Thursday, July 31, 2008

It takes a long time to grow old friends

Or, Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Or, Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.

Or, Friends are relatives you make for yourself.

Or, A friend is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be.

In other words, can you guess what we did this week?



And why this might have been the best week of Kendrie's whole summer, right up until the moment we had to say good-bye last night, and she cried for two hours about why can't we still live in Georgia, and it's no fair, and how much she misses him, and all I have to say about that is thank goodness we're getting our new puppy this weekend so that MAYBE it will take her mind off her heart-ache .... ?!?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

You'll be sorry you asked

So, a few of you were gullible kind enough to ask me to post the photos that I've done for the photography class I'm currently taking. The BEGINNER'S photography class. I specifically mention the word BEGINNER so that if you look at these pictures and think they're total crap, you will be kind in your critique.

This week's assignment was to get a few "shots of the season" (meaning summer) and a few basic "composition" shots .... with our cameras set on ISO 400 and auto-everything else. Overall, I was disappointed in my pictures (most of which I will conveniently NOT share with the internet) and felt most of the outdoor portrait shots I took were under exposed. Or maybe I was just bitter because I offered to bribe pay Brayden to pose as a model and I still didn't get any great images.

Luckily for us, we had a new instructor this evening and found out he is taking over the duration of the class. He changed up our assignments a bit, and specifically gave some better suggestions for learning to use our cameras, so I'm hopeful the pictures I take over the next few weeks will get better and better. And then I'm going to sign up to take the next class in the series, and then the next. Then I'm hoping to take another Photoshop Elements class and learn a lot more about photo editing. And at that point, I will probably acknowledge that I am a crap photographer with a bunch of crap snapshots, who could have just gone to this guy's studio and paid to have my kids' portraits done for what I've spent on class fees and textbooks.

I'll let you know when I reach that point.

In the meantime, here are (some of) this week's photos:



He liked the composition of this photo and the way the rider (my friend's son, competing in that triathlon last weekend) is "riding into" the frame. I just thought the sunshine looked pretty.




He complimented the "radial" composition of this picture .... I just liked the look on Kendrie's face. Something tells me *his* criterion for a good shot, concerning elements like lighting and mood and composition, is much different than *MY* criterion, which is more along the lines of, "Oh, look, that picture makes me smile."




This is a photo of the pond near my sister's house. I thought it was a good example of "S" composition ... although I am really not sure that "S" composition is that important. What IS important is that I tried to cross a small arm of the creek and get to the other side to take pictures of my nephew fishing off the dock and I freaking FELL IN the water and it wasn't a little bit of dampness, either, it was a foot and a half of disgusting, slimy, sludge, all the way up to my knees, and I yelled "SHIT!" really loudly in front of my nephew, and my GOD the stench from that stagnant sludge was unbelievable and I had to throw my tennis shoes AWAY they were so disgusting but more importantly was the fact I managed to hang on to my camera and not drop it in the pond. SO! (Deep breath!) considering all I went through to get this photo there is no way I'm not including it, even if the teacher didn't compliment it at all.




I took this picture of the inside of an umbrella at the pool the other day. I was hot and lazy and sitting in a chair, and just looked up and liked the colors so I snapped the picture with little to no thought or effort. Naturally, the teacher said it was my best shot of the night.

Monday, July 28, 2008

May I Introduce ......



Barley middle-name-to-be-decided Escoe

******************************
UPDATED TO ADD:
>>>>Ryley asks:
p.s. Do dogs have to have a middle name??? My dog doesnt have one.. am I a bad mom?????????? >>>>>>>>

Ryley, no, you are not a bad mom! Barley will be an AKC registered dog, so we have to select her full name to put on the registration papers we send in. We can technically name her whatever we want, and call her something completely different, of course. Typically, however, the kennel name is used as the first name. Since we bought Barley from a family and not a breeder, we won't use a kennel name at all, but would still like her to have three names. Unless we absolultely can't think of one, then she'll be plain ole' Barley Escoe.

********************************


We spent almost an hour last night visiting and playing with Barley and her five brothers and sisters. It should come as no surprise to anyone that hands down, Barley is the sweetest, cutest, friendliest, smartest dog of the bunch. (And I'm sure the families that were there before us, and the families that were there after us, all feel the same way about their own puppies.) (But they are wrong and we are right.)

We will be bringing her home on Saturday. That means we have one week to buy all the necessary dog paraphernalia, think of a middle name, remember the proper way (or shoot, I don't care if it's proper, so long as it's successful) to house train a puppy, and try to constrain our children's emotions and excitement because "is it Saturday yet? Huh? Is it? Is it? How many days until Saturday? How many hours until Barley comes home? Can we bring her home early? Huh? Can we? Can we??? How many hours? How many days?" to infinity.

It also means I have only one week left to enjoy my dog-hair-free house, sitting on a dog-hair-free sofa.... enjoying my dog-poop-free backyard, and walking around town in clothes not completely covered in dog fuzz. One hour of playing with the pup last night and I looked like Sasquatch.

Thank goodness she's cute, or it wouldn't be worth it.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Have I mentioned lately how much I love these guys?

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my nephews? And how proud I am that they’re willing to try new things (well, except for tomatoes … nephew #2 has a *thing* about tomatoes) and expand their horizons and challenge themselves?

You might remember my oldest nephew competed in a local youth triathlon a few weeks ago, and his younger brother decided to join him in another one yesterday. I showed up in my token role as “photographer”, and thought I would give you a visual play-by-play of how the events unfolded.



Dalton: "Hey, look, those swim lessons paid off! I can totally stick my face in the water and breathe properly .... which is a good thing, because this 200 meter swim is a lot farther than it looks when you're standing on the side of the pool."



"OK, that actually went better than I thought. Lord knows if it had been Aunt Kristie the lifeguards would have had to throw her a floatie."



Landon: "Hmmm, Dalton said the swim was the hard part, but you know what? I totally rocked. Do you see me? Huh, do you see me? I even passed several guys who started before me ... I think these triathlons just might be my new thing."



"Yep, happy, happy, happy. I love this! Love triathlons! Love, love, LOVE them!"



"Well, sure, I had to borrow this bike for the 6-mile bike ride .... but I gained so much time in the swimming part of the race that I'm sure things will be fine."



"You know .... I am starting to not feel very good."



"Ummmmm ..... does anyone see anything wrong with this bike besides me?"



"Ok, hold the phone. This bike is borrowed, and broken. Could no-one have mentioned the gears are stripped, or the chain is busted, or whatever the heck is wrong with this bike???? I am pedaling about eight-thousand-MILLION rotations with my little legs pumping just as fast as they can go, and the pedals are SPINNING like crazy, but I'm not actually going anywhere!!! I have to ride HOW MANY MILES on this thing????"




Official race guy: "Dude. What on earth is wrong with that bike??? Are you aware that you've got four and five year olds passing you on the race course? A little girl with training wheels and a pink basket on her bike just passed you."



"Hey, man, I think maybe there was something wrong with Landon's bike ... I lapped him like three or four times on the course. I can't worry about that now, though, I've got to run. Run like a gazelle, run like the wind, run like ..... seriously, I am not feeling well."



"Dudes. I just yakked all over the race course." *



"For the love of Pete, could this BE a more miserable experience??? #*$&#(*&$ bike was #*$&#(*&$ BROKEN and now I am in absolute last place and I hate, hate, HATE triathlons!!!" **



"Seriously. Worst experience of my young life."



Landon: "That sucked."
Kellen: "Hey, at least you tried. I just sat here and watched and ate Skittles."


* Don't feel bad, Dalton. Kids were yakking all over the place. Must have something to do with swimming 200 meters, biking for six miles, and running a mile in 90 degree weather.

** I am KIDDING! My nephews don't talk like this!! I, however, DO. In all honesty, he was so upset afterwards about the difficulties with the bike ... just embarrassed and frustrated ... truly, it was like he was riding a little clown bike, and pedaling for all he was worth, six laps around, in front of the other kids, and parents, and race officials, and everyone was watching him with sympathy on their faces, wincing at the sight of him riding for all he was worth and going nowhere. It was just So. Sad. So I walked up to him afterwards and said, "Hey, buddy, I know your mom and dad don't cuss, but you know Aunt Kristie does. So let me just tell you .... you KICKED ASS in the swim and the run. You just had equipment problems with the bike and that's what messed you up. Don't feel bad about that, it wasn't your fault." Shockingly, even *that* motivational speech didn't do much to cheer him up.

But you know that "willingness to try new things" I mentioned as one of the things I love about my nephews? Well, by the end of the day, they had both not only decided to run the next triathlon as well, they had even convinced their cousin Kellen to join them.

Dear Lord in Heaven, the boy is going to need a swim lesson, or I'm afraid he'll sink like a stone.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Short List

Wow. Dudes. Who knew you people were so passionate about your beer? I don’t think I’ve gotten that many comments on a post … well ….. EVER. So, thank you so much for chiming in with your suggestions. Many were good, a few were goofy (Fat Boy!?) and a few are being taken under serious consideration.

It would probably be easier for me to tell you which names are definitely OUT of the running, and why.

If we were going by sheer popular vote, the winner, hands down, would be Stella. But …. No. It’s too Tennessee Williams, and I don’t want to be a caricature of Marlin Brando every time I stand outside and yell her name. Of course, we could name the pound puppy “Yo Adrianne!” and have a matching set, couldn’t we?

Other names ruled out for one reason or another:

Killian. LOVE this, but like several of you mentioned, it’s too similar to Kellen.

