Tuesday, October 27, 2009

We've moved!

Yep, it's official now. Not Quite What I Had Planned has jumped ship and gone here.

I hope you'll mosey on over and join me.

PS. And if you've been kind enough to add me to your links over the years, or recently, or at any time in history, please make note of the new address and update your blogroll .... I don't want to lose any of you! www dot notquitewhatihadplanned dot com


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

*Maybe* Elvis has left the building???

"AGH! Can you post the entire url, I cannot access the link you gave. :( "

Oh, ok.

Try here.

Or just go to www dot notquitewhatihadplanned dot com directly.

And then leave me a message letting me know it worked.

Because I haven't gotten a single comment since I made the switch.

Not one.

Even my most boring posts EVER usually warrant a comment or two, even if its to tell me how boring they are.

So either the new site is de-funct, or everyone hates it --- which would really suck for me.

Or maybe my mic is not working ... hello? Hello?

Is this thing on????

Updated to add:

"the site is working but there is not a comment section.....it says no comment in fact."

Well, what *should* happen is that you can click on "no comment" and then you get the opportunity to leave one. Then once one person does, it should say "1 comment" .... etc. Hopefully someone will leave a comment and we can see if its working properly! :)

Updated again to add:

"I sent you a comment yesterday and it told me that it was awaiting moderation.??????? Love the new site."

Oh. Em. Gee. I. AM. A. MORON!!!! I didn't even KNOW I had to approve the comments!!! Ha!

See, here's where I'll confess: my feelings were a teensy bit hurt that I didn't think anyone was going to the new site, or that no one even noticed I had changed things over. I kept thinking, "I know I've been neglecting the blogger site and not posting as regularly, but wow, people just dropped off like flies! I'm ready to start posting regularly again, and nobody even noticed???"

Now I go over and realize I have 23 comments waiting on me -------- how funny is that? How funny am I? And by "funny", I mean "incredibly stupid" :)

Well, excuse me, I'm off to approve some comments. :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen, Elvis has left the building

Well, I've got news. And I've got more news. And I've got hopeful news.

The Not Quite party has moved.

To here.

I sincerely hope you'll join me. And then bookmark the new site, and visit again.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Things I learned on Fall Break this year

(In no particular order .....)

1. I am really friggin' out of shape.

1a. There are a lot of stairs at Great Wolf Lodge. Most of them go up, which is unfortunate for people who are really friggin' out of shape.

1b. Don't complain about lines to get on water slide rides, because that might be the only chance you get to catch your breath in between the exhausting treks up the stairs, over and over and over.

2. You should check to see if your swimsuit bottoms have a hole in them BEFORE you wear them on vacation.

3. The weight of four ("well-fed", in the words of one of my friends) adults on the Tornado makes an AWESOME difference in the amount of sweet air you catch in the funnel.

3a. Remind me next time I go to Great Wolf to only invite people who are much larger than me ..... its a tad embarrassing for the skinny-minnie lifeguard to place you in the "fat" seat in the tube each time, and put the tiny children on either side of you to "balance out the weight of the tube" ......... whatever.

4. If you get thirsty enough, you will drink regular Dr. Pepper instead of diet, and not even bat an eye at the extra calories, because you know you will burn them off on the stinking stairs.

5. After leaving Great Wolf Lodge, and driving to visit friends in Dallas ..... A friend who has two boxes of Milk Duds waiting on your pillow at her house, and a case of Diet Dr. Pepper in her fridge, is a true friend, indeed.

6. Texans take 7-yr old football very seriously.

7. 8-yr old, too.

8. But when your friend's sons both win their games, and the sun is shining and the temperature is perfect, it is an awesome way to watch a football game. And although I realize the coaches take it very seriously (and maybe some of the parents, too, I'm just saying) and I doubt they would agree with me, I still say at that age, "cute" is the appropriate adjective to describe the game. Although "undefeated" is a nice adjective, as well.

8a. Much better than being at the Cotton Bowl yesterday, anyway.

9. Don't kid yourself that "who cares what I look like on the drive home, it's not like I'm going to see anyone I know."

9a. When three young men stop you at a gas station on I-35 and comment on your sweatshirt, telling you that they graduated from the same high school, that will be cool.

9b. Then they will tell you that they graduated in 2004, and you will abruptly and hurtfully realize that you are older than dirt and be quite depressed about yourself for a while.

9c. Then you will eat the two boxes of Milk Duds and not be so depressed anymore.

10. Halogen headlights should be outlawed.

(I realize that number 10 kind of came out of nowhere, but my gosh, those things are obnoxious shining into your eyes on the highway ---- obnoxious!!)

11. "I Love You, Man!" is just as funny the second time around.

(Yeah, number 11 kind of came out of nowhere, too, but who doesn't love Paul Rudd?)

12. More than Paul Rudd, I love mini-vacations. How many days until Fall Break 2010? And who wants to join us at Great Wolf Lodge?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

And you thought the melting of the polar ice caps was slow

Blaine, the kids, and I, are happily ensconced in our room at the Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, Texas. This is our second annual "Fall Break at Great Wolf Extravaganza", and we've got five (six?) other families meeting us here tomorrow morning. We drove down the night before on purpose, so we could have a relaxing, soothing evening in the hotel and then hit the water park first thing in the morning. If your definition of "relaxing" involves me getting angry with my children in the parking lot because they didn't want to help schlep the suitcases into the hotel, then our evening has indeed been that.

Further inspection revealed they only sell diet Pepsi products at this hotel. Help me.

And, do you remember how slow the aol dial up of years gone by used to be? Like, dinosaur slow? Well, it appears the free wi-fi service provided by the hotel is run by a provider called "Stayonline", who is apparently the younger, slower, more frustrating step-cousin to aol dial up.

Connecting, logging on, loading this page, and sending this update has taken almost twenty minutes. I haven't been able to access my e-mail at all. I clicked "connect to webmail" and went to the bathroom to change into my pajamas and remove my makeup. When I returned, the page still had not loaded. It's almost enough to make me flash back to the days of "You've got mail!"

It's ok, though. Blaine didn't get to visit Great Wolf with us last year because he was having radiation, so tomorrow morning we have the fun of introducing him to the infamous "toilet bowl" slide. I will call my sister and beg her to bring me some Diet DP, we will spend all day playing, and all will be right with my world again.

At least until I try to get online tomorrow night. Then, if the service isn't any faster than today, I will quite possibly have a stroke.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

SPT October 13

Continuing in my October Self-Portrait Challenge Theme of "4 Random Things About Me" ..... I present Random Item #2:

Of all the places Blaine and I have ever been stationed, the one I loved most, and would most consider returning to, was Ohio. In fact, Blaine and I agree that if we didn't have family here in OKC, then Ohio is the place we would most likely have retired.


It is the farthest northeast we have ever lived, and therefore was the most beautiful during fall, my favorite time of year.

It is the place we lived when our children were babies (and one was even born there, becoming a Buckeye for life!) and had pinchy-squeezable cheeks and I was still the boss of their social schedule. The three years we spent there were an enormously happy time in our lives. (and hey, no one in my family had cancer yet!)

Hands down, it had more family friendly activities (farms, pumpkin patches, public parks, festivals, etc) than any other place we have ever lived.

It was the most similar to OKC, so we felt at home there.

And most importantly, for this reason:

(please ignore the fact that they are all dressed and I am still in my pajama bottoms. It was perhaps not my most productive weekend ever .....)

Some of the best girlfriends in the entire world, most of whom I met in my mother's club, while living in Ohio. They supported me in my "young mother" days, introduced me to scrapbooking, and became the best adult-women friends I have ever had. Almost all are military wives; almost all have since scattered to the wind since our time there, like me. We have been meeting, all over the country, to scrapbook together, since the year 2000. We laugh, we talk, we eat chocolate, and we make the most killer amaretto slushies you have ever tasted in your life. Our friendships extend beyond scrapbooking. We care about each other's marriages, children, and families. We watch each other's kids grow up through pictures and stories. We e-mail, we call. We share news; we ask advice. We vacation together. Two of us were unable to attend this year ...... the rest of us were sad.

I am beyond blessed to be a part of this amazing group of women.

And this year, our annual get-together was in Ohio. Really, could I ask for any better?

Friday, October 09, 2009


Different people, I believe, are touched and comforted by different panoramas. Have a space down deep in their soul where calm and peace are available, based on what the eye can see, and what is soothing to their psyche.

Some people enjoy an ocean view ..... some people love snow-capped mountains. For others, a city scape is what makes them happy.

Me? It's farmland. I LOVE the rolling pastures; miles and miles and miles of wheat and hay bales and hard amber duram, as far as the eye can see. White farmhouses, red barns, grain silos. Throw in some horses, or cows, and I'm even happier. I can BREATHE when I can see for miles; I feel calm; it is soothing to me .... the midwest* makes me happy.

That's why I was so excited for my drive to Ohio yesterday. Eight hundred and sixty five miles of farms and ranches and pumpkin patches and corn fields. Even better is this time of year, with the turning leaves and beautiful red wildflowers (weeds?) on the side of the highway. I was ECSTATIC to make the drive yesterday and enjoy the bucolic farmland and rolling plains and open-ness. I love that view. Love it so much that in my next life,** I want to come back as a farmer's wife,*** and sit on the porch and drink coffee **** and soak in the beauty.

