Sunday, December 30, 2007

All In The Family

"So, kids, what did you do for your Christmas vacation?"

Jimmy: "I visited my grandma and grandpa!"

Susie: "I went to Disneyland!"

Johnny: "I went skiing in Colorado!"

Escoe Kids: "We were put to work like the free slave labor we really are!"

"Ugh, mom, this stuff is messy!"

"Hey, why are we working so hard and you're wandering around taking pictures?!"

"That's exactly what I want to know, too."

"Just don't look at her and maybe she'll go away."

"I'm telling you, keep your nose to the grindstone and we'll be finished with this room and released from this nightmare so we can go outside to play. You hear that Mom? PLAY, like kids are SUPPOSED to do on Christmas Break, not work our fingers to the bone painting?!?!??"

"Well, look at the bright side. By the time we're done, we'll have freakishly over-developed arm muscles just like our mother."

Friday, December 28, 2007

Picasso I’m Not

Power was restored last week. Can you guess what I’ve been doing??

Lesson #1: Primer is a necessary evil in life.

Lesson #2: You might think lesson #1 only applies to walls or large spaces, but in fact, it also applies to doors, trim, baseboards and cabinets.

Lesson #3: Especially in houses where the wood that makes up the doors, trim, baseboards and cabinets is a bazillion years old.

Lesson #4: Painting on wood that is a bazillion years old is the equivalent of painting on a sponge.

Lesson #5: Our rent house is approximately a bazillion years old.

Lesson #6: Those fancy paint rollers you bought won’t work too well on wooden doors with recessed panels or trim or baseboards or cabinets …. So make sure you buy a good brush, because you will paint it all by hand. ALL by hand.

Lesson #7: “Yes, ma’am,” said the Home Depot guy, “This is the best primer on the market today. One coat of paint over the primer should be all you need” equals BIG. FAT. LIE.

Lesson #8: One coat paint plus one coat primer plus one coat paint plus one more coat of paint because for pete’s sake I can still see the streaks equals a lot of fucking coats, all done by hand.

So, I hope today’s lessons have been helpful.


Kristie, the girl with the freakishly overdeveloped right deltoid muscle

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Letter, 2007

{Sorry, just a few days late with the annual Christmas letter. I'd blame the post office, but that wouldn't really work for the internet, and the truth of the matter is I've been too busy stuffing my face with pumpkin pie to post this.}

{That's a total lie. I don't even like pumpkin pie.}

{It was pecan.}


Cards courtesy of Erin Leigh Photos and LD Images.

Escoe Family, Circa. 2007

Well, as you probably know if you’ve received our Christmas letter year after year, I normally pride myself on having them in the mail relatively early. My goal this year was to mail them obnoxiously early, to make sure all of you had our new address so you could send us YOUR Christmas cards and letters and pictures, as well (not that that’s a hint or anything -- ahem.) But considering it’s already the 16th of Dec and I am just now sitting down to start the letter, chances are this year I will be one of those people who doesn’t mail their cards until New Years. Or at the rate I’m going with the unpacking, they might become July 4th letters. **

Yes, that’s right, in case you weren’t aware, we finally, after five and a half years in Georgia, PCS’d. We are now the perfect example of “full circle”, moving right back to our hometown … in fact, only four blocks from where we lived when we first got married, and from where the Air Force came and packed us up the very first time we left home, back in 1988. Guess in our case, there is something to be said for returning to your roots.

Blaine is still active duty, and started a new job at Tinker AFB last week. He does something …. With contracting …. {vague hand motions} … Or something. Not exactly sure, but he seems glad to be back on familiar territory, having worked in the same building fourteen years ago when we were last stationed here. He’s still on the road of reconstruction as far as his surgeries and procedures go, but so far he likes all his new doctors here. And as long as the cancer stays gone this time - FOR GOOD - then all is manageable.

I am thrilled to be back on my old stomping grounds, with my kids attending the same school I attended as a child. We’re back in my childhood church, and I see old classmates almost every day, as their children attend the same school. Depending on your outlook, it’s either very Norman Rockwell, or very lame and creepy. I *have* been surprised at how much I miss Georgia and our life and friends there. I didn’t realize it was possible to move “home” and then still feel “homesick” for the place you left behind.

The kids seem to be adjusting well and like their new school. We do hear from them on a regular basis about how much they miss Georgia …. But overall, the move has been a positive one. They LOVE being in the same school as their four cousins, being closer to my mom and Blaine’s dad, the Texas cousins, and they think it’s cool that we live close enough to walk to and from school (Although I’ll confess that I still drive them if it’s cold --- see? I’m lazy AND a wimp!)

Brayden gets first mention as the oldest -- she’s ten now and in the 5th grade. I am alternately shocked, proud, and tearful at the realization that she’ll begin middle school next year. Whatever happened to the sweet little angel who used to projectile vomit strained peas across the dining room? If I could stereo-type for a moment, she is our artsy-musical one, and loves all things crafts. She swings back and forth, with no predictability whatsoever, between being the sweetest, most helpful child on the planet and behaving like a complete over-the-top melodramatic. I would probably be online researching multiple personality disorder if my friends with older girls didn’t reassure me that this is normal “tween” behavior. So for now, we just enjoy the sweet moments and breathe deeply through the others.

Kellen is definitely the easy-going one who just rolls with the punches, Mr. Flexibility. He is nine, in 4th grade, and still considers recess and PE the best parts of his day. He played basketball and soccer this past year and recently said he wants to learn to play the piano, although he might change his mind when he finds out actual practice and lessons would be involved. This move has gone well for him; it probably helps he has a cousin he adores in the same grade, hence ready-made friends. He joined the chess club at school and transferred from one gifted program to the next --- both sound lofty until you realize his idea of a good time is running around the house in his underwear, telling fart jokes.

Kendrie, eight and in 2nd grade, well, she’s still my baby, although she reminds me every day that she would like us to have another baby so that for once, *she* could boss somebody else around! The move has been hardest on her, I think, because she had the tightest little group of school friends to leave behind. She also transferred into the new gifted program, and is excited to continue soccer in OK. In between that and school, she’ll hopefully settle in soon. She just hit the two-year “done with chemo” mark and every day we count our blessings. In her spare time, she sneaks chocolate chips out of the pantry and holds the world record for most amount of dirty clothes on a bedroom floor.

As a family, we got to do some neat things this year: Spring Break in the DC - Virginia - Pennsylvania area, visiting good friends and *trying* to expose the kids to a little bit of history. We got to spend a Lighthouse week at a Florida beach in June, always a highlight, and then Blaine and I went on our “Trip of a Lifetime”, a two-week cruise/visit to Alaska in July to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. (Thanks again for the babysitting, Mom!)

This fall was pretty much taken up with move preparation stuff, and shortly after we finished unpacking in OK, we had to put everything back up and drag out all the Christmas stuff. Needless to say, I’m almost eager for the holidays to be over so we can get in some semblance of a routine. Our only sad note this year was the loss earlier this month of our dog Lager, who graced us with his companionship for over fifteen years. So all told, and except for missing him, which we do, we had a pretty fulfilling, successful and blessed year.

I hope you and yours enjoyed the same.


Blaine, Kristie, Brayden, Kellen and Kendrie

**For the record, these letters were totally ready to go by the 17th. Then thanks to an ice storm we lost power in our house and I couldn’t print them. I realize that’s almost as lame of an excuse as “my dog ate my homework”, but it’s the truth, it’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

Please consider this letter my request for 2008. I realize I’m writing just a tad earlier than normal, but what I want for next year is a bit ambitious, and I think you and your hard-working elves might need the entire 364 days to come up with what I need. You see, I want something bigger than a doll or a football or even a pink pony. I want something bigger than a new camera or new computer or even a shiny new car. In fact, what I want is bigger even than the end of famine, the resurrection of the rain forest … bigger, even, than world peace.

