don’t ask me to go hot-tubbing.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


I’m not quite sure where they got it, but all three of my kids have very (EXTREMELY) obsessive personalities. Not like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, where they count things over and over or wash their hands a hundred times a day (shoot, I’d be happy if they’d spontaneously remember to wash their hands EVER!) They’re just obsessive, as evidenced by last week’s fish episode. What started out as a few simple goldfish in small glass bowls **would** have become a fish metropolis, had I let it. The wind had gone out of their sails a tad since the second fish bit the dust, but I’m worried a comeback is in order, after I managed to save the third fish this morning, who was limping and gasping feebly ‘round his bowl when we woke up. Fresh water, clean rocks, and a new water tablet, and he’s swimming merrily now. Great (roll-y eyes). I’m like a freakin’ fish whisperer. And my kids’ fascination is reneweth.

I’ve *known* my kids were this way for quite some time. Some of their recent obsessions include (but are not limited to): the guitars and guitar lessons Kellen and Kendrie both swear they want on a daily basis, never mind the fact neither of them have a musical bone in their bodies. The half-pipe Kellen is adamant Blaine either buys for him, or builds himself, here in our driveway. Kellen has decided he wants to compete in the X-Games when he’s older. I don’t know where he got this idea, since he has no idea what the X-Games even are, but he’s decided. BTW, for those of you wondering, professional quality half-pipes, available online, cost roughly $6000. Cheap-o versions are around $800. Kellen, for some reason, doesn’t understand why we’re not buying two and giving him his own skate-park here at the house. He swears he will wear a helmet. Um, yeah. Because *that’s* the reason we’re not rushing out to buy one.

The kids have all gone through these phases …. Barbies, karate classes, ceramic lessons, toy cars, etc, etc. It’s not that they’re greedy and demanding, it’s more that they get something in their head and just can’t let it go. Obsessive? Fanatical? You be the judge.

Take dirt bikes, for instance. Kellen’s cousins have dirt bikes, and he asked for one also. We said no, and he accepted it pretty gracefully, but he won’t quit talking about them and asking us questions: How fast can a dirt bike go? Which is faster, a dirt bike or a car? How old do you have to be to ride a dirt bike? Could I drive a dirt bike to school? Are there dirt bike X-games? How old do I have to be before I can buy my own dirt bike? Ad nauseum.

Another example involving their cousins happened when we went home earlier this summer, and my kids hung out with Landon and Dalton, ages 8 and 10, who are into cars. My kids? NOT into cars. Not until they heard Dalton and Landon discussing Mustangs and Trans-Ams and Corvettes. But mainly Mustangs. They’re all up in the Mustangs now.

So as we drive around town, my kids are obsessed with spotting cars that they recognize and shouting out the name. “Mustang!!” “PT Cruiser!!” “Hummer!!” like it’s some never-ending game of Punch Buggy. But Mustangs, oh boy, Mustangs are the manna of life, for Kellen, and he squeals with joy whenever he spots one. Then, since they don’t recognize the majority of cars on the road, they’ll ask me a thousand times a day, “Mom, what kind of car is that?” and after a while, I’m so worn down from trying to figure it out, I’ll just mumble, “Chevy Impala” and hope that’s right.

I might be in for a respite from the Mustangs and the fish, however, after yesterdays Cure Childhood Cancer’s Annual Picnic in Snellville, Georgia. I drove the kids up for a fun-filled afternoon, complete with lunch from Folk’s County Kitchen, carnival games, moonwalks, remote-control boats, clowns, arts and crafts, dunking booth, prizes, music, etc. We got to see lots of families that we’ve missed lately: Brandon’s family, Chandler’s family, Keegan’s family, Jacob’s family, just to name a few. So we all had a good time, getting to visit and play games ……… but one of the games? Something where you roll dice, and depending on what you roll, you win “X” number of baseball cards. Kellen, somehow, rolled the magic number and walked away with six or seven big packs of baseball cards, the examining and organization of which has transported him to a new nirvana. Does he know anything about professional baseball, the players and their statistics? No. Does he have a favorite professional baseball team? Or player? No. Has he ever before, in any way, shape, or form, indicated an interest in collecting baseball cards? No. But now he wants to spend every dime he has saved up on baseball cards.

I mean, it just makes me crazy. Where do they GET such behavior? It makes me wonder……..

Oh wait! I almost forgot to tell you!! Did ya’ll hear about the new contest they have going on at Sonic? For every large and extra large drink you buy, you get to unwrap a straw, and if it’s a special striped straw, you win a prize …. money, gift cards, trips, and a Grand prize of $168,894.00, which is the purported number of drink combinations Sonic offers, although really, every one of them is meaningless to me since I am still in love with my plain, ordinary, un-combinationed Diet Dr. Pepper. But that’s not the point. The point is, I am TOTALLY going to win this!! I stop at Sonic, normally, once a day, sometimes even twice. So if I double my efforts I could conceivably visit Sonic several hundred times between now and the end of the contest!!! Plus, PLUS! Get to enjoy all that syrupy goodness in the meantime! It’s a win-win situation!!

Now, what was I talking about? Oh, yeah, my kids and their obsessive behavior. I just wish I knew where they got it.

PS. Mrs. Jan and Mrs. SueEllen, thank you so much for the donations to Caringbridge in honor of Kendrie, in Dad's memory. I'm so thankful that this service exists, and appreciate you helping them!\

Friday, July 21, 2006


(I was going to type “Conversations with my middle” but I didn’t want you to think I walked around all day talking to my belly button.)

(We have a lot of conversations in our family, in case you couldn’t tell.)