Guess what? On my drive to Ohio yesterday, I didn't see a single thing. Because it RAINED the entire 865 miles. The entire drive, there was never a moment that my windshield wipers were not on. Sometimes intermittently, for drizzle, and sometimes for a steady rain. And for about four hours of white-knuckle, torrential blinding downpour. I could barely see to stay in the highway, let alone enjoy the beautiful fall view out the window. And the bad weather, and slower driving speeds, stretched the drive out to almost fifteen hours. Fifteen hours of rain.

Quite frankly, I felt cheated.

I guess the good part of the day was the fact it was still fifteen hours of listening to the music **I** wanted to listen to (guilty pleasures -- Meatloaf, Bowling for Soup, Caroline's Spine ....) and only stopping according to my own potty break needs, and not listening to anyone whine for snacks, or argue in the backseat.

So yeah, despite the rain, it was still a good drive.

But I *am* hoping for sunny weather on the way back home. I have some corn fields and horse pastures to gaze over.

*Why is it called the mid-west? Does anyone know? Oklahoma is not "west" of half the country, why is it not called mid-mid? And Indiana and Illinois and Missouri and Ohio are less "west" than that. Is it because it is west of the Mississippi River? Because before the western part of the country was settled, and before California actually became a state, we were west at the time? Can anyone answer? Because honestly, these are the questions that keep me up at night.

**For the record, I don't really believe in a next life. But if I DID, I would want to come back as a farmer's wife.

***You know what? Scratch that. Wouldn't I have to work really hard as a farmer's wife? Churning butter, and tilling vegetables, and washing our clothes out in the stream? That's way too much work. I think I've decided that in my next life I would rather come back as a very wealthy person, and I could just BUY farmland and pay incredibly good looking men to work shirtless, churning my butter for me.

****I don't actually drink coffee. But if I had enough good looking shirtless men working for me, I could sit on the porch and drink me an eyeful of THAT.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Clearly I cannot tell teim (or spell)

According to Facebook, my site is "down for maintenance, and should be available again in a few hours." Facebook is "sorry for any inconvenience this has caused."

That note has been on my Facebook page since last Sunday. It is now Wednesday. According to MY mental math, that is way more than "a few hours." Facebook is also "aware of this problem and our technical team is working hard to correct it."

You would think, since I cannot waste as much time farting around on Facebook like I normally do, that I would be getting tons more stuff done around the house. Which would be a good thing, since I am leaving at 5am for a five-day scrapbooking retreat in Ohio. (Hello, beautiful autumn colors, I cannot wait to see you again .....)

But, no. Instead I am obsessively checking my computer, possibly even more than normal, to see if Facebook is "fixed" yet. Because I cannot bear that the lives of my "friends" are going on as usual and I do not know what they are doing. (Nosy, much? Why yes I am.) Thank goodness I don't play farmtown or mafia wars, because at this point my crops would have withered and died and my mafia gangsters would have .... would have .... well, whatever abandoned mafia gangters do.

Facebook, come back to me. Or at least teach me how you tell time, so I can know when "a few hours" will be.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

SPT October 6

Continuing on with Lelly's Self-Portrait Challenges, the month of October is dedicated to "100 Things About Me." Well, not about Lelly, of course, but about ME. And the "100 Things About Me" list that I am supposed to have completed, and to have posted on my sidebar, because everyone knows that every blogger on the planet is required to have completed the list, and posted it on their sidebar --- pretty much everyone already has. In fact, I think it's probably a law by now.

Thankfully, however, not an enforceable law, because I alone am the solitary blogger in the world who has NOT completed my "100 Things About Me" list and posted it for all of you to read. (Um, yeah, note to self: "alone" means pretty much the same thing as "solitary", so you're kind of just rambling now ..... Maybe that could be thing #1: I don't make much sense when I speak.)

Quite frankly, I'm not sure I could come up with 100 Things About Me. I know for an indisputable FACT that I couldn't come up with 100 interesting things .....

So instead, for the four Tuesdays in the month of October, I'll give you Four Random Things according to what I've done recently.

Week #1:

One random fact about me: I have an almost pathological devotion to certain sentimental things ..... and some things, not. My wedding dress? Sold it just a few months after the wedding because I would rather have the cash. My kids' artwork? Some, I keep. But most, especially if it has any kind of paint or glitter or macaroni or shell or bead or feather or any kind of 3-D crap on it .... in the trash it goes. Old toys and clothes? Gone. I don't normally even have enough stuff to have a garage sale because I pass it on to Goodwill too quickly.

The few things I keep ... pictures, of course, hence my obsession with scrapbooking. Books that I love. I have a hard time getting rid of books that I know I will be willing to read again. Old calendars. Just seems a shame to throw out a yearly account of our life as a family.

And, I'm extremely sentimental when it comes to my hometown, memories, traditions, and old friends.

This photo was taken last weekend at our high school homecoming football game. Since it was also my 25th class reunion year, a few of us from our class met up at the stadium to watch the game together.

I am one of the obnoxious people who actually enjoyed her teenage years. Because I loved school. In large part, because of the people you see in this photo. Many others, who also mean a great deal to me, couldn't make it, of course. But in this photo .....

I see Michele, my first ever "best friend". My next door neighbor when we were in elementary school, classmate for twelve years, fellow band and Drill Team member. And still one of the ones I look forward to seeing most because she is silly and goofy and makes me laugh the entire time I am with her.

I see Jani, another friend since kindergarten. We played french horn together for years, and were also in Drill Team together. Jani is one of the few people who kept in touch with me (remember, this was in the days before cell phones or e-mail) the entire time I was moving around the country with Blaine. And now she lives three blocks away from me and our girls go to school together, and are themselves developing a friendship that I dearly hope they will cherish as much as I cherish mine with Jani.

I see Lisa, yet another friend I went to school with from kindergarten on. Head cheerleader, star athlete, brainiac .... and used to be, a little intimidating to me. As adults, I've gotten to know her better than when we were young, and realized I was silly to be so intimidated. Not because she wasn't all of those things -- she was -- just that she is also kind and honest and funny, as well.

I see Marla, my comrade in arms in junior high. Who knows how many hours she and I spent on the telephone in junior high??? Her family took me on vacation, and for several years I considered her house my home away from home. We discovered boys about the same time (although truthfully, boys discovered her way before they discovered me!) and now our kids go to school together --- Kendrie even played soccer on her daughter's team the first year we moved back here. I don't spend as much time with Marla as I would like now, and I miss her.

I see Carla and Mary and Jerry, more friends from high school ....

I see Louis --- well, no explanation needed for Louis, who I've known since the sixth grade, and who has been one of my best friends for over 25 years. Many a lunch break, and many a phone call, has been spent catching up on each other's news and lives; many a Sonic drink was consumed in high school, trying to decipher the teenage relationships around us; and many an Amaretto Sour has been shared as adults, for no other reason than we enjoy one another's company more than just about anyone else on the planet. (Oh, wait, I just explained him anyway, didn't I?)

I am sentimental when it comes to these relationships .... in a fierce, almost possessive way. And I probably don't tell these people as often as I should how I feel about them, but make no mistake .... I am grateful. Sentimental and grateful, at the same time.

Sunday, October 04, 2009


1. Big changes coming. Thanks to people willing to help (shout out to Scott in Utah!) and the beauty of independent web design ......

2. Honest mistake on the credit card. I had put the wrong card in the ATM machine and when I entered the {wrong} pin number, it flagged my account as suspicious. I appreciate the vigilance of my credit card company, but it would have been good to know I had been flagged, and deemed unable to use my card, **BEFORE** I was standing in the check out line of the commissary with $690 in groceries. That's all I'm saying.

3. The contractor never showed on Thursday. Two thumbs down. But he called on Friday and apologized, and said he would start on Saturday. Two thumbs up. He never showed up on Saturday. Two thumbs down. But he called on Saturday night and apologized and said he would start on Monday. I'll wait until tomorrow morning to see if I should give another two thumbs up. Or not.

4. Camera started working again just as mysteriously as it quit working. Bizarre. Frustrating. Worrisome. I am helping to photograph the 2nd annual "Go, Mitch, Go" Golf Tournament Fundraiser tomorrow and it will be BEYOND embarrassing if my auto-focus simply quits in the middle of the tournament.

And in other news .....

5. I was able to spend some of this weekend scrapbooking with a group of ladies at a local church. It was a lot of fun and there was chocolate and all was well. I stayed up until 2:30 am organizing my photos, in preparation for my annual get-away this upcoming weekend, and then realized the only place left to sleep was in the sanctuary. On a pew. And my body is wider than a church pew, I discovered. So if sleeping in the sanctuary, on a pew, during a scrapbooking getaway, isn't sacrilegious enough, I'm pretty sure cursing when you get a cramp in your leg at 4am is.