I want v-chip technology so I can program my kids’ personalities next Christmas to NOT be total brats.

I want the ability to pre-determine the attitudes and behavior of my children on Christmas Day. Maybe even a few days before and a few days after … but if that’s too greedy, just Christmas Day would be enough.

I want children who stay in their bedrooms until 7am like I’ve asked them to. I want children who don’t argue over whose turn it is to play Santa and pass out the gifts. I want children who don’t argue over whose turn it is to go FIRST when I say we’ll take turns playing Santa.

I probably won’t change any part of the actual gift-exchanging-and-opening part of the morning. My kids, thankfully, are pretty gracious receivers, and have always been genuinely excited to share what they’ve picked out for others. So for about an hour yesterday morning, things were good. But Santa, it was all downhill from there.

I want children who can manage to make it five minutes past the gift-opening part of the morning without losing part of their new toys already. Children who listen to me when I say it’s not necessary to open up every single game and every single accessory first thing, before we’ve even had a chance to organize ourselves and throw away the trash. Children who don’t pitch a complete fit when they realize the plastic shark’s tooth from their “totally awesome shark activity book is missing, aaahhhhhhh!” because they didn’t listen to me and ripped the damn thing open even though I told them to wait.

Children who don’t fight over who gets to watch their new movie first. Children who are willing to pick up the new toys and games and actually carry them upstairs to their rooms. Children who are willing to hang up their new clothes, for Pete’s sake, is that asking too much???? Children who will FREAKING LISTEN TO ME when I tell them we don’t have all the things we need to run the stupid, stupid, “I will kill my sister for buying him this” Creepy Crawlers factory, and who open up all the bottles of dye even though I told them not to and then pour the dye into the molds without putting down newspapers first like I asked on my brand new dining room table because why on earth should you listen to mom and then spill the dye on my brand-freaking-new placemats and who then, then, THEN have the nerve to get mad at ME because I don’t have a 60-watt candelabra light bulb which you of course need to make the Creepy Crawler factory work and what does he suggest I do just PULL ONE OUT OF MY ASS??????

Children who don’t call each other “Idiot!” and then cry when they lose at Kerplunk. Children who don't get angry when they can't do their new Wii Dance Party Revolution perfectly the very first time so they stomp around and talk about what a stupid game it is and how it's probably defective, anyway. Children who don’t misplace their brand-new iPod the very first day and children who don’t get mad at one another when one of them leaves his new chess set sitting on the edge of the table and then yells at the kid who walks by and bumps it and knocks everything to the floor, scattering kings and queens and knights all over the place.

Most of all, dear Santa, I need v-chip technology so that next year, we go more than one day past Christmas without hearing those two most dreaded post-Christmas phrases ever known to man:

“I’m bored!”


“There’s nothing to DO!

And Santa, if you can’t manage the v-chip, please let me change my request to an adult-only Christmas next year on a beach, just me, Blaine, some palm trees, and big ole’ pitcher of amaretto.

Yours truly,

And I swear I’ve been good,


PS. I suppose the highlight to all this, Santa, is that we're not Jewish. Because Dear Lord, if I had to go through eight days of this Hell, I would cancel Christmas and Hannakuh and Valentines Day, too.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Where I Stand

After reading the Dad Gone Mad post about the Jamie Lynn Spears pregnancy announcement and the various ways in which Nickelodeon might or might not address it, and then in reading all the comments, from people who seem to feel strongly one way or the other, I’ve been considering my personal feelings on the subject. In one way, I agree with pretty much everyone, a little bit. And in another way, I don’t really agree with anyone completely. See? See why my photo is in the dictionary next to “wishy-washy”?

I don’t agree that she should be stoned, or made to wear a big PMS (pre-marital sex) embroidered upon her chest, or held up for public ridicule, or punished for the situation she finds herself in. She’s certainly not the only pregnant teen in America, that’s true. I also don’t agree that hey, let’s just roll with it, it’s nobody’s business anyway and who are the rest of us to judge her???

Here’s the gist of it, for me. And let me preface this now with an “it’s only my opinion, blah blah” kind of statement. FOR ME, the truth of the matter is, I hold Jamie Lynn Spears, and any public figure, to a higher standard of behavior. I think that with the reward of their chosen profession comes responsibility, and that they should conduct themselves accordingly. Maybe that’s wrong of me, maybe it’s not my place to do so … but I do. If she and the executives at Nickelodeon are going to stand on my front porch every week (metaphorically speaking, of course) and knock on the door and ask to gain access to my living room and my children, then for me, there are certain standards that need to be met, and a certain example that needs to be set.

No, I don’t use the tv as a babysitter, and no, the shows and movies my children watch are not their only moral compass. But short of moving to a remote ice house in Siberia with no electricity or cable or satellite or messenger polar bears, access to celebrity news, especially teen celebrity news, is not something from which I can shelter my children one hundred percent.

Like it or not, agree with it or not, teens (and more likely, pre-teens) think she’s fabulous, and therefore anything she does is fabulous. Yes, it’s easy for me as an adult to separate the actress from the character she plays, but that’s not as easy for the 8-9-10 yr old set. My kids understand that “Zoey” isn’t pregnant, but the girl who plays her is, and how is that possible when she’s not married and will the baby be on the show and will they make Chase the dad or will they just cancel the show and etc. Bottom line, I am not happy that JLS the actress, and Nickelodeon, her boss, asked for our endorsement and patronage and viewer-ship (is that even a word?) and then failed (again, only my opinion) to hold up their end of the bargain, which was to deliver an entertainment program showcasing young celebrities who aren’t the polar opposites of the characters they play. Don’t ask to come into my home each week as a wholesome teen celebrity, and then show up pregnant. Or in nude photos, like Vanessa Hudgens from High School Musical (lest you think Disney isn’t as plagued as Nick). It makes me feel cheated and tricked.

I feel the same way about other scenarios, as well. Take the Miss America (or Miss USA, or whatever) pageants, where previous winners have been stripped of the title when compromising pictures show up on the internet. Sure, I get that these girls have lives outside of the realm of pageantry. But if you are going to stand up and ask to be chosen as a representative of the young women of this country, then I think there is a standard to uphold. These women want to be identified as cream of the crop --- I don’t think cream of the crop behavior is too much to ask.

Same thing for athletes. Don’t ask me to buy tickets to your sporting events, or your merchandise, or to watch you play Monday Night Football or Major League Baseball from the comfort of my couch, and then admit later that you cheated by taking steroids. Don’t ask me to watch you cleat an opposing player in the head because you got angry on the field. Don’t hide a file in your back pocket and then deny it’s yours when the camera CAUGHT YOU tossing it away from you on the field. And for the love of all that is holy, don’t ask to be held up as a role model for sportsmanship and then confess to taking part in a completely UN-sportsmanlike activity like dog fighting.

To the people who say “Hey, Michael Vick didn’t ASK to be anyone’s role model. He just wants to play football, and then be left alone to live his personal life on his own” --- my reply is, “Oh yes he DID ask to be a role model, when he willingly signed that contract with the Atlanta Falcons and all that goes with it” -- the same way JLS signed on as a public figure with Nick.

The same way I think it’s disgusting that a man would run for the highest public office this country has to offer, and then get caught with his pants down in the Oval Office. I do hold the President of the United States to a higher standard of behavior then getting blow jobs from an intern underneath the Resolute Desk (I have no idea if there really is a Resolute Desk, but we saw National Treasure II this weekend and I just think it’s a cool idea.) To the people who might say that is a private issue, to be handled between him and his wife, and that what goes on behind closed doors is no one else’s business, I say I respectfully disagree, with regard to public figures such as this.