Honey. This was my mother’s dog’s name, may she rest in peace, sweet little weenier dog.

Pauli. Am I the only one who thinks of that stupid kids movie about a parrot?

Corona. Also a popular choice, but it’s a little too Mexican-Hat-Dance for me.

And although I like LOTS of these names, we know people with the same names, and they therefore feel odd: Sierra, Shandie, Riley, Kira, Abby, Quin, and Beck. So all of these possibilities are ruled out as well. And I'm amazed at how many people we know are named after beer! (Even if their parents totally say they are not.)

I can tell you Blaine is leaning strongly towards Amber. STRONGLY. I’m not crazy in love with it. No offense to anyone named Amber out there, but doesn’t it sound a little porn-star-stripper-ish? Brayden doesn’t like Amber because the villain in several girls’ shows (think Hannah Montana, and Hairspray) are named Amber. But if Blaine gets to choose, this is probably what it will be.

Personally, I like Molson, Barley, Brew, and Miller.

And I’m embarrassed to admit, I’m reconsidering our original choice of Sam Adams.

We get to visit her tomorrow night and I’m hopeful we’ll have a made a choice by then. Or maybe she’ll be like those poor babies that go home from the hospital with no name, just an ankle bracelet with “Baby Girl Escoe” printed on the side with Blaine and I protesting feebly that "we just need to see her, and learn her personality, and then her name will come to us!"

Regardless, thank you guys for all your suggestions, and I’ll let you know when the decision is made!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Need Advice ....

Ok, so, we bought a dog. A puppy actually, that will be coming home with us in two weeks' time. Two of the longest, most slow-moving, most dreadfully-drawn-out weeks in the history of mankind, according to my anxious, impatient, beleaguered children.

She is adorable and cute and licked me right in the face the first time I picked her up .....

Here's the deal ... we don't know what to name her.

You *know* we name our dogs after beer, right? We named our first dog, a beautiful female golden retriever we got in 1989, "Fosters", after Blaine's favorite beer. Then it only made sense to name our second dog, a male English Setter we got in 1992, "Lager". (Although we pronounced it "Lagger" ... which is still better than "Clyde", the name he had before we got him.)

So in continuing with our glorious and highbrow tradition of naming our dogs after beer (even though neither of us even DRINKS beer anymore) we had already selected the name of our next dog to be "Sam Adams" .... and the pound pup would be named "Miller". (Try not to be jealous of how much class we have.)

The puppy we just bought is a squeezable, precious, cute-as-a-button golden retriever who I think will be a great addition to our family. Blaine is excited to train her to hunt with him, the kids are ecstatic to play with her, and once I get past the mental images of housetraining, and dog hair all over my house, the chewed up furniture and shoes, and the overall and general freaking MESS they make .... well, once I get past that, I am excited as well.

But here's the problem --- she's a girl. And we're just not sure "Sam Adams" is the name for her. I want to call the dog the full name ... "Sam Adams", although I acknowledge it will probably get shortened to "Sam". Blaine says we could name her "Samantha Adams" and simply *call* her Sam, but I'm afraid it will get feminized to "Sammie", which I don't like. And I can't STAND the full-name Samantha. (Goes back to a girl I knew as a teenager named Samantha ... negative connotations and what-not.)

So then Blaine said, "Why not just name her Miller?" but again, I don't think it's particularly feminine. Not that "Fosters" was feminine, either .... so maybe I'm deliberating for nothing. And yeah, I know in the big picture nobody gives two hoots what we name our dog ... as long as we pick up it's poop on walks, everyone will be happy.

But still .... barring any health issues or complications, we'll have this dog for at least ten years, and I want the name to be right and good and perfect.

"Amaretto", my favorite drink, would be way too cumbersome .... I suggested "Cosmo", for "Cosmopolitan", but we both feel pretty strongly that we want to stick to beer.

I've googled beer lists (dear Lord, do I really have nothing better to do with my time???) and haven't seen anything I love. I can tell you right now we're not doing "Bud" (too obvious) or "Coors" (feels wonky to say firmly, as in "Coors, you drop that underwear right now!") We'd like it to be fairly identifiable ... no "Old Speckled Hen" or "Dogfish Head Snowblower Ale" or anything like that.

And for the love of Pete, don't suggest naming her "Heineken" and calling her "Heinie" .... we might be white trash, but our children wear shoes and we DO visit the dentist and I draw the line at calling my dog "Heinie".

So, any suggestions out there?

PS. You know, my life is pretty blessed. This time four years ago, my four-year old was fighting cancer. Today, my biggest problem is deciding what kind of beer to name my new dog after. So overall, I'd say life is good.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

10-year Class Reunion

Briana, you mentioned you had a reunion coming up and you might like a peek at the surveys we sent out (oh, so many years ago) for ours. We mailed the surveys to all the classmates we could find, bearing in mind that was 1994, before home computers and the internet made it a lot easier to find people. I literally resorted to stalking, and calling people in the phone book with the same last name, trying to track down old friends. I’m telling you, there should be a LAW that women don’t change their last names when they get married, just for the sanity of reunion planning committees!

Back to the survey -- we took all the replies and typed them up individually, then had everything bound together in a spiral book, along with copies of things like the program from graduation, the Jr./Sr., a class roster, our Senior Prophecy list, a whatever-happened-to list, etc. We had also completed a short “favorites” survey the week we graduated, so we asked a lot of those same questions again and compared answers. Some of the answers my classmates wrote down were touching, and introspective, and told me a lot about them as people …. and a few were so funny I practically wet myself reading them. Of course, I wouldn’t feel comfortable printing any of *their* answers, so you’re stuck reading mine. That book is one of my favorite mementos of the entire weekend. Of course, considering the other memento I got was hives and diarrhea from the sheer nervousness and apprehension of seeing my old boyfriend again, you can understand why.

Here are the questions with my answers, just for fun. I do feel compelled to point out that this survey was done almost fifteen years ago --- BEFORE I had a computer (gasp, shock, outrage!) and BEFORE I had children. So my idea of “busy” and “fun” and “fulfilled” was way different than it is now. Not wrong …. Just different. Hope you enjoy reading! Current day comments in italics, because Lord knows even *I* have to critique myself.

Name: Kristie (Maiden Name) Escoe
Address & Phone: Blah blah
Occupation: Medical Office Assistant
Spouse: Blaine Escoe
Spouse’s Occupation: Captain, USAF (Captain -- hee-hee! He was such a young whipper-snapper!)
Children: Fosters, age 5 (Golden Retriever); Lager, age 2 (English Setter) No, I wasn’t so shallow that I really thought of my dogs as my kids, but I was about year three into the fertility saga and couldn’t bear to leave this line blank.

Favorite Food: (1984) Shrimp (1994) Anything chocolate; anything but Mexican (Hmmm, anything chocolate. Shocker, some things never change.)

Favorite Song: (1984) For Crying Out Loud, You Know I Love You
(1994) For Crying Out Loud, You Know I Love You (Again, still the same today. Perhaps I should broaden my horizons a bit.)

Favorite Movie: (1984) The Champ (1994) The Princess Bride (I do feel compelled to mention that the very next weekend I saw Forrest Gump for the first time, which promptly knocked The Princess Bride to second place, where it remains to this day.)

Favorite Restaurant: (1994) KC Masterpiece BBQ, Kansas City, KS (Yum! Have any of you eaten there????)

Hobbies: (1984) Reading, listening to music (1994) Crafts, cross-stitching, reading, dancing, shopping! (Hello, Super Dorks of America calling .... how lame.)

Favorite Musical Artists: REO Speedwagon, Styx, Boston, Dead or Alive, Kon Kan, Pet Shop Boys, Erasure (Kon Kan? Seriously? What kind of bizarre synth-pop-dance phase was I going through, anyway???)

Hero: (1984) Adam Ant (1994) Steve Vaughan, world-champion frog dissector (nope, never going to let him live it down)

Proudest accomplishment since high school: Going back and finishing college …sort of (Oh my gosh, did I not have any goals??? That's the best I could do???)

Most interesting place I’ve been since high school: Underground nuclear missile bunker (Hey, it *was* pretty interesting.)

Most interesting thing I’ve done since high school: Snorkeling in the Caribbean (Geez. That’s just sad.)

On a Friday night, you could probably find me: Dancing at Angles (local gay dance club) or home with a rented movie

The thing about me that has changed the most since high school: Not much, isn’t that pathetic? (Yes. Yes it is, you loser.)

Places I’ve lived since high school: Oklahoma, California, North Dakota, Kansas

Favorite Phrase: (1984) Let’s jam! (WTF???)

Words I like to Live By: (1994) Advice is like a fine pocket watch – only take it out when someone asks you the time. (Hey, I still really believe that to be good advice.)

Three words that describe me: Optimistic, dependable, festive (Festive? What am I? My very own Mexican parade???)

I try to avoid: Confrontation, hypochondriacs, liars, racists, bigots, hurting people’s feelings, and stepping in wet things with socks on. (Still true.)

I think a lot about: My future, and where my husband and I will next be stationed. (Ha! No more! We are SETTLED, baby! Take THAT, Uncle Sam!)

My fantasy occupation: Lead tenor sax for Maynard Ferguson (Actually, this is still kind of true. Man, that guy could rock.)

If I knew I would not be caught, but I could make it happen, I would: Make all politicians and professional athletes give half their incomes to charity. (Um, not quite sure what kind of statement I was trying to make here …..)