Scene: Driving in van

Location: A few blocks from our house, where men from the prison (probationers? Not sure) were doing lawn maintenance detail, mowing and weed-eating the public areas near our neighborhood. They’re noticeable, because they wear jumpsuits with “Prisoner” or “Probationer” across their back, they drive a big white van with PRISON DETAIL down the side, and there’s always an armed guard with them. We see them all the time, seems like they’re always *somewhere* in town, but this was the first time it sparked a conversation.

Kellen: Mom, are those bad guys? From jail?

Kristie: Well, I don’t know if they’re bad PEOPLE, but they probably did a bad thing and had to go to jail.

Kellen: Do good guys ever go to jail?

Kristie: What do you mean? Like the guard? Does he go to the jail? Or do good guys ever go IN jail?

Kellen: Do good guys ever do bad things and go to jail?

Kristie: Sure. Sometimes policemen, or firemen, or teachers, or whoever, do stupid things and they have to go to jail. Like stealing something, or hurting someone. Anyone who breaks the law has to go to jail, no matter who they are. That’s why it's so important to make good decisions in life (patting myself on the back for this High Quality Parenting Answer.)

Kellen: I think it would be cool to be a policeman and be in jail, because then you would still get to be the boss.

Kristie: (not wanting to delve into a conversation about why policeman probably have it WORSE in jail, what with the prisoners wanting retribution and the whole shower-revenge-scenario description) Oh, no, no matter who you are you don’t want to be in jail. Jail is a terrible place.

Kellen: Why?

Kristie: Well, just think about it. You have no freedom. You’ve got somebody telling you what to do, all the time. Telling you what time to get up, what you’re going to eat for breakfast, what you can do for fun, what you can’t do for fun, when you’ll eat lunch, and dinner, and what you’ll eat, what clothes you’ll wear, when you’ll go to bed ………………………… (And at this point my voice trailed off weakly, as I realized I just described the lifestyle of my very own children!) Um, never mind, Kellen. Just don’t ever go to jail.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


My kids torment love, love, love our dog. They love to pet him and give him treats and stroke his fur, and bring him pillows and blankets to lay on -- you get the picture. I would say that they love to play with him but the truth of the matter is he’s old; “playfulness” is an adjective that no longer describes him. “Tired” is perhaps more correct, and definitely “resigned” to his life with these kids wallering all over him. The only time he shows any great enthusiasm is when he’s outside and wants back in, and he lets us know by barking. Repeatedly. Without stopping. At the back door, no matter the time of day or night, until someone -- anyone -- lets him in the house. He might be deaf, and arthritic, but he’s got the bark of a younger, much more annoying virile dog.

This morning Kendrie came running in to me and yelled excitedly, “Mom! Mom! I told Lager to lay down ---- and HE DID!” like it was the greatest circus trick ever. Like he was some sort of genius pet, and it was a feat as heroic as a St. Bernard finding a lost skier and bringing them hot chocolate from a thermos around his neck. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that at fifteen years old, lying down is probably the only position he can comfortably hold for more than five minutes.

Speaking of old, tired pets ----------- one goldfish down. Er, belly up. You know what I mean.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Kendrie -- Day 215 Off-Treatment

Blaine -- almost back up to working full-days (I think he figures working is more restful than being at home with the kids during summer break)

The day after we returned from OKC, the kids were invited to a neighbor girl’s birthday party. (Amy, if you’re reading this, thanks again for the invitation!) Even though the party started at 4pm, when the temperature outside was reaching a million degrees Fahrenheit, and that’s not counting the humidity or the heat index, I decided we would walk to the party since it was just around the corner, about eight houses away. I walked, Brayden rode her bike, and Kellen and Kendrie rode scooters.

We arrived at the party with the other guests, and merriment and frivolity began. There was pizza, and cake and ice cream, and silly string, and water balloons, and a prize box, and a piñata stuffed with candy. That was about the time Brayden made her enthusiastic observation, “Mom, this is the best party EVER!” (Too bad she didn’t realize all the Laffy Taffy and Tootsie Rolls would be impounded by me the next day, after the Receiving of the Spacers Episode at the Orthodontists Office.)

I did have one sad moment during the party, when the kids lined up to whack the zebra piñata. In typical birthday fashion, the birthday girl of honor got to go first, then the rest of the kids lined up shortest to tallest. Kellen was the tallest, so the last in line. One of the kids before him had managed to knock off a zebra leg, but overall the thing was still pretty intact when he was ready to take his turn. As he squared up, like a big league hitter at the plate, broomstick at the ready, I admonished, “Kellen! Don’t hit it hard --- the little kids might want another turn!” and the Mom of the party turned to me (Hi, again, Amy!) and said she wanted Kellen to hit it and burst it open, so the game could end. So, two good whacks, and candy went a-flying. The kids were scrambling, and happy, but I was feeling a bit nostalgic. Whatever happened to the good ole’ days, when my short, young kids were in the front of the piñata line? And since when did my son become the big kid, delegated with the task of breaking the thing open? Today it’s a piñata ….. tomorrow he’ll be shaving, and driving, then marrying, and before you know it, he’ll be applying for Social Security Benefits and carrying an AARP membership. OK, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here, but it was a wee bit sad for me.

Anyway, on to the BESTEST PART EVER of the party ---- the party favors for guests? Goldfish! In their own bowls! With fish food and colored rocks for the bottom!!! I’m using a lot of exclamation points because that’s how my own kids sounded as they were screaming for joy when they realized they would each get to take one home. (Of course, since we had walked to the party, and couldn’t very well carry everything while riding bikes and scooters, in the zillion-degree weather, I had to call Blaine and get him to come pick us up. Half a block away. How sad is that? Nothing says, “Honey, I’m a lazy fat ass who needs lift --eight houses down-- because the goldfish are too heavy” quite like that does.)