What goes on behind closed doors *is* private business, as long as it stays behind closed doors and effects no one else. But when Monica Lewinsky shows up with a semen stain on her dress, or Lindsay Lohan passes out drunk in public, or Britney Spears keeps flashing her nether-regions getting in and out of cars, or Jamie Lynn Spears announces a pregnancy, or porn tapes or nudie photos of young stars keep surfacing, it’s no longer private. And don’t ask for me to vote for you in the next election, or watch your tv shows, or buy tickets to your movies, or buy my kids any of the merchandising crap being shoved down their throats at every commercial, unless you are willing to maintain a respectable level of accountability. In other words, yes, if you put your life out there, people are going to be watching it.

Bottom line, when you rely on the public, and the public’s wallet, to keep you where you are professionally, which athletes and celebrities and politicians do, then I think you have an obligation to that public to behave in a manner that is not completely out of line with decent societal expectations.

And to the people who say we Americans are uptight and hypocritical and puritanical. Well, perhaps we are. But this is our country and that is your country and that’s just the way it is. I think the biggest way we are hypocrites is the way in which we decry these behaviors, then forgive them so quickly. Why are all these celebrities released from rehab and still making blockbuster movies? Why is corporate greed, and even crime, rewarded with book deals? The above-mentioned Oval Office skankbag has a pretty good shot at being our country’s first-ever First Husband, which makes my stomach churn, but that’s just me. And what makes me even more disgusted about the Michael Vick dog-fighting scandal is that I bet you anything if he were to be released from prison tomorrow, and given a position with a professional football team, there would be tons of people showing up to his first game with “We Heart You Michael” posters in the stands.

So, back to the JLS situation. Am I shocked that a 16 yr old would be sexually active and wind up pregnant? No, I’m not shocked. Just disappointed. Do I think they should cancel Zoey 101? Well, I hope they don’t, because too many other cast and crew are employed there as well. I would hate for all those people to lose their jobs due to a show cancellation. What I would like to see Nick do is either bring in a new actress to play Zoey, or even simply continue the show without her. And I would like to see Nick release JLS from her contract with them, but not as a punishment. Rather, as a show of support for the situation she is now in. Let her move back home to Louisiana and take this time to prepare herself for impending motherhood.

Do I think Nickelodeon should air a teen pregnancy special, like they’re supposedly considering? Well, I don’t really care because I wouldn’t let my kids watch it anyway. The message I keep trying to hammer home with Brayden is that this isn’t a typical teen pregnancy because JLS isn’t a typical teen. She already has the financial resources to handle an unplanned pregnancy and a baby. She has a private tutor and won’t have to face public high school as an unwed teen. She doesn’t have to worry about pregnancy compromising a minimum-wage paying job. She can afford the material needs of a newborn, and won’t have to worry about finishing school, or finding a sitter so she can make it to her part-time job after school. I don’t ever want my daughters to think just because a celebrity does something, that means it’s alright for them to do it, too.

I do imagine that’s it’s next to impossible to maneuver the minefield of adolescence in the public eye without making some sort of slip. Do I think it should be acceptable, even embraced, that JLS is pregnant at sixteen? No. Do I think she should have sipped away in the night for an abortion? Of course not. She’s too well-known for any kind of adoption scenario, I would think. And remember her older sister Britney? Before the train wreck that became *her* life, do you remember when she was cute and young and adorable and dating Justin Timberlake and she went public with the announcement that she was a virgin and hoped to stay that way? Do you remember how people mocked that, and rolled their eyes, and made fun of her?

If you stand up for abstinence, people think you’re either ridiculous, or lying. And heaven forbid you make a public statement and then change your mind. Don’t have sex. If you have sex, use birth control. If you use birth control and it fails in some way, you’re condemned for being pregnant. And for having sex in the first place. But don’t act like you’re not having sex because no-body will believe you anyway. And let’s not even open up the can of worms that is the male-female double standard.

Truly, being a teenager is hard, hard work. I can only imagine how infinitely more difficult it is to do it as a celebrity. But you know what? These people have asked for their celebrity status, and in doing so, must accept that our children look up to them. So I wish they would behave in a way that makes them worthy.

And like Forrest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Worthy Link

Go here. A worthy discussion (read the comments, as well) about a timely topic. Normally he makes me laugh, but today he is wise. :)

Friday, December 21, 2007

A little Christmas Cheer

Kellen was given an assignment in school this week involving Christmas stockings. His teacher gave each child a sheet of paper with a drawing of three Christmas stockings on it. Each student was to color their picture, drawing in whatever gifts they would like in the stockings, then create a story telling how the presents got in the stockings. Here is Kellen’s tale, in all its fictional glory:


Christmas Stockings

By: Kellen Escoe

The presents got in the Christmas stockings by a robber that stole Santa’s toys. You see, he was trying to steal them but he accidentally dropped them and they landed in the stockings. So it turned out that Christmas was saved after all. So the children woke up happy as a clam. Before they die.


The teacher gave him an A++ for creativity. So I’m not sure which is more likely in his future: Literary acclaim, or a need for therapy?? What do YOU think?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


In the past six days, the following events have occurred:

*I locked myself out of my house.

*The power went out in our rent house and despite the fact it is the ONLY house on the block with no power, and I have tons of painting to do, and have made numerous calls to the power company, it remains cold and lifeless. Sort of like the way my kids’ breakfast pancakes look each morning when it takes them twenty damn minutes to get out of bed despite my repeatedly yelling and threatening encouraging them lovingly to wake up and get moving already.

*The power went out in my personal residence. Also cold and lifeless, but at that point we bagged it and spent the night at my mother’s. Thank goodness we were only without power for about a day and a half.

*My washer went out.

*I started my period (you’re glad I shared that one with you, aren’t you?)

*My dog died.

Needless to say, I was starting to get just a wee bit discouraged about the way this past week was going. And perhaps I sought solace in a box of Russell Stover chocolates (yes, the entire box in one sitting, do you have a problem with that?) and then perhaps I was even more discouraged because even my fat pants no longer fit.

Then, I realized. Not that I had forgotten, by any means. I will never, ever, ever forget. But I remembered specifically what we were doing exactly two years ago this weekend --- celebrating the final days of my daughter’s twenty-six month battle with leukemia. Celebrating the final days of chemo, spinal taps, bone marrow biopsies, shots and pills and port accesses and surgeries and bald heads and nausea and steroids and toxic drugs and mood swings and fatigue.

Two years since she won.

She has not relapsed. Friends have.

She is still with us. Some friends are not.

In light of the incredible blessing the past two years have been, I think I can get over a few temporary modern inconveniences.

And in the even bigger, bigger picture --- if the sweet baby Jesus can be born in a barn and not complain about it, I should be able to hang out in my garage for two hours, on a futon, wrapped in blankets, waiting for the locksmith, without being such a whiner.

See what I mean? It’s all perspective. :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Words of Wisdom

If you'd like a little tip from me, just one little eensy piece of advice, my suggestion to you, the next time you lock yourself out of your house and then later the same morning find out you've lost power in your rental property due to an ice storm ..... my suggestion to you is NOT to make any sort of statement about "At least it's not our primary residence, thank goodness, what else could happen next?!"

Because the next thing you know, you will have lost all power at your primary residence and be packing a suitcase in order to stay at your mother's house, yes, the same house you just moved out of three weeks ago.**

I'm just saying.

**Blogging done from Kristie's mom's computer.

Monday, December 17, 2007

It’s not even Noon and I’m already a Big Fat Failure

I had big plans today. Big plans. As you know, we own a rental property here, just a few blocks from our house, which needs a bit of work before it’s available again. (Code for “before someone is willing to PAY US to live there.”) Inspired by such shows as “Flip this House” and “Pimp my Shack”, and inspired also by the state of our wallet, we’ve decided to do as much of the work as possible ourselves. And of course, since Blaine just started his new job and can’t hardly take off to play handyman, that means *I* am doing as much of the work as possible. And since we all know I can barely open a can of green beans without slicing off a finger, let alone install cabinetry or refinish hardwood floors, that basically means I’ve been calling lots and lots of service people on the phone. Whew! The work is exhausting!

