The View From A Slightly Twisted Angle

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Highest Distinction

b_gradYesterday I whined about mentioned that part of our frantic busyness lately included a graduation.  The graduation of our second child and oldest daughter. Above is our little graduate in all her glory.  I must say I couldn’t be any more proud of our little girl.  Three years ago at her brother’s graduation ceremony she leaned over to me and said, “Mom I’m going to wear one of those white robes.”  The white robes are worn by the kids graduating with highest distinction: extra AP  and foreign languages classes.  She also had her eyes set on the gold ropes: top ten percent of the class.  As evidenced above: she did it. She ranked number 6 in her class and never got lower than an A in high school (or any school for that matter.) She’s always been like that: set her mind on something and you may as well give it up because she is going to do it.  Thankfully thus far she has always set her mind on good things.  I’d hate to think of the wars we’d have had if she had not.  We had enough wars getting through the “good stuff” while trying to keep her from killing herself in the process.  WE had a lot to celebrate!

Somewhere in my head I thought this graduation was going to be easier.  After all I didn’t have to clean a house or landscape a yard like before.  We held her party in the garage of the home where she has been living for the last few months. Her gracious “other parents” are amazing people and opened the use of their home to us.  She also picked a simple menu.  She didn’t want “normal” graduation fare.  Nope.  Not our girl.  She wanted dips: nacho, spinach, salsa….you get the drift.  Simple, right?  Sure is until you have to mix them all up on the day of the party.  She also decided she wanted mini cupcakes instead of a normal graduation cake.  No problem.  Cupcakes are easy.  Until you get to number 500.  Then they are annoying.  On top of that was the simple task of storing and transporting them the 100 miles to her party.  But this was a party for our graduating daughter so we muscled on.  She really hadn’t made any requests that were unreasonable.  She even came home the week before and helped bake her own cupcakes and make her own special chocolates.  A mom can’t ask for anything more than that.

Because of our job schedules we couldn’t make it up until the Friday before her graduation.  I must say I shed many a tear the week before knowing that I was unable to go to her baccalaureate or final awards night but she never complained.  She wouldn’t complain if I asked her to.  That’s just how she is.  It was with great joy we rolled into town on Friday to get our party weekend started.  Our oldest son drove across the state to join us in celebrating his little sister’s achievements.  We hadn’t all been together since the last night we spent together in our former house.  It made my mother’s heart happy to see all my kids together again acting like the genuine goofballs I have raised them to be.  We got ready for the party and swam in the hotel pool.  We just hung out and had some fun.  It was wonderful.

Sunday was the big day.  Thankfully our daughter had texted me following her graduation practice earlier in the week: “Mom they may make you stand up when they announce my name for highest distinction.”   My reply:  “Why? I didn’t do anything.”  Her reply: “Well…DUH! You are my parents!”  Me: “So?  We didn’t graduate with highest distinction.”  Her: “Well no but YOU’RE MY PARENTS! You had something to do with it”  ‘Okay’, I thought, ‘so I’ll stand.’  And I did.  With tears in my eyes and pride clogging my throat.  I did manage to make it through the ceremony without breaking down, a point my oldest son was proud to point out for me.  “Gee Mom.  You cried when I graduated.  You must be getting better at this.”  Stinky kid.

Formalities done we went on to party.  A hot pink and zebra striped party to be exact. (Which reminds me…if you would like to host a party with zebra napkins and pink and black plates and utensils let me know.  I’ll ship them to you.  With some mini-cupcakes in zebra liners.)  We saw friends we hadn’t seen for a while.  Our families drove up and joined us, which was a little surreal considering we live by them all now.  We talked and laughed and ate. It was a great day and one that I hope honored our little honor graduate.  One I hope she will remember for the rest of her life.  We celebrated until the rain started and the clock warned us it was time to be done.  Exhausted, we all pitched in to return our friends’ home into some semblance of order.   After the last of the mess was cleaned and everything was packed back into vehicles to head home we all gathered for last goodbyes.  As I stood in our friends’ kitchen and watched my kids give each other one more giant group hug I realized something.  I have some truly great kids.  I also realized that my daughter’s text from earlier that week was true: we are their parents.  we had something to do with it. That will forever be our “Highest Distinction”.

**Even if they usually act like this…. (No they aren’t looking at anything.  They just wanted to look “up” because they were tired of pictures.)