My favorite high-school memories: 1) Band and Drill Team adventures, like the time I snagged Jimmy P’s trombone slide with my pom-pom and flung it into the football stands during a half-time performance, 2) Sonic (see??? Even back then!!), hanging out at the well-house, and doing things like “stickering” Louis’ car (another way of saying “getting drunk and being obnoxious without ever getting into serious trouble.) 3) Friends, guys, the places we went, the things we did, etc.

I will never again: Drink too much green beer on St. Patricks’ Day (Oh, dear God, I’m nauseous just thinking about it. Still true.)

I refuse to eat: Beets and Mexican food

I would give anything for a chance to meet: DB Sweeney …. Is he hot or what?? (Current, substitute “Kyle Chandler” for DB Sweeney)

If I won $1 million in the lottery, I would: Buy my husband his own hunting and fishing paradise and a private plane to get there, and while he’s gone, hire DB Sweeney to be my personal “boy toy”.

I set my VCR to record: Northern Exposure, Seinfield, and anything with DB Sweeney in it.

The one thing I like most about myself: My husband, even if he did get stuck in Alabama during this reunion.

The one thing I would most like to change about myself: My complete and utter lack of patience, and I want to change it NOW!!! (Hmmm. Some things never change.)

My pet peeve: When people sit behind me in the movie theater or on an airplane and kick the back of my seat. (Actually, this list is so long, I think the line-limit on a single Blogger post prohibits me from telling you all of them.)

My most prized possessions: My photo albums, scrapbooks, and family pictures

If I was told I only had 24 hours to live, I would: Quickly find another doctor

I am happiest when I’m: Eating chocolate-almond ice cream.

My biggest fear: Came true in the 1992 Presidential Election.

1984 Prophecy: Will be working in public relations for Adam Ant

Class Awards: Best Personality, Biggest Flirt, Most Talkative … (They drew a picture of me, facing a brick wall, with words coming out of my mouth ….. how rude!)

My Goal for the next ten years: (1984) Trying not to look almost 30

My Goal for the next ten years: (1994) To study a second language, take piano lessons, and decide what I want to be when I grow up! (Geez I’m a loser. I’ve done none of those things.)

Then we gave everyone the chance to write a personal summary about themselves since high school. Most people wrote a little about college, where they had lived, and if they had married, had kids, worked, etc. Honestly, I am a complete nosy-parker, so they were very interesting to me and I loved the chance to catch up with classmates this way.

Anyway, hopefully that might be helpful to some of you currently planning a reunion and looking for ideas. I just got a call tonight letting me know our reunion committee is having our first meeting to brainstorm for our reunion next summer ---- our 25th!

Holy cow, I’m old. Does anyone know how much Botox costs? Or lipo? Or transplanting my head onto Jessica Alba’s body???

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Ecstasy and the Agony

So, as I alluded to briefly, Blaine and I are in the initial stages of getting a new dog for our family. Actually, we're in the initial stages of getting our backyard fenced, which was criteria number one before getting a new pet. At least I *think* we're getting our backyard fenced. The fence guy showed up last week and put in a bunch of steel posts, then disappeared. I know the posts have to "set up" in the concrete, or some other such technical term, but it's been six days now and we've not seen hide nor hair of the fence guy since that first day. I'd almost worry we've been victimized by some sort of insidious fence scam, but guess what? We haven't paid them anything yet! So ha-ha, free steel fence posts for us if they never come back!

Ok, back to the topic at hand.

With the general belief that we would be getting a fence soon, Blaine started looking for dogs in the paper a few weeks ago. Remember, the plan originally was one hunting dog, and one pound pup. And with duck season only a few short months away, the hunting dog comes first. He found an local AKC litter of golden retrievers that sounded promising and called the dog's owner to set up an appointment for later this week to look at them.

Fast forward to this morning. The house phone rings and I hear Kendrie answer it. Then I hear her tentatively say, "Yes ... really???" Then she comes running to give me the phone, screaming at the top of her lungs ... "Mom! Mom!!! It's the dog lady --- IT'S THE DOG LADY! She says we get our new dog tomorrow morning --- WE'RE GETTING OUR NEW DOG FROM THE DOG LADY TOMORROW MORNING !!!!!!!!!!!!!" and then she pretty much falls on the floor and starts rolling around in her excitement, squealing and hyperventilating with happiness.

I take the phone from Kendrie ..... "Um, hello?", I ask, thinking perhaps she needs to change our time to meet the dog, or ... well ... something.

And I hear a lady on the other end of the phone, obviously bemused, obviously taken aback by Kendrie's pure-joy-hysterical-ness on the other end of the phone. "Yeah, I'm not the dog lady. I'm calling from the hospital, and need to confirm a pet scan for Blaine in the morning ...." and her voice sort of trails off, like she's not quite sure what *my* reaction might be.

Poor Kendrie. Some misunderstandings are more disappointing than others.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Touching Others

Yesterday evening Kellen spent the night with a friend, and Blaine and the girls and I enjoyed some quality family time being slugs on the sofa watching television together and simply hanging out. For some reason, I have no idea why, we watched an episode of "Deadliest Catch", which we never watch. Then we watched some home movies of when the kids were very, very young. Then before bed, Brayden asked me to go online and read a parental review of the new movie "Mama Mia" to see if I would be willing to skirt the PG-13 rule and take her to see it. Earlier in the day, my brother-in-law and nephew from Dallas were visiting, and we talked about the Harry Potter series. I realize none of those things have anything in common, but just hang with me for a minute and I'll get to my point.

Just as I was getting ready to go to bed, I was sent a link to an article running in today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper about a boy we know who has cancer. I say "boy", when really he is a man. It's just that he was a boy, albeit a teen boy, when we first met him and that's how I continue to think of him. (Sorry, Tyler, hope that doesn't offend your man-hood sensibilities!) :)

Kendrie's cancer gig was hard. The diagnosis hit hard, the treatment was hard, the fear and worry that lingers in the back of my mind, and will until the day I die, is hard. NONE of what we went through is as hard as the gig Tyler is facing now. The article is about his life and his family and their journey together, through good times and bad, and really gave me pause when I read it. I sat down and thought about Tyler and the impression he has made on me personally. I signed into his Caringbridge journal to let him know I was thinking of him, and went to bed.

Where I had awful, terrible dreams all night long. The kind where you wake up, sobbing, because you are so devastated by what is happening in your dream. I dreamed the mom of the friend Kellen was spending the night with called to tell me they had taken the boys fishing and Kellen had washed overboard and been eaten by a shark and drowned. And in my dream I kept saying, "You're kidding, right?" until she convinced me that no, my son was dead. And then I dreamed some weird Harry Potter-type dream, where Brayden and Kendrie were both only toddlers, and I had been challenged to a wizard duel by a wizard that was much stronger than me. I knew I was going to die, and I was saying goodbye to my daughters beforehand. They were just babies and didn't understand, so I was singing them ABBA songs, holding them as close to me as I could, hoping they would always remember me, and sobbing in my dream as my girls were taken away from me.

And in the calm daylight, I know, those dreams sound kind of silly. But they weren't. They were awful. The kind where you jerk awake, and you're so incredibly fucking grateful to realize it was just a dream and those things aren't really happening.

What's happening to Tyler isn't a dream. I know that all those random things I did last night came together in my dreams. I also know that reading Tyler's article last night is what made me get out of bed this morning and hug my kids first thing. He is still, through his life, touching others. I, for one, am grateful. I hope you'll read this article, then visit Tyler's Caringbridge Site and let him know it touched you, too.

******************************

Son draws on mom's inner strength for final days


By BILL SANDERS
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 07/20/08

Connie Copley rubs her son's leg while a preacher prays for God's peace to surround their home.

"Oww!" Tyler yelps, midprayer.

The preacher keeps praying, and Connie keeps rubbing, moving from Tyler's aching leg to his aching back.

"In Jesus' name, amen."

"You were killing my leg, Mom," Tyler says.

"Sorry," she says, kissing her boy on his forehead.

A registered nurse turned stay-at-home mom, Connie Copley has combined her two chosen professions into the most heartbreaking job: stay-at-home nurse.

Her patient is her 19-year-old son. He is dying from Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare form of juvenile cancer he has battled since he was 12.

And though Tyler has hospice nurses now, the job of primary caregiver can't be taken from Connie any more than can the job of being his mom. "We have a saying around here," Connie says. "There's Mama, then there's Not Mama. Everyone else is Not Mama."

For seven years, Connie and her husband, Todd, have supported their boy while coming to grips with what the future might hold. For the past seven weeks, they've lived with the future they feared: Tyler's time is short.

Through it all, Connie has been the calm in the storm, the one who isn't rattled when Tyler gasps for air or spits up blood. But who can blame a mother for refusing to accept the worst?

On this day, the Rev. Jim Higgins is in the Copleys' home in Acworth to help Connie take the next step in a journey no parent should have to make.

Tyler's dad is here, too. But it is Mom whom Tyler watches closely.

How she handles this moment will tell him something.

She doesn't want to let him down.


Ending the fight

When the shades are shut in Room 181 of the Aflac Cancer Center at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, it doesn't matter how sunny the skies are on the other side of the window. In here it's dark, jarringly dark.

Just 24 hours earlier, Connie thought her son was as strong as she'd seen him in months. Now she fears this is his last day.

Tyler's cancer, which typically attacks an adolescent's pelvis, shoulder or leg and then often spreads to other parts of the body, had metastasized into his lungs this spring. It was his third relapse, and everyone agreed it was time to stop fighting.

Doctors didn't know exactly how much time Tyler had left, but it wouldn't be measured in years.

