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. :)

SPT August 18

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?"

Last week, I know I thrilled you with my fantastical water-skiing ability ..... So, this week, I'm taking it down a notch. Instead of wowing and amazing you with my Olympic level athletic conquests, I'm going a little more local ...... being a little more humble .... not bragging so much about my wondrous feats .... instead, staying low key and under the radar ....

Small group game night.

Blaine and I recently bullied and intimidated our way into, basically inviting ourselves and just showing up to the point it would have been awkward for the other members to say no were invited to join a small group from our church. The purpose of small groups is to allow smaller groups (duh) to get better acquainted on a weekly or every-other-weekly basis. The church we attend has several thousand members, so this is a nice way to become better friends with a few people.

We joined a different small group last year but had problems working out childcare arrangements. Once we heard this particular small group was a family group and welcomed children, we were all over that. Even better, once every three months or so they have a family game night, and our most recent one took place this past Saturday evening.

We played a card game called 7-11, which is played with Skip-bo cards. It was a great evening of fun, snacks, door prizes, and most of all, time for the five families that attended to simply enjoy spending time together.

Since its not exactly Olympic-level activity, I thought I would spice it up with another well-known and (at least in my case) fondly-remembered athletic tradition .... the reading of the ABC Sports Intro. Who *doesn't* remember this from the Saturday afternoons of their youth???

::spoken in my best deep, official sports-y commentator voice::


"Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sports... the thrill of victory... and the agony of defeat... the human drama of athletic competition... This is "Small Group 7-11 Night!"

The constant variety of sports:

The thrill of victory (Kellen, in the "lucky" glasses the kids took turns wearing all evening):

The agony of defeat (the four people who tied for "biggest loser", having a play off, which I won. So does that make me the biggest loser winner? Or the biggest loser loser? Because Kellen lost the biggest loser round which he claims makes him the biggest loser losingest winner. Or something like that.)

Whatever. I don't care what you call me. All that matters is I won a 7-11 gift card, which made me pretty darn happy.

I don't think the glasses helped her too much, but she had fun being an "athlete" like me, which is all that matters in the end.

Hey, hush up. This is *TOO* a game, and its going to count towards my spt, so there.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Our weekend, in numbers:

3 -- numbers of stores I had to go to, to complete our back-to-school shopping lists. Because neither Target nor Staples had refill packages of wide-ruled notebook paper. The heck? That's like running out of number 2 pencils, or paperclips .... not acceptable.

17 -- number of times I complained about the current state of young miss fashions. Because a year or two ago, when all the girls' fashions were of midriff tops, shortened to show off my daughter's mid-section, I did not like it. She was not a hooker then and we did not want her going to school half exposed. This year, she is still not a hooker. So although girls' shirts are plenty long now, can someone explain to me why they must be so fitted? As in, curve-hugging, skin-tight, why-hello-every-line-of-your-undergarments tight? And please don't suggest layering .... three layers of skin tight clothes are still skin tight. And she is still not a hooker. And I griped about it in 17 different dressing rooms.

1, 3, 5, and 7 -- The sizes of clothes that are either too small, or too big, or BOTH, for Brayden in the juniors department. Clearly I need advice from the moms (or dads) of girls who are slightly older and slightly bigger than Brayden. She is fast approaching the day that the pants, shorts, and skirts in the kids section no longer fit, and the size she currently needs is not always on the rack. So we made our first foray into the Junior Department this year ::weep, weep:: I so don't understand. We found 3's that were too small, and 3's that were too big. 5's that were too small, and 5's that were too big. 7's that were too small; most 7's were too big. Almost all pairs were so low-rise that when she would sit down they would gap out the back and her crack would show. Thank the good Lord above that SHE refuses to wear them that way. In the meantime, I guess she'll be like her mother and buy lots of elastic waist sports clothing. Thankfully, NOT like me, they still look cute on her and she won't have to fend off questions about whether or not she is pregnant.

1,742 -- The number of dollars I spent on fresh fruit this weekend, only for Kellen to tell me he wants to take a break from smoothies.

2 --The number of trips it took to Home Depot before Blaine bought the correct color toilet seats for our bathrooms.

1 -- number of dead animals found laying in the road in front of our house.

1 - number of times my bed was wet in this weekend, by someone sleeping

1 - number of times it was an animal and not a human

1 - number of times I wondered if that was normal or if I should call the vet

3 - number of loads of laundry it caused

2 - number of hours I was in church this evening helping set up for a breakfast before I realized my t-shirt had a bad word on it.

83 -- number on the scale at Kellen's football weigh-in

many numbers above 83 - numbers of his team mates

358,389,177,893,859,373,420 - number of cockroaches our renter left in our house when she moved out. At least according to Blaine, because I am FORBIDDEN (his word, not mine) from going in the house because he swears I would have a heart attack and die and fall to the floor and the (*#$(#*)$* roaches would carry my body to their den and eat me.