6. "Account Unavailable
Your account is temporarily unavailable due to site maintenance. It should be available again within a few hours. We apologize for the inconvenience." .... the status of my Facebook account. Going on 24 hours now. Clearly, *my* definition of "a few hours" is not the same as Facebook's definition!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

A freakin' awesome day

1. I made it as far as step ONE in fixing my blog before running into a glitch and having to ask for more help.

2. My credit card was declined at the grocery store today.

3. The contractor cashed our $1000.00 deposit check and then never showed up to work today, nor did anyone in his office answer the phone all day, nor did anyone return our calls.

4. Half-way through Kellen's football game tonight, the auto-focus on my camera quit working.

So, you got anything? Anything at all you'd like to throw at me? Locusts? Famine? Plague? Because really, the mood I'm in, I can take it.

Bring it on.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Still ...

PS. If you have a second, send up a positive thought for Blaine this afternoon. He's going in for a root canal on a tooth ..... in a location that the dentist told him previously "they could never get to, in a million years". He can't open his mouth wide enough due to scar tissue and radiation for them to reach this tooth easily, and short of the doctor using a crow bar and dynomite, we're a little curious how they're going to make it happen. Promises to be a fun day in the dentist's chair for Blaine!


Still cutting.

Still pasting.

Still dragging archived links and photos over.

Still working up my nerve to attempt this fancy search and replace script that one of my readers was kind enough to force her computer-savvy husband to write for me .... (I feel pretty special about it, to be honest)

Thanks for not giving up on me ...

In the meantime, if you're just dying for something to read (which I highly doubt, what with, you know, you guys have LIVES and everything ....) here is an old update of mine that will, at the very least, give you something to pass the time for ten minutes ...

Long Lost Art of Letter Writing (at least how it applies to Kendrie on treatment ...)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Lunch, anyone?

Sept. 28 is a good day to head to Chili’s and have a margarita, some fajitas and maybe even some molten chocolate cake.

That’s because Chili’s restaurants across the U.S. will donate 100% of their Monday profits to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The date is also the culmination of Chili’s Create-A-Pepper to Fight Childhood Cancer campaign, which runs through the month of September.

Chili’s has raised more than $25 million so far in its 10-year, $50 million pledge to the research hospital. The donation will be the largest from a single partner campaign in St. Jude’s history. The 2008 campaign raised more than $6 million for St. Jude.

Throughout September, Chili’s patrons design chili pepper coloring sheets for display at restaurants; buy T-shirts and customized keys; and make online donations. The program started in Memphis in 2002 with seven Memphis-area Chili’s, but the chain took the promotion nationwide in 2004.

Chili's and St. Jude opened the Chili's Care Center, a seven-floor, 340,000-square-foot facility, in 2007. It is the first medical building on the St. Jude campus to bear the name of a corporate partner. Chili's is the flagship brand of Dallas-based Brinker International (NYSE: EAT).

Based in Memphis, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is a leading pediatric treatment and research facility focused on children's catastrophic diseases. It employs about 3,300 in Memphis.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

So very cool

I'm sure it will be her favorite of all time:

Purple Rock and Roll.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Well said

Extremely well-written .....

The Savages

I would comment more, but I'm too busy cutting and pasting.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sacrifice the limb to save the life

I'm going to be MIA around here for the next week or so.

I received a reminder yesterday that due to my old photo storage site shutting down, the first five year's worth of my journal entries will become the internet equivalent of a boat anchor in about four weeks. That's when the storage site (that I have faithfully paid for, every single month, since November of 2003, not that I'm freaking BITTER or anything) is being shut down and all my photos along with it.

I thought I had dodged this bullet by upgrading my storage site, but I found out this week I had not.

The photos have actually been saved, but they will disappear from my blog forever if I don't manually change the url addresses of almost two thousand photos ... one by one .... by hand .... individually .... manually .... yes, I know you know what the word "manually" means, but I feel the need to drive home the point. Do I really want to spend several hundred hours poring through my archives and changing each address? No, no I do not.

So at this point, I feel my options are threefold:

1) Accept that the blog entries themselves aren't going anywhere and learn to live with almost two thousand little red x's, where the photos for the last five years should be.

2) Accept that this blog has run its course, do nothing, and shut down the site. Then spend the time I normally spend writing here doing other things (Blaine: "Kristie, let me introduce you to the vacuum cleaner!" .... and relieving myself of the anxiety I feel when I have nothing to blog about.

3) Accept that I need to be a little more proactive about transferring my content over to a site of my own before it is all deleted. This is the option I am most seriously considering, but I have to get all my ducks in a row, so to speak, before I can move forward with this plan.

So excuse me while I spend the next few days (FINALLY! This is what I get for procrastinating .....) transferring the remainder of my blog archives over from Caringbridge. And hope that the web design team I'm consulted can really and truly save everything as easily (although not cheap ...) as they say they can.

I don't want to quit blogging. I enjoy doing this. I consider it my personal journal and love the fact my children's childhoods are being documented in this way.

But I have to be realistic about the time and money I'm willing to put into this. This is not a business blog or a blog for money or a blog for ads or a blog that really accomplishes anything besides for my own pleasure .... its just my silly little personal blog. For now, I'm sacrificing the limb (updating for the next week or two) in the hopes I can save the life of the blog.

Please excuse the absence.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I can tell a lot of time and thought went into this

Kellen: "Mom, for Halloween, I need you to get me a belt and a sword."

Kristie: "Um, ok. What are you going to be?"

Kellen: "A dude with a belt and a sword!"

Saturday, September 19, 2009

It is done. And I feel better now.

We attended our high school's first home football game of the season last night. It was a fun night, seeing old friends, cheering for our team .... they had a Hall of Honor presentation ... fireworks .... Brayden sang in the school-wide choir .... marching band ..... marching band ........ marching band .......

With the new "band instructor helper person" there ...... who caused me a knot in my stomach every time I looked over at him. I think this is a perfect example of karma, and how what goes around will usually come right back around and bite you on the butt.

After the band finished up the national anthem before the game, he was standing by himself in the band section of the stadium, a mere fifty feet from me. And I could easily have avoided him, ignored him, just gone on my merry way. But, he was like a shiny distraction, in the corner of my eye, and I couldn't get past it. I kept looking over, wondering, "Would he recognize me? Would he even remember me? Would he remember what a jerk I was to him?"

Have you ever walked around town with a stain on the boob of your shirt, and it bothers you? Even though nobody else notices, and nobody else cares, it's all you can think about? And you can't even concentrate while you're having a conversation with someone because all you can think about is the giant stain on your boob and how you're wondering if they're noticing but they're just too polite to say anything and in the meantime you're missing the entire conversation because you keep telling yourself nobody cares but you know and YOU care and its soooooo uber-distracting????

Yeah. It was EXACTLY like that. Only not at all.

Finally I gave up, and walked over to him. Held out my hand, re-introduced myself, apologized for being such a jerk (also known in many circles as "immature, self-absorbed teenager") in high school, and told him I was happy he would (possibly ... clearly, the plans for his place at the school are not my business) would be teaching my son in beginner's band.

He looked at me, smiled, and hugged me. We chatted for a few minutes.

He was so much more gracious than I ever would have been.

Thank you GOD that it is done, and I can move on without being embarrassed to run into him again. Because its highly likely, and (repeat after me) I just LOVE living in a small town!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Because I am the best football mom EVER!!

I am so proud of my son.

Here he is, catching a pass to make a two-point conversion in tonight's game:

It's really a shame not all boys are as lucky, to have a parent like me, to take such awesome photos of their accomplishments. Truly, have you ever seen such wonderful photography skills????

No, I didn't think so.

On second thought, that might be my son. Or it might not. It's so blurry, who would know?

Can anyone even tell??

No, I didn't think so.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"I think it would be cool to learn an instrument"

Updated to add: Jeanette, you're right ... I don't even let my kids drink out of public water fountains, so the thought of them sharing a mouthpiece on a rental instrument makes my heart stop. :)

Its a brand new instrument, on a rent-to-own basis. Kellen is the only person who plays it; he carries it to and from the school each day. Which is a bit of a hassle since we walk, but maybe the money we save on gas can go towards the saxophone ... who knew they were so expensive??? I shudder to think what bigger instruments must cost!

I'm not sure if I mentioned previously, but Kellen quit piano after a year and a half of lessons.

It liked to have killed me.

Not because I think he was any kind of prodigy, but because, as you might remember from when I blogged about it here, music was such a big part of my life growing up, and then I quit, and have regretted it ever since.

I played for seven years before quitting, and Kellen had only been at it a year and a half, but I know that at some point, at some time in the future, he will regret it too.

Typically, like thousands of parents before me, I got tired of the "practice or else!" routine. I tried reason, I tried begging, I tried demanding, I tried bribing. Nothing worked.

What bothered me even more is that Kellen actually loved playing the piano, and would have happily continued lessons as long as I would have let him .... he just balked at practicing. So I balked at paying for the lessons. Clearly, a lose-lose situation, so after several months of fussing and arguing, we agreed he could quit after the spring recital last May.