This Is Why We Pray

prayerAfter logging a bunch of miles on the road last week I cannot begin to tell you how thankful I am that this week the farthest trip I have to take is to work which is about 5 miles from home.  I’m pretty sure after arriving home Sunday evening that if I had to go any further than that my lower half would go on strike. Permanently.  I love my vehicle but I’m tired of it right now. For those who didn’t catch my tales of the road you can read about our longer trip last week here.  I also mentioned that after returning home from that trip we turned around a day and a half later to go and begin doing things to prepare our “new” house for our arrival while my husband worked the weekend. While my husband, I and our youngest two children were there our oldest daughter traveled with some other students from her high school to an honor choir in a different part of the state.  It is that trip which has made me stop and ponder some things the last few days. Our family has the practice of praying together before anyone takes off on a trip.  We take a moment to ask God for a safe journey when we are all together in the car before starting off. My husband and I pray with any child who is leaving with a group on an outing.  I pray with my husband before he leaves for work each week.  It is just something we do.  Like so many other things I thought less and less about why we were doing it and just did it out of habit until something happened this weekend that gave me pause and reminded me that all too often I take things for granted.  I think every once in a while we need a reminder.  I got mine.

Saturday night while sorting and boxing things up at the house into which we are moving I received a text from our daughter that they were headed home from the honor choir.  I texted back to have a fun trip and paused a moment to ask God to keep them safe on the way home.  If I’d have known what was going to unfold I probably would have done more than pause a moment.  I’d have hit my knees. About an hour after her text arrived my phone rang, the ringtone indicating it was our daughter calling.  The conversation went a little like this:

Me: “Hey you! What’s up?”

B: “Hi Mom. I’m just calling to let you know we are stopped on the highway right now. I didn’t want you to worry when I wasn’t home by the time you thought I should be.”

Me: “Stopped on the highway? Is everything okay?” (I was thinking flat tire at this point.)

B: “We’re fine. A car just crossed the line and sideswiped the van but everyone is okay. We’re waiting for the other van to get here and pick us up.  She isn’t too far behind us.” (For those of you who have never had a conversation with a teenage girl this would be a good place to inform you that they talk FAST when explaining things to you.)

Me: “Sideswiped?! Are you sure everything is okay.”

B: “We’re all fine. The driver’s window got knocked out but no one got hurt. We just can’t drive without a window.  Mrs. Bender is coming. My phone battery is dying so I can’t explain it all now.  Don’t worry. I’ll call when I get home.”

I did manage to refrain from asking too many questions such as “Why do you always have enough battery to tweet but never enough to talk” and let her off the phone.  After disconnecting the call I texted her father who was working and passed on what little information I had to him.  I really should have known better than that. He immediately was prepared to take emergency time off from work to go and pick up his little girl.  (That’s one of the many things I love about him.  He is a GREAT daddy.)  It took me a little to convince him that they had things under control there and that there was no possible way for him to arrive there before the other van arrived.  We had to trust the teachers who were with them had it under control.   Again I stopped and, along with my mom and younger daughter, prayed for the kids safety for the rest of the trip and thanked God for keeping them safe that far.  It sounded like a pretty minor incident from the things our daughter had said and the sound of her voice.  That’s what I thought anyway until she arrived home, called me, and filled in some details.

It seems a drunk driver crossed the center line of the two lane highway they were travelling. The choir director who was driving his students got over as far as he could without running them into the ditch and tipping their 15 passenger van but the oncoming car still clipped the driver’s side mirror sending it crashing through the driver’s window.  Guess whose child had been sleeping in the seat right behind the driver. Mine.  She opened her eyes at the sound of the glass shattering and blowing everywhere: mostly on her and the choir director. Part of the mirror clipped her forehead and she had glass fragments everywhere but she assured me she was okay and not bleeding.   No cuts just a couple scratches.  Oh – and she’d bumped her head. Again.  She hadn’t said anything to anyone because she didn’t think there was any big deal.  No.  She didn’t think she needed to see a doctor. Yes.  She was going to take a shower and make sure she had all the glass out of everything.  After talking to her a while I was able to settle my racing mother’s heart down and assured by her that she was in fact fine I let her off of the phone.  Good thing because her daddy called her right after we hung up.  He too wanted more details. After he talked with her he sent me a text:

Do you realize what could have happened?  That wasn’t sideswiped – it was almost a head-on!

