Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Happy Birthday, Molly!

It's my baby sister's birthday today! 

She is a whooping old 28.  JUST TEASING!  But apparently, she truly thinks that is old... She was quoted this evening as saying "It's all down hill once you hit 30."  Personally, I was so very happy to leave my tumultuous 20's behind me.

So, I just want to give a quick shout out to my precious baby sister and tell everyone how much I adore her!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I Amaze Myseslf

I've mentioned before that I may be a bit forgetful.  I also have a helping hand with the assistance of my wee ones with misplacing objects.  However, apparently, I cannot always blame it on them.

On Friday morning I was frantically searching all over the house for my cell phone. I remembered having it the night before, but it was no where to be found.  I checked under my pillow on the bed; next to and under the bed; the bathroom vanity; the kitchen counters; every available surface in the living room. I started to throw a mild tantrum and was close to blaming the wee ones on losing it.  Big E suggested I use the home phone to call my cell phone to see if we could hear it vibrate and find it that way.  With a big ol' huffy breath (worthy of Junie B. Jones), I picked up the home phone and dialed my cell phone.

As it turns out, my cell was not so lost.  


Rolling my eyes, I quickly hung up the home phone as I watched Husband's lip twitch with a barely concealed grin as he shook his head back and forth. Oh! And Big E... she cackled like an insane woman.  

At least Husband has learned enough to not actually make a comment at that moment. 

Another shining example of how put together I am...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hands, Part 2

I always loved my Grandma’s hands.  By the time I was old enough to remember and pay attention, they were all knobby and soft and veiny and full of arthritis.

Grandma was a typical Lutheran, stoic German woman, mother, wife. She was a hard worker who did not have the luxury of an easy life.  She worked full-time as an accountant while raising five children (including a set of twin girls who were blind) with a husband who drove truck cross-country for a living and was only home on the weekends because of his job. 

Grandma didn’t believe in idle hands. She loved to quilt and every summer had a huge garden full of veggies.  Labor intensive hand activities.

After she retired, Grandma volunteered full time. Wherever there was a need within her church or community, she was there. She delivered “Meals on Wheels” five to seven days a week. She scrubbed dishes after funerals or baby showers or potlucks. She washed the church floors on her hands and knees and helped at her small town’s Senior Center – all at 70+ years old!

The last time I saw my Grandma, I was intensely focused on her hands. I knew it would most likely be the last time I saw her alive.  She was fighting a losing battle with Alzheimer’s.  Her glaucoma had long since rendered her nearly blind. She was no longer cognizant of who I was.  Grandma appeared to be ready to move on to the next phase of her life.

That weekend, as I sat next to Grandma, she rarely opened her milky eyes and did not appear to respond much to our voices.  But touch she responded to.  If you stroked her forehead with a warm cloth, she would lean into your touch.  If you rested your hand on her arm, she would calm and sigh. If you held her hands, she would stop worrying the edge of her comforter and hold still.

I wept silently and stared at Grandma’s hands, clinging to them, as I remembered all of the awesome things her hands taught me.

Pull weeds in her vegetable garden
Play cribbage
Deliver Meals on Wheels
Shake a hand with strength and authority
Scrub a floor on your hands and knees
Hug with integrity

Then with amazing strength, Grandma gently squeezed my hands – as if to comfort me, not the other way around, as I had originally intended.  I looked up into Grandma’s face and clung tighter to her hands as I whispered, “I love you with all my heart.” 
Grandma never opened her eyes, but she smiled as she squeezed my hands again. I was not ready for her to pass from this world and she was reassuring me that it would be okay.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award!

I am so honored!  I have received another award from my friend at Ramblings of A Stay at Home Mom.  Make sure to check her out!  She's fabulous!

My task now is to:
  • Thank and link back to the person who awarded me this award.
  • Share seven things about myself.
  • Pay it forward by awarding fifteen great bloggers and contact these bloggers to tell them about the award!
Seven Things About Me:
1. I want to be a foster parent once my wee ones are a bit older and I hopefully have a slightly larger house to allow more room for a foster child or three.  
2. I am an extreme liberal who ALWAYS votes!
3. I am a die-hard Glee follower.
4. I was engaged at the age 16 to my high school sweetheart, but we broke up right after graduation (a few months before the wedding!) and he is now gay. What does that say for me?
5. As a teenager, I was convinced I was going to be a famous, published author of an award-winning fiction novel before the age of 25.  Hee, hee! Not so much...
6. I have never, ever shot a gun, nor even held a real gun. I won't allow my children to play with any type of guns, not even squirt guns.
7. I love reading fiction and use it as an escape! I have ever since I was a child.