So -- The next day? Petsmart! To buy water treatment tablets!! And castles!! Which were too tall for the bowls so they stick out the top!!!!

My kids are Ob. Sessed. They are pooling their money to buy a bigger tank, and more fish, and bigger, more grandiose castles. They’ve named their fish, and spend lots of time every day watching them, and studying them, and trying to convince me their fish look hungry and need to be fed again, and then squealing and giggling hysterically when they see one of them pooping in the bowl as is inevitable because they’ve been fed so much.

As for me, quite frankly, I can’t take the pressure. It’s bad enough that our dog is fifteen years old and every morning when we wake up I check to see if he’s still breathing. Now my paranoia has extended itself to the damn fish. They’re goldfish --- of course they’re going to die! And my kids will be crushed. The best I can do is hope they all die at the same time, so one kid isn’t more devastated than the other. In fact, I think I’ll start setting my alarm so I get up before the kids. And then whenever the first fish dies, I’ll take a teeny tiny pillow and suffocate the other fish. Then I’ll blame the whole thing on a murder-suicide-goldfish pact.

If anyone has any better suggestions, I’m all ears. Just don’t suggest I flush them, because we’ve got three tiny fish castles that the kids are determined to use. And big prospects for expansion. I don’t know which is worse; to hope they die quickly and the obsession ends, or to hope they live, which means a bigger bowl and bigger castles might be in my future.

(sigh) Damn fish.

PS. Amy, you know I’m kidding --- the kids LOVE the fish!
PSS. Note to self: cross Amy off Christmas list.

Monday, July 17, 2006


Kendrie -- Day 214 OT

Blaine -- 9 weeks until we find out if the radiation worked

When Kendrie commenced the long-term maintenance portion of her chemo protocol, she began taking a nightly chemo drug that couldn’t interact with food, and especially couldn’t interact with dairy products. This posed a problem for us, as all three of my kids were accustomed to drinking a glass of milk right before bed, and had done so for years. Blaine and I were actually relieved for a concrete reason to break the nightly milk routine ---- most nights they didn’t drink it all before falling asleep (WASTEFUL), I was sick and tired of finding congealed, putrid, rancid sippy cups underneath the beds (DISGUSTING), and mainly, I just didn’t want to make the milks every night anymore (LAZY).

So we proclaimed that if Kendrie couldn’t have milk before bed, neither could the other two. The moaning and wailing and begging that ensued was bothersome for a while, but eventually everyone got used to the new rule, and I haven’t had to throw out a nasty, revolting, spoiled sippy cup for the past two years. (Nasty, spoiled Tupperware, housing biology experiments in the back of my fridge, is another story, but no cups.) Blaine and I patted ourselves on the back at our clever thinking and resourcefulness. Outsmarted those kids once again, yes we did, and right proud of it.

Fast forward to today: Brayden began Phase I of her Orthodontic Regimen (Did you just hear that pathetic groan? That was Blaine’s wallet!) and had spacers placed between her teeth, in preparation for next week’s visit, which will be the start of twenty-two months of extenders, and bands, and tightening keys, and Lord only knows what other kinds of modern-day oral torture the poor girl will have to endure. And that's before she even GETS the braces!!

As we were leaving the office, the dental technician gave us a hand out about the spacers and how to take care of them, and gave us one last minute piece of advice: No gum, or sticky, chewy candy of any kind, otherwise the spacers will pop right out and she’ll have to get them re-done. “For how long?” I asked, thinking of the bag of piñata candy Brayden got at a birthday party yesterday (more on that to come later) and how I would have to confiscate it as soon as we got home. “Oh, the entire two years” replied the technician, with a sympathetic smile. “Her candy and gum chewing days are over for quite some time.”

We got out to the car, and Brayden turned to me and said, “Well, if I can’t eat candy or gum, neither can Kellen or Kendrie, or that’s not fair.” I sort of snorted, and said, “You expect them to give up candy for two years just because *YOU* are getting braces?” and she came back with, “We all had to give up milk at bedtime when Kendrie was on chemo and *SHE* couldn’t have it!”

{crickets chirping}

Damn. I hate when they’re right. Outsmarted by those kids once again.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


Well, we are back home safe and sound from our trip to OKC … and I can’t help but feel a sense of deja-vu at typing that sentence once again this summer. I kept thinking I should update the site while I was home this past week, but we didn’t really do anything “journal worthy”, and it seemed a little disrespectful to try and make jokes about the funeral. It was actually a very nice service, and my family sincerely appreciated all the people that took the time to attend, send notes, flowers, make phone calls, etc, even signing in the guestbook here.

So I think this entry will instead be a hodgepodge of some of the emotions I felt this past week, and then after we get settled back here at home, I’m sure life will proceed as usual and we’ll find lots of insane normal things to talk about.

But for now, you can select the adverb *you* think I felt most strongly this past week.