Kendrie is plugging along, but is also starting to be pretty lax about practicing, which discourages me. But again, the choice is hers --- if she wants to continue lessons, she has to do her part, which is the homework.


Last May, shortly after Kellen quit piano, he brought home the "elective" form for middle school this year. He had already filled it out with the classes he was interested in taking and needed me to sign it so he could turn it back in.

Although I have talked to the kids about my experiences in junior high and high school band, and how much I loved it, until this happened, I was still surprised to see that he had selected Beginners Band.

"Really?" I asked, "You want to take band?"

"Well, yeah," Kellen replied, "I think it would be cool to learn an instrument."


Deep down, I'll admit, I was thrilled. Maybe he really loves music, and piano just wasn't his gig. Hopefully the year and a half he took lessons will give him a wee bit of a foundation for band. If we're lucky, it will be a great group of kids, with a great director, and this will be the beginning of a wonderful, lengthy hobby/skill/talent.

Or, maybe he'll quit after one year, and all that instrument rental money will be in the toilet, who knows?

But school started, and band started, and so far, so good.

I had gone in on "Instrument Rental" night and met the director. I mentioned to him that I had played in this same school band twenty-five years ago ....

He knows my old director, the one that I loved so much.

I got excited, talking to the current director. He seems like a nice guy, and I started imagining Kellen doing the same things I did so many years ago, in the same band, and loving it as much as I did.

I imagined him practicing on the same football field, and marching in the same stadium. I imagined him having early morning practices, just like I did. I imagined him marching up and down the streets of our small town, just like I did.

Man, I LOVE living in a small town!!!!

Every day after school I ask Kellen "how was band today?" and the first two weeks of school, he had a good report every day. Then apparently the director had an illness in his family, then had some health issues himself, and missed quite a bit of school. Kellen started saying, "We had a sub" way more than I liked, and a few days were "free time" to read or visit or whatever. I understand these things happen, but I couldn't help but hope something would change. I want Kellen to love band just as much as I did ....

Then, Kellen came home last week and said, "We had a new sub today who knows a lot about music. He's going to be a sort of helper for us."

And I thought, "Oh, good! I'm glad to hear that!"

"How did it go? Did you like the helper?" I asked.

"Yeah. In fact, he said he used to teach at this school and he might know you." Kellen stated.

"He might know ME???" I asked, wondering who on earth ............

"Well, that he might know some of our parents, if any of our parents were in the band ...."

I sat for a minute, thinking ....

Wondering .....

Realizing ......

Aaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwww, no. HECK, no.

Yep, it was the same director who took over for my beloved director when I was in high school. The director who I was such a little obnoxious shit towards, and am ashamed to this day of how I treated him. I have not spoken to him since high school, but have oftentimes envisioned the apology I will make if I ever encounter him again.

Looks like I just might get my chance.

Man, I HATE living in a small town.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

SPT September 15

Lelly's Self-Portrait Tuesday Challenges for the month of September (2008) are following a "Because of a Blogger ..." theme. Last week I featured Lori of "I Can Be Right, Or I Can Be Happy" and how because of her, I was able to spend a great mother-daughter Breakaway weekend with Brayden at the end of the summer.

This week's "Because of a Blogger ..." actually comes full circle, and highlights the very blogger who introduced me to the SPT Challenge. In fact, this week's SPT is in a sense, a follow-up to one of the first SPT challenges I ever posted, which was to highlight myself doing something that I love.

I posted an entry about how much I love to scrapbook, but "wah, wah, wah, I'm so sad because I don't have any scrapbook friends here in OKC, my life is pitiful ..... world's tiniest violin .... " blah blah blah

And my {quasi-new} friend Alisa from "That's Life, Enjoy It" promptly left me a comment, and then promptly got off the computer, walked over to her phone, and called me to tell me we should scrapbook together.

I barely knew Alisa at that stage, but she, too, had fallen off the scrapbook wagon and was looking to get back on. And then she mentioned Lori also scrapbooks ....

and our little scrapbooking tri-fecta was born.

We've been meeting monthly for evening crops, and I've been enjoying myself immensely. I'm grateful for their new{ish} friendships .... (since we've been scrapping for eight months now, I guess they are no longer new-friends, but just friend-friends, right?) We eat, we chat, we get better acquainted, we discuss our girls, who are all in the same grade at school, we eat some more, and we scrapbook.

Thanks to Lori and Alisa, I was even confident enough to help the girls at our Breakaway Weekend make Friendship albums for themselves:

(and yes, that is my thumb in the photo, holding the album, so it is there TOO a self-portrait!)

We've had probably a half dozen other moms and ladies either join us for a month or two, or talk about joining us. But they don't. Not because we're obnoxious or we stink or our food is bad (at least I hope that's none of it!) but because we all have a tendency to get sidetracked and busy with this thing called LIFE.

But guess what? Life doesn't slow down specifically so you can do the things you enjoy.

Merry Maids isn't going to call me and offer to clean my house so I can scrapbook.

My kids aren't going to offer to cook dinner, or drive themselves to football practice or soccer practice or choir practice, so I can scrapbook.

The principal of the elementary school isn't going to tell me not to volunteer so I will have more time for scrapbooking.

The errands won't run themselves, the laundry won't do itself, the shopping won't buy itself, and the blog entries won't write themselves.

I'm grateful that "Because of ..." Alisa, who picked up the phone and called me, and then called Lori, that I was able to scrapbook once again. To remember that its not only important, but OK, to make time for the hobby I love.

Bonus points is making new, really cool friends while I do it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Only me, people ... only me

Every year around the time school starts, I schedule my yearly physical. It's always such a fun time, sitting on that table, butt naked (except for socks because you know darn good and well I'm not walking around in that office barefoot -- that's disgusting) wrapped in a paper vest and drape, both the size of mini-napkins, neither of which adequately cover the area they are supposed to, waiting on some person I've never seen before to violate my private parts in the name of medicine.

Well, not really. It's not that bad. It's certainly not something I look forward to, like the funnel cakes at the State Fair each year, but also not something I dread, as much as I dread the dentist (which I have to do TWICE a year, man, that really blows.)

Because we live far enough away from the military base, I see a civilian doctor. In fact, I am a patient at a family practice clinic that is overseen by medical doctors, but which is run primarily by residents. They rotate in every year and only stay twelve months, doing a "residency" or "internship" or whatever on earth its called.

Since I'm lucky enough not to have any chronic conditions, and I haven't been sick in a long time, I've only been to this clinic twice before, for my two previous annual physicals. Both times I saw a different doctor and I get notices at least once a year that my primary care doctor is changing ... in fact, I don't even pay attention to the name anymore. I figure if and when I call for an appointment, they'll know who I'm supposed to see, and quite frankly, as far as my own healthcare is concerned, I have no physician loyalty. Just get me an appointment with somebody -- anybody -- and I'm happy.

So I went last week for my annual physical. Blood pressure check, pulse check, weight (ouch!) etc .... the nurse was entering all my information into the computer, asking if I had any problems, had my health changed, what kind of medication was I on ... etc. You all know the drill.

Then she looked at the computer screen, glanced at my chart, and said to me, "I see you've never had a pap smear done at our facility. Do you need to have one today?"

And I paused ..... "Are you sure? I'm pretty sure I've had one here."

She looked again, then looked closer, "No, there's no record of a pap smear here anywhere. Not in your chart OR in the computer."

I sat for a second, stymied. Yeah, granted, I don't go to the doctor very often, but I am pretty vigilant about the yearly exams I need to get like this one.

Then I said, "No, I know I had one here. In fact, I'm positive. I remember because the doctor who saw me last year was SO NERVOUS when he did it! His hands were shaking, and he was sweating like crazy. I remember thinking I must have been his first pap smear ever! In fact, I almost felt sorry for the guy, he was so nervous about doing it."

"OK," said the nurse. "I'll go and check in our lab archives. If you had it, it will be there. Just wait a second while I go see, and the doctor will be in to see you in just a minute ...."

(Famous last words, right, before you sit there, covered by napkins, for another half hour .... hence the reason I always take a book into the room with me. I might be sitting there cold and naked, but by golly, my mind will be occupied!)

Sure enough, just a few minutes later, the doctor walked in.

The same doctor as last time.

And he turned to me, shook my hand, and said, "The nurse said you said I was really nervous last time. I'm sorry. I promise you I've done a lot of pap smears since then so it will be fine today."


The nurse wound up finding my pap smear results from last time, so that was good. Because it's extremely difficult to stick your foot in your mouth when they're in the stirrups.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

You guys rock. No, seriously. You do.

As I mentioned in a previous post, September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Specifically, today, Sept 12th, is Childhood Cancer Awareness Day.

As you might recall, last week for Kendrie's birthday I asked anyone who was able to donate ten for ten to CURE Childhood Cancer --- $10 for her 10th birthday, to celebrate her recovery from cancer, and to help fund research for improvements in pediatric cancer treatments .... always with an eye towards a cure, of course.

A few days ago, I received this e-mail, from Jann Jones of CURE:

"Good afternoon:

The donations are coming in and I would love to know the story. We feature “why people give” stories in our blog and on our Facebook page and I would love to hear Kendrie’s birthday story!