Fifteen bloggers I awarded include. 
(Some I know and others I just came across.)

If you were selected, copy the image above and pass it along!

Hands, Part 1

I believe you can tell a lot about a person by looking at their hands.

Are their hands soft? Chapped? Rough and cracked? Calloused? Grease stained, highly manicured? Are their finger nails short, long, clean, chipped, chewed to the quick? Any nibbled on hangnails? Do their hands look strong? Feeble? Arthritic?

I’ve always had a fascination with hands. It’s one of the first things I notice upon meeting a new person.  Some folks are “eye people” or “butt people”.

Me? I’m a “hand person”.

Think of all of the awesome – and sometimes horrific – things we do with our hands…

Just a few short weeks ago, a surgeon with his legions of support staff performed open heart surgery on my mom.  With precision and extreme care, their hands delicately repaired a clogged artery and sew a new valve into her heart. 

Just pause here for a moment. 

Ponder the thought of the intricate details involved for the hands to ever so gently work inside a human chest to repair a living organ!

So what brought forth this bizarre train of thought?

It was the night before mom’s heart surgery.  I lay in her hospital room, next to her bed, on a chair designed to be a make-shift bed.  I was unable to sleep.  My mind was meandering.  I could hear mom’s slightly panting, labored breathing; the hiss of the hospital air mattress adjusting to mom’s movements as she struggled to get comfortable; one of many machines dinging as mom’s oxygen level dropped below acceptable levels once again…

I watched the nurse rush in to lay a calming hand on mom’s forehead. Later a visiting physician laid his hand on mom’s arm and offered her physical reassurance with her touch. Then my thoughts drifted to the surgeon’s hands that would be INSIDE my mother’s body in less than 12 hours.

I looked at my hands.

My hands. His hands. 

Hands in general.

I thought, “What good are these hands? What damage have my hands inflicted?  How can I do more good with these hands?  To help my mom, sisters, Husband, children, family, friends, co-workers, unknown people?”

If I say that I believe in “Pay It Forward”, are my actions matching my words?  What good works can my hands do to ease life for someone else?

What are your thoughts about the good works (or bad) that your hands can do or have done?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

If I Ran Parent-Teacher Conferences

Each fall and spring, parents across the country wait to be assigned some mutually inconvenient time for parent and teacher to meet regarding the academic progress for each child. Now I'm sure for the parents of the gifted & talented students, there is a certain joy of expectation. However, for those of us with phenomenally standard children (who we obviously think are genius'), conferences are not the social highlight of our already hectic calendars. 

Honestly, I always have a certain "oy vey" feeling in my stomach as I head off to hear how my child enjoys talking in class -- a lot (no WAY?!) and needs to work to curb her friendly impulses. (REALLY? Wow! I hadn't noticed how impulsive she can be.) I will hear that Diva sometimes is a bit reluctant to transition from one task to another (GET OUT) and may, at times, simply close her book, push them to the side and have a good long day dream. That is the inevitable point at which I attempt to suppress what would be a very poorly-timed giggle and try to rein in my own attention.

I don't mean to diminish how teachers handle my children. I truly don't.  But I want to hear something new. Since that would mean going to some other child's conference -- which I've heard is frowned upon, I think we need to rethink the way we have parents and teachers meet. How 'bout we just cut the silly tip-toeing around each other and cut to the heart of the matter. You would like, in no particular order, for me to enforce with my children that they need to:

1) Give homework at least a passing glance
2) Stop shouting out every answer, every time, every day
3) Keep their hands to themselves while waiting in the lunch line
4) Remember to bring home classroom newsletters, at least every so often
5) Chain the homework folder to their persons to ensure ready access when it counts, like say, when planning homework.