But the few things I think I *am* capable of doing, I’m trying to do myself. Blaine and I ripped out the carpets last week by ourselves (achoo!) and I went to Home Depot (hereafter referred to as “That Man Place That Steals My Money”) on Friday and bought all the paint I need to repaint the entire interior of the house. Walls, trim, cabinets, you name it, I’m going to paint it.

I bought drop clothes (although dude, they’re refinishing the floors and putting in new carpet, does it really matter?) and paint brushes and trays and rollers. I even remembered towels so that I could kneel on the floor without hurting my dainty little kneecaps. I got up this morning and put on some old clothes, eager to strap on a tool belt and get to work. Because by golly, painting is something I can DO and I can’t wait to dig in to a little manual labor. Nothing puts you in touch with your own body like a hard work and aching muscles. Let’s go!!

I walked the kids to school, returned home, and discovered I had locked myself out of the house. So I sat in the garage, slowly turning into a Popsicle for two hours, waiting on the locksmith to show up. (note to self: perhaps consider hiding a key somewhere, you MORON.) Finally the locksmith came, worked for forty-two seconds, got me in my house, and requested his $55.00 service fee. Seriously, Blaine is in the wrong damn profession!

I got in the house, gathered my purse, got a death grip on my keys, and headed over to the yellow house to get to work painting. I might be delayed by two hours, but I still had time to make LOTS of progress!

Only to discover thanks to last week’s ice storm, there is no power in the house whatsoever. No lights, no heat. And as I was walking around the house, muttering under my frosty breath about where’s the damn power box, my cell phone rang. Last week when my new living room furniture was delivered, one of the legs on my chair was broken. The repair men were sitting in the driveway of my other house, wondering why I wasn’t there so they could fix the chair.

Oh, geez, I don’t know --- because nobody called me to tell me they were coming!? Only apparently they did call the home phone this morning, which I couldn’t answer because I was locked in the garage freezing my ass off.

It’s not even noon and I’ve accomplished NOTHING today.

Wonder how the afternoon will go? At the rate I’m going, I’ll either have a car wreck or burn my house down.

Wish me luck! (she said sarcastically)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sincere Thanks

I want to thank all of you from the bottom of my very raw heart for your kind notes, comments, e-mails, book recommendations, poems, and personal stories. Every single comment, short or long, was supportive and encouraging and compassionate. I realize I only “know” a small number of you personally, but I do want you to know that each of you helped make a sad period a little easier to bear, and I thank you for it. Sincerely and honestly.

The kids are doing …… ok. Not great, but as expected. They have run through the appropriate stages of grief:

1. Inconsolable
2. Denial
3. Anger
4. Questioning
5. Sadness
6. Acceptance, and
7. When are we getting a new dog?

They keep dipping back into numbers four and five quite often, especially at bedtime. It helped that we left yesterday for Texas, to have Blaine’s family Christmas get together, and that we also got to spend time with dear military friends who recently re-located to Texas. Even better was that our friends have a new-ish puppy, quite lively (understatement of the century) and the kids got to run and play and laugh with him, which I do think helped them find a little joy amidst their sadness. So Renee, thank you, the boys, and Bobo for hosting us last night. And thank Duke for being such a good sport.

Our first dog, a golden retriever named Fosters (why yes, we named our first dog Fosters and our second dog Lager. No, we’re not alcoholics, just white trash who name their dogs after beer) passed away when she was twelve. She and Lager had over eight years together, and were the best of friends. I don’t give two hoots about theology or proof or reason or Biblical application, but I believe in my heart that our pets go to Heaven just like we do, and I have no doubt the two of them are having the biggest game of chase ever run on clouds. Call it corny if you like, but the thought of their reunion has given me great comfort these past few days.

I’ll tell you the full story of how Lager came to be ours some other time, when talking about him no longer makes me cry. Suffice it to say I have no doubt that coming to live with our family extended his life by about fifteen years. Although he wasn’t technically a “rescue” dog, the knowledge that his life with us was better a hundred-fold than the life he had been living, also makes me feel happy and proud he was ours.

In the meantime, we grieve, and we wait until the time is right to get another dog. We will most likely get two -- one hunting dog for Blaine, and one pound dog as well. Having two worked well for us previously and I’d love to do that again. And yes, we’ve already informed the kids that the new dogs will be named Sam Adams and Miller.

White. Trash. (we are)

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Clyde "Lager" Escoe
(1991 - 2007)

Well, today pretty much sucked.

I don't think I need to elaborate.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sweet Niblets!

I took the girls to the public library last weekend, and was a little surprised when Kendrie brought me *this* book and asked if she could check it out.

Apparently she had shown it to Brayden, who informed her that the book was “inappropriate” and that I would most likely say no. And I’ll admit my first reaction was negative, until I noticed it said right on the front cover: A Series for the Christian Family. I mean, how bad could it be? It’s for the CHRISTIAN family (As opposed to today’s Pagan Families?? I don’t know, but it made me feel reassured.) Then, I noticed the “Ages 6 to 8” guide, also on the front, and felt sure that this book was probably appropriate in content.

Just to be on the safe side, though, I told Kendrie that *I* would check it out, and read it first, then if I thought it was ok to share, we could read it together.

See? See what a calm, mature, responsible parent I am?

And I took the book home and started reading.

Chapter One: Suzanne Has a Birthday. Talks about how families grow and change, and how families can be made via a child being born or adopted. Talks about how families get bigger, then get smaller when children move away, then possibly get bigger if grandparents come to live, but no matter what, they are special and love one another --- Why yes, obviously this book is very appropriate and I am totally comfortable with the message they are sharing.

Chapter Two: A Trip to the Museum. Suzanne takes a trip to a museum with her parents, and her friend Billy comes along, too. After marveling at the miracle of baby chicks being born, they take a quick side trip over to the Human Anatomy Exhibition, and discuss the Miracle of Human Birth, complete with descriptions of the female uterus, which starts out small but grows like a balloon to accommodate a growing pregnancy --- Well, *I* have no problems with that, but I wonder how Billy’s parents felt???

Chapter Three: Boys and Girls - Mothers and Fathers. Discusses role models and stereo-typing, and the fact that only girls can be mothers and only boys can be fathers --- A relatively short chapter, which is disappointing, since Billy’s little brother Freddy was just starting to grasp the situation and understand he couldn’t be a mother, but he *could* be a cook.

Chapter Four: The Sewing Room Visit. Suzanne visits her mother in her sewing room and finds out her mommy is going to have a baby. Suzanne is nervous about not being the baby herself anymore, but her mother reassures her that parents have enough love for everyone. They talk about how special babies are, and how exciting it is her mommy has a baby in her tummy. Then Suzanne, that little brat, can’t leave well enough alone, can she? She wants to know how the baby got *IN* her mommy’s tummy. And her mommy explains to her about how a man has a special part called sperm and a woman has a special part call an ovum. She then proceeds to tell Suzanne that when a man and a woman love one another and get married, they like to show their love for one another by doing special things for each other. And that their bodies were made to fit together a certain way that allows the sperm and ovum to join together in the woman’s body and make a baby. ---- I’m sorry, but whatever happened to the good ol’ stork??? Or even a cabbage patch?? And around our house, the special way that Blaine and I show our love for one another involves taking out the trash and cleaning hair that doesn’t belong to you out of the shower drain.

Chapter Five: Daddy is Home. Suzanne’s daddy comes home from work to find out that Suzanne knows about the baby. And once again, here come the questions. Now if Suzanne’s parents knew what was good for them, they’d plop her happy butt in front of the television and let her get her sex ed where every other kid in America gets it: Disney channel. But oh, no, they’ve got to be all up front and matter of fact about it, and start telling her about vaginas and vulvas and how the sperm passes out of the penis and comes from the scrotum, and wait, what on EARTH are those pictures of???? Ah, HELL NO, my 8 yr old isn’t ready for this. I don’t know if *I’m* ready for this!!! So at this point, I did what any other calm, mature, responsible parent would do:

“Hey, Kendrie, where’s that book you got about dolphins?!?!? Let’s read THAT!!!!”