Jann W. Jones
Development and Operations Assistant
1835 Savoy Drive
Suite 102
Atlanta, GA 30341
770-986-0035 ext. 25 (office)
770-986-0038 (fax)
CURE Childhood Cancer"

I donated ten dollars --- many others left comments saying they had donated as well. I don't know how much we collectively donated, and I'm sure it's not as much as some of the large-scale fundraisers that people do with CURE.

I don't even care. Every dollar donated is a dollar closer to a cure, and I want to thank you for that.

I might just make this an annual tradition, and donate a dollar for Kendrie's age every year on her birthday. Keeping my eye on the prize, however, will be the year none of us have to donate because childhood cancer has been cured.

That, my friends, will be a sweet birthday gift, indeed.

Until then, you rock. No, seriously. You do.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Hidden Mickey Moment #1

My blogging friend Lori, who I mentioned in my "Because of a Blogger ...." SPT earlier this week, has another skill besides hosting awesome mother-daughter retreats. (Well, I'm sure she has many skills, but this is one that she talks about publicly on her site.) (On second thought, that doesn't sound quite right ... never mind.)

She is an all-things-Disney-guru. She is a plethora of Disney vacation know-how, and from this point forward in my life I will never plan a trip to Disney without consulting her first. She knows every secret, every shortcut, every tip .... I actually think her frontal cerebral lobe is shaped like Mickey Mouse.

She also has a running bit on her blog about "Hidden Mickey Moments". That's what she calls it, when she finds the quintessential Mickey shape of ears and hat together, unexpectedly. She finds it a lot -- a lot. Probably because she's constantly got Disney humming along in her subconscious. Me? Not so much.

Sure, I like Disney .... I've been to Disney ... we watch Disney movies ....

But I had never found a Hidden Mickey Moment, until today. It should come as no surprise that I found it on my desk, considering how much of my day, life, very existence is sucked away by this black hole called the internet.

I suppose it should also come as no surprise what items comprised my Hidden Mickey Moment.


I don't know whether to laugh, or be ashamed. Most likely I'll laugh --- that's what too much caffeine does to me.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Why we don't play with matches (warning, graphic ....)

Although I can rush to assure you that no-one was playing with matches. Or lighters or torches or flame throwers or pyrotechnic devices of any kind. It was an honest-to-goodness, no-fault-of-anyone, nothing-more-than, ACCIDENT.

An innocent accident that can happen when a child (in this case specifically, my 11-yr old nephew, Landon) trips and falls into a fire during a Labor Day celebration at the lake. And a burning plastic water bottles sears to his arm and continues to burn, and his hand and knee suffer the most damage.

So no fault -- no blame. But still, how scary is this???

Things to be grateful for:

That it was not worse.

That we still had an ice chest full of water sitting on the patio to immediately submerge his hand in. Not the most sterile on the planet, but cold ... and full.

That honestly, it was an accident, and no one had to feel guilty for causing the injury through carelessness or disregard for safety.

That he has a 12-yr old female cousin whose first instinct was to scream her bloody head off and alert the adults, one of whom (me) saw it through the window and couldn't quite make my brain work as quickly as my eyes.

That he has an 8-yr old brother who helped pull him from the fire.

That he is still here with us, only a little worse for the wear, and when enough time has passed, he'll have an awesome story to tell about "remember that time I was on fire?!?!"

And on a much, much, MUCH more selfish note, I am grateful for the amazing freaking BOKEH I am getting with my new birthday lens, 50 mm 1.8. Check out these pictures! (assuming the content doesn't turn your stomach .....)

I love birthdays and new photography toys!!

Most of all, I love Landon.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

SPT September 8

OK, so now I have a dilemma. When Lelly of Lelly's Musings quit blogging, and therefore quit updating her weekly SPT Challenges at the beginning of the summer, I thought I was being smart by going back and doing her challenges from 2008. Then, last week, she popped up with a current challenge for today. So now I don't know whether to continue following the 2008 challenges, or change again, to the current challenge, but what if this is a one-off and she doesn't do another one next week, then I'd have to change back AGAIN, and then I would be so messed up, and people would be all hey, is she doing this years, or last years, although I doubt anyone cares, but really, its so confusing, although in all honesty if this is my biggest problem ........... oh wait. It isn't.


I've decided to continue posting the 2008 challenges, at least for a while longer. Mainly because I already had the next two weeks in mind and why on earth would I do extra work if I don't need to?? Please don't suggest anything inane like personal growth or self improvement or any crap like that.

So, for the month of September, the SPT Challenge theme is: "Because of a Blogger ...."

This week, my "Because of a Blogger ...." features my fellow blogger and friend Lori, from I Can Be Right, Or I Can Be Happy. Lori and I attend the same church, but I think we first met through our daughters, who attend school together. This year, with the girls going into the 7th grade, she blatantly stole from another friend of ours had the great idea to host a Mother/Daughter Breakaway Weekend for six of the girls from their middle school.

The goal of the weekend was to spend some quality Mother/Daughter time together, but in a social setting so the girls wouldn't be so quick to turn up their noses which would be more fun for everyone. We did makeovers, ate out, ate in, ate junkfood (there was a lot of eating, now that I think about it) played games, sang karaoke, made scrapbooks and keychains, did a book club, tye-dyed t-shirts, etc. Lots and lots and lots of fun.

And in between, we also snuck in a bit of life-skills training, appropriate for pre-teen girls. We had breakout sessions, led by the moms, on subjects ranging from body image, to nutrition, to the importance of friendships and family relationships, to the damage that gossip and hurtful word can cause .... etc.

Lori worked her tail off to arrange accommodations, both overnight and for our activities, plan menus, make reservations, arrange a jam-packed schedule chock-full of fun activities, provide door prizes, and all the other good stuff that happened that weekend.

Like me, Lori is NOT a touchy-feely person, but I can honestly say that weekend we had laughter, tears, prayers, hugs, and more laughter --- and all for good. The girls, I believe, enjoyed themselves immensely. Brayden has the photo below from that weekend framed and hanging in her bedroom. The moms felt, or at least *I* felt, that we {{hopefully}} made an impression on the girls about what kinds of situations they might encounter in their upcoming teen years, and {{again, hopefully}} gave them a few resources and ideas for how to handle whatever might arise.

Most of all, I think the weekend served to reinforce the girls' friendships with one another, which we all know is crucial to surviving middle school intact. I agreed to attend the Breakaway Weekend for that reason .... to encourage Brayden in these relationships with girls who I think would be supportive, helpful friends to her. Ironically, I came away with reinforced friendships myself, with the other moms.

Lori included.

So thank you, Lori ---- because of you and your hard work, it was a great weekend.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Don't say I didn't warn you

Scene in the kitchen, Thursday evening:

Kristie: "Blaine, look at this. Is this a tick?"

Blaine: "No, that's just a mole."

Kristie: "I don't have a mole there ... I think it's a tick."

Blaine: "For pete's sake, it's too small to be a tick. It's teeny tiny. If it was a tick, it would be all puffed up with blood. It's a mole. Or a scab or something."

Kristie: "I probably have Lyme disease."

Blaine: "You are so overdramatic. Besides, when would you have gotten a tick? You don't even LIKE the outdoors."

Kristie: "Probably from the lake last weekend. When I went behind that tree to pee. I'm telling you, it's a tick."

Blaine: "For the last time, it's not a tick. And why did you pee behind a tree? That's totally not your style."

Kristie: "It was that or walk all the way back up to the cabin or pee in the lake and quite frankly, it was too cold to get wet. Quit trying to change the subject .... let's focus on my Lyme disease."

Blaine: "For the love of God, it's a mole."

Scene in my bathroom, Friday morning:

I'm 42 years old and familiar with my own body. I do not have a mole there. I tugged on it .... it came off .... and its legs were moving. A tick. Tiny, yes, and not engorged, which according to Wikipedia, means it most likely WAS a deer tick and I will be keeling over from Lyme disease any minute.

In the meantime, we are going to the lake again this weekend. Open notice to anyone going with us --- I refuse to pee behind a tree again and become all tick infested and court Lyme disease. So if you're swimming near me, I suggest you do so with your mouth closed.

That's all I'm saying about that. You have been warned.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Ten for Ten

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away .... (well, ok, central Georgia) there lived a fair princess with her family.

She was pretty stinking cute.

A few weeks after this photo was taken, the princess woke up one morning, and she had cancer.

That pretty much sucked.

What followed for this young girl and her family was two+plus years of chemotherapy treatments, all of which have been chronicled on this site. Here is a brief summarization of a few of the numbers of her treatment, as taken from the journal entry written about her off-treatment party:

"A few other fun things we did: I filled a jar with M&Ms to represent the number of chemo pills Kendrie took during treatment, then we let everyone take a guess and gave the jar to the person who guessed closest: The winner: (no cheating involved, I swear) my nephew Dalton …. the actual number of pills: 2121.

We also posted a few questions to see who might know the answers (it was funny to me that the other ALL mom at the party said to me, “You know, those questions were pretty easy” --- for her, I’m sure they were, ha!)

