Friday, September 28, 2007

Photos of the Tats

Um ...........................


Not only no, but HELLLLLLLLLLLLLLL to the no.

Come swimming with me sometime and you’ll easily see one of them.

Take care of me in the nursing home when I’m old and you’ll see the rest.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mitchell Whittaker

Please take a moment today to say a prayer for the Whittaker Family, whose son Mitchell passed around 3am this morning from leukemia. While Mitchell's pain is thankfully over, the hurting for his family and friends left behind is, without a doubt, ratcheted up in intensity.

Please also say a prayer for all the 9-yr olds kids that Mitchell went to school with, and played ball with. Losses like this are hard enough for adults to understand, let alone children.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Updated: Rita B, wow, that's one good memory you've got there! Yep, someone bought a bunch of Star Wars figurines (for goodness sake, not even anything remotely cool) online once, apparently managing to hack into my PayPal account and try and pay for them that way. Because "I" spent over $1000.00 within a 24-hr period, and "I" was a new customer, the collectible company itself suspected fraud and canceled the order. But that was almost four years ago --- I'm impressed you remembered that. I had almost forgotten it myself. You make a good point about only using cash from here on out. Better yet, I'll be the sole US citizen trying to barter goods and services with chickens from my farm or bushels of vegetables from my garden. Except I don't have a garden. Or chickens. Man, I'm screwed.


I stole something once. Does that make me a bad person? A thief forever? Once a crook, always a crook? I still feel ashamed about it. I was working one of my high school jobs, at a store that was just like Super Wal Mart before there was such a thing as Super Wal-Marts. That’s how I used to describe the store to people who had never heard of it: “It’s just like Wal-Mart, but with groceries, too.” Funny how at the time, some people considered that an odd concept, and were bothered by the thought of being able to buy underwear and motor oil and potting soil at the same place they bought their groceries, and yet now, it’s commonplace.

Anyway, I was a checker, back in the olden days before scanners, when we had to actually punch the prices in on cash registers, and people paid for things by writing checks, and I would copy their employment information on the back of the check, and then dinosaurs carried the sacks of groceries to people’s wagons and buggies so they could go home with the ingredients necessary to churn their own butter and make their own clothes from gunny sacks. Sometimes when it was cold in the store, we’d grab sweaters or jackets from Ladies Wear and put them on while we were working, tucking the tags up in our sleeves. One Sunday, my co-workers (equally as grown up and mature as me, for sure) dared me to see if I could walk out of the store with the jacket still on, without anyone noticing. I didn’t need a new jacket --- I didn’t even particularly like the jacket I had on, sort of a gray-ish New-Member-ish thing with a stand up collar and a really unflattering fit. But I did it on a dare, then just got lazy and didn’t take it back, and then before I realized it, enough time had elapsed that by default, I had to admit that I had stolen it. As in, taken something without paying for it.** Technically, I’m pretty sure that’s the definition of “stealing”, to take something that belongs to someone else, or to help yourself to something you didn’t earn or weren’t invited to take.

So, to the cockroach who STOLE $4028.10 from me last month, you suck. Maybe you didn’t come in my house, literally, and take items that belong to me. Maybe you didn’t pawn my radio and cd player out of my car. Maybe you didn’t pilfer my savings account with forged checks, or steal my ATM card out of my purse and help yourself to the money in my checking account. But by getting ahold of my credit card, and going on a three-day shopping spree, to purchase things you didn’t earn, you were stealing. It's the same as the girl I used to work with in my 20's, who knew she was about to file bankruptcy, so she went out and charged up all her credit cards. How can you people DO this, and sleep with a clear conscience at night?

I’m still not quite sure how you did it, since the card never left my possession, and all your charges were clear across the country, during a three-day period. I have to assume it had something to do with the new credit cards that didn’t arrive when my credit card company said they would. So they canceled the account and sent new cards to my home. Somehow in the midst of all that, someone did quite a bit of retail therapy at my expense. Was it an inside job at Visa? A mailbox thief? A waiter who “lifted” my numbers from a lunch or dinner here and sold them? Who knows how? More importantly, who knows WHY?

I’m wondering if you justify it by telling yourself that credit card theft doesn’t hurt anyone. I mean, the items didn’t actually belong to anyone but a bunch of fat-cat retail store owners, so it’s not like you took things I actually owned --- for real --- in my own possession. You didn't have to look me in the eye and push me down on the street and take my purse, so to you, this might be a facless crime. But it IS a crime, and you *did* hurt me. You hurt all of us. Who do you think has to raise retail prices to cover the expense of theft? Don’t you imagine credit card companies have to raise interest rates, or lower cash back offers, to make up the difference? To pay the people they have working for them in their Fraud Investigation Departments? Ultimately, we all pay. The retailers, the wholesalers, the companies, and the consumers. And why? Because you’re so fucking arrogant you think you can just take whatever you want without earning it. Because I guess the bourgeois concept of working for what you want is beneath you. Saving your money, until you’ve got enough for the big purchases, I suppose that doesn’t apply to you. Only us "little people", those of us with ethics and morals who were taught to pay our own way and earn the things we want. You? Not so much. So you steal people’s credit cards, buy yourself what you want, and think you’re getting away with it. Who knows? Probably you will. And in the meantime, I’ve got to jump through the hoops of getting this cleared up with my credit card company. I’ve got to go a week with no convenient way of buying things for myself, while our current cards are destroyed and we’re waiting for new ones. I’ve got to contact all my creditors that I auto-pay every month on that card and switch over to the new card, when it arrives. Because you are a cockroach. A lazy, greedy, covetous, assuming cockroach.

So here’s what I think about you, and hope for you, and wish for you:

I hope your baby is doing well and feeling better, because I’m just certain that the $654.35 you spent at various grocery stores those three days was for diapers and formula and prescriptions for the poor little thing and his/her ear infections or diaper rash or whatever else might have been wrong. I could *almost* understand that, if you didn’t have money to feed your starving baby, or buy medicine, I could *almost* feel sorry for you. But damn, that would have been a lot of diapers, too, and no baby can go through six hundred dollars worth of diapers in three days, so I have to assume you were buying other crap as well. Probably equally important things like meat and beer and cigarettes and wine.