Tyler didn't want to lie in bed feeling sorry for himself. That's not Tyler. A fast-talking jokester, he wanted to keep living life as long as he could.

Over the past several months, Tyler scratched a lot off his "bucket list." He graduated from high school, enrolled in college and started training for a triathlon. He got a matching tattoo with his dad and had his head shaved.

"His mother despises it because it is such a reminder of his cancer," barber Shannen Smith said of the shave. "We waited till after hours and I did it. Tyler is going to get his way till his last breath."

On June 18, Tyler starts coughing up blood from his lungs. The pain in his back and chest worsens. Tyler tells his parents to call 911.

He thinks of the living will he had signed. It says doctors should not insert a tube to help him breathe, but now his resolve not to be intubated is weakening.

"Find those papers," Tyler tells his mom. "Tell them they can intubate me if they need to drain my lungs."

In the emergency room, Connie tells the oncologist about Tyler's advance directive. She is having second thoughts; she doesn't know what to do.

"I won't make you make that decision," the doctor says. "I will. We won't intubate."

Connie is relieved. She knows this is how Tyler really wants it.

Tyler makes it through the night. But by 10 a.m. the next day, Connie is calling her husband back to the hospital. Tyler's breathing is labored. He can barely speak.

Until test results come back, doctors can't say how much internal bleeding Tyler has suffered. Bleeding into his lungs, the family learns, is one of the ways he might die. Finally, word comes that Tyler has experienced oxygen starvation, which is another way he might die.

Usually kids with Ewing's get progressively short of breath as the tumor invades more of the normal lung. The oxygen level in their blood drops. "They usually become more sleepy and less aware of what's going on around them — and we think they are less aware of what's happening to them," says Tyler's doctor, Bradley George. "It can be tough for parents and families — and their doctors — to watch as the kids are working hard to breathe."

Tyler receives a morphine and albuterol breathing treatment. And he does a 180.

Soon he is joking again, texting friends, frustrating doctors and nurses. "Can I trade you in for someone else?" he asks the head nurse.

He has a captive audience and re-tells a story of receiving a phone call from President Bush a few weeks ago. Then he describes a practical joke war he's had with his brother, Kirk. Laughter fills what was, only hours earlier, the most somber of rooms.

But the joy is tempered with this: Connie Copley listens as hospice nurses tell her son they will be at his house before nightfall.


'I'm falling apart' inside

On the outside, Connie looks calm, confident. "On the inside," she says, "I'm falling apart."

The worst moment didn't come seven years ago, when the family learned of Tyler's cancer. The worst came when the cancer returned four years ago. Connie knew only about 5 percent of Ewing's kids survive a relapse.

"It was 100 times worse, getting that call," Connie says. "There were times when I couldn't drive because every time I was alone in the car, I was crying."

A year ago, she had to make peace with another reality: Tyler turned 18, and Connie and Todd could no longer force him to endure treatments he didn't want.

Nine months ago, he chose to have his left leg amputated in a desperate attempt to rid his body of the cancer.

Acceptance has not come easy.

"I've never been totally accepting," Connie says. "We went to the lake with some friends and there was a nice church service with all the boats one Sunday morning. Someone sang 'It is Well With My Soul.' I fell apart. It is not all well with my soul. I'm not ready for this. I know I am not there and may never be.

"But six months into his first treatment, I remember thinking there's only so much you can do. It is not my will, it's not what I want, but it is for a purpose. I gave that up a long time ago, having control."

Connie takes things one day at a time. That means she can go all out today, then wake up to face another today. And, if she's lucky, another.


Monday's routine

The Monday evening routine at the Copley house was always rushed, even in the best of times. No one would mistake these for the best of times. It has been only four days since Tyler's emergency room scare.

Todd Copley has just gotten home from Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, where he's a navigator. Connie has just dropped off Tyler, whom she'd driven around on a handful of errands, and now must leave to pick up daughter Sarah, 12, at a friend's home.

Middle child Kirk, 15, is lying on the couch watching TV. Tyler heads to his room and plops down on his bed.

The next 30 minutes are harried. "Dad, I need ... the oxygen mask ... now," Tyler says in a loud whisper.

Connie pulls into the basement garage with Sarah, who has 12 minutes to change into her dance leotards, eat dinner, put her hair up and be out of the house for her lessons.

"Tyler! Tyler!" Connie says, walking into his room. She's concerned and compassionate, but not panicked. "Does it just hurt, Tyler? Do you need to cough?"

Tyler grunts and starts coughing into a bedpan.

"Todd, get the mashed potatoes, put 'em in the Tupperware," Connie calls from Tyler's bedside. "Sarah's got to go."

Todd needs to take Kirk to Boy Scouts.

"Mondays," Todd says, exasperated.


No time to freak out

Nothing is effortless for Connie, and that includes refraining from breaking down in front of others. If there is one trait that comes naturally to Connie, it is her calm.

"Oh, my kids hated it that I wasn't the mom who freaked out every time they got a little cut or bump or bruise," Connie says, sitting at the end of a physical therapy table one afternoon, rubbing Tyler's remaining foot.

She throws a glance at Tyler. "You'd freak out if I freaked out. So I've got to stay calm. It's good that I'm not the freaking-out mom, right? That's good Tyler, right?"

"Right."

"It just feels really good to have your foot rubbed," Connie says, explaining the medical benefits of what she is doing while they await Tyler's therapist.

"Rub my thigh," Tyler says, pulling the oxygen mask from his face to make the request.

"Get me another pillow, please," Tyler says.

Connie obliges each request without hesitation. Knowing she has done everything she can for Tyler will help her in the future.

"Maybe because I was a nurse, I know too much," she says.

So sometimes, she protects her husband.

"I see some things, like Tyler's motor skills not being as good as they were, and I know that's not good. But Todd doesn't need to hear about that."

What she wants in return is for Todd to not talk about the future too much — especially about things like where Tyler will be buried.

"I'm sure Tyler has an opinion on that," she says. "He'll bring it up when he's ready. I'm not ready."

Connie and Todd were married 21 years ago, and with Todd in the Air Force they've lived in Arizona, California, Germany, Arkansas and now Georgia.

In Arizona, Connie worked at a hospital in orthopedic neurology. Later, she took a job as a nurse in an eye surgery center. When they moved to Germany, she stayed home and has not worked out of the house since.

"Will you grill me a Vidalia onion when we get home?" Tyler asks, feeling a little better, still waiting on his physical therapist.

"Yes."

"Please remember, Mom, OK?"

"I will."

"Just remember. Because I might forget."

"I will, Tyler."


Another step

It is mid-July. Time for Connie to take another step.

Higgins, the family's pastor from McEachern United Methodist Church, helps her, Todd and Tyler plan a funeral.

Tyler had brought it up, just as Connie knew he would.

Higgins starts: "This is about you," he tells Tyler, "but it's for them."

Tyler likes the sound of that.

"Tell us the things that are important to you now, and we'll try to do everything we can," Connie says to her son.

Tyler wants music that is "different, like me." He wants a tree planted with a memorial stone under it. And what if he wants to be buried in his home state of Ohio? Can he do that and have a service here?

"We can do a graveside service there," his mother tells him.

Connie can hardly believe she is planning her son's funeral without falling apart. She has an overwhelming sense of being held up by God.

Connie's faith has been challenged and has grown because of Tyler. She doesn't pretend to understand the whys; she doesn't even want to.

But she believes in the goodness of God and that one day, she'll see her son again.

At this moment, she wants Tyler to finally have some sense of control.

"You think about it all," she tells Tyler. "We'll talk about it, and I'll write it all down."

Then she starts to rub her son's back, knowing how important this meeting has been — for everyone.

Friday, July 18, 2008

You ask, I answer. Or bullshit my way through if I don't know. Which happens a lot.

Yep, it's that time once again ... when I accept that I am a total loser who will never respond individually to the comments, so I throw my answers all together and try to claim it as an actual post. Shhhhh, maybe no one will notice.


Diva Dunn asks:
OK - my only question is - How do you manage to go through all of this, raise three children, run the house, update a Blog daily, AND manage to respond to questions? You completely amaze me! I get a cold and I farm my ONE child off on my mother, hire someone to clean the house and don’t check my email for a week!


Diva Dunn, did you read my previous post about finding maggots in my van? Obviously “housekeeping” is not high on my list. And my daughter was suspended from school earlier this year … it appears “managing my kids” isn’t something I’m particulary good at, either.

**********************


How's Blaine?
Is Kellen still in the closet (literally, not sexually!)?
Are you going to get another dog?
Diane in Cincinnati


Diane, that’s nice of you to ask about Blaine. He is ….. ok. Tweaking pain meds, still trying to find what will work best for him in a new house/town/environment with new humidity/allergy/wind challenges, but overall I think he is better the past week or two than he’s been since we got here.

Kellen, yes, is still in the closet (literally, not sexually) although we do have a remodel guy coming to “take a look” and “see what our options are” which loosely translates into “can we afford to put up a wall and put in a door and turn the storage shelves into someplace for him to hang his clothes and actually give the kid a bedroom as opposed to a closet?”

Also, yes, dog coming soon. It could be TOMORROW and it still wouldn’t be quick enough for our children, though.