Alrighty then!  We're good to go? All false pleasantries and stupid formalities being fully resolved, here's what I think we should be doing. We should be having wine. Yes, I know it's not allowed on school property, but maybe just this once we'll sort that out. What we have here are stilted interviews with parents wanting so badly to hear good news, while conditioned to one teacher after another telling them what the issues are. I'm not being negative. I'm simply being honest. As their mother, I think I am well aware that my wee ones are sometimes scatter-brained, talk a lot, and lose important stuff. No sense wasting tax payer time telling me again. The mood's all wrong. We need to work as partners!  We need to... we need to TOAST!

The wrong mood all started back just a few weeks into the year when I was forced to attend "Back to School Night". I know you need to run down the budget crisis, the awesome standardized test score from last year and awe us with your enthusiasm for our wee ones. But as a parent of not one, not two, not three, but FOUR children, I'd say the bloom is off the rose. The novelty of sitting in their little desks is gone. The "fun" has passed. So draw us back in, with wine.

Trust me, if you uncork it - they will come. If I was allowed to run Back to School Nights, they would be open house style cocktail parties to kick off the year ahead, rather than stilted, marginally attended PowerPoint displays that the teachers clearly put a lot of work in to for no where near the parent showing that they should get.

If I ran Parent-Teacher Conferences, they would be very intimate little tête-à-têtes. We'd discuss test scores over brie. Perhaps some crostini would be shared as you encouraged me and I encouraged you. As these are small gatherings, more one on one, I'd suggest we serve by the glass. Those little airline bottles may be ideal. Ooooh I know! Set up a mini bar in the corner. While I cracked it open for some Famous Amos Chocolate Chip cookies that seem to invade all mini-bars, I'd grab a Chivas or two. By mini-bar rates that would be about $52. Doesn't seem so hard to raise the moolah to send the whole class to Washington DC now, does it? Think about it.

Dearest Educators: These are just my humble suggestions. I may submit this to the Superintendent. It's too late for this year, but maybe they could take some action for next year. I wish I had thought of this sooner... 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Family Field Trip

The wonderful amazing uniqueness of individual electronic equipment.

Family field trip. Driving “up north” to visit husband’s dad and then on to Duluth for a quick family stay-cation at an indoor water park.

Husband is listening to AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds” or Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” on headphones, while I am using my laptop (without headphones, held up close to my ear!) to have K-Ci & Jojo belt out “Crazy” and “Tell Me It’s Real” between Prince’s “P*ssy  Control”. The eldest daughter is listening to Taylor Swift on the rear minivan speakers and the wee ones, Little Princess and Little Man, are watching the movie “How to Train Your Dragon” on the teensy-tiny portable DVD player in the middle seats.

I’m doing my version of a hip hop chair dance in the passenger seat while Husband is sticking his tongue out like Kiss, banging his head and doing that rocker “hang loose” hand signal thingy.  Big E is mortified in the back seat, attempting to pretend that she is too cool to be seen with us – which are extremely hilarious since we’re cruising down the freeway at almost 80 mph and there isn’t anyone around to make fun of us.  Except perhaps the folks in the cars we pass… I suppose they could laugh at us, but I think they would consider us free entertainment. A break from the tedious, boring drive on a MN freeway with nothing to look at except dormant trees, dirty snow banks, and ice-covered bodies of water.

Besides, I consider the fact that I am able to easily embarrass my children as my God-given privilege for putting up with all of their whining, bickering, sassing.

Life is good.  Go us!

Friday, March 18, 2011

One of Those Days

You know how sometimes you just have one of THOSE parenting days.  One of those days when you just aren’t proud of your reactions to the wee ones shenanigans or the stunts they pull, because after all, as their primary care giver, you know dang well you taught them so much better than that!!!

So, it was one of THOSE days.  I am unable to share the gory details but I will share the two humorous highlights of the day.

My minivan was totaled a few weeks ago.  A family friend graciously offered to borrow me their tiny, two door sedan while we were waiting to purchase a newer vehicle, which leaves Big E, Little Princess and Little Man all squashed together, shoulder to shoulder, in the back seat.  The wailing and shrieks from the backseat that ensue every time we go anywhere is grating on my ever over-wrought nerves.

Fast forward to THAT day. All the children have just got off the bus after school. I immediately pile them into the sardine can (that we are very grateful to be borrowing!).  We are trying to get to my mom’s apartment so I can help her after her open heart surgery. Children are starving. I swing through Mickey D’s drive-thru for ice cream cones.  All I hear are happy, slurping noises for approximately 4.79 seconds, then more shrieking.