The one where I confess I am one-part snob, and nine-parts dork.

Updated: Ha! Replenishing my "Panty" --- ha! Spell check sure didn't catch *that* one, did it??? Although that reminds me, I do need some new underwear .....

You know, the thing about moving is that not only is it a lot of work, but parts of it can be expensive. Curtains never seem to fit, bathroom rugs and accessories are always the wrong size and/or color, decorative and organizational needs can change from house to house. The kitchen island that was perfect in your last house is six inches too long for your new kitchen. Or you suddenly have an entryway that requires some kind of table or hutch or bench or something, for goodness’ sake. Luckily for me, I like to shop, so it works out ok.

I also like to grocery shop (WAY unlike Blaine, who would rather submit to a full body waxing than go to the store) which is good, because re-stocking the pantry and fridge and freezer is always a big project whenever we move. The movers will always pack up all our dry goods, but they won’t bring anything liquid like oils or sauces. Sometimes they pack them anyway, which is not a good idea, as we discovered thanks to a broken jar of Tabasco sauce this go-round. They won’t pack batteries, they won’t pack cleaning supplies, and they won’t pack (for obvious reasons) anything frozen or refrigerated. While we can pack the cleaning agents and bring them ourselves, it’s not like we can throw our meats and cheeses and chicken breasts and frozen vegetables and Stouffers lasagna and ketchup and milks and eggs in a laundry basket and drive them across country. Normally, we just give it away on one end and go shopping on the other end to replenish it all --- that’s what military families do. Or at least that’s how we’ve always handled it.

Like I mentioned earlier, I like to grocery shop. But I am a bona-fide, 100 percent, no doubt about it, grocery store snob. I want to shop in a grocery store that is big and bright and clean, with wide aisles, and plenty of selection. I want a deli and a bakery, and a pharmacy is nice, too. A food court offering DDP would warrant a big two-thumbs-up from me. I want it to be pretty (hence the reason Wal-Mart is ruled out.) I want there to be PLENTY of choices when it comes to food … plenty. Ninety-two varieties of sausage is a good example. Italian? Chorizo? Kielbasa? Knackwurst? Toulouse? Smoked? Cured? Hot? Extra Hot? Spicy? Mild? Pork? Beef? Turkey? You know what --- we don’t even EAT sausage. But by golly, if I go to the store to buy some, I want to see every shape and size and variety on the PLANET from which to choose. *THAT* is my idea of a good grocery store -- lots and lots and lots of choices.

Now, as you know, one of the perks to being in the military is getting to grocery shop in the base commissary. And while yes, the majority of items are somewhat cheaper, I’ve definitely had to compromise my grocery-store-snobbery over the years. I mean, these are defense installations, and the condition of the commissary (in buildings that are often many, many, many years old) is often indicative of the state of the defense budget.

I still appreciate getting to shop there, where boneless skinless chicken breasts are $1.89 a pound, instead of the five or six dollars a pound they are at the local store. But not all the savings are that good, and possibly some things are just as expensive as their civilian counterparts. Also, the commissaries normally aren’t large enough to humor my ridiculous consumerism wants. When space is at a premium, I *GET* that they can’t stock seventeen varieties of Pringles. But occasionally, they will be out of something I want. Out. I went to the commissary in Georgia once and they were out of sugar. Completely OUT. How is that even possible? And another time, they were out of the chicken breast, which resulted in me calling Blaine on my cell and shouting about "what a stupid, stupid, stupid commissary this was and how freakin’ ridiculous is that!?!?!?" (Why I thought he should be able to do something about it, from our house, ten miles away …. I have no idea. But sometimes you just need to call someone and vent.)

And, the hours stink at the Georgia commissary. Open at 9am, close at 7pm, and closed on Mondays. And closed on Tuesdays if Monday is a holiday. And it’s always packed, with tons of veeeeeerrrrrrry slow-moving veterans (who I am totally respectful of, because it won’t be long until that is ME, and it seriously brings a lump in my throat when some old guy has on a WWII baseball cap, and for a brief moment I don’t even mind that he’s got his cart parked right in the middle of the damn aisle while he browses denture cream.) But see? If the aisles were wider it wouldn’t even be an issue but they are not so IT IS. So really, shopping at the commissary has never been my ideal, but I’ve always done it because it seemed cost effective.

So this week, when it was time for me to make the traditional “Replenishing of the Panty” commissary shopping trip at the new base, I primed myself for a day of agony. We had nothing. And my list? Was long. We live half an hour from the base, so I knew I needed to make the trip worthwhile and not drive out there accidentally on a day the commissary was closed. I double-checked the calendar that it wasn’t Monday, got directions from Blaine, and took off, anticipating a grueling ordeal of squeezing through the aisles, getting stuck behind all the retirees, and not being able to get many of the things on my mile-long list. We have a spare fridge and a spare upright freezer in the garage. The freezer was completely empty --- as in, not one thing inside. The fridge had two Sprites in the door. THAT is how much grocery shopping I needed to do. So, deep breath, here we go.

When I pulled into the parking lot, I thought the building looked rather large, but we all know looks can be deceiving. And, the commissary is attached to the BX, so probably that was why it looked so big. I couldn’t find the cart corral, and thought, “Great, here we go …. They have so few carts they’re already all taken and I’ll have to stand in line and wait for one.” (Which, yes, that has happened to me quite often at the commissary.)

Then, I walked through the doors, and oh. My. Gosh.

This place is HUGE! Easily twice as big as my last commissary, if not more. It is only two years old, clean, well-lit, and plenty of space. Plenty of carts located inside, and EIGHTEEN check out lanes --- all of which were actually manned, which I discovered to my delight when I got ready to check out and didn’t have to wait in line. They are open seven days a week, from 7am until 8pm, although my bagger warned me not to come on Sundays if I can help it because that’s their busiest day.

I found (are you ready for this?) EVERY SINGLE THING on my grocery list. They have a deli, bakery, florist, international foods department, sushi department, and a sitting area with complimentary coffee for the folks who need to take a breather. How stinking cool is that???? (Note to self: must start drinking coffee.) Now granted, the store is set up completely backwards than my last commissary, so I was a little disoriented. In fact, I had to wander for a few items, and actually got quite a work-out, pushing those full carts up and down the long aisles. But the entire time, I was gazing with wonder at the wonderful wonderfulness of my new commissary.

I spent two and a half HOURS inside, shopping.

I spent $485.58.

I think it was the happiest commissary experience of my life.

I thought I couldn’t be any more satisfied, until I got home and put away my groceries.

My friend Jadine has asked for photos of our new house, so I’ll start here, with my pantry. My pantry, which is the biggest pantry I’ve ever had, full from my Replenishing Adventure. This pantry is bigger than Brayden’s bedroom in our old house. (OK, that is a slight exaggeration. But only slight.)

You know that sound Tim the Tool Man Taylor makes when he walks into a hardware store? That sort of grunting in satisfaction? That is the sound I now make (this is the nine-parts dork I confessed to earlier) whenever I open my pantry door.

Or perhaps a better description is the sound Wayne and Garth make whenever they are excited about something:


I mean, seriously, is it normal for a grown woman to derive such joy from a stupid pantry??? I think perhaps I have a defective gene or something, that I can feel such happiness from a well-stocked pantry. And please, no smarmy comments about how all my canned goods are arranged by section with all the labels facing forward. If you don't appreciate the beauty of my organizational skills, then I don't need to know about it. For now, let's just all take a deep satisfied breath and pretend to enjoy the beauty of the pantry.

But look at it, it's huge! Or at least huge as far as I'm concerned. Of course, I have no doubt I'll still manage to run out of something before the next shopping trip.