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Grandma J asks: How's your kitty? I'm curious about how a lifelong dog person adapts to having a cat. :))

Grandma J, must admit, I am not head over heels in love with the cat. We feed her (him? We don’t even know) and she (he?) rubs her (his?) little body against our legs when we are in the garage ---- we’re also fixing to put one of those little swinging kitty doors into the garage so the poor thing can get outside. She prefers to stay in the garage but I’m worried she’ll get trapped in there and have a heat stroke during the day. But, I’m just not feeling the love. I think it’s difficult to break a lifetime habit of dog-loving-ness. Although I am worried about how getting a new dog might affect the cat because even though I don’t love, love, love her with all my heart, I do feel a sense of responsibility towards her at this point. And, I stepped on her tail today and she squawked and I felt really, really, really, really terrible and guilty. So maybe she’s growing on me.

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Stacey from MN: I'm the nosey type who wants to know the why's. Like if your marriage was already rocky, as I assume it must be if you get divorced during the 9 months of the surrogates pregnancy, why would you have gone forward with surrogacy at all? Was a spouse caught cheating or something worse? I realize you cannot answer that since it didn't happen to you, nor is it any of my business, I'm just that kind of nosey.

Stacey, you’re right, I can’t presume to know what happened in those situations because they happened to other people. I can tell you that statistically, many couples do not survive infertility. (Ironically, many couples also do not survive a serious health crisis, let alone two …. Hmmmm, makes me wonder if Blaine and I are truly in love, or just too lazy to go searching elsewhere.) Just like many couples “have a baby to fix things”, I’m sure there are couples that resort to surrogacy for the same wrong reason.

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Liz in Sumner asks: Kristie - thanks for your answers, I appreciate it! But, maybe you've already covered this and I missed it - are ALL surrogacies accomplished with the surrogate's eggs never being used? Because waaaaay back in the dark years, there was the "Baby M" thing, and I think it was a surrogacy situation but that the surrogate's own egg was used.....but, can't remember for sure now

Liz, the majority of surrogacies are accomplished via a “gestational surrogate” situation, meaning the surrogate carries the baby and the IM’s egg is used, or an egg donor is used. “Traditional” surrogacy happens when a surrogate uses her own egg and then places the child for adoption with the family she is carrying for. It is not as common as gestational surrogacy, and yes, the “Baby M” case is what comes to mind, which is unfortunate, considering there have been thousands of SUCCESSFUL traditional surrogacies, resulting in thousands of happy new families, but why on earth should GOOD news ever get any exposure??? (she said sarcastically)

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Anonymous asks: Will we ever hear about the suspension?

Um, no. It is now officially known in our household as “the subject that we don’t discuss.” Although if this helps shed a little light on it, the suspension was fair, and just, and she deserved it …. But after learning the facts, she was not punished any farther in our house, so that should tell you a little something about it. Here’s another funny note, though ….. despite not starting at this school until November, and despite being suspended for that one day, she somehow got a perfect attendance record at the end of the school year – how funny is that?

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Jojo asks: What DID you have for dinner last night?

Oh my gosh, we went to a friend’s house and they grilled teriyaki chicken and the best potatoes I’ve ever had in my life, and fruit salad, and then ice cream sundaes for dessert. It was pretty much fabulous.

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Pam in Princeton asks: We had a Sonic open here in town in the last 3 months. We stopped by there yesterday for drinks and a kid’s corndog meal, and my husband asked me if he was supposed to tip the girl who brought our order to the car. I didn't think so, but maybe I'm wrong.... Do you tip at Sonic?

Pam, you know, for a long time I didn’t know this either. But yes, I do tip the carhops. As long as it’s less than fifty cents or so, I’ll just round up and let her keep the change. Although 90 percent of the time it’s just me in the car and I go through the drive-through, which means I don’t tip. Occasionally if it’s the entire family, and we’re ordering food and drinks, and then normally the carhop has to make an additional trip to our car for an extra spoon or more ketchup or whatever, I will hand over a full dollar.

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Leeann says: So I agree with all your commenters. Where did you get your suits? Send a link to which ones you chose!

Leeann, I went to Woman Within, which is a chubby girls online shop.

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Jeri asks: What ever happened to Soccer camp? Did you let the kids bail out after they found out it was actually work?

Jeri, heavens no! We paid a hundred dollars apiece for them to enjoy the privilege of running and sweating and dying in the summer heat and there was no way they were bailing. Although once they discovered there was a concession stand where they could buy PowerAde and Air-Heads on their break, they were happy to go and not complaining as much.

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Connie asks: Okay just curious and hope its okay to ask for feedback on your site? How do you activate the GPS on a phone and how do you make the phone keep a record of all incoming and outgoing texts even if they erase? For us, cell phones have been a mixed blessing. Our kids (20,18 and 16) text incessantly, but we can also get ahold of them at any time and visa versa.

Kristie-Brian and I (especially me) really enjoy your site. We really laughed at your post about Sonic and Steve. I have been "lurking" since you all's 20 year reunion. Thanks for the laughs and info.


Connie, OH MY GOSH! It is fabulous to hear from you, although I am stunned that you and Brian have a twenty-year old --- how is that even possible? I remember when you guys had just started to date back in high school …. And now you have a twenty-year old????

Anyway, I asked Louis about the GPS feature since he is the one who told me about it. He said he has since learned it is not as anonymous as he thought. Apparently once it is turned on (at the store, I think?) then he can go online with a password and their provider has a site that will give him the exact location of the phone. (Notice it doesn’t give him an exact location of HIS DAUGHTER, but just of her phone …. Although he says since it’s attached to her arm, that’s no problem.) But, apparently the site sends her an automatic text to let her know someone has checked the location, because now she sends HIM a text afterwards to ask if he’s checking up on her. Ahhh, life with teenagers.

Hey, at lunch with Louis and Steve earlier this week we were talking about the next reunion coming up ….. hopefully I’ll see you and Brian next year! Take care in the meantime (and Kelly says to tell you HI!!)

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Grandma J asks: And, I have to ask...but you don't have to answer, I didn't know M lived in the same town, do you guys see each other?

Grandma J, yes, we see each other fairly often, although in between life and work and kids, not as much as I would like. Sometimes they come here for dinner, sometimes we go out, occasionally just she and I will go out for dinner and a movie. Although I will never, never, NEVER forget what she did for us, I don’t think of her as “Brayden’s birthmom” anymore …. Now, I just consider her a friend that I’m lucky to have. Speaking of which, M, if you're reading this, when are we going to the movies again??? And tell D that the birthday gift is on its way. :)

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Do you mix cream with your Amaretto or do you drink it straight up on the rocks? Glad you had some time away with your girlfriends this weekend, so good for the soul!
RM in MA


RM in MA, I hereby gift you with the best amaretto recipe ever. E.V.E.R. In the history of the world. Drink one; thank me later.

Amaretto Slushies

7 C water
1 C sugar
1 (12 oz) frozen lemonade
1 (12 oz) frozen OJ(no, I have no idea why you would go into a diabetic coma)
2 C (or more, you know, if you’re an alkie like me) Amaretto

Heat water, stir in sugar until sugar is dissolved. Add all other ingredients. Freeze in plastic container overnight. Then scoop slushie mixture into glass, and top off with Sprite or 7-Up. (Or again, more straight amaretto, hello Alcoholics Anonymous, my name is Kristie)

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Debbie says:

I almost posted about competitive soccer last time, but everyone seemed so excited, I didn’t want to sound negative, but here goes:

Many times, these teams get hold of the newbies without explaining what this entails. It is a huge time and money commitment. You are lucky that Kellen scored a goal in the first game. Hopefully, they will play him. I have friends that flew their family from Florida to California just to watch their son ride the bench the entire tournament. There is no minimum playing requirement, so these kids only play when they don’t have enough players or when their team is way ahead. I’ve even heard it mentioned that they will be used as “tackle dummies” for the stronger kids during practice. I have spent many years on the soccer board and have personally witnessed trainers talking kids who have never even played the game into signing on to club instead of rec. You can imagine what their experience was like.



Debbie, trust me, all the possibilities you’ve mentioned have crossed my mind. We had our first practice tonight, and despite the fact we forgot to bring a soccer ball -- to soccer PRACTICE -- thereby making a stellar first impression, I’m still fairly hopeful about things. It is an 8v8 league, and there are only eleven boys on the team, so the coach already said they will all get tons of playing time. In fact, his concern is more that they be in better shape than they are now, because each of them will play for most of the game. For Kellen’s first practice tonight, the boys had to run a mile and a half (did I mention it was 93 degrees outside?) Any boy who finished in more than fifteen minutes had to stay after practice to run some more, and talk to the coach. Luckily, Kellen finished in twelve …. But as I handed him his water bottle as he completed the run, he looked me right in the eye and asked, “Are we going to have to do that every night??? Because I can’t.” I thought, “Uh-oh, that’s not good.” But by the end of practice he was laughing and feeling more comfortable and said afterwards that it was fun. I also sat with four other parents tonight and while they all definitely know more about the league than I do, and more about soccer, and quite possibly more about life in general, they weren’t obnoxious or overbearing … so like I said, I’m hopeful to avoid the situations you mentioned. And if not, you know, we’ll just cut bait and consider it a lesson learned the hard way.

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Trish in VA asked:

um, what happened to the "fun laid back group of parents" that you mentioned earlier? no snacks? geez! and whoever would have thought that soccer could involve so many fees?!?!


Trish, yeah, see my reply above to Debbie. No snacks, but they did seem pretty laid back tonight. And hey, the *parents* were eating snacks, so I should fit in just fine!

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Briana says: BTW, if you've still got that survey you sent out for your reunion, I'd love to have a copy. Our reunion is coming up in August and I think it would be fun to see people's answers.

Briana, I’ll post that next!