I hope you enjoy whatever electronic device it is you bought at Radio Shack for $87.11 although secretly, I hope it’s defective and the tiny electrical impulses leaking out of it give you a migraine.

I’m a little disappointed that you went out to eat three times and the most you spent at any restaurant was $50.82. You’d think if someone was treating themselves on someone else’s credit card, the least they could do would be to invite some friends along, maybe a dozen or so, and offer to treat for them, as well. So not only are you a thieving bastard, you’re a cheap thieving bastard.

I hope the $1,146.72 worth of clothing you bought at J. Crew and Banana Republic are bright orange, so you can continue to wear them after you go to prison for credit card theft, which is where you belong as far as I’m concerned.

I hope the $470.45 purse you bought from Coach comes in black and white stripes so it will possibly match your jail uniform.

I hope the $70 haircut you got from Hair Masters makes you look pretty for your prison photo. Or yikes, makes you look pretty for your “friendlier, bigger” inmates, if you know what I’m saying, and I think you do.

Most of all, even if the Fraud Investigation Department of my credit card company doesn’t ever find you, I hope you enjoy that $1500.00 big screen Sony TV you bought. I’m a little worried, though, that when you take it with you, when you ROT IN HELL, that the plastic encasement will bubble up and melt all over when you get there. Because did you know it’s really warm there? Too warm for TV, that’s for sure. But *just* the right temperature for immoral thieves.

{{No, I’m not annoyed, resentful, or vindictive, why do you ask?}}

And while I'd like to think I'm raising my own children to be better than this, something tells me I might be failing.

**For the record, I have no recollection of what ever happened to the jacket I stole as a teenager. But I have a very clear memory of going in to work for several weeks, showing up early and working without clocking in, and clocking out at my normal time but sticking around and working late, in an attempt to appease my conscience and “pay back” for the ugly jacket that I’m pretty sure I never wore again. It was wrong to take the jacket in the first place, especially on a stupid dare, but I know if I was to bump into my old boss, or the store owner, on the street today, I could hold my head up and look them in the eye, knowing I at least *tried* to make retribution.

Something tells me I won’t get the same from this cockroach thief.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

At least she's honest

Kendrie: "Mom, hurry! Come and see what I did!"

Kristie: "Hang on just one second, I’m putting on my makeup."

Kendrie: "You don’t need make up!"

Kristie, "Awwww, that’s so sweet. Because Mommy is so pretty already?"

Kendrie: "No, because I want you to hurry up."

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Why It Still Stinks. And How You Can Help. Even Just A Little.

I am always so happy when I see a comment from someone on this site, or on Kendrie’s Caringbridge site, about how the stories and photos of her, a pediatric cancer survivor; growing, thriving, blooming, and about how she is inspiring to others. I am more than happy and proud to hold her up as a picture of hope to other families who are still in the fray of cancer treatment, or perhaps to people who haven’t been affected personally, but who still care about the cause of pediatric cancer research and treatments. I am still working, albeit behind the scenes, and very slowly, on the book project that Julianna Banana’s dad and I mentioned last year, in the hopes I can continue to help newly-diagnosed families.

Our family was blessed that Kendrie was diagnosed in the period she was, a period where thanks to research and clinical drug trials, children receive better treatments, more successful treatments. Survival statistics for leukemia have improved dramatically in the last thirty or forty years, and for that we should all be thankful. But it’s still not enough.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Many people don’t know that. Many people also don’t know that funding for pediatric cancer research has been cut recently, and only one new chemotherapy drug has been approved for pediatric cancer treatment in the last twenty years. Think about where the AIDS crisis was twenty years ago and imagine if they hadn’t made the wonderful progress they’ve made. Think about breast cancer research and the fabulous strides they’ve made in the past twenty years. Pediatric cancer research is equally as important --- it’s just that these little victims aren’t able to make as much noise about it.

One of our friends from the Lighthouse Family Retreat died this week. A beautiful young girl named Summer Curry, from just an hour down the road. She and her twin brother Hunter, her marrow donor (that’s right, just because you have a transplant doesn’t mean you’re cured -- did you know that?) were both baptized in the ocean during our week at the Lighthouse this summer. It was a touching, emotional, poignant moment for all of us who were fortunate enough to be included, and my heart is breaking for this family today. Summer should have been gearing up for her first year of middle school, and making plans to attend the Jonas Brothers concert at the fair next month. Not this. Never this.

A boy named Mitchell from my hometown is in the hospital right now, with the same type of leukemia Kendrie has. He attends the school where my children will go when we move home; he plays baseball on the same team as my nephew. My sister and my nephew adore him and his family; he is funny, and smart, and athletic. They are kind, strong, amazing people. Their unshakable faith, at this time of crisis, is nothing short of inspirational and amazing. I talked to his mom once, at a 4th of July celebration, and we discussed having kids with cancer. The worries, the fears, the bittersweet victories. I doubt she remembers me, but she was lovely. I liked her a lot. Mitch will most likely not be coming home from the hospital. We talk a lot about miracles, but at this point, it will take a true miracle for an earthly healing for him. His family knows that, according to the website. Does that make it ok? Or easier to face what is happening to this child? No, of course not. Mitchell should be busy playing fall ball, and avoiding girl cooties, and dealing with the hazards of fourth-grade homework. Not this. Never this.

I don’t know what the answer is. What do we have to do, as a society, to ensure children no longer suffer and die from cancer? There are so many wonderful organizations out there, all doing good work, important work. Sometimes I feel impotent, like how can I help? I’m just one little person, what can I do to make a difference? I guess the important thing is if enough of us feel that way, and do something about it, things might change. Or perhaps *keep* changing is a better way of putting it --- keep improving. ALL pediatric cancers should have 100% success rates; that is the only acceptable statistic in my mind. And we shouldn’t have to lose the Summers and the Mitchells of the world to galvanize us into action.