Was it ……..

a) JOY, at realizing I would get to eat at all my favorite OKC restaurants (the ones we don’t have in Georgia) not once, but twice, in a two-month period?

b) GRATEFULNESS, when I realized that in fact, I wouldn’t eat at any of those restaurants, because it would take us the entire week to work our way through all the wonderful food and desserts that people were so kind to bring to the house for us? Seven grandkids are pretty much the equivalent of a swarm of locusts over a dessert buffet, and despite that, thanks to the generosity of others, my mom still had plenty for the guests and relatives that stopped by.

c) AMUSEMENT, after Kellen accidentally spilled his chocolate milk all over himself at IHOP during breakfast this morning, causing Blaine to take him out to the van, with our packed suitcases in it, to find some clean clothes into which he could change for the flight home, only to discover all of Kellen’s clothes were in the “dirty clothes” suitcase, so he wound up flying home in a bathing suit?

d) SURPRISE, when I realized that sometime between the beginnings of summer and now, Kellen has somehow, apparently, grown at least six inches, making the bottom of his swim trunks hit him about mid-thigh, which when coupled with the tube socks and tennis shoes he had on, made him look like a total dork. A pocket protector, or perhaps some glasses with tape holding them together, would have certainly completed the picture.

e) the ELATION I felt when I walked through the security checkpoint at the OKC airport today and they let me keep my shoes on ….. ON, people, ON! I didn’t even have to throw my socks away!

Or, f) the EMBARRASSMENT I felt when I tried lifting my carry-on bag and putting it in the overhead compartment myself, only to discover I am a worthless puny weakling, evidenced by the fact I dropped the bag on the head of the woman sitting in the seat underneath the compartment. Thankfully, it appeared the resulting concussion was a mild one, and she was a good sport about the head-trauma. Brayden made sure I didn’t injure any other passengers on the second leg of the flight, by yelling at me, from three rows back …. “Don’t drop your bag on anyone else’s head this time, Mom!!” Great. Nothing like a little public humiliation to end a trip on a high note.

Thanks, once again, for all your kind notes. While the week certainly wasn’t big fun, it was made easier knowing we had so many people; friends, family, and "internet friends" alike, keeping us in their thoughts and prayers.

We truly appreciate it.

Monday, July 10, 2006


1) When your alarm goes off at 2 am, so you can get up and catch a 6am flight out of Atlanta, repeat to yourself; “Saving $2800 in bereavement airfare, saving $2800 in bereavement airfare” because Heaven knows that’s the ONLY reason worth getting out of bed at that God-forsaken hour.

2) Don’t wait until 2:30 am to realize the DVD plug in was obviously lost on your last car trip. Discoveries such as this will be even more annoying than normal after only three hours sleep, and promising children you will buy another cord in Oklahoma City will not be good enough to appease their irrational little minds at that time of the morning.

3) Remember to gas up your vehicle the night before (My gosh, will I never learn?!?!?)

4) Driving on the interstate at 3 am should be avoided if at all possible, because you will suddenly realize at least some of your fellow drivers are not off to an early start like you, but are in fact winding up a late night. You will suddenly view every vehicle on the road with suspicion, worried every one contains a drunk driver, destined to cause harm to your family.

5) (This one for the benefit of my children): I don’t care how many hours you’ve been awake because you woke up at 2:30 am, it’s still too early to have candy for breakfast.

6) When waiting in the DFW airport for your connecting flight, you are actually NOT doing your fellow passengers a favor by taking your over-stimulated and sleep-deprived children on a walk through the airport to burn off energy. What will actually happen is you will be six or seven gates away, letting them (as all wonderful parents do) ride up and down on the escalators, and you will not hear the gate attendant calling your names for final boarding. So those passengers you thought you were helping will instead be glaring at you with daggers shooting out of their eyes as you --- ONCE AGAIN --- are the very last passengers to board the plane.

7) Nothing says “Kick me when I’m down” quite like a flat tire in the funeral home parking lot.

8) Keep a funeral-appropriate dress, **that fits**, in your closet at all times. Because just in case you’re not feeling shitty enough, shopping for a dress in the plus-size section at the last minute to wear to your father’s funeral is NOT the emotional pick-me-up you might think.

We arrived safe and sound and are glad to be home, visiting with friends and family, some of whom we haven't seen in ages. I suppose that's the perk of a funeral --- but it always leaves me wondering why, if we're such close friends and family, we don't work harder at staying in touch while everyone is alive.

Kids are doing extremely well. Thanks, once again, for all your kind notes, calls, and e-mails. I'm sorry I haven't done a better job of responding. If I could ask ... once more ... please keep us in your thoughts tomorrow during the funeral.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


Thanks to all of you for your kind notes regarding my dad. I still swing back and forth between bafflement and denial --- even when you know it’s coming, or suspect it’s coming, I don’t suppose anyone is ever ready to lose a parent. He never walked on the moon, or discovered the cure for cancer, or made a million dollars ….. but he DID honor his roles as loving husband, public servant, and devoted father and grandfather. If all men could do such things, this world would be a better place indeed.

Brayden and Kellen are taking the news well. I’m not sure if that’s because they never lived close to him, so haven’t quite realized what exactly this means, or because they’re the most egocentric kids on the planet. Which, given their ages, might be perfectly normal, or might be a sign we’re raising sociopaths.

Kendrie, on the other hand, is devastated. Again, perfectly normal, or maybe she has a greater empathy due to her cancer journey …. Who knows? She was inconsolable upon hearing, and the only thing that seemed to help was the suggestion she (and all the grandkids) draw a picture, or write a note, or find some small thing, to put in the casket with him. She immediately grabbed a ceramic angel that she had made with the intention of giving him this Christmas. She drew a picture and rolled it up inside the statue, and carried it around non-stop until I suggested she put it on a table to keep it from being dropped and broken.