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Cindi says: It sounds like you had a great time! Next time you talk to him, ask him when Sonic is going to venture into east central Ohio...I've never been to a Sonic before. Were those gift cards in the picture? And did you actually go to Sonic for lunch or somewhere else?

Cindi, no clue about the east central Ohio part, but yep, those were gift cards. I used most of them today buying lunch for my kids and my nephews …. NOT exactly what I had in mind. Ha! And yes, I went to Sonic for lunch, but not a regular Sonic … I met him at the Sonic headquarters in downtown OKC and ate in the employee cafĂ© they have in their building. It was quite fun, actually, and I felt very “inner sanctum” as Steve met me at the reception area and cleared me with security for entry. He also introduced me to someone older than him, who I thought might be his boss, and I blurted out that I was the biggest Sonic fan in the world. Then realized I sounded like a total knob so decided to shut up.

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Rebekah from Prior Lake, MN, asks:
we are Sonic Virgins so I am asking for advice ... what is the best item(s) to get from Sonic for the very first ...


Rebekah, some of my favorite food items are the breakfast burrito with bacon, the chicken strips and country gravy, the tator tots, and my ultimate favorite, the onion rings. My kids love the hot dogs, corn dogs, and you just can’t go wrong with their drinks. We also all love the Blast dessert (ice cream mixed with candy.) Yum, I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!

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Cindy in Virginia asks: Did he invite you over to meet the family?

Cindy, I went to school with his wife, also. She was several grades below me and was actually good friends “back in the day” with my younger sister. I’m sure many years ago I probably gave her and my sister rides to the mall, and valuable tips on how to navigate high school, and now, twenty five years later, I’m stalking her husband for Sonic gift cards.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

DIS. Gusting

So, about a week ago, I started noticing a funky smell in my van. NORMALLY when that happens it means one of two things: either a sippy cup or bottle of milk has been left under a seat, to go sour in the high temperatures, or a wet towel or article of clothing has been left inside, either of which can fester and rot and stink to high heaven in the warm, moist summer air.

{Parents all over know just what I’m talking about, right? Right??? Come on, any parent out there who tells me they have NEVER found a disgusting sippy cup of congealed milk under the sofa or behind the TV is a flat-out liar and I’ll call you that to your face.}

Since my kids no longer drink out of bottles, I searched inside the van for some offending Sonic cup with left-over milkshake in it, or anything that might be the cause of the stench. Came up empty-handed. Although I found pencils and notebooks and empty candy wrappers and toys and trash and straw wrappers and flip flops and juice boxes and dvd’s and all kinds of OTHER crap in the van, I couldn’t find anything that might be the cause of the putrid, rancid smell. I looked under seats, and even in the glove box, thinking surely, somewhere, I would find a wet bathing suit, or even wet socks.

Good heavens, what stunk so bad???

Blaine finally convinced me it was just that the inside of the van had probably gotten wet from our various days at the pool, and since I park in the garage with the windows rolled up, the van simply needed a good airing out. Hmmm, I wasn’t so sure, but since I couldn’t find anything else, I figured he must be right.

Fast forward a few days. Kellen’s teacher from last year is married to a man I went to high school with. They have a daughter in Kendrie’s class who Kendrie really gets along well with. Since we already know one another’s families (man, I love living in a small town) we progressed pretty quickly to sleep-overs at one another’s houses, and this little girl was spending the night with us.

She and Kendrie were out in the garage, riding the rip-sticks and such in the driveway. I was sitting in the office on the computer (imagine that) when I heard shrieking, and hysterical laughter, and then Kendrie came running into the office, yelling about how they had found the source of the smell in my van.

Come to find out, it was the pool bag I keep in the back of the van. The one with goggles and dive sticks and what not in it. I also carry snacks in it, and the box of Goldfish crackers had turned upside down and spilled all in the bag. And then the crackers had gotten wet from the wet things we put in the bag. And then had turned into a slimy, rotten mess inside the bag, and seriously looked like something or someone threw up in my bag.

And then, this was the kicker.

I must have trapped a fly in the van. Who must have laid eggs. Because there were MAGGOTS in the pile of Goldfish in the bag. Let me repeat that, in case the horror of the comment didn’t fully sink in to you:

MAGGOTS.

IN THE POOL BAG IN THE BACK OF MY VAN.

AND A GUEST IN OUR HOME FOUND THEM.


Mortified, I called the little girl’s mother to try and explain what had happened, so that when her daughter retuned home the next day and told her mother that the Escoe’s had MAGGOTS at their house, she would understand and not assume we are the filthiest people on the planet.

Because seriously. MAGGOTS.

Needless to say, the entire pool bag, contents included, went directly into the trash.

Thankfully, the other mom laughed.

Although you know deep down, she was just glad it wasn’t her.

On the bright side, she let the little girl stay at our house. And it doesn’t appear she called Family Services OR an exterminator since no one has shown up at our front door.

And hey, my van does smell a lot better now.

So, do you think now would be a good time for me to announce that I’m starting up a housecleaning business? Because you just KNOW everyone would rush to have me as their housekeeper.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lunch Dates

Soooooo, can you guess who I had lunch with yesterday?



Hmmmm? Can ya? Can ya? Hmmmmm?

(contented sigh)
Ahhhh. It's good to have friends in high places.

Actually, what's good is to have lunch with an old friend, who you've only seen once or twice in the twenty-four years since you graduated high school together, and see for yourself that they are (he is) just as smart, just as funny, just as nice, and just as gracious as they were (he was) in school. It's very easy to be happy for someone else's success when you see how they have genuinely lived up to thier potential as successful husband, father, provider, and businessman.

Of course, the fact he agreed not to sue me for telling the extremely unflattering frog dissection story to the internet helped as well.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Feels so right

But is it wrong, to be so excited, for something this silly?




And before any of you wish me luck, expanding my horizons and all that junk, just remember that I'll most likely run all my homework assignments by you guys here on this site and tie up your internet connections and bore you for hours with seven hundred photos of fruit in a bowl.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Awkward Silence

So, I returned early from scrapbooking in Texas yesterday in order to attend the mandatory parents meeting with Kellen’s new soccer coach. The boys played in a 3v3 tournament on Saturday, while I was in Texas, and it liked to have killed me to miss it. However, sometimes in life, the need for weekends filled with chocolate and amaretto (although ironically, we forgot to drink the amaretto) and girlfriends is equally important to the need to be a good parent. Kellen was in perfectly capable hands with Blaine, so I relaxed about missing his first tournament (and him scoring his first goal in his first tournament, which I also missed, excuse me while the guilt creeps in again) but I didn’t want to miss the meeting as well, so I returned.

And discovered, the world of competitive soccer is a new one for us, indeed. Now, I realize they are only ten year old boys, and not a college team, or World Cup team, on the level of David Beckham, or whatever. It’s just ….. so much more intense than what we’re used to.

First the coach was talking about practices a minimum of twice a week and make up practices on weekends if need be and tournaments once a month the first three months, at least one of which will be out of state, so he’ll be getting hotel information to us, in addition to the regular games. And then how in the winter we’ll not only play indoor soccer but try to find an indoor practice field to play footsal or futsol or whatever the heck it is called, and how the dead ball really helps. And how we’ll “take down the walls” so the boys don’t get lazy. And how on the days they don’t have practice they’ll have conditioning exercises to do at home. And I looked around, and the other parents were nodding in agreement, and all I could think was, “What the heck is futsal???” Then he started talking about divisions and classes and different leagues and trading players and OPL and Rush teams, and how much our practice uniforms will be, and again, the other parents were interjecting intelligent comments and questions, and I’m all like, “Wait. Practice uniforms??? We have to buy practice uniforms??” Why yes, we do. A light and a dark, with their numbers on them in case they ever need to double as game uniforms. And let's not forget the game uniform, which by the way, cost more than my wedding dress. (I am not even kidding. I bought my wedding dress off an “As Is” rack at JC Penney and my 10-yr old son’s uniform, socks, cleats, and matching equipment bag cost more.)

Then the coach passed out the list of costs for this season … league fees and field maintenance fees and lights fees and coaching fees and trainer fees (let’s not confuse the two) and tournament fees and per diem fees and OPL fees (again, this mention of OPL … what the heck is it??) and talking about the fundraisers we will do to help offset costs. And of course the team treasurer will have all the player accounts in spreadsheet form to pass out monthly so everyone is totally accountable, but they will need a credit card on file for monthly fees and hotel reservations for the tournaments.

And seriously, my head is spinning. I’m thinking hopefully Kellen will become really, really, really good in soccer and get a college scholarship, because at this rate, we’ll have spent his entire college savings in fees.

And once more, the other parents are all asking intelligent questions about this and that, and acting as if they are completely familiar with everything that is being discussed, and they all seem to know the difference between various field sizes and league rules and playing time regulations, and they’re all talking about “remember that great Academy team we had last year?” and “How come Johnny wasn’t at tryouts? He’s the best keeper in the league” and blah blah blah. I felt so much like an outsider, and I so desperately wanted to make friends and let everyone know we’re committed and excited, just like them, even if I AM totally ignorant about what is being discussed. So I raised my hand, and offered, in my best, “I’m totally a team player” voice …. “I’ll be willing to bring snacks for that first tournament, or even get the snack list organized, if you need someone to do it.”

Awkward silence.

Then the coached smiled at me, in a “that’s nice, but you have no clue” sort of way, and said, “Well, thanks, but we don’t *do* snacks at this level. And if your kid forgets his water bottle, he doesn’t drink, either.” Then he turned to the rest of the group and said, “And this should be clear, but I’ll repeat it just in case …. I don’t want to see ANY of you carrying your kids’ equipment bag. It’s THEIR responsibility.”