Scha-wing again!!!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Just Humor Me A Little Longer

Then I'll get off the Whiny-Baby-Express about how cold and icy and nasty it is here. My poor kids, who haven't seen snow in over six years, can't quite figure it out. They run outside to play, shrieking with glee about the snowball fights they want to have, and the igloos they want to build, and the sledding and tobogganing that must be done, only to discover the "snow" is nothing more than a solid sheet of ice, covering every surface visible to the eye. And probably a few even not visible to the eye. Just ice, ice, everywhere.

This is the view of our driveway. Considering our neighbor's tree is lying right across the power lines, I assume it's a miracle we still have electricity. My sister, needless to say, who lives out in the country, with a big ole propane fireplace, and a back up generator, is hosting an impromptu slumber party tonight with good friends of theirs who are without power, as are a good number of people in the city. My mother is without cable. For me, no cable service would also mean no phone and no computer. Hmmmmm, power -- or cable. Tough choice. If I could only have one or the other, which would I choose? Keeping my children warm on the one hand ...... not being able to connect with the Internet on the other. I don't know; that's a tough one. Can I get back to you on that?

The kids and I got out and took a drive. It might be too slickery to get to school, but by golly, we'll manage a little sightseeing jaunt and a trip to Sonic, won't we? (Yes, seriously. I wanted onion rings for lunch. So shoot me.) This was one of the many branches down in our neighborhood.

I don't know whose tree this is, I just thought it was pretty with the ice on the branches. The heck with auto accidents and power outages and fires and burst water pipes --- it's all about the photo opportunities, baby.

This is the mailbox at our rental property. The rental property that Blaine and I spent Friday morning ripping all the old carpet out of. And if climbing over frozen piles of icy carpet on the back porch to get inside the house, to make sure the kitchen and bathroom sinks are left dripping, to make sure the pipes don't freeze, isn't your idea of good-time mountain climbing, then I sure don't know what is. (Remind me again why we've moved back home to Oklahoma?)

And here, a sad little tree in the backyard of our rental house. It wasn't large and manly to begin with, but it's even more pathetic now. The two trees in the front are beat all to hell, also. One is a weeping willow, so I'm hopeful it will finish weeping and bounce back up in a few days when the ice melts. The other is going to need some major branch clean up, which clearly violates the "NO Manual Labor" clause of my marriage contract, so I'm not sure how Blaine is going to handle that one.

Until then, school has been cancelled again tomorrow. Which judging by how today went, means I'll have seventeen more loads of wet laundry to do, constant mopping of hardwood floors because heaven forbid I remember to buy a door mat at Target, a dog who will choose to poop behind the kitchen table rather than go outside on the frozen ice with his dainty little paws, and the very clear realization that whatever romantic notion I might ever have had about homeschooling, about the warm and fuzzy idea of keeping my children with me 24/7, holding them close to my bosoms at all times ---- yeah, **THAT** retarded idea will fly right out the window before 9am tomorrow. If I was guessing, that is.

Won't You Come Sit in My Garden?

Needless to say, school has been cancelled today.

The kids are thrilled and have been outside since 8am. Using a hammer to chop up the ice to put in cups to pour koolaid over and make thier own slushies.

Me? Not so much.

Because all I see in my future are wet boots and wet gloves and wet hats and wet coats and an extra load of laundry or two and then somebody losing an eye when an icicle falls off the roof.

Because I'm a scrooge like that.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Because they’re compassionate, like a pack of rabid, snarling wolverines

A boy (although shoot, I guess he’s a man now, although I hate to say that, because it makes me sound old, too) with whom I went to high school, runs a local ministry program that is part wilderness camp, part retreat facility, part youth outreach ministry group. Their camp facilities are on 40 acres, with a lake, about twenty minutes outside of town. This Christmas, they are hosting their first-ever “Christmas in the Barn” event, a combination live nativity and hayride, with lights, decorations, refreshments and storytelling. The entire evening is free of charge, and if you live locally, you should really consider going. I took the kids last night and I look forward to this becoming an annual holiday tradition for the Escoe family.

Now, although they certainly didn’t ask me to plug them on this site, I wanted to give you that little bit of background in order to tell you a story that shows off the empathy and kindness and caring of my children, my sensitive, compassionate children, because oh, they make me so proud. {wipes tear}

We were driving out to "Christmas in the Barn" last night, and like I said, it’s about ten or twelve miles outside of town. Out in the country. The very, very, very DARK country. Although the roads are paved and travel is certainly safe, there are no streetlights, or stoplights, or basically lights of any kind. Add to that the fact it was foggy here last night, and let’s just say it was two shades darker than pitch black outside.

As I was driving, I kept hitting my high-beams, hoping to cut through the fog a little better. Even though I know, even though I was TAUGHT in high school Drivers Ed, that you should never use your high-beams in the fog. Despite knowing that tried and true fact, I kept hitting the beams, thinking maybe *this time* I would be able to see a little better. The kids were looking out the windows, oohing and aahing over how dark it was, and commented on me hitting my brights every few seconds. So then I said, “Hey, you want to see something really cool? Watch this.” And I turned off my headlights completely.

They were simultaneously thrilled and freaked out a little because when I say it was pitch black, I mean, it was pitch black. So pitch black that I even got a little claustrophobic about driving like that, even for only a few seconds. So I hit the lights back on, telling them it wasn’t safe to drive without lights -- because you know me, everything is an educational opportunity! (she said sarcastically)

This is the conversation that followed:

Kendrie: “Why can’t you drive with your lights off? Are you more worried about driving off the side of the road or about hitting a bear?”

Kristie: “Um, I think hitting a raccoon would be more likely, but mainly I’m worried that if I can’t see anything, that means nobody can see me, either. Other cars wouldn’t be able to see us if I don’t have any lights on, so it’s just not safe.”

Kellen: “It’s not safe for people to be out in the road in the dark, either. Mrs. B (his previous teacher in Georgia) told us that on Halloween night, she was driving somewhere, and some trick or treater just ran out in the road right in front of her!”

Brayden: “No!”

Kellen: “Yes, and she said it was a good thing she was going slow, or she might have hit him with her car!”

Brayden: “That’s terrible!”

Kellen: “I know! Think of all the candy it would have wasted!!!”

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Countdown is On

Oh, sure, I know you think I mean the countdown to finishing your holiday shopping, or finding the perfect tree, or starting to bake cookies for your Christmas exchange, or getting your family photo taken, or writing your annual Christmas letter …. (note to self: MUST BEGIN letter this weekend!)

But no, I’m talking about the countdown to order your Must-Have-Holiday-Item, the Santa Plate. Christmas is in less than three weeks, which means Christmas Eve is in …. Well, um …. One day LESS than less than three weeks, and you should, must, NEED this plate by then!

Oh my heck, look how much my preshus little babies have changed in just twelve short months!!!

If you ordered a plate last year, give one this year as a gift to someone. A relative. A teacher. Give one to a neighbor or friend who doesn't read this blog and doesn't know about them (and then, hello, tell them about the blog!) Or, just reach in your pocket or wallet -- or shriveled up raisin of a heart (oh, wait, that’s just *me*) and make a donation via Paypal. Marey and her crew of volunteers and fellow donators are accomplishing great things with this fundraiser for three families who could really use a hand this holiday season. Families who not only have the burden of watching their children battle cancer this Christmas, but also enduring the financial stresses of their unique, extreme situations.

When Kendrie was treated for cancer, it really sucked. The worry, the fear, the upheaveal, the feeling of impotence and frustration to see her so sick and know the treatments that were making her so sick would hopefully, eventually, ultimately, save her life. But on a more practical level, we were treated only a few hours from home, and insurance paid basically everything. We were extremely fortunate, but not everyone has that. I know other families often incur enormous medical co-pays, prescription co-pays, travel expenses … some of these families have to set up entire second households, or split the family and have one parent move cross country with the child for treatment while the other parent stays behind to hold down the fort at home.