Fast forward to late-yesterday afternoon. I have a cold, and had taken an antihistamine …. and being the lightweight I am, had gone to bed to sleep it off. I was laying there, in that just-before-you-drift-off-to-sleep stage, when from the other room I heard a CRASH, and then a blood-curdling scream. Frightened someone had hurt themselves, I sat straight up in bed, flung the covers off, and was half-way out the door when I heard Blaine yelling, “I can fix it …. Kendrie, I can fix it!”
Yep, you guessed it, the angel got knocked off the table and broken. I confess, I just couldn’t face the tears, and left Blaine to deal with it on his own. And we are now the much-more-careful owners of a cracked, glued, and fragile angel … but one which will be making the trip with us to OKC tomorrow.

Thanks, especially, to those of you that are keeping my mom in your thoughts. In the span of eight weeks, she lost her dog, her dad, and now her husband. The jury is still out on which one she’ll miss the most.

(In the event you found that to be a totally inappropriate comment, let me assure you that my dad would have laughed if he heard it. And if you still think it was inappropriate, I’ll just claim mental instability due to grief. But trust me, he totally would have laughed. And probably put his money on the dog.)

And so, under the “Bad Things Happen in Three’s” Umbrella, we are declaring a moratorium on crappy things happening to both our immediate and extended family for the rest of the year. Nobody else dies, nobody else gets cancer, nobody else gets trampled while trying to feed a circus elephant. (OK, so that last thing hasn’t happened, but the way things seem to be going for us, doesn’t it seem like it might???)

And lest any of you think we really, truly ARE shit-magnets, let me remind you of all the wonderful things that have happened to us this year:

Kendrie has been off-treatment for six months with no problems whatsoever!!! She had her bloodwork done again this week and everything looks fine. She’s swimming like a fish, and is reaching the point of desperately needing a haircut.

Blaine made it through his radiation treatments. Yeah, they pretty much SUCKED, but he did it while managing to avoid a feeding tube, and only losing fifteen pounds. He’s back at work half-days already and while I won’t deny there are days he feels like total dog shit, for the most part, he has done fantastic!

We got to be a part of welcoming Baby-Nicolas into the world less than two months ago …. A true blessing, for those hard-hearts who don’t think there are happy endings.

Our family might be dented and dinged a little around the edges, but we are intact and we’ll muddle our way through this as well.

In the meantime, think of us while we’re flying home. I swear I’ll have a breakdown if I meet up with Mr. Seat 17C again.

Best wishes to all of you as well.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Grandpa Calvin

It is with an extremely sad heart that I come to you tonight to tell you of the passing of my dad, Calvin Ray M. Although I realize 99.9 percent of you that follow along with this journal never knew my father, or met him, you have been a wonderful source of support for my family during good times and bad, so it wouldn’t feel right to keep this news to myself.

We knew he was terribly ill when we were home last month. He had been in poor health for years due to his muscular dystrophy, but still managed to get around pretty well at home with my mom. Although we had planned the trip before he became sick, I was so grateful, in hindsight, for the chance to be there and spend a little time with him; near what we worried might be the end. He had been hospitalized for several weeks and was on a ventilator when we arrived. Communication was very difficult, and I know he was frustrated attempting to talk to us. We tried to get him to write things down, but his handwriting is such chicken-scratch that we always joked he should have been a doctor. The grandkids also got to visit him, but couldn’t do much more than hold his hand and talk to him. What a blessing it was when our last day in OKC, they were able to remove the tube and I got to visit with him one final time. We shared about an hour together, and even chuckled a few times. The final words my father and I spoke to one another were “I love you” and “I love you, too”. I will cherish that until the day I die, and would wish that peace for everyone.

I could give you the typical obituary details: survived by his wife of forty-five years, Betty; two daughters, two sons-in-law, and seven grandchildren who adored him. Army veteran, serving four years in Germany, and physically there when they built the Berlin Wall. Twenty-year veteran of our local Fire Department before retiring.

But, I’d rather give you a few tidbits to pay tribute to him as the wonderful man we knew him to be:


Lover of hidden word puzzles

Lover of country music (and not the current, modern stuff, either. We’re talking Hank Williams ORIGINAL!)

Sneaker of Pecan-Sandy cookies


A sense of humor so dry it made the Sahara Desert look like a tropical rainforest. One of his favorite phrases was to respond to the question, “How are you feeling?” with a totally straight-faced, “With my hands”.

Devoted father. My sister played high school basketball, and my dad absolutely hated to miss her games. If she played a local game on a night he was on duty, it wasn’t unheard of for him to bring the fire truck to the gymnasium, just so he could watch and still be “on duty”. As for me? I was a band geek, and couldn’t tell you the number of hours my dad worked as a Band Booster Parent in the concession stand, serving up nachos and cokes at basketball games.

Proud landscaper. He loved nothing more than working outside in the yard, and was very proud of the fact our lawn was the nicest on the block. An older girl in the neighborhood was a cheerleader when I was in elementary school. She used to come to our house and ask my dad if she could practice her gymnastics on our lawn because we had the softest grass of anyone around. Do you have any idea how big his head used to swell when she did that?

My dad wasn’t in any community organizations or civic clubs. Didn’t serve on any boards or professional organizations. Rather, he lived a very quiet life, helping provide for his family. He would rather spend time with his grandkids more than anything else, and they were all seven his pride and joy. Whenever we would send him a new wallet-photo of one of the kids, he refused to discard an old photo. So he wound up carrying around this huge pile of pictures in his pocket, until I finally took them from him and made him a small scrapbook. My one regret is that my children have never lived near him, so their memories of him will be mostly photos, also.