If you’re willing, you can help. Chili’s has a promotion with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, as they have done for several years, and will be donating 100 percent of their profits on Monday, Sept 24th, to the hospital. I mean, you have to eat, right? So why not eat at Chili’s tomorrow and know you’ve done a small part to help fight the fight. If you don’t have a Chili’s near you, you can go online and create a pepper, then donate. Our family is unable to attend tomorrow night (I’m telling you, seriously, the soccer quagmire has begun) but Blaine and I will be going for lunch tomorrow. And I’ll make a pepper in memory of Summer, and in honor of Mitchell. And wish that I could do more --- try, always, to think of a way that I could do more.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Fan Obnoxiousness

Well, it has begun.

Hello, gravity??

Despite appearances to the contrary, her middle name is NOT Grace.

The hours and hours of practice, the driving to and from the fields, the night after night after night of English muffin pizzas for dinner because that’s all I have time to make. And the loads and loads of dirty, stinky, smelly, sweaty, shin-guard-socks in my laundry basket. And as you might have guessed, I love it. Its fun and we enjoy it and it makes me happy and it sure beats sitting at home watching Disney channel or worse yet, thanks to our "No-TV-on-school-nights" rule, reading them {roll-y eyes} educational material. Although seriously, one daughter came home from the Scholastic book fair this week with “Candy Apple” books and the boy came home with Pokemon books and the other daughter bought a Suite Life book, so really, how educational is ANY of that?

But I digress -- soccer.

Games started last week for Kendrie. They were beat so soundly in their first game that I turned to the parent of the he’s-gotta-be-a-native-Brazilian boy who single-handedly scored all ten of the opposite team’s goals, smiled cheerfully and said, “Wow, you really spanked us, didn’t you?” The shocked look on his face led me to believe he perhaps didn’t speak English very well and might have thought I just propositioned him with something naughty.

Kellen’s game last night was rained out (thanks for telling us that after all the parents on both teams schlepped themselves and their children to the field in our waterproof jackets and set up chairs and umbrellas …. THEN the officials decided to cancel? Would a decision beforehand and a few phone calls have killed you?)

Kendrie had her second game today. Once again, they lost, although if you ask any of the kids on the team they will tell you it was a tie. Delusion is the best medicine. It was definitely a much better game this week, compared to the rout we suffered last Saturday, and the teams were pretty evenly matched. And again, let me repeat, I’m not a competitive person and it truly doesn’t bother me if my kids lose a game. Or two or three or eight. What bothers me is when they lose to a team that’s not any better than they are, and part of the reason for the loss is a lazy referee. Or maybe he’s not even part of the reason, maybe *I'm* the one who's delusional, but it’s certainly no fun to lose AND have to watch that, at the same time.

He got hit with the ball three times, for goodness sake, because he didn’t move quick enough -- didn’t move AT ALL -- to get out of the way. He didn't help or try to correct any of their mistakes at all; this is an instructional league, after all, and some of the refs are fantastic about helping the kids understand what is happening and why. This one? Not so much. He didn’t call many fouls, and it wasn’t that the other team was blatantly fouling --- they weren’t malicious little kids, at all --- it just annoys me when kids are getting away with going out of bounds, or sloppy play, because the ref either can’t or won't see it. He was about three months BEYOND the cute-longish-hanging haircuts that teenage boys are wearing these days, so perhaps that shit flopping in his eyes meant he really COULDN’T see the ball, who knows? I just find it hard to believe that the ten dollars a game he’s earning is worth it, seeing as how he sure didn’t appear to be enjoying himself. At all. Not for one single second.

As I stood on either end of the field, taking photos of our players, I saw several fouls, particularly hand slaps on the ball by the other team, that he didn’t call. Just didn’t seem to care. Until finally on the third one, right in front of me, I yelled at the top of my lungs in an exasperated voice: “HANDBALL!!!” like I was an officially trained and sanctioned Soccer Association Important Person And By Golly Young Man, YOU WILL LISTEN TO ME AND CALLS THESE FOULS CORRECTLY!!!!

Immediately, immediately, I realized that from my position at the end of the field, I was NOT the anonymous crabby parent who is yelling, but instead had suddenly morphed into “That Obnoxious Mom Who Yells At The Ref Whenever Her Kid Is Losing”. I broke out with the dreaded “confrontation-rash” on my chest and wanted to curl up and become invisible. The ref looked at me with this hurt look on his face, and I remembered that “You moron, that kid is like 13 years old and you are a grown woman and YOU JUST YELLED AT HIM OVER A MISSED CALL IN AN EIGHT YEAR OLD SOCCER GAME!” Seriously, could I be any more embarrassed of myself?

But at least the soccer ball didn’t hit me in the head, so all told, except for the yelling, a successful day.

Until after the game, when I was passing out snacks to the kids on our team, and one of the boys, in an attempt to be funny (I think?) held his hand out to me and grunted. Not once, but twice. And I thought, “Oh, hell to the no if he thinks he can GRUNT at me and get a snack.” So I looked him right in the eye and said, “Little boys who grunt don’t get anything. Try again. With manners this time.” Only to realize his MOTHER was standing behind me the entire time I corrected her son. She then made him apologize for the grunting, which made me feel worse because honestly, who am *I* to correct her kid????

Geez, are there many more ways I can make friends and influence people today? I've yelled at a teenage referee and scolded a 2nd grader whose only sin was wanting his fair share of the cookies. I’m going out tonight with my girlfriends. There will be liquor involved. I’ll bet with enough, I can find LOTS more interesting and creative ways to insult and belittle people!! That's me, always the over-achiever!!

Stay tuned to find out.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Fifteen Minutes Forty-Two seconds of Fame

Oh my word, they made it. The Talent Show list came out, and shocker of all shockers, the Escoe kids are on it.