1. Number of ambulance rides Kendrie has taken: Two.

2. Number of days she has been inpatient during treatment: Twenty-five.

3. Number of times she has been stuck in the chest, arm, or leg, for flu shots, peg shots, arac shots, blood draws, or chemo: 115.

4. Number of blood transfusions she has received during treatment: Eight.

5. Her preventative antibiotic, Bactrim, she takes in a liquid form. How much has she taken over the past twenty-six months? Three and a half gallons."

Why am I telling you all this today? Two reasons ...... One, did you know September 12th is Childhood Cancer Awareness Day, and that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month? No? You didn't? Yeah, sadly, most people don't.

Here are a few facts, taken from the internet,which will hopefully help enlighten you:

Following is some information on childhood cancer in the US:

1. In the Citizen's Briefing book presented to President Obama upon his inauguration, childhood cancer was voted by the American people as the #5 Health Care issue. See Page 16 http://www.whitehouse.gov/assets/documents/Citizens_Briefing_Book_Final

2. Cancer is the #1 cause of death by disease for children, killing more than asthma, diabetes, pediatric AIDS, congenital anomoalies, and cystic fibrosis combined.

3. 46 children are diagnosed with cancer every day in the US.

4. Each year, 3000 children die of cancer in the US. 1 in 5 Children with cancer will die.

5. Every year, 35-40,000 children are in treatment for cancer.

6. September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Most people have never heard of this.

7. Less than 3% of all cancer research money goes to childhood cancer.

The one I love (which of course in this case, clearly means HATE) is that one in five children diagnosed with cancer will die. That's 20%. While I'm so thankful that number is much lower than it used to be, it is still unacceptably high.

Twenty percent.

Think about your child's class at school. I'm guessing around 20 kids, right? Now imagine the principal told you four of those children, picked at random, would be dead by the end of the school year, just for showing up to class.

Would you send your kid to school?

Think about your child's football, or baseball, or soccer team. Ten or fifteen kids, right? Imagine three of them will be killed on the court or on the field this fall. Would you let your child play?

I'm always amazed (and dumbfounded, and really pissed off, if you want the truth of it) when I hear someone say, "I'm so lucky .... I've been blessed with (insert number here) healthy children and I count my blessings every day."

Guess what? I was blessed with three healthy kids, too.

Until one of them woke up one morning with cancer.

Don't think it can't happen to you.

It can.

It does every freaking day for forty-six families in this country alone.

And reason #2 I'm telling you all this?

Because the beautiful princess we talked about in the beginning of this story???

She turned TEN yesterday.

Thanks to advances in pediatric cancer treatment, and a whole lotta LUCK, she wasn't one in five.

I mention luck to put something else in perspective ..... the 20% of kids that DON'T beat cancer???? Yeah, guess what ---- their parents loved them, too, just like I love Kendrie, just like you love your kids. Their parents followed doctor directions, and had faith, and said prayers, and did everything they were supposed to do, too. Sometimes, whether people want to believe it or not, cancer beats us. Not because we didn't wish it hard enough, or fight hard enough, or pray hard enough, or believe hard enough ............ but because the luck wasn't there. Nothing more.

Geez, that's freaking depressing.

While there's nothing we can do about luck, there is something we can do to help ensure it isn't a big factor anymore ----

Donate to childhood cancer research.

CHILDHOOD cancer research.

The best organization I know for this is CURE Childhood Cancer. I know the director of this foundation personally ..... her son is a pediatric cancer survivor. They are doing their best to help fund research for PEDIATRIC cancers, something the American Cancer Society does very little of. (And I'm not typing that to open up a firestorm of research donation statistical mud-slinging .... type any comment regarding that and it will be deleted from this site, I promise you .....)

A few facts about CURE, taken from their website:

"What exactly does CURE fund?

Research into the development of “targeted therapies” – that focus only cancer cells and do not harm surrounding healthy cells. Targeted therapies are critical to ensuring that patients are spared the devastating and often life-threatening “late effects” caused by current conventional therapies

Basic and clinical research

Training of future pediatric oncologists and researchers through the fellowship program at Emory University School of Medicine

Emergency financial assistance for families stricken by childhood cancer

Professional development and continuing education efforts for nurses, family support team members, and others caring for children with cancer

Innovative programs that address the critical and urgent needs of patients and their families, such as meals to inpatient families, outreach at the time of diagnosis, and bereavement support"

So here's what I'm asking you to do....

Please, in honor of Kendrie donate ten for ten.

Ten dollars in celebration of the fact she turned 10 years old yesterday.

I don't advertise on this site .... I've never tried to sell anything. Occasionally I will highlight fundraisers that I think are worthwhile.

Today, I am asking you to donate ten for ten, and to make a difference.

Because every child deserves to cook s'mores at a restaurant for their birthday:

Every child deserves to make a wish for the upcoming year ..... to HAVE an upcoming year ....

Please, go to CURE Childood Cancer and donate, in honor of Kendrie, in awareness of Childhood Cancer Month, and in preparation for the forty-six kids who will be diagnosed TODAY.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Raindrops on Roses and Girls in White Dresses

Really, Julie Andrews is pretty much the antidote for anything, isn't she? This might be old news to some of you, but Blaine and I just discovered it and have watched it at least ten times today. I don't care if you're feeling a little blue, you can't help but watch this and smile.

And if I'm ever in a train station and somebody busts out with this, it will be pretty much the best day of my life.

Julie Andrews in a Train Station.

Monday, August 31, 2009

No clever title here ....

A few days before we were to leave on our cruise, Blaine called me at home to tell me there was a job fair that day on the base, and to ask what I thought of him attending ....

"Why would you need to go to a job fair? You're not looking for a job." I replied.

"I know, I just thought it might be interesting to see what's out there, see who's hiring, what kind of jobs I might qualify for, that sort of thing," Blaine said.

"That's silly. You don't plan to retire for another two and a half years. So go next year, or even the year after that. But for now, I think it would be a big waste of your time," Again, I gave my opinion.

"Yeah, you're probably right," Blaine said.

The next day, Blaine called me again.

"The results of my medical review board just came in. Looks like I should have gone to that job fair."


And with that, the final nail went into the coffin of Blaine's career. Stupid cancer.

While I sincerely appreciate the kind words and encouraging sentiment that was left in the comment section, and sent in private e-mails after my last journal entry (and Blaine does as well ..... he rarely goes near my blog but this time I assure you that he read every single comment ....) I do feel that I need to make something clear.

The military in no way "screwed" Blaine .... the decision to medically retire him was not a vindictive one, or made without careful thought. In fact, his case went before a thorough medical review board who took months to decide. Blaine received his due process and the reason he was let go is valid.

We also feel its illogical and hurtful, and could have been avoided, but its valid.


"What do you mean they've decided to retire you?" I asked.

"Just what it says ... they're making me retire for medical reasons." Blaine responded.

"But you don't want to retire," I said. "Don't they understand that you love your job and you want to keep doing it? Can't you just explain to them, and tell them you don't want to retire, and ask to stay?"

"No, the choice is no longer mine."

"You mean you're not going to be in the Air Force anymore? Whether you like it or not? Whether you agree or not? Is that what you mean? Retire-retire? As in, you won't have a job anymore? Can they DO that????"

"Yes, Kristie, that's exactly what they mean ....."

"But, but, but ......"

I was like a dim-witted child, who couldn't quite grasp what he was saying .....


To say we were stunned is an understatement. This was not new territory to us. In fact, this was the third time Blaine's case had gone before a medical review board. But both times previously, he was deemed fit for work. We thought the review board would come to the same decision again ..... why wouldn't they?

Ironically, both times previously when he was reviewed, he had missed MONTHS of work for surgeries, reconstructions, and the first six-week session of radiation in Seattle that liked to have killed him. Those times, he was allowed to keep his job. When he had his first major reconstructive surgery in Washington and resigned his squadron command position because he knew he couldn't do the job during such an extensive recovery, he was still allowed to remain active duty. When he contracted a MRSA infection, and almost lost his leg, and spent six weeks with a picc line on home health high-dose antibiotics (that made him so sick that he confesses now he thought dying *would* have been easier) he got to keep his job. Now, when he was actually back working a full-time schedule, doing the best work he's done in the past six years, he was being let go?

How was that even logical?


"OK, that's just retarded. It doesn't even make sense. You are working more now than ever. Your boss loves you and wrote you a glowing letter of recommendation to stay active duty. So why this time? What was different this time?"

"Bottom line is I can't deploy as long as I have cancer, and they say they have determined at this point that I'm never going to get better, so they're letting me go."

"But you were non-deployable the other times as well, and they made an exception. Why won't they make an exception this time?"

"I guess they don't think I'm worth it anymore."


To address the comment left earlier about the military needing to be battle-ready at all times, and non-deployable members like Blaine are perhaps a liability, let me say ......... we completely understand. I think it would be *more* understandable if Blaine had a day-to-day job that required physical exertion (think firefighter, pilot, paratrooper, infantry, etc.) and he was unable to perform. Then, he would be unable to do his JOB.