I have two favorite quotes that I will always remember my father saying. One of them I can’t print here due to vulgarity laws, but it makes me smile every time I think it. The other, which is so quintessentially-Calvin, was what he would protest every time we caught him sleeping (and often snoring!) in his Lazy-Boy. One of us would holler, “Dad, go to bed if you’re going to sleep!” and his reply, every time, was a very indignant, “I’m not sleeping, I’m praying for the astronauts.”

And that, my friends, was my dad in a nutshell.

Daddy, I’ll miss you, and I love you.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Kendrie -- Day 102 OT

Blaine -- Over-did it a little on the 4th, and spent the last half of the cook out in bed. That, or he was going to pretty drastic measures to get out of helping clean the kitchen afterwards.

As anyone who knows me can attest, I am not a touchy-feely kind of person. It’s not that I’m opposed or anything, I’m certainly not ANTI-touch. It’s just that I’ve never been a physically demonstrative person in public. Maybe because I grew up on a block with all boys and never got the hang of the “girlfriend hug”. (Seriously. Every single playmate I had up until I was 12 or so was male. That explains a lot, doesn’t it?) And the one time I tried to go in for an “air kiss” greeting with a friend, I tripped, fell into him, and almost broke his nose. Not the most graceful of moves. And massages … oh geez, don’t even get me started on massages. Give me a good firm handshake, or a wave hello or goodbye, and I’m perfectly happy.

But with my kids, I am different. I’m a hugger, toucher, kisser, snuggler. I know these years go quickly and one day they won’t be willing to let me smooch all over them, or even hold their hand in public. In fact, I’m guessing it won’t be long before Brayden doesn’t want to be SEEN with me in public! “Drop me off here mom, I prefer to walk the rest of the way. Yes, even in a heat wave/blizzard/typhoon (insert natural disaster of your choice); I don’t mind.”

But for now, they tolerate affection, and sometimes, if I’m really lucky, initiate it themselves. There is nothing on this planet sweeter than a spontaneous hug from a child. And by spontaneous I mean, “NOT motivated by a new pair of roller blades or the promise of chocolate ice cream.”

So imagine my delight the other day at the pool when Kendrie swam up to me, put her hands on each side of my face, and said, “Gimme a kiss, lady”. And right as I was leaning forward, just as I was getting my pucker ready, she shaped her lips into a perfect “O”, and planted an open-mouth kiss right on my lips.

I was so surprised, that what did I do? Laughed hysterically, of course. Which, thank goodness she wasn’t trying to slip me any tongue because that would have been a golden opportunity, me laughing with my mouth wide open.

I asked, still laughing, what she thought she was doing, and she said, “Kissing you like the people do on TV”. Which means either I need to re-evaluate Toon Disney, or they’ve been flipping the channel when I’m not looking. Then she proceeded to tell me I was doing it wrong, and show me the correct moves for “proper” Hollywood kissing. Basically, they consist of turning your head from side to side, and pursing your lips open and closed in an imitation of a dying fish, gasping for air on the beach. And, most importantly, making lots of "Mmmmwwwaaah" noises.

When I tried explaining to her that is how mommies and daddies kiss (let’s not even consider having any other discussion with my six year old at this point) she gave me a look, and said, “Well, it’s certainly not how you kiss Daddy!”

What exactly is the correct answer to that?

The sarcastic answer: “Nope, we’ve been married nineteen years, and we’re exhausted from chasing after you kids. Kissing like that went out the window a long time ago!”

Or, the evasive answer: “Well, mommies and daddies kiss like that in private” (which could open up a whole new can of worms I don’t want to deal with!”)

Or, the honest answer: “That’s something people do when they are a lot older. When nobody else is looking. Except for the people who you saw doing it on tv. And they were just actors. So don’t do it in real life because boys have cooties.”

Or, the answer I gave her:

“Look! There’s the dive stick you couldn’t find earlier -- go get it!”

I thought I had stalled the issue, until I caught her trying to do the same thing to Blaine. Apparently, she has issues. And maybe it’s time for me to be a little LESS affectionate with my children.

Nawwwwwww. The mom in me knows that the Hollywood-kisses will be over soon enough, and I’ll most likely miss them as much as I miss the hugs and hand holding in public.

But in the meantime, remind me to keep my mouth closed around her. Because it appears I’m raising a little perv.

Monday, July 03, 2006


We have invited friends over for a cook out tomorrow, to celebrate our nation’s Independence Day holiday. The kids and I already celebrated an early 4th of July in Oklahoma City, complete with grilling, swimming, and fireworks-which-were-legal-because-my-sister-lives-in-the-boondocks. So for us, tomorrow is really just an excuse to hang out with friends and eat. Which pretty much sums up the philosophy of my life.

But I *am* looking forward to it, and hope each person has a nice time. To prove to you what great lengths Blaine and I have gone, as hosts, in an attempt to make the day as nice as possible for everyone, I give you the following examples of our host-ly behavior:

1. I bought sturdy PLASTIC plates this time, instead of those cheap paper ones, so no-one’s plate should fall apart right in the middle of their first helping of pork n beans.

2. I bought hamburgers for the adults, and hot dogs for the kids. But then I realized I bought more wieners than I did buns. So I figured we can wrap the extra wieners in white bread, which is really classy. Of course, so is saying “wiener”, which I’m doing a lot in this post, because that word makes me giggle like a ten year old.