120 - number of photos of Kellen I took for my photography class this week. (And yes, I will be sharing them with you, because this apparently *IS* turning into a photo blog ... which is what happens when I have nothing else to blog about. Well, photos, and dumb lists like this.)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The awesomeness just keeps coming

Since I've already, quite humbly and modestly, if I say so myself, shared with you my total awesomeness in athletic ability, I thought I would go ahead, even though I don't like bragging, even though it's really not my style to toot my own horn, even though I'm actually quite a shy and modest person ......... and show you my awesomeness in photography, as well.

These are all pictures I took this weekend at the lake. In all their un-edited, un-tweaked, un-photoshopped glory.

Try not to be jealous of my mad skillz and talent.

Would you like me to take pictures at your baby's christening, perhaps? Or maybe a graduation or wedding? Because truly, my awesomeness knows no bounds.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

SPT August 11 -- AKA It's no wonder the most athletic thing I did in high school was play in the marching band

In continuing with Lelly's SPT Challenges of 2008, the entire month of August pertains to the Olympic qualities citius, opius, maximus. Citius, fortis, strongius. Citrus, fortress, strongis. Citius, altius, fortius. Faster, higher, stronger.

It is a well-known fact that I ... am extremely athletic. Grown men weep when they see me walk into the gym, knowing I am about to bury them in shame on the bench press. Professional athletes of all sports have been known to scurry away in fear when I approach. Biking, running, tennis, skydiving, weight lifting, team sports, solo events ........ truly, my talents are legendary and my skills awe-inspiring.

Which is why this Self-Portrait Challenge, to highlight myself with Olympic qualities, has been such an easy one for me. In fact, the biggest challenge I've faced has been LIMITING myself to only one activity and photograph a week. But since I don't want to make the rest of you .... even those of you who consider yourself "in shape" (finger quotes, as compared to me .....) feel bad about yourselves when comparing yourself to me and my total athletic awesomeness, I've worked hard to not be all Braggy McBraggyPants.

This past weekend, the venue of choice for me and my awesomeness was water-sports. Made sense, since we spent the weekend at the lake, that the specific area of water skiing would be one where I would shine. After all, I grew up spending every weekend at the lake, boating and skiing with my parents. This was back in the days before we had cool water toys like wave runners or jet skis. We rode in a BOAT, dammit. And we didn't get pulled around on fancy schmancy pretty-boy toys like knee-boards or wake-boards or U-skis. No, sir, we learned to ski on long, skinny pieces of wood called WATER-SKIS .... the kind WITHOUT fancy grippy foot pads or galvanized rubber shoe attachments. And we didn't have comfy, cushy ski gloves, or padded rubber ski handles, either. We held on to a wooden stick tied to the end of a rope and if you were LUCKY it only rubbed a dozen blisters off your palms and if you weren't lucky you got splinters from the wood on top of the blisters. We learned to ski young, and ski tough, by golly, and since that was all there was to do, we got darn good at it.

(Wait. I'm getting perilously close to the edge of the "we walked uphill to school both ways in the snow barefoot and we liked it" mode of lecturing, aren't I?)

Anyway, my point is that I learned to ski when I was ten, and learned to slalom ski when I was twelve. And with the exception of very few summers in between now and then, I have skied pretty much every summer since, at least one time, so I can say with pride and arrogance, "Check me out ... I still got it."

OK .... in all honesty, I might not be very athletic, but I've ALWAYS been able to water ski. Want proof? Here's a picture of me from 2006, skiing five weeks (four?) after giving birth:

The form might not be the best around, but there I am ............. upright.

This weekend, when I was ready to take my turn on the slalom, my brother-in-law Cliff, who really, really, really wants the best for me but unfortunately, is also an unfailingly honest person, asked if I wouldn't rather try wake-boarding instead. I have never enjoyed wake-boarding ... in fact, I'm not even sure I've ever gotten up on one. When I asked why he thought I might prefer wake boarding to skiing, he reminded me that they lost my favorite slalom ski earlier in the summer. He also explained to me that the new ski they bought to replace the old ski was slimmer, and caused much more drag, which makes it much harder to get up on. MUCH harder, Cliff repeated.

Inwardly, I scoffed.

(Yes. Totally scoffed.)

Come on. I've been skiing since I was TEN. I hardly think the SKI is going to make a difference. I mean, I am practically a PROFESSIONAL SKIER, Cliff .... don't even insult me.



"OK," Cliff replied. "Just remember you're going to need to really tuck and hang on through the drag."

I jumped off the back of the boat and got settled in the water. He threw me the ski and as I wrestled it onto my foot, I found myself thinking, "Dang, these boots are freaking tight!" In fact, by the time I got the ski ON MY FEET, I was already winded.

Cliff drove the boat around to give me the rope. I held my balance perfectly in the water (remember, I am an awesome athlete) and waited for him to give it some gas.