That means there is either a dearth of talent amongst their elementary school population, or there’s more to this pogo stick bit than I thought. The show is scheduled for Nov 2nd. That gives me almost five weeks to learn how to transfer video footage to this blog, because you KNOW you're gonna want to see this!


Thanks so much to all of you who responded to my previous nervous breakdown post with kindness and understanding. I didn’t realize I came across as so pathetic about enjoying the comments, but I guess I did. Hey, no complaints, I like hearing from you, so much thanks to those of you for coming out of lurkdom, and thanks also to those of you who comment regularly. Yep, when you comment, it helps me to remember there are actual, real, live Peoples from the Internet out there reading, and it’s NOT that my site counter is only going up because my mom keeps hitting refresh in order to see the Flickr photo stream of my kids change each time. (Mom, I’m telling you, stop that! It inflates my hits!) {kidding, it's not my mom, it's me}

Several of you hit the nail right on the head with what I was thinking and feeling regarding this blog. It is sort of selfish that I do it because *I* enjoy it, then even more selfishly, I want others to enjoy it with me, but then I feel an obligation to update, and then annoyance that it takes so much time, and then guilt when I don’t have the time and can’t update. And how can something I like to do so much, and that is so much fun, make me feel guilty? (Wow, do I sound like a Catholic teenager or what?)

Taking a small step back this week alone, has allowed me to get two scrapbook layouts done, finish a gift album, my laundry is caught up, and I have all but one of my errands finished for the week (Note time: 12:50pm on Friday; perhaps new world errand record.) I’m thinking my new, relaxed blogging attitude might actually wind up being an oxymoron type of thing, and suddenly I’ll be inundated with ideas and inspiration and start blogging MORE, as opposed to less, until it reaches the point I’m blogging too much about nothing and all of you out there are all, “Damn, girl, we don’t need to hear about every single detail in your boring life --- we don’t care if you bought a new Swiffer or got highlights in your hair or finally found a pair of jeans that don’t accentuate your muffin top!”

We’ll see what happens.

In the meantime, please keep Kellen and Kendrie in your thoughts at precisely 4:10 pm this afternoon. That is their “call” time for their elementary school Talent Show try-outs. Despite my trying to explain to them that jumping on a pogo stick is not technically considered a “talent”, that is what they’re doing. To the song “I Want Candy”. They’ve worked up a little routine, where they alternate hands and feet, and bounce around one another in circles, then bounce in BIGBIGBIG bounces, and then Kellen spins in circles, bouncing with no hands. At which point during the preview Blaine turned to me and said, “Well, can YOU do that? No? So who says it’s not a talent?”

Once again, he has a point.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Birthday Letters to Myself -- Part 5

The Final Installment --- Year 2007

Dear 41 yr old self: Yeah. Um, you didn’t do it, did you? You made all those grand, sweeping statements last year about priority and goals and not wasting time, and then what did you do? Wasted a whole damn lot of it. Right here on this computer. You had plans, my friend, plans. What happened??? You bought a scrapbook kit to make an album marking your 40th year --- it’s still sitting over there in the box, unopened, along with all your Europe vacation photos you never got around to scrapbooking. You bought a DVD burner to make copies of all your old home movies --- you’re not even half finished yet. Your treadmill is still covered with clothes you intend to ebay, but haven’t gotten around to yet. Did you walk on it a single time this year? No, I didn’t think so.

Most pathetically, how many times did your kids ask you to do something or look at something or watch something … only for you to turn around in your computer chair and say, “Give me one second” …. Only to look up and ten or twenty minutes had gone by? Yeah, that’s what I thought. You switched from Caringbridge to Blogger, only instead of saving time, I think you’re spending MORE time online. In between typing the updates, and proof-reading them, and good heavens, trying to simply THINK of something to type about sometimes, and downloading and resizing and uploading photos, and updating Flickr …. I’m not sure this Blogger thing is working out. I think for this, our 41st year, we need to re-establish some guidelines. The end.


And that is where my birthday letters to myself ended earlier this month. And I have to tell you, in all honesty, that the gift I gave myself last week was permission to shut down this site. Because as much as I enjoy it, DANG, can it ever be time consuming! The composing, the updating, the work with the photos. It’s fun, but I felt like there were so many other things I *could* be, *should* be, doing with my time.

The flip side is, I still have things I’d like to share with you all. You know, if you’ll have me. Some travel this fall, our upcoming move, personal stuff --- it’s really a lot of fun to write, and definitely worthwhile and rewarding when people actually respond. And it’s a great, convenient way for people all over the country, especially those who have been kind and gracious enough to follow us since Kendrie’s CB days, to keep up with us if they still want to. But I was starting to think, “Is it worth it? Am I enjoying it enough to justify continuing?”

Blaine, actually, is the one who swung the pendulum in favor of me pressing on. I was bemoaning the fact that since I started online a few years ago, my all-time favorite hobby, scrapbooking, has really taken a back seat; how I felt like I was failing to document my kids’ lives like I wanted. Blaine looked at me and said, “Isn’t that what you’re doing with your blog? Just in a different way?” and I realized he was right. So what if my little blog isn’t setting the world on fire? So what if I can’t think of something to write every single day? So what if I don’t get a hundred comments on every entry? (Although seriously, people, I see my site counter going up, so quit lurking and say hello every now and then.)

I blog because it’s (mostly) fun. Because I get (mostly) positive feedback. Because it provides me with an actual, physical copy of the activities and happenings of our lives, both good and bad. Because *I* enjoy it. And people enjoying it with me are an added bonus.

So my birthday gift to myself is now revised. Instead of gifting myself with permission to shut down this blog, I now gift myself with no more stressing if I can’t think of anything witty or wise to say. Gifting myself permission to skip a day or two here and there -- especially weekends -- if I want. Gifting myself permission to save time and type a one-liner every now and then --- not every post has to be ten thousand words or anything, even though they usually are, just because I'm so chatty and once I get started I can't seem to stop and then, ooh, I always think of something else I want to tell you and something else and I'm so guilty of abusing the run-on sentence and then ... wait, what was I saying? Oh, yeah, gifting myself to feel OK about moving “Update blog” farther down on the priority list each day. Allowing myself to do other things I also enjoy, and do them first if I want. In fact, do them first because I *should*.