And all I could think was, “Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

So I made some self-deprecating, trying-to-cover-my-embarrassment-that-I-obviously-still-treat-my-son-like-a-baby comment, about how I’m a stay-at-home mom and apparently have way too much time on my hands if I’m worried about snack.

So with all my free time, they made me team treasurer.

Geez. (roll-y eyes)

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Birth Story

Dear Anonymous: I had the baby. Things went fine. The end.

For the rest of you:

(taken directly from my journal --- not so much “why invent the wheel”, but rather, “I’m really lazy and can just cut and paste instead of composing a whole new story" …)

We met in the hospital lobby shortly before six that evening. We had toured the hospital that very morning and the same nurse we had met earlier was there to show us to our rooms. I was so pleased to discover that they had placed us in adjoining rooms, with the baby’s “room” in between. Anxious, nervous, and eagerly anticipating what lay ahead; we all put our things away and got situated.

I changed into the always-flattering hospital gown (funny how in just a few hours my female anatomy would be on view for the entire world but at that moment I felt self-conscious about my rear end hanging out the back of that gown!) and settled down to business with the admitting nurse. She was incredibly chatty and charming, which put us immediately at ease, by slowed the process considerably. By the time the paperwork was completed and everything was arranged, almost two hours had passed. Finally, around 8pm, the pitocin drip was started. Dr. S arrived at 9pm and broke my water, expressing confidence that things would pick up quickly after that.

By 10 pm I had passed firmly into the realm of “uncomfortable” with contractions every two to three minutes, and requested the epidural. The doctor, who does his own epidurals, had me feeling pleasant and agreeable again by 10:30pm, but I think he was a little surprised to find, at that time, I was only dilated to a six. And at 12:30 am, when he came to re-administer the epidural medication …. Still dilated to a six. Since things were moving fairly slowly (shocker!) we all decided to try and rest for a little while; I actually slept for about an hour. The nurse came back in around 3 am to check me again and see if I needed another boost of pain medication. Knowing that I am a slow-crawling tortoise when it comes to labor, I was lying down thinking, “please let me be a seven, please let me be a seven” when much to my surprise she announced I was completely dilated and effaced, ready to begin pushing.

The doctor (who had gone off to sleep, waiting for me to do something!) and my IF were awoken and everyone got into place. Either the epidural had worn off just enough for me to feel a little of the contractions, or perhaps it was the pressure of the baby’s station, but I was able to tell the nurses when it was time to push each time. That made me feel like I was in charge of things … which of course I wasn’t, aren’t these babies in charge already, whether we want to admit it or not??

I began pushing at 3:30 am and discovered immediately that my delivery nurse was the slowest counter in the history of the planet. After the first series of pushes, when I had to exhale and start over and she was still only up to “six”, I told her she needed to count faster, or somebody else better do it instead. I mean, just how long can you hold your breath and push with all your might when you’ve got a stomach the size of Mt. Everest and your knees up over your head??? Not the most comfortable, or flattering, position in the world.

Anyway, I pushed for about half an hour and made some progress, but not as much as the doctor thought I should. (Again, shocker!) We realized the reason the baby wasn’t coming down like she should was that she was “sunny side up” and kept catching on my pubic bone (or, as her 11-yr old brother announced to his grandmother on the phone the next day, “The baby was caught on her pubic hair!!”) I was starting to feel a little ineffective, even though the atmosphere in the room was very calm and collected. In between contractions we would all just wait patiently for the next series of pushes, telling jokes or chatting. I felt a little embarrassed, though, that everyone was standing around waiting ON ME and I wasn’t accomplishing more. I guess that’s the way it goes sometimes. It’s awkward, though, when your doctor is yawning between contractions!

Finally, the doctor said his attempts to turn the baby face-down weren’t working and it might take up to another hour for me to push her out like she was. He wanted to use a suction extractor if that was ok with all of us. I only wish he had suggested it earlier --- two pushes after he attached that rubber cup to her head and out she popped!

It was a very exciting moment, and they laid her on my stomach just long enough to wipe her off before wrapping her in a towel and handing her to her parents. I had previously told the doctor I wanted her to go directly to her parents – they had been waiting nine long months to hold their new daughter and I didn’t want any kind of delay once she was available to them!

Of course it was a joyful birth, with everyone in the room happy and laughing and smiling. There were only a few happy tears shed; mostly we were all too busy congratulating each other. And despite my previous insistence that my IF not be allowed to cut the umbilical cord, because of my freaky weirdness and how much I hate the symbolism of it, when the time came and I saw the doctor prepare to cut it, I shouted out loud (obviously in a moment of drug-induced insanity), “Let her big brother do it … he should have an important job to do!” And such was how an eleven-year old boy wound up cutting the umbilical cord, with an awesome view of my recently-birthed-a-baby-crotch, and is most likely scarred for life and will probably never have sex in his life ever.

After that, the only even slightly awkward moment came when they went to take the baby to the connecting room to do the exam, apgars, etc. I could tell that my IM felt torn between going with her daughter and leaving me, while I was still being attended to by the doctor. I just looked at her and laughed and said, “Go, go, then come back and tell me everything.”

The baby was named Nicole Lynne (my middle name!) and weighed 8 lbs 4 oz and was 20 and a quarter inches long. Born at 4:13 am, to me it was a quick birth (only a little over eight hours, start to finish!) and to my IF, it was a very long delivery (over eight hours, start to finish!) I guess it all depends on your perspective, ha!

It was a definite perk that we had adjoining rooms and could spend the next two days in the hospital together. We spent lots of time in each other’s room, but also had our own space for privacy. I also think we were a little bit of a side-show at the hospital, with lots of nurses coming into our rooms and asking to hear our story and see the baby. I’d like to think, because it was such a positive situation, that we helped enlighten a few people that day. I got to do all the things I wanted to – give bottles, rock the baby, spend time with her whenever I wanted. Although I enjoyed that we roamed freely back and forth between our rooms, I also took the opportunity to spend time alone with the baby which was important to me. I didn’t *think* I would have any sorts of proprietary feelings towards her … and sure enough, I didn’t. I simply vacillated between wanting to spend every spare moment possible with my couple and the baby, to vicariously take part in their happiness, and also wanting to give them some breathing room to bond as a family without me hovering over their shoulder.

The two days in the hospital passed quickly and we were discharged on Thursday morning. Saying goodbye in front of the hospital was easy because we had already made plans to spend that evening together. It was saying goodbye that night after dinner, knowing they were headed to the airport, which was much more difficult. I tried explaining to my couple that I wasn’t depressed, or having baby blues, I was just sad that it had been such an amazing experience and now it was over. My IM said to me, “Oh, don’t you think that it’s over … you are stuck with us for life!” which I was thought was a sweet thing to say.

I have no doubt they appreciated everything (they certainly said thank you enough times!) and we are already discussing a visit, so I’m hopeful the good relationship continues. Worst case scenario, even if it didn’t, it was still a magnificent experience for me and I would do it again in a heartbeat. In fact, I'm seriously considering it. It’s such a win-win situation and I feel really blessed and proud of myself for being a part of something so miraculous. If nothing else, hearing her 11-yr old brother giggle (as only little boys can do) whenever she made a funny face made the entire thing worthwhile. I feel so fortunate to have been matched with a family that was wonderful to begin with, but that is even more wonderful now that they have their new baby daughter in their arms.



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Seriously. That's the end. No more cliff-hangers, or one final chapter. That is the end of surrogacy journey #1. Now, if you'll excuse me, as you are reading this, I am currently in Texas with girlfriends. Scrapbooking. And chatting. And drinking amaretto. And eating chocolate. And did I mention drinking amaretto? I'll post again when I get home early next week. Remind me to tell you about pretty much the most mortifying moment of my life ... or at least the most mortifying thing that has happened to me lately.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Holy crap! This is really happening!

My mom and dad made it to Alabama just fine, and my kids were of course thrilled to see Grandma and Grandpa. Forget about their poor, fat, weebles wobble but they don’t fall down mom, who was embarking on her own grand adventure in just a few days …. For now, it was all about them and getting to see the grandparents. Probably just as good, since I was so big by that point, even my dad, with his muscular dystrophy and wheelchair, could keep up with them better than I could! Ha!

Still hopeful that I would hold out until induction day, I planned a few fun activities for when M&S arrived with their son in tow. It was kind of an odd feeling --- yes, we were all thrilled to see one another again, and so excited for what was in store. But at the same time, I felt a little tourist-guide-hostess-y, and wanted them to enjoy their time in Alabama … not just sit around and watch me gestate those few final days.

My IP’s first night in town, my parents stayed home with my kids while the grown ups went out to dinner at Longhorn and chatted. Thanks to the distance between us, it had been since our match meeting, a year and a half ago, that they and Blaine had even seen one another. So despite *my* constant communication with my IM, it was nice to sit and catch up.

After dinner the three of them came back to our house for dessert. That night, in the living room, the baby started kicking. I didn’t want to move for fear it would stop, so I just said, “Come quick, feel my stomach!” I thought my IF was going to break his leg jumping over the coffee table to get to me. It was actually really sweet (well, considering he didn’t break a limb, that is.) I had a few contractions that night …. Four, to be exact. Of course, everyone held their breath that “maybe this is it!” but once I said something, they stopped, and I felt sort of silly and over-reactive-y.