There are a LOT of wonderful organizations out there every holiday season. I try to put a dollar or two in every Salvation Army bucket I see. We bought a toy (a Rubiks cube, if you really want to know) and put it in the Toys for Tots donation box at Wal-Mart the other night. I’ll be purchasing close to $25.00 in candy canes at my kids’ school to help with the PTO fundraiser. We should always try to help our fellow man, but dude, if you can't do it any other time of the year, do it now, or the sweet Baby Jesus sleeping in a manger is going to be really P.O'd at you.

This fundraiser, for me, is personal. These families are facing the greatest challenge of their lives, and if making a donation means I might be able to help just a little, then it’s worth every penny I can afford to send. And if you’ve been kind enough to follow along on our journey, especially via my previous Caringbridge site, then it’s personal for you, too. I hope, if you have a few extra dollars, you’ll pay it forward like Marey suggests.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Tortured Travel

Quite a few years ago, before “writing a blog” or “keeping an online journal” were even a twinkle in my eye, I entered a creative writing contest I had discovered online. Not sure how I found it, and it cracks me up to think I had nothing better to do with my time -- obviously, this was before our children were very big and my hours each day began to be sucked away by the laundry gremlins and home work hassle and non-stop running to and from after school activities. But I was thrilled when they notified me that I would be “published”. PUBLISHED. Doesn’t that sound important? Which pretty much consisted of them cutting and pasting my story and putting it on their website.

Bit still, it made me happy. This story was actually difficult for me to write because there was a word limit and although it might come as shocking news to you, and perhaps none of you have noticed, but I have a tendency to ramble when I type, and just babble on and on and on, about nothing of importance, just blathering endlessly, and never stopping because my gosh, there is always so much to say, and abusing the comma, and creating the world’s longest run-on sentences.

Um, what were we talking about?

Oh, yeah, my story. Honestly, I had forgotten that I had written it, and found it the other day when I googled myself (and don’t even try and pretend you haven’t done the same with your own name.) Since it still makes me giggle to remember it, I thought I would share it with all of you.

The title? Is lame. But here you go:

“Tortured Travel”
by Kristie Escoe

Several years ago, my husband and I were newly married and fresh out of college (another way of saying dirt-poor and up to our eyeballs in student-loan debt). He had just begun his career as a junior officer in the USAF and we were stationed at our first assignment in Minot, North Dakota. Unable to bear the thought of our first Christmas away from home and family, and unable to afford airfare, we decided to drive home for the holidays.

In a hurry to get home and not wanting to spend money on a hotel, the plan was to drive the 24-hour trip in shifts and take turns sleeping. As luck would have it, the day we were to leave, an incredible snowstorm hit. We headed off in blizzard conditions in his Mazda B2000 (read: tiny) pickup truck with our 80 pound golden retriever in the cab with us. We were afraid the bed of the truck, even with a shell on it, would be too cold for the dog. After all, the wind chill was over 50 degrees below zero.

There was no place else to sleep, however, but the bed of the truck. Although it wasn't heated, and the window did NOT connect to the cab, we were confident we could successfully take turns sleeping back there; staying warm in my husband's cold-weather issue sleeping bag. It was the kind of heavy-duty, insulated sleeping bag the soldiers used in W.W.II -- the type that zips up completely over your head. The optimist in me (read: young and stupid) saw this all as a grand adventure. I climbed into the bed of the truck to take the first sleep shift. I gave my husband a thumbs-up through the window, zipped myself in, and fell asleep.

When I awoke later, not only was it pitch black inside that bag, and I had no idea how much time had elapsed, but the condensation from my breath inside the bag, working against the bitter cold air inside the back of the truck (or some other such scientific explanation) had caused the zipper of the sleeping bag to freeze stuck. I had no way of getting out of the bag, and no way of letting my husband know I was stuck in it since he couldn't see or hear me. The plan had been for me to knock on the window when I was done sleeping -- that obviously wasn't happening. It took quite a while for me to breathe enough warm air on the zipper to get it thawed out and worked down a few inches. Enough for me to stick one arm out of the bag and wave it around like a madwoman for the fifteen minutes it THEN took my husband to glance in his rear-view mirror and notice my arm flailing about.

The entire time, I was considering the irony of me, frozen inside a sleeping bag in the back of the truck with the luggage falling over on me, desperately needing to use the bathroom, and my DOG enjoying the comfortable warmth of the heated cab. You can bet from then on if we didn't have enough money for a hotel, we just didn't travel.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

First Day of School Photos

Several of you have asked for photos of the kids’ first day at their new school. Obviously, you know me and my camera obsession well. Happy, smiling children, laden down with new backpacks and school supplies, smiling their “We’re excited but a little nervous, too” smiles.

We were still staying with my mom at this point, and planned to drive to the new house, park, and then walk to school. Leaving at the precise-right moment, it was a foolproof plan, designed to ensure our arrival at the new school not too early and not too late.

Mother Nature had other things in mind.

I mean, what the heck is THIS???? Ice on my windshield? This wasn’t in the plans ….. I’m not even sure I own an ice scraper.

So obviously, we were running late before we even got started. And while it’s one thing to be the new kids, the ones with the parents walking you to class, especially parents who are a little bit flustered because their foolproof plan didn’t work out exactly as planned, causing you to panic that you’ll be late the first day, it is quite another thing to be the new kids, running late, with parents chasing after you with a camera.

So no pictures of the kids their first day.

But look at this.

Even my Elvis antenna ball is iced over. That’s just not right.

Monday, December 03, 2007

What’s in a Name?

When I first moved away from home, back in 1988, I was undeniably homesick. It’s not like I laid around the house, crying and feeling sorry for myself, but I went home to visit a lot and could hardly contain my excitement as the time for each visit got close. That was the phase of Blaine’s life known as “Thank goodness the military gives you 30 days leave a year, young man, because if you’re married to this chick, you’re going to spend every single one of them going to and from Oklahoma.” He and I would drive home** twice a year, summer and Christmas, and I would fly by myself usually once or twice more.

The first few times I flew home, I can remember the anticipation I felt as we prepared to land in the OKC airport. I was so achingly happy to see anything Oklahoma-related --- the sight of a Sooner sweatshirt, or Eskimo Joe’s t-shirt, would bring tears to my eyes, and I would find myself smiling fondly at any man in a cowboy hat and boots.

The very first time I went home, just a few hours after arriving, I can remember sitting in my mom and dad’s living room, feeling that all was right with the world. I was so happy and content, just being around my family again, in a familiar place, that I couldn’t imagine the entire world wasn’t just as pleased as I was that I was finally back home on Oklahoma soil where I belonged.

Then, the doorbell rang. I opened the door to discover a boy I had known from high school on the porch. I was SO touched that he had stopped by to welcome me home! I mean, he was a few years younger than me in school, and we’d never been close-close friends, but I thought it was awfully considerate of him to stop by and say hello my very first night home. It was like he was psychic, and knew how eager I was to re-connect and see people I knew.

And I said as much, “Steve, I can’t believe you stopped by my first night back; it’s so good to see you again!”

“Yeah, um, it’s good to see you, too” he said. And which point he paused, looked at me quizzically, and then asked, “Did you go somewhere?”

Turns out, he and my sister’s boyfriend were good friends and Steve was stopping by to see if he was there. He had no idea I’d even gotten married, let alone moved to California and been away for four months.

It was humbling, and definitely my first experience in learning that I was NOT as relevant to the rest of the world as I thought I was.

Fast forward a few years --- I was back home on vacation, and once again Steve stopped by. He and my sister were still friends, and although he remembered that I had moved away, I was still a little embarrassed by my egocentricity of our previous encounter. We were catching up on news, when he said to me, “Hey, did you hear? I’m getting married!”

I replied, “Congratulations, that’s great! What’s her name? Is it anybody I know?” (Because believe me, in a town this size, it usually is.)