I’ll admit -- I’m leaving my original gift (of shutting down the site) to myself in the cabinet. I’m not going to pull on the shiny bow and un-wrap it just yet. I’ll go a couple more months and see how this new, relaxed attitude works out. Maybe some of you will still be interested in what I have to say and be willing to stick around. Maybe I’ll come to a perfect happy medium with my other hobbies and not feel sucked into this computer all the time. Maybe I’ll decide I’m too OCD and make it a New Years Resolution to quit, instead of a birthday gift. But I’ll stick it out at least until the first of the year. So if you’re willing to join me for a while longer, well, thanks.

And at long last, almost two weeks after the actual birthday, the letters are finished.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Birthday Letters to Myself -- Part 4

"The Big Four-O"

Dear 40 yr old self: OK, self, you’re 40 now – statistically, your life is half over, half gone, fading into the sunset like the geriatric you are .... so let’s set some priorities for this last half. Everyone, EVERYONE, gets 24 hours in a day. People who complain (hello, mirror? And I'm sick of hearing it from you. I mean, from me. Whatever, shut up about it already) about “I’m too busy” or “I don’t have time” are simply spouting synonymous for “I’m not managing my time properly” or “Quite frankly, although I talk the talk, it’s just not a main concern." At least that's how I feel about it. So, first of all, quit spending so much time on the computer. Get outside and play more with your kids. One of these days they won’t WANT to be with you so you should enjoy it while you can. Instead of talking about exercising, get up and do it. Don’t chat about eating healthy with a box of Milk Duds in front of you. Rather than talking about scrapbooking, get up and do it. Instead of complaining about laundry, get up and ….. well, ok, you’re always going to complain about laundry. But my point is, I know you’re thinking about shutting down Kendrie’s Caringbridge page and moving to Blogger because you think you’ll spend less time on the computer. Your daily/weekly calendar is no longer determined by doctor’s appointments, chemo schedules, blood counts, and constant driving to and from Atlanta. Utilize this gift of time --- spend it wisely. Otherwise, this milestone year will go by and you’ll be left wondering, “What the heck did I DO, anyway???” Also, one last piece of advice: Remember at your 40th birthday party, when you finally, finally work up the amount of alcohol courage necessary to karaoke, that volume does not necessarily equal talent. And that if you serenade scream the entire drunken rendition of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” -- the long version -- to your best friend in Oklahoma, on a cell phone, there is the possibility it will be saved as a .wav file and endure, to your embarrassment, forever.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Birthday Letters to Myself -- Part 3

The Thirty-Something Years

Dear 31 year old self: Yes, I know your days and {sleepless} nights are filled with diaper changes and breast pumps and soiled baby clothes and strained peas and formula. You have bags under your eyes, your hair is in desperate need of a cut and color, and some days you never even make it out of your pajamas, let alone into the shower. But secretly? You will look at these two kids, and the mountain of laundry, and all the baby paraphernalia that has overtaken your living room, and think you are the luckiest girl on the planet. Guess what --- you’re right.

Dear 32 year old self: Congrats, you’re about to get pregnant again! For the first time ever, in your eight years of trying, on purpose! You have a beautiful one year old daughter, a handsome (if, albeit, a little chubby) baby boy, a great husband, and you’ve made some dear friends in Ohio. This will be one of the happiest years of your life. But do not, I repeat, do NOT spend an entire week painting and sponging and bordering your kids' bedrooms in your base house. Because as soon as you find out you are pregnant, you will be moved to a bigger house (yeah!) and have to un-do all that hard work decorating you just did, back to “basic housing white walls”. (boo!) Well, ok, technically, *Blaine* will have to un-do it because hey, you’re pregnant, and you can’t be around all those paint fumes, right? But he won’t be happy about it.

Dear 33 year old self: Holy cow, if possible, your life just got even better with the arrival of your third child. Your family is truly complete. You are blessed. Take a deep breath and look around you because really, it doesn’t get much better than this. But for God’s sake, woman, STEP AWAY FROM THE TATTOO PARLORS!!!!

Dear 35 yr old self: Good for you for listening to your instincts about being a surrogate. Look at that beautiful family over there you helped to create and feel happy about that. But, there is a dark wind blowing. Batten down the hatches and get ready.

Dear 36 yr old self: Your husband will be diagnosed with cancer this year. Pretty much, it will suck. For all of you, but mainly for him. But, those wonderful twins you will deliver will remind all of you that there is much more joy in life than hardship. Much, much, more. Try to remember that, because although you don’t see it coming, and will be completely blind-sided, things are about to get worse.

Dear 37 yr old self: You know what’s funny? For some bizarre reason, “37” has always been your favorite number. I have no idea why, it just has. And so you’ve always sort of thought, in the back of your head, that this would be a banner year for you. Instead, your 4-yr old daughter is about to be diagnosed with cancer. This will be the single, hardest thing you’ve ever gone through. Thank goodness for the Internet and online support groups and a little thing called Caringbridge, because the hours and hours you spend on the computer will make things easier, but it will still be the hardest year you’ve ever endured. This year, when you awake each morning, and the first, stomach-clenching thought that goes through your head is “Is my daughter going to die?”, allow yourself two minutes to give in to the fear. Let the anxiety wash over you, feel nauseous, terrified, pray, bargain, plead, cry if you need ---- but then suck it up. She needs you. She needs you to be strong for her, because she is only four years old and doesn’t understand what is happening. And, you better be up to the challenge or I will personally kick your sorry ass all the way to the curb.