Yes I had already realized that and I was already crying and thanking the Lord for protecting our daughter and all of the other people on that van.  Thanking Him for preventing the oncoming truck from crossing any farther into the van’s path.  Thanking Him that all that was hit was a mirror.  Thanking Him that the van didn’t tip.  Thanking Him that our daughter’s eyes had been closed so the glass didn’t hit them.  Thanking Him for the choir director who did such an excellent job protecting his students as best he could by keeping his cool.  Just thanking Him.  Then it occurred to me that our “habit” before trips was probably more important than I had let it become.  I wondered how many other close calls had happened that I never even knew about. How many times had we been kept safe while traveling from things I didn’t even see coming? How grateful I am to God that in all the trips we’ve taken this is the worst accident any of us has ever suffered.  We are blessed beyond words and I hadn’t even taken the time to think about it or thank Him before Saturday night’s reminder. The thought running through my head that evening over and over was: “This is why we pray….”  I’m just so thankful He answers whether my head is fully in the game or not…..So Thankful!

This is what a “few scratches” from flying glass looks like…..but she’s still smiling…..



Can They Pull Your Mom Card?




I truly did used to believe that saying.  While I’d like my kids (and their friends) to think I’m cool it isn’t my life goal.  I figure they’ll figure it out eventually just like I did.  No I have never been interested in being friends with my children but I always thought I was a pretty good mom.  Until last week.

Dropping of our son at school last Wednesday I told him I would be there after school to pick him up.  You see Wednesday is the day our local school district has chosen for the children to dismiss at 2pm so that the teachers can have meetings.  Meetings that every teacher I have ever talked to hates.  When they started the weekly meeting thing they dismissed the students at 2pm on Friday.  From a parental stand point that isn’t so bad. I mean who can be annoyed by a bonus weekend hour?  Why they moved it to Wednesday is beyond me but I suspect it had something to do with teachers taking a bonus weekend hour also.  Who can blame them?  At any rate Wednesday is the day my kids get out early every week. You’d think I would remember that after two years.  It is just a weird day for an early dismissal if you ask me.  Of course no one at the administration office asked me.  Or any other parent in the district as far as I can tell but I digress.

We don’t live very far from our son’s school so normally he walks home from school unless the weather is bad.  This is especially true on Wednesdays since I don’t get off of work until 3pm. Since the high last Wednesday was 10 (F) and the wind was blowing 20 – 30 miles an hour making the wind chill below zero I deemed the day as a “bad weather” day. (For my warm climate friends wind chill is just like heat index…except you need more clothes.) I worked through my lunch hour so that I could leave early to pick him up.  The plan was in place and working well until the phone rang right as I ready to walk out the door. As a result I arrived about seven minutes late.  Our son was not where I pick him up.  Nor was he waiting with the crossing guard across the street.  I decided he had probably given up on me and started walking home so I drove the path to our house.  Still no son.  Odd.  Maybe they kept him at school because I wasn’t there on time.  I drove back to the school to the door where they gather the children of tardy parents.  Nope.  He wasn’t in that group.  Maybe he walked up a different street.  I drove that.  No sign of the boy.  Okay. Maybe I was later than I thought and he’d made it home already. I drove to our house.  No one home.  By this time my mother’s heart was wildly beating. Where could he be?  I got back in my vehicle and started out of the garage. As I turned into the street I spied his Denver Broncos stocking hat walking around the corner.  WHEW!  He claimed that he hadn’t heard me tell him I would pick him up.  Next time I’m going to make him repeat it back to me.  (Of course he still might forget.) As I fixed hot chocolate to thaw him out he explained to me that he always walks a different route with one of his friends on Wednesdays. A route that goes right up one of the main streets in our town.  The same street I drove down to get to the school.  You’d think that I, the child’s mother, would have seen him.  Nope.  I must have driven right by him.  Relieved that he was ok and none the worse for his frigid trip and feeling somewhat like a neglectful mother I posted to Facebook that I had finally lost one of our kids.  With four children it was bound to happen eventually.  And then my sister-in-law commented and reminded me that this, in fact, was not the first time I have lost a kid.  I lost our youngest daughter several years ago. One of the scariest days of my life.