“No,” he said, “she didn’t go to school with us. Her name is “x”

Ok, now. I won’t tell you her name because it would be a big ole’ invasion of her internet privacy. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with her first name. Just as there is absolutely nothing wrong with his last name. But you have to believe me, you just have to TRUST ME, that when you put the two names together, it is freaking hilarious.

Not hilarious like the Butz family naming their son Harry, or the Apple family naming their daughter Candy. More like a girl named Summer marrying into the Days family. Or a girl named Ilene marrying into the Over family. Or a girl named Iona marrying into the Carr family. Or a girl named Dee marrying into the Light family. But twenty thousand times more hilarious.

I can’t even give you a good enough example of how ironic this name is without telling you --- but trust me, it’s funny. So funny, in fact, that I knew Steve had made it up. There was no way it could be true. And I said as much.

Kristie: “OMG, that’s hysterical! How did you think that up?”

Steve: “Think what up?”

Kristie: “That name, how did you think that up? Ha, you crack me up!!!”

Steve: “No, really. That’s her name.”

Kristie: “Oh man, you are a hoot. I didn’t know you were so funny. Can you imagine if a person with your last name actually married a girl with that first name? It would be too hilarious for words!!!!!”

Steve, getting a little annoyed: “I’m telling you Kristie, I’m getting married and that is her name.”


Kristie: “Ummmmm, are you serious?”

Steve: “Yes, I’m serious.”

Kristie: “Because I sort of thought you made it up.”

Steve: “No, it’s true.”

Kristie, quite abashedly: “Oh, um ….. well congratulations, I’m sure she’s a lovely girl.”

And at that point I decided I never wanted to see Steve again because every time I did, I made a complete jackass out of myself. And I CERTAINLY never wanted to meet that wife of his, knowing he most likely TOLD HER what a jackass I was and how I made fun of her name.

So ….. {looking around nonchalantly, whistling} …… can you guess who Kellen’s teacher is this year?


**Reminds me of another story …..

**Answers to some of your recent comments, because I am too lazy to go back in and answer them individually:

Cathy, yes, same principal’s wife, isn’t that nice? And the only awkward moment came when my mom asked if she’d like a tour of the house and she gently reminded my mom she had already seen it ---- how funny is that?? And YES, Sonics abound here. I couldn’t be happier. Unless they provided free unlimited home delivery. THEN, I would be happier.

Grandma J, I can only hear the kids out on the playground if I’m outside. If I’m in my office {or what I think will be my office if I ever get all these boxes unpacked} which is located in the front of the house, just a few feet from the porch, I can’t hear them. So either this house is well-insulated, or the wind REALLY carries sound.

Dena, how stinking cute are Helio and Julianne? I was thrilled that they won. Although I must admit that Mel B. grew on me as the competition progressed and you can’t deny her natural talent. I wouldn’t have been unhappy if she had won. But I do think the third finalist should not have been third, and STILL think Sabrina Bryan got the shaft.

Rachel --- December 22nd, and you better believe I’m counting down the days!!!

To the givers-awayers of electric knives: I doubt this is the most conventional use for one, but I have a dessert recipe that calls for a layer of ice cream in a 9x13 pan. I buy the block of ice cream in a box, unwrap it, lay it on its side, and use the electric knife to cut slices, then arrange the slices in a pan. There’s probably a much easier way, but it’s always worked for me! (Well, if we’re being honest, pretty much anything containing ice cream works for me!)

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Quick! How do I look?!

You know that fantasy everyone has? Or at least, that all women have? About running into an ex-boyfriend at the grocery store? And in the fantasy, you’re looking all fabulous, having just come from the hairdressers, and coincidentally you are wearing your favorite jeans, the ones that make your rear look the smallest, and luckily you’ve just gotten over the stomach flu and lost ten pounds, and your make up is fresh, and you just happen to be laughing, tossing your golden mane at the exact moment the ex (bonus points if it’s an ex who dumped YOU, instead of the other way around) comes round the aisle and sees you in all your spontaneous glorious fabulousness …. You know that fantasy?

Not to be confused with the NIGHTMARE, the one that also involves a grocery store and an ex-boyfriend, but in this version you are wearing your rattiest sweat pants that do nothing to hide your saddle bags, and you still have on yesterday’s old eye makeup, and you’ve gained about a zillion pounds, and your hair is pulled up in a ponytail and pulled through a ratty baseball cap? Do you have that nightmare also?

And can you GUESS which one happened to me tonight?????

Well, technically, it was the nightmare-once-removed, because it wasn’t my ex-boyfriend, but my ex-boyfriend’s wife, who used to sit next to me in high school biology. (Remember, small towns rock!)

Brayden and I were at the grocery store, buying something to make for dinner because even my children are sick and tired of eating at McDonalds, and I figured now that I’ve unpacked the saucepans and the crockpot, it’s about time I started cooking real food again. I deserve a break today, my ass, I think my family deserves some fruit and vegetables.

So there I was, pushing a cart through Wal-Mart, wearing the afore-mentioned sweat pants and a huge baggy sweatshirt. I *did* at least shower today and put on make up, but my hair was totally pulled up in a scrunchie, and since I’d been unpacking boxes all day, pausing only long enough to go to my nephew’s basketball game, I am pretty confident the make-up had all but faded away. Let’s just say NOBODY was confusing me with Claudia Schiffer.

And as I was pushing along, bitching out loud about how this Wal-Mart is set up all different and wrong than the one in Georgia, and nothing is where it is supposed to be, and Pepperidge Farm Stuffing, for God’s sake, where is the Pepperidge Farm Stuffing?!?!?! she turned the corner and stepped right in front of me, facing the other way.

It’s been close to twenty years since I’ve seen either of them, and of course my first thought when I saw her was, “Holy crap, where is **he** and is it too late for me to run and hide behind that large display of cornstarch????”

Now, just to clarify, this isn’t THE boyfriend, the-THE boyfriend (we all have one, of course), the one that broke my heart and left me like a sack of garbage on the side of broken-heart highway. No, *that* one I’ve already bumped into and made my peace with. But this one was the “first” one, and he was a great guy. I have nothing but happy memories and fond recollections for that relationship, which lasted almost eighteen months, which everyone knows in “high school time” is practically forever. Naturally, at the ripe old age of 17, I was pretty devastated when he dumped me.

Damn, I got dumped a lot when I was younger, didn’t I?

Anyway, happy memories and fond recollections aside, I still didn’t want him to see me looking like that. So I whipped the scrunchie out of my hair, ran my finger over my teeth to make sure there was no lipstick there, and followed her for a few feet, waiting for him to make his appearance. About the time I realized she must have been there by herself, since he never materialized, she stopped to look at something on a shelf. I kept walking and got ready to pass her, wondering if I should stop and say hello.

I mean, if he’s not there, maybe I got lucky and squeaked by. I would hate for her to go home and say to him, “I ran into Kristie at Wal-Mart tonight --- boy, you dodged the bullet on that one! I wouldn’t have even recognized her! She’s got to be thirty pounds heavier than she was in school, with huge dark circles under her eyes, her roots are grown out at least two inches, and it appears she shops for her clothes at Bob’s Sporting Goods.”

Seriously, that is NOT how the fantasy goes at all!

As I pulled up alongside her in the aisle, I turned, thinking I would have no choice but to say hello (and to be honest, I always liked her in high school so saying a pleasant hello wouldn’t be the most difficult thing in the universe) and I took a good look at her --- and realized ---- I wasn’t so sure that was her after all. I mean, she looked sort of the same … basically …. pretty much …. but twenty years is a long time, and I wasn’t positive. If it *was* her, she’s definitely changed. At least some. But haven’t we all?

So I walked on past, without saying anything.

I figure now she’ll go home tonight and tell him that I’m old, fat, disheveled, wrinkled, ill-dressed AND RUDE!

Remind me again why small towns rock?