3. We actually hosed down the patio furniture, for the first time since we bought it.

4. Picked up dog poop out of the backyard.

And the most impressive thing of all:

5. Didn’t want anyone disturbed by the large number of flies that keep showing up in the house (from the kids leaving the doors open all the time) So we gave each kid a fly-swatter and told them to get busy. In a contest. To see who could kill the most flies. To make it more interesting, Blaine gave each kid a Ziploc baggie to collect them in and see who killed the most. And if that’s not bad enough, offered them twenty-five cents for each carcass. And, it kept them busy for fifteen minutes! If that doesn't just scream "High Quality Entertainment", I don't know what does. Maybe a six-pack and a bug zapper?

Hope you have a wonderful celebration, as well. Please take a moment tomorrow to stop and say a silent (or not so silent) prayer of gratitude for the men and women who are serving, and have served, our country. Especially those deployed right now, who aren’t getting to eat hot dog wieners wrapped in white bread with their families.


PS. Robin from GA, Cindy from CA, and Mr. Bruce and Ms. Sandy, thank you so much for your donations to Caringbridge! We received the notices and want you to know we appreciate it.

PSS. Denise from GA and Amy from FL -- thanks for putting your “Getting to Know Me” information in the guestbook! Personally, I love the ideas for good books and movies, so anytime you have a suggestion, pass it on! Denise, expect a private e-mail from me soon, about your trip!

PPSS. For the record, I know without a doubt that the mother of the Sleepover Kids doesn’t read Kendrie’s journal, which is the only reason I wrote that update for everyone to read. There have been times I’ve censored myself on this site with regard to content (and language --- Goodness knows I censor this trucker mouth of mine in every update!) because I knew friends, both local and long-distance, would know what or who I was talking about. But that mom barely knows us (which is why I was surprised she would even let her kids stay here overnight) and to my knowledge, she doesn’t even know Kendrie had cancer. So I felt pretty safe blabbing about how ill-behaved her kids were. And if you’ve followed this site at all, you KNOW my kids are ill-behaved most of the time, so that was just par for the course, no big news flash there.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


Kendrie -- Day 197 OT

Blaine -- Five weeks since radiation ended; nine more ‘til we find out if it worked. (But he has gone back to work, half days, which I think is good for everyone. Especially his co-workers, who are probably sick and tired of picking up his slack.)

OK, so, by the above title, “The Fun House”, I’m sure you are expecting some entertaining, amusing story about the wacky, madcap anecdotes of life in the Escoe house. You know, about how we’re all having fun, fun, fun, all the time. So much fun we can hardly stand it. So much fun I constantly say to myself, “Wow! I can’t wait to tell the Internet about THIS!”

You would be sadly mistaken.

Because the sub-title to this journal entry is: “The Never Ending Sleep-Over”

Now, to give you a little history, growing up, my parents were by no means wealthy. We didn’t have a swimming pool or tennis court in our backyard. We didn’t have a pinball machine (although I always wanted one) an X-box, or a PlayStation, or a Nintendo. If I wanted to play a rousing game of Pong or Pacman or Frogger (or my personal favorite, Galaga) I had to march myself to the local arcade. The closest we came to a video game at our house was the electronic memory game, Simon. Although I did love me some Simon.

And even though it perhaps wasn’t a carnival atmosphere at our house, with cotton candy and elephant rides, my parents worked very hard to make sure our friends felt welcome. There was always food in the fridge, something to drink, and we *did* have HBO, which seemed quite decadent at the time. Best of all, they didn’t hover when my sister and I had friends over. They would hang out in the living room and let us take over the den, doing whatever it is teenagers do. They weren’t dorks, and rarely embarrassed us, which is all that matters when you are dealing with friends. (Well, I do remember being embarrassed whenever my mom would dance … we’re Nazarenes, after all, and dancing wasn’t her forte …. Ms. Jan and Ms. SueEllen, you know what I mean?) :)

So I’ve said all along, when I grow up, I want to have the “fun house” …. the house that all my kids’ friends want to visit, and where they feel comfortable hanging out. Because as all parents know, you’d rather have your kids and their friends at YOUR house, where you can keep an eye on them, instead of doing Lord-only-knows-what someplace else. That plan worked pretty well for my parents, considering I never knocked over a 7-11 or got arrested or anything.

Sadly, I discovered this weekend that I do not have the fun house, nor am I the cool, fun parent. Rather, I am the grumpy old lady whose job in life is to squelch everyone’s fun. And I am apparently very good at it.

We had a brother-sister pair come over yesterday afternoon for a playdate, then the kids ambushed us with requests for a sleepover. I didn’t know the other mom very well, and felt embarrassed saying NO in front of her, although you can bet your sweet bippy I won’t make that mistake again. Because my “fun house” scenario involves much older children, that are capable of entertaining themselves, and have no need for discipline. A scenario where I am a fun, cool parent, one that exists peripherally, or in the background, without a lot of hands-on involvement, except for maybe forking over twenty bucks for the pizza delivery guy. And of course, hearing the whispered envy of friends: “Wow, I wish my mom was as awesome as yours!”

This weekend, however, was a harsh lesson for me in the difference between fantasy and reality. One where I discovered that I am way too lazy to have five kids between the ages of six and nine at my house for any 24-hour period. Because yes, that’s how long the sleepover lasted. Twenty-four tedious, mind-numbing, never-ending hours, filled with bickering and whining and fighting.

First, the other boy wanted his mom to go home and get his Playstation. He was horrified that we didn’t have some sort of video game system at our house. And that (gasp!) we only have one TV. I know! How archaic! And what made it worse was that he argued with her, in front of me, about how he NEEDED his Gameboy. Or whatever it was. Because otherwise he and Kellen would be stuck watching stupid movies with the rest of us. And that annoyed me, because I thought it was rude. Never mind if he thought it, or even believed it; I thought it was rude to say it out loud. So finally I squelched him by telling him *I* didn’t want his Gameboy here, that it wouldn't be much fun for the rest of us to sit around watching him and Kellen play video games all evening. Evidence #1 that I am a crabby, fun-sucking old lady.