For several years we went on an annual school shopping trip with my husband’s mother and sister. It was great fun and a great blessing to me and my girls loved it.  Well….the youngest loved it until she got tired of shopping.  Our oldest daughter never in her life has gotten tired of shopping but our youngest….well….she was four at the time.  What can you expect really.  Stopping in one last store before calling it a day I told my somewhat whiny tired daughter to be patient for just a little while longer and we’d stop and get a treat.  She wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of another store but she drug herself along, dreaming of her treat.  Sifting through some racks with my sister-in-law my mother in law walked up with our oldest daughter and asked if we were about ready.  Sure.  We were tired to. As we gathered to go we all noticed our youngest daughter wasn’t standing there.  I thought she’d been with her grandma.  Her grandma thought she was with her mother.  She wasn’t with either.  We walked around softly calling her name.  No response.  I got nervous.  More searching and louder calling.  Still no daughter.  My mother-in-law went to have a store employee page her.  No daughter.  I was near tears when my oldest daughter called out gleefully, “Found her!”  With relief washing over us I looked to where my daughter was pointing.  There propped up against the center of a clothes rack fast asleep and now just waking up was my curly red-headed little spitfire, her legs short enough you couldn’t see her unless you crouched down and looked under the clothing.  She looked at me, blinked twice, and said, “What?”  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry…whether to scold her or tell her how much I love her.  I decided to tell her how much I love her first and save the scolding for later.  That was perhaps the longest few minutes of my life.  And I had forgotten about it until last week when I lost one of our kids….AGAIN.

While I’ve always figured I’d never be nominated for mother of the year I still kind of always saw myself as a good mom.  Now I am now kind of worried that I might just win the title, ‘Woman most likely to misplace her children’ and  I’m wondering: can they pull your “mom card”??






“Glee” And Wii Make It Cool?

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I think that I may have mentioned before that my life includes background music.  Seriously.  There is always music popping through my mind.  (Or a movie line – but that is a different blog.)  Here’s the thing about music and me: I love it and have rather eclectic taste.  I love music from all over the spectrum and, depending on my mood, will listen to several “genres” in one day. Satellite radio was made for me.  A John Williams score can bring me to tears. There is no such thing as a bad show tune.  Because of my husband my appreciation for good jazz and swing was increased. (I also now know The Glen Miller story by heart – thanks honey!) From spending time with my grandmother while she watched her favorite show, “Lawrence Welk”, I even have appreciation for an occasional polka. (Don’t judge.  Crank one up sometime and try to keep up with it while dancing about the living room.  Great cardio!)  When we moved to central Nebraska for a while I became a “country girl.” (One of my prized possessions is my Garth Brooks Ultimate Hits CD set. Yes. Seriously.)  I try to keep up on the latest hits and trends.  Yes.  It did take my kids a couple of days to convince me that Justin Bieber was actually a boy, but who am I to judge the latest teen idol.? I remember when I thought Shawn Cassidy was a dreamy and could really sing well.   I’ll listen to rap. I’ll listen to blues.  I love contemporary Christian music.  I love the oldies. I love….well….MUSIC.  I’ll listen to anything at least once.   Of all the genres, however, the one nearest and dearest to my heart, of course, are the great tunes of the 70’s and 80’s.  Those are the years of my youth.  You got it: I can back comb my hair BIG  and jam with the best of them.  This has always been a source of  great teasing from my children. Until lately anyway.

Several years ago we were driving home from a trip to Omaha with only our two oldest children in the car.  Because we own the car we pick the music so my husband had a “Classic rock” (which sounds so much better than old rock doesn’t it?  I want to be “classic” some day.) station playing when suddenly “Bohemian Rhapsody” came on.  We of course did what any good parent would do: turned it up really loud so as to truly freak out our children. Part way through the song our oldest daughter, Brittnie, leaned up in her seat and said, “Oh my goodness! What in the heck are these guys talking about?  Makes no sense. Did you guys really listen to this stuff???”  My husband, never one to miss an opportunity to teach his children said, “This, children, is a musical example of what it sounds like if you drop acid right before you write a song. Makes perfect sense to you but to the rest of the world….maybe not.”   Our children groaned and endured the rest of the song muttering about how incredibly weird their parents, and the music their parents listened to, was.  On another such driving occasion I was informed that Steve Perry sounded like he had a sore throat.  OUCH!  How does one not love Journey?  I had a poster of them on my closet door in my dorm room?? These children!