But Blaine's job is contracting. He deals with defense firms, and sits behind a desk, doing research, making presentations, haggling contract negotiations. There are people in his career field who never deploy ..... we have friends who haven't deployed a single time.

Yes, Blaine is unable to deploy. They were willing to accommodate that disability previously .... they are no longer willing. That's the bottom line.

And while I think it sucks, and it was about as crushing a blow to Blaine's ego as there ever was, it's not like we can stamp our feet and cry, "It's not fair!"

Because it is. It's their decision to make and they've made it. We just wish they would have made a different one, and decided he was worth keeping around, even if "only" stateside.


"Look on the bright side. They've classified me as 100% disabled. So now, I'm a disabled veteran. That's got to count for something, right?"

"100% disabled? One-hundred percent??? Are you freaking kidding me??? One hundred percent disabled is someone with no arms and no legs. On a ventilator. IN A COMA. And even THEN, they could be a test subject for bed sore cream! You are working full time, are a deputy commander for a squadron, have a large team of people working under you, and are doing a damn good job at all of it ..... how is that disabled???"

"I don't know. That's just what they said."


I have never seen Blaine so defeated. Cancer treatment is discouraging, but it's not personal. You can always hope things are going to get better, and that the end is in sight.

This *feels* personal, but it's not. And the end is clearly in sight, but it's not a decision we made for ourselves.

Just like cancer has done so many times, this forced a decision upon us that we didn't get to make. Our lives are being dictated by events that are out of our control, and are not our fault. Blaine didn't do anything WRONG. He didn't deserve this. Once again, it is something that has happened TO us. And once again, there is no one we can point a finger at to blame. No one we can be specifically angry with. Because we **do** understand.

But man, it totally blows.


To our friends Kim, Kenny, Laura and Dave --- we owe you an apology. We found out this news about 48 hours before we left for the cruise.

We were reeling.

I stood out on our balcony, visions of mortgage foreclosure, and HUD housing dancing in my head. How would we pay our bills? What would happen to Blaine and Kendrie's medical care? Oh, dear Lord, would we have to eat beans the rest of our lives I don't even LIKE beans and I hear the government cheese is really gross.

We were not good company on the cruise. I know that. I'm sorry.


I'm really angry with myself that I allowed this to cast a pall on our summer vacation. A vacation that we had waited for, and saved for, for two years.

And then we went, and my nerves were frazzled.

Then my mom broke her foot.

Attention everyone in the world --- don't ever plan to take a vacation with us. We suck.


"My boss called me in and said I could appeal the decision, but that it would only slow the process down by two weeks, max."

"So 90 days, that's it? You've got to decide what to do, finish up everything at your job, and find a new job, in 90 days?"


"Do they realize they are cutting you loose only a few months shy of the 22 year mark? And that you're losing five percent retirement pay that way?"

"I don't think it was on purpose."

"But I don't think they care."

"Me neither."


To answer those questions, yes, he does get full retirement benefits, including medical insurance. Let me make this clear --- This is not a consolation prize. He earned that by serving twenty years, as does anyone leaving the military honorably after twenty years. And don't get me wrong, we are grateful for the benefits. But no one threw him a bone. He worked for those benefits. In fact, I'd venture to say he worked harder than the average person for those benefits because he worked six of those years while fighting cancer at the same time.

So there, cancer. You can't take that away from him.


"Do you want to stay home? Really, if that's what you think you need to do to get better, I will get a job."

"No offense, but you wouldn't earn enough money to pay our bills, even with my retirement. We'd lose the house."

"I know. But I'd do it. I've mooched off you for twenty two years; it's only fair that I get a job now if it would help."

"No. I want to work. I need to work. I don't mean to sound like a machismo asshole MAN, but it's about my pride .... I need to work."

"But how do you say to a prospective employer ..... 'Hey, the Air Force says I'm not physically fit to hold down a job ... will YOU hire me?' ???"

"I don't know .... that's what I'm trying to figure out myself."


Here's some irony for you. Blaine is now a disabled veteran. That means he gets preferential job treatment for any job out there. He is currently being considered (oh, sweet baby Jesus, please don't let me have jinxed it by typing about it on this blog and actually mentioning it out loud ......) for a civil service job on base.

Which means the government, the very entity which stated he was not capable of holding down a job, is now going to give him first dibs on a government job, doing exactly what he was doing for the military.

Go figure.


"So what did they say when it was your last day? Did anyone even say anything to you?"

"Nope, not a word."

"Seriously. Not one single person in that office came up and gave you so much as a good luck pat on the shoulder?"

"No acknowledgement whatsoever."

"You're kidding me ... I still can't believe you're not kidding me. It's not a bunch of clueless jerks in that office ..... you've got fellow Air Force officers in there! They KNOW you're supposed to have a retirement ceremony, and nothing? Not even a stupid good-luck card passed from cubicle to cubicle? Not even a comment when you were cleaning out your office? What the hell is wrong with those people? Did you do something really offensive to them, or are they just assholes????"

"Remember when I had my last two sessions of radiation and no-one from the office even bothered to call or send an e-mail the entire time to see how I was doing?"

"You're right. A bunch of assholes."


For now, we are facing the unknown. Not sure when or where he will work. Odds are we will land on our feet ...............

He planned to retire in a few years, anyway. Truly, this is not the end of the world. But it is hurtful. It is frustrating to have a major life decision made FOR you.

It is disappointing to go out with a whimper.


Things I am grateful for:

*That God's plan is sovereign and we can trust that. Right now, there is a window opening .... (I just hope it's a nice, big, beautiful bay window somewhere, with tempered glass and a glorious view ....)

*Twenty one years, seven months, of a wonderful active-duty military life. Getting to move all over the country, and meet all kinds of people, and have all kinds of experiences, that we would never have had otherwise. In time, I know the hurt from this situation will fade and we will have (hopefully) nothing but fabulous memories.

*That the first two medical review boards let him stay, so he *could* reach twenty years and retire with full benefits.

*That this happened AFTER we had already settled in Oklahoma, the place we intended to retire regardless. I simply cannot imagine trying to add the challenge of selling a house, buying a house, finding a job in another state, new schools for the kids, and moving half way across the country to the situation.

*Friends and strangers alike who are compassionate enough to care and let us know that. Thank you for your comments and e-mails.

*That I am married to a man who understands (and who has CLEARLY demonstrated, numerous times, over the past six years ....) the concept of pulling oneself up by one's bootstraps and getting on with it. This decision was devastating to him, but he immediately went into survivor mode and started looking at the decisions that had to be made, and taking a proactive stance towards what needed to be done. He has handled this with way more grace than I have. He's really a keeper, you know?

*That no one in my family was diagnosed with cancer this month. Hey, we've gone through it three times in the past six months .... a deep breath and an eye on the bigger picture can help put things in perspective.

*That I can be as obnoxious as I want in the commissary, because guess what? I'm now officially one of those "retirees" who shops there and drives everyone crazy. Always a silver lining, right?

Friday, August 28, 2009

The End

Lt. Colonel Blaine E. Escoe
(very much still alive, in case the title gave you the wrong idea ....)

I'm not really sure how to write this post without sounding bitter and resentful and angry and hurt --- because those are all adjectives that describe me right now -- and have for a while. (I suppose this is the part where I confess I have been keeping a secret.)

Today is Blaine's last day as an Air Force officer. Last day in the military --- last day active-duty anything.

Not by choice.

He is being forced out -- a non-voluntary medical retirement.

Cancer has fucked us yet again.

And while I'm trying very hard not to bear ill will towards the military, which gave us almost twenty-two wonderful years ............... well, I am, just a bit.

I don't want to type the details today, because in my current emotional state, I would probably spew forth all kinds of ugly talk, and that's really not necessary. Suffice it to say Blaine is devastated, and it is hard for me not to feel ugly about it, on his behalf. There will be no retirement ceremony ... no one from his office has offered to throw a party .... this is not a celebration.

We've known for quite a while, and kept it a secret from almost everyone. Not sure if that was good or not because it gave me more time to stew. More time to focus on how unjust and unnecessary I feel this is ... more time to watch the events unfold, and see him hurt.

I'm hoping when the dust settles and we have our ducks in a row I will have a better attitude about the entire situation.

But for now, I'm going to put on my bitter pants and wallow. At least for a while.

I'm proud of you, honey. Twenty-one years and seven months of military service, without so much as a hiccup on your record, is something to be proud of. You be proud, too, and hold your head up.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Because I am a grown up like that

So, I'm glad to read I'm not the only mom who still makes school lunches for her kids. Also, on days the kids choose to take a lunch from home, I also put a note inside each one. Nothing too mushy or gushy, just a quick note to "have a great day!" with a smiley face .... love, Mom

The notes are no big surprise since I do them every day, and this morning I was writing them out at the kitchen table while the kids were eating breakfast. Kellen said, "Is that my lunch note?" and the tone in his voice alerted me .....

"Do you not want a note anymore?" I asked. "Do you feel like they're silly, or you're too old?"

Don't get me wrong, I love writing them, and hoping that they give my kids a little boost mid-day, but I wouldn't ever want to embarrass them in front of their friends.