Dear 38 yr old self: You made it. It’s not over yet, but you made it through the first horrible, dreadful year. I can see you starting to relax, and life is getting back to a new sort of normal. That’s good; keep it up. Also, you need to somehow acknowledge the unbelievable, amazing, wonderful, incredible shows (plural!) of support you have received from friends, family, and even complete strangers. Their prayers and meals and cards and kind thoughts and packages and good wishes and comments have certainly lifted you up more times than you can count and made this journey easier to bear. Remember to always, always appreciate that. The kindness and caring from strangers make it worth every hour you sit on that computer updating her Caringbridge site. Plus, hey, it’s good therapy. Maybe someday you’ll get your shit together and write a book about it.

Dear 39 yr old self: Your nightly prayers are longer than usual because you have so much thankfulness to give. After twenty-six long, hard months, your daughter will finish her chemotherapy treatment later this year. Although the worry won’t go away completely, you will be so proud of her and all she has accomplished. You are going to give birth to a sweet (although unusually big-headed) baby boy and will get to help make another wonderful couple parents for the first time. You are blessed, blessed, blessed. But don’t get too comfortable, because your husband’s cancer is about to come back and you need to load up for bear again. Also, during your visit home this summer, try to spend as much time as you can with your dad. I know it will be difficult because he will be on a respirator in the hospital, but it will be your last opportunity to tell him you love him, and when those are the last words you ever say to him, and him to you, it will be a gift you treasure always. And losing your Dad will remind you how family is the most important thing in the world and wow, you’re sure spending a lot of **your** precious family time on the computer.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Birthday Letters to Myself -- Part 2

"The Young Adult Years"

Dear 19-yr old self: Fine. You win. Happy? Now you’re saddled with a new car and an even bigger car payment, rent for your apartment, a full-time job, a part-time job, and you’re trying to go to college at night. Does the phrase “burning the candle at both ends” mean anything to you? By the way, that new guy you’re dating is a keeper. But cut him some slack for the dorky haircut, he said he’s going in the military. Also, there will be a very unfortunate St. Patrick’s Day episode this year. Put away the green food coloring NOW, or you will never be able to drink beer again. Not that it's a huge loss, but ugh. You don't want to have to re-live the Night of the Green Ugly every March for the rest of your life.

Dear 20-yr old self: Deep breaths. I know it’s scary, but he’s a wonderful person and will make the best husband ever. And I know you’re worried about moving away from home, but you’ll just have to trust me that except for a few dark years in Los Angeles, it will be an adventure and you’ll really, actually like it, plus, make some of the best friends of your life. Also, be kinder to your parents. They are having a rough go of it and it would be nice if you weren’t so self-absorbed.

Dear 21-yr old self: Although I know you think you have to work to help make ends meet, you need to understand that this is the first and only time your husband will be knowingly stationed somewhere for four years. There is a four year university in that town. You do the math. Go back to school. I don’t CARE that you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up --- just pick something and stick with it!

Dear 24-yr old self: Pat yourself on the back for getting up and going to the gym on a regular basis -- don’t stop! As “big” as you think you are, what you weigh now will one day be your “goal” weight. Keep working out! But lose the Sally Jesse Raphael glasses. And lose the naiveté that the first time you have sex without birth control you will get pregnant – you’re just setting yourself up for a lot of disappointment and heartache.

Dear 26 yr old self: Slacker. What is that, like *another* fifteen pounds you’ve put on in the last year? What happened to going to the gym? And no, two, two-year degrees do NOT equal a four-year degree. Good grief, what am I going to do with you?

Dear 27 yr old self: I know you’ve been trying for almost three years to have a baby, and you’re beginning to despair that it will never happen. I’m not going to ply you with platitudes about “just relax” or “all in God’s plan” because goodness knows you’ll hear that enough from others. What I would like to remind you is bitter + resentment = ugly.

Dear 28 year old self: Traveling to a foreign country and getting a tattoo from someone who doesn’t speak English is not really a good idea. I’m just saying.

Dear 29 year old self: You are scaring away your friends and family with your baby obsession. Take a deep breath and trust that there is a plan. Otherwise you will wind up alone, in a rocking chair, with nineteen cats, complaining to yourself, because no-one else can stand to be around you. And getting another tattoo to correct the first bad tattoo? Equally bad idea.

Dear 30 year old self: Later this year, God and an angel-on-earth named M. are going to place your daughter in your arms. The circumstances will not be ideal, and if you’re not careful, you will have such a chip on your shoulder that you will not cherish those first few months like you should. When you look at her beautiful, perfect face, focus on the “how amazings” instead of worrying about the “what ifs”. Also, much to your shock and surprise, you will get pregnant later this year. Although your OB won’t step up to the plate and tell you to your face, I will: Gaining sixty pounds is NOT the best thing you can do. You will never, ever, ever, EVER lose all of it again, so just don’t gain it in the first place, ok? Also, celebrating your 30th birthday with another tattoo? What the hell is wrong with you???

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Belated Birthday Letters to Myself

(Idea blatantly stolen from The Cheeky Lotus, Aug 8, 2007)

"The School Years Edition"

Dear Kindergarten Self: Just accept the nap and quit fighting it. Believe it or not, when you grow up, you would like nothing more than for some nice lady to give you milk, a cookie, and then a soft mat to sleep on for a few hours every afternoon.

Dear Second Grade Self: I realize you call it a “game”, but stop chasing the boys at recess. And especially, stop kicking them in the shins when you catch them. Because one of these days a boy named Brian Archer is going to turn around and kick you back and guess what? That shit hurts. So just stop it already. And remember, the retainer is your friend.

Dear Fifth Grade Self: You are going to take part in a spelling bee this year, and you are going to mess up the word “lace”. Not only will you be annoyed with yourself, and embarrassed, but this will be the starting point for a life-long fear of public speaking, which will put a rather large crimp in your karaoke fantasies. Learn how to spell lace. Get over your paranoid, resulting phobia of microphones.