Stop touching me!

You’re dripping ice cream on me!

Wipe your face!


You got ice cream on me again!

Stop it! Stop it!


I look up in the rear view mirror just in time to see Little Man slap his ice cream cone onto Little Princess’ forehead and shout, “There! Now you have my ice cream on you!”


Later that evening, I send Princess and Little Man upstairs to brush their teeth. Although I realize it’s not intelligent to send a four and five year old upstairs without parental supervision, I figured they could briefly contain themselves for a few minutes while I finished in the kitchen.

Suddenly I heard an odd, kind of hissy sound and a chemically smell burned the inside of my nostrils.  Princess started yelling at that moment as I ran for the stairs.

“What is going on up here? What is that smell?!?!”

“AHHHH!  Little Man! Stop spraying that! Stop! Right now! THIS INSTANT!!!” Little Princess launches herself into my arms as I reach the top of the stairs.

“But I pooped and it’s stinky.”

“Hello?! That’s not air freshener! It’s Lysol cleansing foam. Wait! Why’s Princess’ hair all wet?”

“I was helping her get clean,” Little Man announces proudly.

“Oh crap! All those chemicals on her skin and why is the floor wet too? The. Floor. Is. Soaking.  Did you spray this every where?!?!?”

“Yep!” Little Man is sporting a massive smile…


Double sigh.

Just one of THOSE kinds of parenting days.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


The most appropriate tune I could think of for this Tuesday, in light of all of the excitement of the last few weeks, is Amy Grant's "Better Than a Hallelujah". I used this song not so long ago, but it speaks to my soul and in these trying times, I cling to these comforts.

Better Than A Hallelujah
~ Amy Grant

God loves a lullaby
In a mothers tears in the dead of night
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes.
God loves the drunkards cry,
The soldiers plea not to let him die
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes.

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah.

The woman holding on for life,
The dying man giving up the fight
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes
The tears of shame for what's been done,
The silence when the words won't come
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes.

Better than a church bell ringing,
Better than a choir singing out, singing out.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Maximum Chaos Lives

Hello Dearest Bloggy Friends.

It's been a while since my last post.  Recently we have had much trauma and drama within our family.  Or to put it delicately, we have managed to live up to the name of "Maximum Chaos"!

So let's chat a bit and catch up.  Or rather, please allow me to vent and throw myself an itty-bitty pity party.

The Cliff Notes version are as follows:

Thursday, February 10: Husband's car goes into the mechanic for repairs. $1000 later he has almost an entirely new front end, including tires.  UGH!  We did not have $1000.

Thursday, February 17: Receive a frantic late night call from my Dad stating Grandma is not doing well.  She's receiving hospice services in their home and they don't think she will make it through the weekend. Husband is leaving in two days for a week long business trip, so I jump in the car on Friday morning to drive the 3 to 3 1/2 hours up to Dad's and Grandma's to spend time with them. I cry a lot, hold my Grandma's hand, sing to her, prayer for her, help the hospice nurse and my Auntie take care of her, bathe her. I am only able to spend one night with her since Husband is flying out.  I make the 3 hour long car ride home on Saturday with a heavy heart.

Sunday, February 20: At 6:30am, an intruder attempts to break into my house while I am home alone with 3 of the wee ones. (Remember Husband is traveling for work) An hour after the police remove the first fool from my front porch, three new thugs drive up to my house and, again, try to gain entrance. When they cannot get in, they take a sledge hammer (yes, I said SLEDGE HAMMER) to two of Husband's car windows.  The police did not apprehend this set of freaks and Husband doesn't have glass coverage on his insurance so we're out almost $200.

To add salt to the wound, we promptly received 14-17 inches of snow, which I had to try to keep out of Husband's busted up car and single handedly shovel. (Full intruder story here.)

Wednesday, February 23: My last remaining grandparent, my paternal grandma, passed away after a valiant fight with an aggressively advancing bout of Alzheimer's. I am heart broken.

Saturday, February 26: Front porch screen door rips all of the way out of the frame and off the hinges.  The door is completely ruined due to damage from said intruders.  Another $100+ to get a new door.  Add the cost to the expanding list of unexpected costs that have begun accruing.