I remember hearing the engine rev ..........................

feeling a tug on my shoulders ............


Next thing I knew, I was in the water, face first.

"Hmmmmm," I thought. "That didn't go quite like I had planned. Oh well, this is my first time this summer, and my first time on this new ski. I'm sure a learning curve is in order."

Cliff circled the boat around again ..... I held steady ..... he gunned the engine ....


As he circled around again, I made a laughing comment about how it appeared I was more out of shape than I realized. Cliff tried once more to reassure me that the new ski was difficult for even him to get up on ..... and maybe I would rather wakeboard???

Well, at that point, you might as well wave a red flag in front of my nose.

No, by golly, I'll get up on this damn ski or die trying!!!

And that's about what happened.









I must have tried twenty or thirty times to get up on that )&%*($&%)$(* ski.

At one point, I heard an emergency notice going out over the boat radio from meteorologists in the area, shocked and concerned by the sudden drop in the water level of the lake .... a total of almost six inches in twenty minutes. I can assure them that every missing drop of lake water was firmly lodged in my sinus cavity.

I couldn't get up on that damn ski to save my life.

Cliff kept offering helpful suggestions like, "Tuck tighter!" and "Keep your elbows down!" and most helpful, "Quit falling!"

I replied, "I'm too fat to tuck any tighter!" and "They ARE straight, you moron!" and "&*#$^#(*&%$#(&$!!!!!!!" (I'm sure he counts his blessings EVERY DAY that he married into this family.)

Finally, I conceded defeat. It was the first summer in thirty YEARS that I couldn't get up on a slalom ski. But I'd be damned if I was going to suffer through an entire sinus cavity full of lake water without ANYTHING to show for it, so I asked the boys in the boat to throw me the wakeboard.

Friggin' wakeboard.

I would like to point out that to anyone who is accustomed to skiing, that wake-boarding is actually quite different. Your legs are side-by side, as opposed to one in the front and one in the back. Your feet face sideways, not toes in front. And I was constantly leaning over forwards, with my knees bent, instead of a graceful back-lean like I enjoy while skiing.

And although I was upright at last, I think you can see for yourself how much fun I was having:

Now, don't you wish you were as athletic as me?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Our Weekend of Awesomeness

This time last summer, I was more than ready for school to start and to have some reprieve from the non-stop squabbling that was going on around here. This year, either my kids have been better behaved, or I've been buying better-quality liquor to dull the pain.

Kidding. They've had their moments of total obnoxiousness, sure, and we're going to have some serious laptop- and tv-habits to squelch when school starts next week, but overall its been a pretty good summer. Probably the two weeks of vacation and week of summer church camp right smack dab in the middle was a good way to break up the chunks of fighting and bickering quality time.

Since school begins next Thursday, we're trying to cram all the last-minute "finals" into the time we have left. Final trip to the water park, final matinee, final day of free bowling thanks to the coupons they passed out at school last May .... which sadly, would also be our FIRST day of free bowling, since we didn't utilize the passes AT ALL, which is just really lame and pathetic, especially when you consider its one of the few activities that take place in an air conditioned building.

This weekend we had what will probably be our final trip to the lake with my sister and her family. Who knows? We might get to go again before it gets too cold, but this was the last weekend that no-one had to rush home at any certain time on Sunday night because of school the next morning. We were able to play and sleep and eat at our leisure, no time constraints, no schedules. Stay up as late as we wanted, sleep as late as we wanted, get on the water at our own pace, stay on the water until everyone had their fill ... you get the drift.

Quite frankly, it was a weekend of awesomeness. Which I thought I would share with you ... in .... what else? Photos, of course. Because that's just how I roll.

Awesomeness in getting dirty, because that's how THEY roll:

Awesomeness in spending time as a family (never mind that we had to re-take this photo because I didn't have a towel wrapped around my neck in the first one and the cleavage, my GOSH, was truly frightening, and evidence that I need to buy a more supportive swimsuit next summer):

Awesomeness in tubing:

Awesomeness in tubing like crazy people:

Awesomeness in wondering if there would be anyone left in the tube when it finally came down (sometimes there was .... sometimes there wasn't):

Awesomeness in spending time with Grandma Betty, who I think deserves some kind of medal for braving another day, on another boat, considering what happened last time:

Awesomeness in silhouettes (I just think this is a cool picture):

Awesomeness in underage driving:

Awesomeness in total cuteness:

Awesomeness in skiing and wake-boarding:

Do you see this face? This handsome face below?

I love the kid behind this face for so many reasons ..... SO many reasons .... not the least of which is his total and complete lack of fear. Ever. To do anything or try anything or enjoy anything. Which leads me to ..........

The TOTAL awesomeness of the wipeout:

And I think overall (especially considering nobody was permanently injured or maimed in the taking of these photographs) this was a pretty awesome way to spend our final weekend at the lake.

Stay tuned for more awesomeness, as I continue with my athletic spt tomorrow .....