"Well," Kellen said, "It's just that some of the boys I sit with take them and read them."

"Read them in a 'oh, your mom is so cool' kind of way, or read them to make fun of you kind of way?" I asked.

"Making fun" Kellen replied.

{{now before we go any further, these boys are Kellen's friends, and its in no way a bully situation. Just boys harrassing boys ... being boys ... acting like boys ...}}

"OK," I said. "I'll stop sending them. I don't want to embarrass you."

"I like the notes," Kellen admitted. "I just wish the other boys wouldn't read them."

"Hmmmm." I said, "Let's do this. Starting tomorrow, I'll put the notes in a secret pocket of your lunchbox. That way they won't be able to see them. But for today, let them find it, ok?"

And this is the note I put in Kellen's lunchbox today:

It's too bad so many people in the world (you know who I'm talking about, don't you? And if you're reading this note, so do YOU ....) are such flatulating buttheads. Have a great day!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

SPT August 25

Self-Portrait Challenges for the month of August have to do with the (2008, I'm a year behind) Olympics, and the Olympic motto of "citius, altuis, fortius" (faster, higher, stronger.) Specifically, with how that motto can be applied to our personal ability to "uphold the ideals of the Olympic motto", as per Lelly of Lelly's Musings.

She says, "while i'm far from an Olympic athlete, i like to think that i exhibit some of the same skill and determination that they do. so this month, for spt, i will challenge myself to uphold the ideals of the Olympic motto:

citius, altius, fortius
[faster, higher, stronger]

These three words encourage the athlete to give his or her best during competition, and to view this effort as a victory in itself. Each week, think about the Olympic motto, and how it can apply to our every day lives. citius. altius. fortius. are we giving our best? can we find victories in the efforts we make every day?"

So, in keeping with the Olympic theme, I present you with photos of the athletic event that is taking up the most of our free time lately .... football.

The Olympic ideal of: um, where am I supposed to go?

The Olympic ideal of: well, I'll just run and hope for the best.

The Olympic ideal of: Oh, thank heavens, he actually caught the ball.

The Olympic ideal of: Crap, there's three of them coming ... where am I supposed to go?

The Olympic ideal, from the mother, of: That's right, you better be glad you leaped OVER my child and didn't step on his head or I'd have to come right down there on that field and snatch you bald-headed.

And speaking of MOTHER, since this is supposed to be a SELF portrait, here's a picture of what I looked like all weekend:

PS. Julie, since you asked, I can tell you that Kellen stands 5"3 and weighs (without pads) 83 pounds. He is approx 1-2 inches taller than the majority of his team-mates, and weighs, on average, anywhere from 10 to 20 pounds less than most of them. In fact, of the 24 boys on his team, I would say he outweighs no more than three or four.

So I was feeling a little bad for my Ethiopian child, knowing that not only will the other team most likely pummel him all year, but that honestly, a good strong wind could probably knock him over. With that helmet on his head, he's like a top-heavy Weeble. If he falls, he might never get up.

But then I watched the Little League World Series the other afternoon (Go, Warner Robins!!) and saw in amazement that the 12-yr old pitcher for Chula Vista is 6"2 and weighs something like 200 pounds. Did I mention he is 12?

So now I don't feel so bad. Because compared to him, everyone on Kellen's team is a midget. And maybe if I take enough pictures between now and high school graduation, I'll be able to capture any growth spurts that might take place on film.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Copy Cat

So you might have noticed that over in the sidebar of my blog, I have a running list of other blogs I follow. Some for the great writing, some for great photography, some for humor .... etc.

One of my faves is Gorillabuns. I started reading Gorillabuns because I had met Shana in person and she is honestly, funny as all get out. Then, tragedy struck their family earlier this year and now I read her blog, wishing beyond wishes that I had something wise or profound or even remotely helpful to say.

Anyway! Tonight a new blog entry popped up at Gorillabuns titled "Jake? Jake Ryan? He doesn't even know you exist!"

Here is the comment I left on Shana's site following that entry:

Oh. MY. Gosh! When I first saw the title of this post, I wondered why on earth you were quoting Hannah Montana ... because her boyfriend's name? Is TOTALLY Jake Ryan! Then, a nano-second later, I thought to myself .... no, wait, that's from that Molly Ringwald movie. CLEARLY Disney is stealing material from past generations. Need more proof? The high school principal on Wizards of Waverly Place is named Mr. Larritate. Get it? Larry Tate? The boss on Bewitched???

And also clearly? I have way too much time on my hands. In fact, I might make an entire blog post out of this topic.

And now I have.

So you tell me, can anyone think of any other instances of current Disney shows where they have sneakily underhandedly copy-cattingly extremely creatively used named of characters from other shows and other eras?

Because I'd love to know how many more there are.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Not in their entirety, but here are a few snippets of the first-day-of-school questionaire I give my children each year.

"For lunch I had ....."
Kendrie: 2 tacos
Kellen: Pizza sticks
Brayden: Crap. It's school food -- cold meat and hardened cheese.

"Lunch was actually pretty ...."
Kendrie: Fun!
Kellen: Average
Brayden: Bad

"One goal I am setting for myself this year is ...."
Kendrie: Make new friends
Kellen: Just be myself and have a great time.
Brayden: Stay on all the teachers' good sides.

"One thing I am really looking forward to this year ..."
Kendrie: Spanish
Kellen: Lunch
Brayden: Calling all the sixth graders "Sixlets"

"When I grow up, I really want to be ...."
Kendrie: Like my mom and dad.
Kellen: A CIA Ninja
Brayden: An actress and a vet

"I think this quiz mom makes us do is ...."
Kendrie: Fun
Kellen: Fun
Brayden: Fun even though I've taken it 47 times already.

What's funny is Brayden is actually NOT the one I would label "sarcastic" ... yet after reading her answers, I might have to re-think that opinion.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Still not as bad as 2005

First day of school:

Child #3 forgot both her water bottle and her snack.

Child #3's best friend needed a baggie to hold her extra pencils.

Thankfully we live so close to the school I could run home and get everything the girls needed and bring it all back to school before the day had really even started.

But then I left my umbrella there in the classroom.

It was raining.

Second day of school:

I forgot to ask my children the night before if they wanted to buy lunch at school, or pack a lunch from home. (Hush, I realize my children are old enough to pack their own lunches but I'm still trying to play the "good mother at the beginning of the school year" shtick.)

This morning, after looking at the cafeteria menu for today, all three informed me they wanted to pack a lunch. Of course they did.

Kendrie wanted a ham and cheese sandwich, but informed me there was no more lunchmeat. I told her she could have pb&j.

Kellen informed me the cheese had been left open by accident and was hard. I told him HE could have pb&J, too.

Brayden said she would actually PREFER pb&j, but that Blaine had finished the last loaf of bread a few days ago and forgot to tell me.

Blaine confirmed this to be true.


So, Blaine ran to the store to buy lunch meat, cheese, and bread, and hey, while you're there, we need another gallon of milk and the kids would probably love if you'd buy some of those individual bags of cheetos that I am always too cheap to buy, thanks, honey.

He came home and I rushed to make the lunches.

Which Child #1 AND Child #2 walked off and left sitting on the kitchen table.

When we realized it, half way to the school, I told them children not to worry. I would bring their lunches to the school this morning and leave them in the office.

At which point Kellen said, "Never mind, I don't want to eat it anyway."

At which point **I** said, "Oh. You WILL eat that lunch, and {insert scary demon voice} YOU. WILL. LIKE. IT."

But hey, at least they all three made it to school, unlike my nephew, who missed his first day of middle school ever, thanks to some mystery "summer virus" that rendered him home in bed with a high fever and sore throat on the first day.

Something tells me that the weeping coming from my sister's house yesterday morning wasn't from happy baby angels ....

And still, NONE of it was as bad as this year.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Today, I went out for a leisurely breakfast with girlfriends.

And the baby angels sang and wept with happiness.

Today, I shopped at Target and none of the following -- candy, gum, toys, bouncy balls, flamin' hot cheetos, video games, Disney movies, or stuffed animals -- landed in my cart.

And the baby angels sang and wept with happiness.

Today, I sat in a doctor's office waiting for an appointment for half an hour, and not once did I have to worry about getting back to the sitter, or if the kids were ok at home.

And the baby angels sang and wept with happiness.

Today, I listened to the ipod player in my car and none of the following -- Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Naked Brothers Band, Emily Osment, Selena Gomez, or Demi Lovato -- played a single time.

And the baby angels sang and wept with happiness.

Today, I went for lunch at a restaurant none of my kids like -- and no-one complained.

And the baby angels sang and wept with happiness.

Today, the television never came on, which means none of the following -- Wizards of Waverly Place, iCarly, Drake and Josh, Suite Life on Deck, the Othersiders, or Malcolm in the Middle -- crossed my eyes or my brain even once.

And the baby angels sang and wept with happiness.

Can you guess what else happened today?

My kids started back to school.

And Kristie sang and wept with happiness.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Kellen, age 11 - August 2009

I know I'm probably a wee bit biased .... but damn, that kid is good looking. :)