Dear Seventh Grade Self: Dear Lord you are embarrassing. And extremely pathetic. Is there any boy within a hundred-mile radius that you do NOT have a crush on? Get a grip, and put your nose back in a book. Also, you’re single-handedly destroying the ozone with all the hairspray you’re using to maintain your perfect feathered hairdo.

Dear Eighth Grade Self: This is the year you start putting on weight, after that disastrous church camp experience when you came home certain you had been starved all week. Get a handle on it NOW otherwise you will fight this, and despise it, for the next forty years. Also, your parents paid a lot of money for that French horn; take better care of it.

Dear Ninth Grade Self: Stop chasing boys. Seriously, the way you act makes me cringe. Dork.

Dear Tenth Grade Self: Well, what do you know, you actually caught one. Appreciate him, because he is a good guy and will set the bar very, very high for every relationship that follows. But lose the poodle perm.

Dear Twelfth Grade Self: Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up. That full-time after-school job you JUST HAVE TO HAVE will cut into a lot of your senior activities. The minimum wage you are earning now will not be worth the sacrifice. Slow down. Enjoy it. All those obnoxious people who keep telling you this is the best time of your life? Well, they might not be **exactly** right, but they have a point. You are running as fast as you can toward adulthood and you will regret it later.

Dear College Freshman Self: Hello, weren’t you listening? You are going down in academic flames in school because you’re so busy driving back and forth to your job, and working full-time, because you need the money, to make your car payment, because you have to have a car, to get to and from work. This is what adults mean by “vicious circle” and if you don’t snap out of it, you’ll wind up quitting after your freshman year. And believe me, it will be one of the biggest regrets of your life. Your parents paid a lot of money for you to live in that dorm, so make some friends and enjoy it.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Lucky Charms

As you know, we’ve been gearing up for Blaine’s possible retirement from the military and our subsequent move back to OK. Although we didn’t have any of the teeny tiny specifics ironed out, like whether or not he would have a J.O.B., and whether or not we would have any M.O.N.E.Y., we were hopeful things would work out. We had a wonderful house basically fall into our laps last summer, and call it what you will … fate, destiny, providence, God (I prefer to call it God) but we trusted that the employment/retirement situation would pan out as well.

For the past few months, we had pretty much accepted that the kids and I were going to move without Blaine, and he would stay behind to get our Georgia house ready to sell, and to continue looking for a job as best he could. He loves the military and had hoped to stay active duty, but when the spring jobs list for Tinker AFB became available a few weeks ago, the only job opening they had listed was for a veterinarian. And while he had a cat when he was younger, and we actually have a dog now, and he and I dressed up like Holstein cows one year for Halloween, I don’t think any of that makes him qualified to take physical CARE of animals. So, we were resigned to just waiting, and hoping.

Blaine got a call on Thursday. The Air Force has given him a job. At Tinker. In a career field much, MUCH closer to his training than veterinary school. And he begins the end of this year.**

Which means, our family will leave Georgia together. We will move into our new house, together. Blaine will get to remain active duty, which will not only count towards his eventual retirement, but also means he and Kendrie will get to keep their health care with Tricare, which is beyond huge. And by working at the base for a few years now, he will hopefully have himself in a good position to find a civil service job when he *does* retire.

We are so blessed and lucky and fortunate, that I keep looking around for that leprechaun guy from the Lucky Charms box and expect him to be sitting right next to me, grinning. And while I try not to sit around in my “poor, poor me” pants too often, I have to say that after the last few years we have had, I am greatly enjoying things going our way for a change.

Yep, Lucky Charms. Milk for your cereal, anyone?

**Bearing in mind that this *is* the military we’re talking about, until they get the last box loaded on the moving truck (and occasionally even after that point) there is always the minuscule chance plans will change. But we’re about 99 percent sure this is going to happen, and 100 percent thrilled about it. OK, well, maybe 99 percent thrilled because a small part of us will really miss Georgia (especially part of Kendrie … a Nicholas-shaped part, to be specific).

Saturday, September 08, 2007

I’ll give you Two Dollars for that

Our Father, who art at the community yard sale, help me not to feel offended if someone says my crap isn’t worth the price I have on it. If they’re shopping at yard sales, chances are good they’re reselling it on ebay or at consignment stores and it’s nothing personal. Forgive me the grime I stirred up going through my old things in the garage, for thine is the kingdom of dust motes and sneezing. Give me the patience to remember some people simply love the thrill of bargaining, and it’s not necessarily because they are cheap bastards. So forgive me my trespasses for thinking they are. Lead me not into the temptation of my neighbor’s sale, but deliver me straight to the bank if I actually make any money. Thine is also the kingdom where the kids cooperate running their donut stand, the power if they do it without fighting over who gets to pour the juice, and the glory if they in fact make a profit at it.

Most of all, deliver me from the hell of the garage sale, forever and ever, or at least until this time next year.

Friday, September 07, 2007


Best gift I got for my birthday yesterday:

Tickets for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's 2007 Winter Concert Tour, woohoo baby! (even if those online ticket vendors do totally take forever and I am fairly confident that despite checking "best available" we actually are seated five rows behind the janitor's bathroom at the back of the arena, near the place where they store the rat traps, cleaning supplies, and hot dog buns.)

Worst gift I got for my birthday yesterday:

An invitation in the mail to join Weight Watchers. I'm going to hope that was part of a national promotion or something, and not a personal response to one of these Internet pictures of myself on this blog that a WW representative might have seen and thought, "Wow, that chubby girl could use our help!"

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Cheese or Pepperoni?

Today is my birthday. I decided to treat myself to an extra hours sleep this morning, but only fifteen minutes into it, Blaine woke me up, certain I was oversleeping and that by waking me, he was doing me a favor. Instead of being annoyed, however, I was grateful, because he interrupted a dream in which he had asked me for a divorce, and in order to support myself and the children, I had to get a job working at the local pizza parlor.

Um, that sucked.

And was “not quite” how I planned to start my birthday. I sure hope I don’t open my present from him later today and find annulment papers inside.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Faces of Eight

Apparently, none of the faces of eight believe in smiling with their teeth showing.