Then we ordered pizza for dinner and when it arrived, he walked in the kitchen, stated, “I’m not hungry”, turned around and walked out. Although he did manage to help himself to at least five juice boxes (leaving those damn plastic straw wrappers everywhere!) from the fridge. Which annoyed me. Even though that’s why we keep the fridge in the garage stocked with extra juice boxes ….. it annoyed me that every time I turned around, he had a new one, and never asked if it was ok. Evidence #2 that I am a crabby, CHEAP old lady.

And my kids were by no means innocent cherubs, just standing on the sidelines. Having two sets of sibling dynamics was a constant balancing act. Either the girls were against the boys, or these three would gang up on these two, or these two would clique up and this one would get upset because they were left out; there were tears, yelling, pouting, fighting, name-calling …. You get the picture. If it had been just my three (and trust me, that scenario plays out pretty much daily around here) I would have put them on their beds for time out, and told them I didn’t want to hear it any more. But with two extra kids, and me not feeling completely comfortable disciplining them, things spun out of control.

All night long Blaine and I kept repeating ourselves: No slamming doors! No wrestling in the house! No fighting! Turn down the CD player! No jumping on the beds! No roller blades in the house! And at least three times: The rule at our house is you have to wear a helmet if you’re riding a bike!

They were bickering so much in the house that I took them all outside, hoping they would burn off some energy. We have three sets of roller-blades, three bikes, and three scooters. Naturally, all five of them wanted to do the same thing at the same time, and stood around yelling at one another about how “You cutted! It’s not fair! It’s my turn on the bike/skates/scooter!” and then of course the inevitable whine “Moooooo-mmm! He’s not giving me a turn!” (stomp, stomp, pout, pout)

Is it wrong of me to think that when kids stay the night, they should adopt a “When in Rome” philosophy? Or do all rules go by the wayside whenever guests are over? My children seem to think so. Because all five of them were wound UP and out of control. It bothered me partly that a few of these issues were safety concerns, like the fact neither of these kids wanted to wear a bike helmet. It bothered me more that as guests, they were so blatantly disapproving. And then I wondered if my expectations were too high, considering they were only 7 and 8 years old.

At 11:30 I took a deep breath and made them all get in bed “and I don’t care if you’re tired or not, mister!” …. Then had to tell the boy three times during the next half hour to get back in bed. Finally, shortly after midnight, I went into Kellen’s room to find him bouncing a rubber ball, and told him to get back in bed and quit playing. His response? “I don’t have anything to do” MY response? “It’s after midnight! The only thing you SHOULD do is get in bed and go to sleep!” Evidence #3 that I am a grumpy, TIRED old lady.

So then this morning, worried that I had been a tad bit grouchy, and determined to come across as a more nurturing, positive mother figure, I told the kids I would make them chocolate-chip pancakes for breakfast. Naturally, we were out of Bisquick. So I made them from scratch. Only to discover we were also out of chocolate chips. (Can you tell I haven’t been to the store since we got back from vacation?) So I put fresh blueberries in, only to be told by the little girl, “I don’t want blueberries in my pancakes, but I do want blueberry syrup.” And then she just sat there, like she fully expected me to produce it for her. If it had been one of my kids, they would have gotten our standard response: “What? Are you waiting for me to pull it out of my butt?” But I felt that might be sliiiiiiiiiightly inappropriate to say to a 7-yr old guest, so I bit my tongue. And suggested good ole’ Mrs. Butterworth could possibly help her out. And my nurturing personality lasted all of about fifteen minutes.

All through the morning, the fighting and squabbling continued. The little girl, every time she got upset, would threaten the other kids with, “I want to go home!” until I called her bluff and handed her the phone and told her to call her mother so she could come get her. We didn’t hear that threat again.

Please don’t think that I’m saying these two kids were monsters, they weren’t. Or that my three were virtuous little saints, because that’s certainly not the case! But I would have been horrified if I thought any of my kids went on a sleep-over and brought a movie from home, handed it to the mom with instructions to put it in, and “you’re going to make us popcorn, right?” Or telling a child, in front of his mother, that “This game is stupid” or “I’m bored” or “There’s nothing fun to do”.

Growing up, I cannot imagine talking to an adult host that way. Acting like that in front of one of my friend’s parents …. I never would have had the nerve. And to be honest, my mom would have beaten me like a red-headed stepchild if I had. Because you KNOW back in the day, when our parents all knew one another, another mom would have told my mom if I was a complaining brat, or if *my* behavior turned her kid into a complaining brat. Or maybe the mom would have just nipped it in the bud herself, something I was too cowardly to do. So what **did** I do today when their mom showed up? At 2pm, nonetheless, after telling me she’d be here before lunch? (And yes, I finally called her at 1:30 to drop a hint about her coming to get them.) I smiled, thanked them for coming, and didn’t say a thing. Evidence #4 that I am a grumpy, crabby, tired, cheap, FAKE old lady!

But at least now I know my “fun house” scenario has a better chance of coming true, because the behavior of my children last night and today proved to me that they have no business having a sleep over for at least five more years. Maybe ten. Or until after they're married. The *next* time I brave that situation, they’ll all be a little older, and hopefully a little better at entertaining themselves, and I won’t wind up being so ill-tempered and peevish.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go holler at some kids to get off my lawn.