Monday, February 28: I receive a call from my baby sister stating that she is picking Mom up at her clinic and plans to bring her to the Emergency Room, per the clinic's orders. A few minutes later, I receive a second call from sister, who is now distraught and nearly hyperventilating.  Mom is having trouble breathing and is clutching her chest. Sister is calling an ambulance.

I am beside myself. Mom is my best friend. Is she having a heart attack? WTH is going on?!  I call Husband and yell that he has to come home right away. I run across the street and pound on the neighbor's door like a crazed nut, I beg the neighbor to watch the wee ones until Husband gets home so I can leave for the hospital right away.

ER determines shortly that Mom has not had a heart attack and she doesn't have any blood clots.  Other than that they are confused about what exactly is wrong. Her heart and lungs are not working as they should. Mom is admitted and subjected to every medical test known to mankind. I spend the night in the hospital.

Tuesday, March 1: No new news for Mom. Tons of tests but no conclusive results. Within the last 18 hours, Mom had been subjected to over 10 separate blood draws. She looks like a walking bruise.

Wednesday, March 2: Tons more tests but no news.  Finally in later afternoon, the professionals decide Mom needs open heart surgery and they want her to do it as soon as possible. A slot for the next day opens up and it's scheduled. I spend the night at the hospital.

Thursday, March 3: The Day -- SURGERY!  Open Heart... Cracking open Mom's sternum...

After spending the night, I have to leave the hospital at 6:30am because Husband has a vitally important meeting at work, so I need to get the wee ones to school, then race back to the hospital in time to see Mom in pre-op before the 4-7 hour surgery.

6:30am: Race home and arrive on time - check.
8:45am: Wee ones off on the school bus - check.
9:00am: Drive Little Man to preschool - check.
9:25am: Crash vehicle on the way back to hospital for Mom's surgery - CHECK!

Yep, as if my luck wasn't sucky enough recently, I managed to rear end a large, shiny, silver, new-ish Suburban with my old, dilapidated minivan. Air bags deployed (never experienced that before and hope I never have to again!!!) My vehicle was smashed to smithereens.

The kindly tow truck driver had mercy on my sobbing, inconsolable soul and actually gave me a ride to the hospital where my Mom's surgery was scheduled.  The price tag you ask?  Well, obviously it's PRICELESS that no one was injured in the accident.  However, we did need to pay $177 to tow my trashed, inoperable vehicle.

I arrive at the hospital, Mom's surgery starts 2 1/2 hours late.  My two sisters, two aunties and I wait with as much patience as saintly possible while Mom endures a five-hour long surgery to replace one heart valve and bypass one heart artery.

Success! Surgery went well and Mom is resting in ICU. We are finally allowed to see her around 8pm.

Friday, March 4-Sunday, March 6: Spending most of my time at the hospital with Mom. Mom has now been a patient at the hospital for seven days.  The cost of $10-$15 a day to park is adding up quickly, but it is absolutely a tiny drop in the bucket compared to what I would pay or do to have my Mom be healthy and happy and around for a very long time.

Monday, March 7: Wee ones and I have our jackets and boots on. We're getting ready to go lead Big E's Girl Scout troop meeting.  Suddenly Little Princess trips and smashes the corner of her forehead on her bedroom door.  In the two seconds it took me to cross the room and grab her, blood has already covered half of her face. After much hullabaloo, Big E goes to the GS meeting with a neighbor; a fellow GS parent is stuck leading a meeting she never intended to lead; and I am in urgent care with Little Princess and Little Man, in which we endure a three hour wait before Princess ends up with 5 tiny stitches in her precious, beautiful forehead. (Not that I am keeping track, but just in case you are, the urgent care copay was $50. I wanted to take her to the emergency room at the local children's hospital, where I assumed with would give her less scar-inducing stitches, but was deterred by the $200 copay.)

So... I am left wondering what have I done to royally piss off the karma gods recently? I'm thinking this recent string of unpleasant events should hopefully get all of my families troubles for 2011 out of the way.  RIGHT?!?!?


I really need a break from trauma and drama.  Normally any one of these events would leave me feeling a bit raw emotionally, but after ALL of these events in less than one month - OY VEY!  I think I'm tittering on the edge of insanity.  (Not really, but I'm stressed!)

If you have any pull with the powers that be, please ask them to send me a rainbow or five.