The next day we got up and had brunch at the Officers Club, then our families went to a local strawberry festival. That night they came back over to our house and we grilled out for dinner. It was all fun and exciting, and my kids loved them because they brought toys (hey when you’re under the age of five, that really is your main concern in life) but of course everyone’s minds were on the big event, still scheduled for the 7th.

It was also really nice during this time for my parents to have the chance to spend some time with my couple and their son. My mom had supported the surrogacy from day one, in a “I’m not sure I understand this, but if that’s what you want to do, then it’s fine with me” sort of way. My dad, bless his heart, was just along for the ride and I suspect still thought I had had sex with my IF in order to get pregnant. Regardless, I felt it was good for them to see in person the positive experience this had been, and see my IP’s excitement, up close and personal.

The next morning, the 6th, we took a tour of the hospital labor and delivery floor. The nurses and staff had been prepped for our “special’ situation, and as far as we were concerned, it looked like things would work smoothly. Sometimes, thankfully not often but sometimes, surrogate situations are not handled well by hospitals. Whether it’s due to ignorance, or prejudice, I’m not sure. Thankfully, the staff at this hospital appeared to understand this was a positive, happy, we-are-all-here-because-we-want-to-be scenario, and they seemed enthusiastic, and eager *for* us, which was nice.

Then we headed over to the doctor’s office for one final checkup. He hadn’t met my couple yet, and I made introductions all around. Dr. S had been fabulous throughout the entire pregnancy --- well, except for that one time at the beginning of the pregnancy, when he forgot I was a surrogate, and cluck-clucked his dismay when he asked if I planned to breast-feed the baby and I said no …. Then, after I reminded him I was a surrogate, he promptly turned three shades of red for forgetting, apologized all over himself, and I pretty much adored him from that point on. Not only that, but his wife had been the recipient of a kidney transplant a few years prior, and he seemed to have great appreciation for the concept of surrogacy …. For the concept of helping someone in this way. While I was happy for him that his wife was doing so well, I can also admit, selfishly, that I was grateful that God put a doctor with that personal experience in my path as well, since I was able to benefit from his enlightened viewpoint.

He asked my couple to leave the room so he could do a quick exam, and discovered I was dilated to a four, almost five. He brought my couple back in the room, and asked the three of us, “Tonight? Or tomorrow morning?” He repeated, again, that since this was my third delivery he thought it would go quickly, and said, “If you guys want to go ahead, your baby could be born this very evening. Or we can wait until tomorrow; it’s up to you.” I looked at my couple, and they looked at me, and we decided …. Why not? Everyone and everything is in place, so let’s just go!

It was definitely one of those “Oh my goodness, this is really happening!” kind of moments. I felt like I was sitting in the roller coaster, almost to the top of the first, big hill. And at that point, figured I should just throw my arms up in the air and yell, “Wheeee!”

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

T-Minus Seven Days until Project “Sleep Through The Night for ME, but NOT For My IP’s Because They Will Be Taking Care Of This Baby” Begins

A week before my induction was scheduled, I had my 39-week OB checkup. My doctor had not done any physical exams prior to this because to quote him, “No sense stirring up the pot”. Um, yeah, thanks. I agree.

At that 39 week appointment, he determined that the baby was head-down, and I was dilated to a three; both good things. I had not been having any contractions, which was also good as far as I was concerned. The doctor seemed to think things would go smoothly and fairly quickly since this would be my third delivery. I hesitated to tell him that I am the Tortoise-Woman of Labor, and that it would most likely take hours. Who knows? Maybe I shouldn't be so pessimistic about my dismal track record when it came to "birthing them babies" .... maybe he would be right and I’d be fast about it, for once. Pushing just once or twice, like those women you hear about, instead of pushing for hours and hours and hours until finally he'll be forced to grab the salad tongs .... maybe this time *I* would be quick about it!! (aka “Squeak, squeak, squeak .. monkeys flying out of my butt”)

I was talking to my IM daily at this point, and they were leaving for their mini-pre-delivery-how-can-we-even-concentrate-we’re-so-excited-vacation in Atlanta the next day. My IM said something to me on the phone that not only was very thought-provoking, but which I directly credit (blame?) for helping to make me the paranoid travel freak that I am today. Normally, she explained, if she and her husband were flying somewhere without their son, they flew separately (hmmm, sound familiar???) Only when all three of them were flying, their whole family, did they fly together. But now, she said, what should they do? Because technically, their WHOLE family wasn’t together. Family member #4 was still residing in utero, in Alabama, and she wasn’t sure if she and her husband should split up, in case heaven forbid, one of the planes crashed. But if they split up, how would she decide who takes their 11-yr old? What if she made the decision to put her husband and son on another plane together and it goes down…. How would she live with that the rest of her life??? But what if they were all together and *that* plane went down, and the daughter they worked so hard to have would never know any of them?

Personally, I thought her angst over the dilemma was proof that she had already partly entered the sleep deprived and not-a-whole-lot-of-oxygen-to-your-brain world of Newborn Parenting.

She was anxious, she was worried, she was nervous, she was excited. She was just like all moms-to-be … and I knew she would be great.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Oh, wow. I completely forgot. I’m eight months pregnant.

Because I got so busy on this blog complaining about cell phones, and having to keep my kids busy this summer, and hygienic panty liners hanging out of my swimsuit, I completely forgot to finish my surrogacy story. Hmmm, when we left off, I was about eight months pregnant, and plans for delivery were in full swing.

As the weeks ticked by, and I got bigger and bigger (because that is one part of pregnancy I do really well; the getting BIGGER part!), we got closer and closer to our due date. I had sat down with my OB at the 35 week mark and discussed induction dates. I would have preferred not to be induced, but my parents needed to make arrangements to fly to Alabama to watch my kids, and the IP’s needed to make arrangements to fly to Alabama for the birth. Plus, they wanted to pull their son out of school so he could be a part of it. So, you could see how for convenience sake, it would be better for everyone if we simply scheduled a delivery date, and then crossed our fingers (or maybe my legs!) that the baby didn’t decide to come early.

My due date had wobbled a little based on the size of the baby at the ultrasound, but ultimately the doctor decided on May 5th. Or May 8th. Or maybe May 7th. I told you, it got changed a few times, by only a day or two each time, and I forget what we eventually settled on. Although I had no history of going into labor anytime before my due date … in fact, had no history of going into labor anytime before ten days AFTER my due date, my IP’s still wanted to be sure they were there, and would take no chances with waiting until the last minute to arrive. They decided to fly into Atlanta on May 1st, just to be on the safe side. They planned to spend a few days sightseeing in Atlanta, close enough that they could be to my house in only a few hours if need be. Otherwise, they would join us on the 4th in Alabama, and we’d spend time together until the induction day, which was set for May 7th.

I still felt great and was having no complications, but I’ll admit I was eager to get the show on the road. I was eager for them to meet their daughter, and I was eager to sleep on my stomach again, and I was especially eager to sleep through the night without getting up to go potty seventeen times (it’s the little things, you know?)

Monday, July 07, 2008

Confusing and not so confusing

Things that made me confused at the water park today:

The very large number of people (both men and women) who obviously don’t own mirrors (or eyes) or they would know to buy their swimsuits just one size larger. And I’m not simply making fun of the chubbies. No matter what size you are, none of the rest of us want to see your butt-cheeks or your boobs hanging out the bottom of your suit.

The fact that my children were not at all hungry for the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I so lovingly prepared and then schlepped to the park for lunch …. But that five minutes later they were starving and begging for curly fries (which they did not get, by the way. Hello, Meanest Moms Club of America, another plus for my membership.)

The fact that so many teen age girls clearly spent hours putting on their make up and flat-ironing their hair before coming to the park. To get in the water. Which pretty much ruins the effect. I don’t know, I guess I was that vain myself once. Apparently not any more; you only need look at me with my chip clip in my hair and sun screen on my nose and “blouson” swimsuit to know the truth --- the vanity bus has left the station.

The GINORMOUS swastika tattoo that man was sporting on his shoulder as he walked around the park. I mean, seriously? He didn't think a shirt to cover that thing up might have been appropriate? (For the record ... I'm not anti-tattoo ... I have three myself. But I am anti-hate-tattoo.) I've heard of people waking up after a night of drunken antics with tattoos ... which might explain it. Personally, I'd rather wake up from a night of drunken sex with Napoleon Dynamite than to have something that nasty on my body. Or maybe I'm just being knee-jerk ... it originally was intended to represent good luck, right?

That so many people arrive at the park first thing, throw their towel across a deck recliner, and leave. For hours. Taking up all the chairs by the pools, and rendering us moms-who-would-like-to-sit-and-keep-an-eye-on-our-kids chair-less. For goodness sake, people, spring for a locker and free up the chairs if you’re using them only as a towel rack for yourself.

Things that made me happy at the water park today:

Seeing the family next to us try to have lunch. A mom, a surly teenager, and three young children. Only two deck chairs (thanks to the obnoxious greedy towel-rack-people) for the five of them. The mom walked up and said to the teen age boy, who was lounging in one of the chairs, “Why aren’t you swimming? We’re having a great time on the slides, you should join us.” To which the boy replied, “I don’t want to do anything.” Then she told him to sit up and move his legs so one of the younger kids could share his chair and he said he didn’t want to.

At that point, she leaned over and whispered to him, in a voice so threatening and low that I think I was the only other person who heard her, “I don’t care WHAT you want to do. Move your ass NOW and share that chair. We didn’t come all this way today so you could sit here and act like a complete jerk so you will move and then you will swim and You. Will. Enjoy. It.”

I was kind of sorry they left soon after that. I think she and I could have struck up a lovely conversation and probably been life-long friends.