And if you want to see more beautiful faces, go here and watch this. Then spread the word and pass it on.

Worst Job Ever

All this talk about winning and losing reminds me of a story about Blaine, shortly after he graduated college. Like I’ve mentioned previously, he attended college through his university’s ROTC program so the Air Force would help pay some of his school expenses. Since he is one of those annoying people who has always known what he wanted to be when he grew up (an Air Force officer) the four year commitment to the military in exchange was no problem, but was just what he wanted.

The problem, actually, was that the military was “full” at the time of Blaine’s graduation. There are only “x” number of slots in the Air Force at any given time, and there weren’t enough empty 2nd Lt. slots to make way for all the new, incoming graduates. We had gotten married the week after he graduated, fully expecting we would get orders and take off for the wild blue yonder immediately. Instead, the Air Force was experiencing a glut, and put all the graduates, from all over the country, into a sort of hold status. People still had to go active duty and serve their commitments, of course, they just had to wait until the guys ahead of them either got promoted or discharged, so there would be room in the Air Force for them. (On a side note, a few years later they couldn’t get them in fast enough, and then a few years after that they had too MANY officers and held an involuntary RIF {Reduction in Force} meaning they kicked perfectly qualified people out. My goodness, you’d think running around in circles chasing tail like that would exhaust whoever it is that is supposed to plan for this sort of thing. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that a job in the military is for all time secure, because that is not always the case. Just ask a large number of our 1992 friends and acquaintances.)

Back to our story -- that wait time before Blaine could go active-duty wound up being eight months. He graduated in May, but wouldn’t begin training until the next February. So there we were, newly married, with bills for rent and utilities and car payments like every other newly married couple on the planet, but Blaine only had a part-time job, stocking groceries, which he had worked while he was in college. Living with his parents during school, and getting money from the Air Force, had kept his expenses manageable, but now that he was married and living with me, well, part-time minimum wage wasn’t going to cut it. I had bills to pay and shoes to buy, and Lord knows I didn’t make much more than minimum wage, either. This was that time in every married couple’s life where dinner consists of heating up a can of Dinty Moore beef stew --- partly because I couldn’t cook, and partly because that was all we could afford. Didn’t go through that phase yourself? Then be very, very grateful. Blaine can’t look at a can of Dinty Moore to this day without feeling nauseous. He needed a full time job, preferably one with benefits, and one that would free him from the reign of Dinty Moore.

But here was the kicker, for Blaine, and every other officer-on-hold. Yes, they were college graduates, and would have loved to work in their respective career fields. But, they all knew they would be leaving for the military in eight months. Blaine’s undergraduate degree was in aerospace engineering; what kind of engineering firm would hire him, train him, invest in him, and than happily bid him adieu eight months later?

So, long story short, he wound up working on an assembly line making beer can lids. The hours sucked (6 pm until 6 am) and he said it was the most mind-numbingly boring work he’d ever done, and that includes the stint as a bus boy at Del Rancho when he was thirteen. But, the pay was decent, and it was full time, so we were grateful. And in eight months, when it was time to leave, he and the beer company representatives parted on good terms because they were accustomed to a more transient work force.

Now, Blaine was certainly not alone in his situation of needing full-time employment for a temporary time. A few guys here and there continued to live with their parents after graduation, waiting …. A few were able to keep their college jobs and make ends meet. But lots of guys, especially guys who were married or living on their own, had to find "in the meantime" jobs to make enough money to support themselves during that time.

He finally went active, and once we got settled at our base and started socializing, inevitably, at every get together or function, the talk would turn to the wait after graduation, and what people did to support themselves. Because of course, the ROTC scholarship money dried up the day after graduation. And almost always, the conversation devolved into a “who had the worst job” competition.

Some guys had worked sales; some guys did manual labor; some guys worked retail. One guy we met had worked in a fish hatchery, but he actually liked it. Most, however, were convinced that whatever job they had was the worst job ever.

It always cracked me up to hear Blaine respond with, “No, I’m pretty sure *I* had the worst job ever.”

“Oh, yeah? What did you do? It can’t be worse than selling microwaves/mowing lawns/filing papers in my dad’s insurance agency/etc.”

And Blaine would say, with a totally straight face, “I worked on an assembly line. Standing on my feet in twelve-hour shifts. Overnight. In an un-air-conditioned warehouse. Making beer can lids.”

And yep, every time, everyone agreed, he was the winner of the worst job ever.

Then, the next May, the same thing happened to the next group of graduates. Eventually they also went active duty and many young, new officers arrived at our base. Once again, at parties and social functions, the “worst job” competition would flare up. And even against this new group, Blaine was still the winner.

Until the night we met our new neighbors Dave and his wife Amy, who went on to become very good friends of ours. Everyone was talking, yadda yadda, and Dave mentioned that while waiting after graduation, he had held “the worst job ever.”

Blaine went on to tell his tale, blah blah ….. “making beer can lids.”

Dave looked him in the eye, and said, “I was a ticket taker.”

And Blaine scoffed, “Ticker taker? How bad can that be?”

Dave paused,

And then replied: “In a porn theater.”

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a NEW WINNER!!!

Please come to the podium to collect your prize: a jumbo can of Dinty Moore Beef Stew.

Sunday, September 02, 2007


"Happy Birthday to you,

Happy Birthday to you,

Happy Birthday, dear Kendrie,

Happy Birthday, to you."

(pictures to follow; she's waaaaaay too sweaty and stinky from her new po-go stick for me to take any now)

Saturday, September 01, 2007

We are Obviously Clueless

Scene: Dinner at a restaurant

Kendrie: I need to go use the bathroom.

Kristie: You just went to the bathroom.

Kendrie: I know. I need to go again.

Kristie: Can’t you hold it?

Kendrie: No, I need to go now.

Blaine: Now? Right now? I just took you five minutes ago.

Kendrie: Dad. I have a platter problem!