Fast forward a few years.  My daughter now older and a member of her school’s show choir becomes addicted to Fox’s new show “Glee”.  Somewhere in that first year the glee club on that show started doing old Journey songs.  Suddenly they weren’t so bad.   In fact they were kind of cool.  Okay.  At the conclusion of the first season of the show, lo and behold, they covered the very song that a few years earlier had sent our daughter into a tailspin: “Bohemian Rhapsody.”     To further thicken the plot,  her high school choir preformed that very song at their final concert that year.  It truly was cool and I loved every minute of it.  What I can’t figure out, though, how suddenly the “weird” music her parents listened to was one of the “coolest songs ever”.  I guess because some really cute guys playing show choir characters sang it rather than odd-looking rockers from decades gone by suddenly it was acceptable.  Great even.  I believe I even heard the word “Epic”. Yeah.  That seems fair.

Following suit of her older siblings our younger daughter has long given us lip about how weird “our music” was.  A few years ago I was watching one of the first episodes of  “Don’t Forget The Lyrics” (Again – don’t judge.  I could have been a millionaire had I only auditioned) with her when the Michael Jackson hit “Beat It” came up.  I nailed it. Every word.   With wide eyes she looked at me and said, “Who in the world is Michael Jackson?”  I felt obligated to jump on  YouTube and play a few of his best (80’s) videos for her.  It is my duty as a parent to educate my children right?? “Ummm….Mom….that guy is kind of scary.  You liked him?”  Uh – DUH! How could you not like him??  Oh.  She was eight.  Perhaps a little young to appreciate his genius.  Skip ahead again to two years ago after Michael’s death had pushed him to the forefront again and a game was produced for Wii called “Michael Jackson: The Experience“.  Our youngest daughter who just a few short years before had found Michael’s dancing a bit disconcerting suddenly was in love with the game her aunts gave her for her birthday.  The game that has her doing the same dance moves  that once made her laugh. At me.  How does that even work?  Now she thinks he was brilliant.   Because of a game. She even challenged me to that game just a few weeks ago.  The little stinker has mastered about every one of those dances and while I can belt out every word to his songs I can not begin to imitate his moves.  Never could.  Does anyone else see the unfairness of this situation?  I so need to find a Karaoke game.

I suppose that I really should be thanking the producers of “Glee” and the makers of Wii games for helping me round out my children’s musical tastes but I’m not quite ready to do that yet.  I’m still reeling from the irony in it all.



How Did We Get Here?

Today was the first day back to school for my children.  Yes, I also found it a little strange that they didn’t start back until a Tuesday but then someone explained to me that the administration wanted to be sure the teachers had two full weeks off  and had school started Monday they would have had to be back last Friday.  Okay.  I believe all teachers deserve two full weeks off so I was willing to put up with my children being on break an extra day even if it is weird.   I must say, though, that there were signs that it was time to get back to “normal”.  The first came late last week when I arrived home to find my husband with that look in his eyes.  No – not that look. The “I have spent too many days at home with my kids while my wife is at work” look.  After I inquired concerning his mental health he assured me that he was fine but he was defiantly ready for school to start again.  (How many people now have “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas” running through their head?  Just me?  Figures….)  Thankfully – for him – he left over the weekend for work so he missed the final day of break yesterday.  Yesterday.  The day I figured out it was time for school to start again.

Arriving home for my lunch break yesterday I found my children engaged in various activities.  Or lack of activities as the case may be.  The first indicator that this break was a little long was that they were excited to see me.  I’m guessing they had a little too much “together” time.  To show me how loved and missed I was the younger two, Jakob and Lyndsie,  sat with me at the table as I ate my lunch chatting about….well….nothing really.  Our oldest daughter, Brittnie,  was also in the room busy at the computer re-editing the paper she edited fourteen times over break.  The rough draft is due Friday.  The rough draft.  (Yes.  She is a geek but she’s my geek!) While she was typing along she had her headphones on listening to some station on Pandora.  This is a skill she did not acquire from her mother.  If I listen to music while I’m typing somehow the lyrics to the song that is playing appear on the screen.  (That will be good information for you should you ever run across “we go together like ramalamalama dadingitydingdedong” in the middle of one of my blogs by the way.)  Suddenly she unplugged her headphones turned to me and said, “Where have I heard this song?”  I love questions like that.  Because I should know where she heard a song.  “Ummm….” I responded, “I’m not sure where you’ve heard this song but it’s pretty popular.  It’s been in several movies.”  She turned back around and, because she is my kid, began to investigate from which movie she’d heard the song.    The rest of this story will explain how I knew it was time for break to be over. It is also demonstrate how conversations spiral out of control at my house.

Brittnie: “I think it was on ‘The Last of The Mohicans'”

Me: “Really?  Never saw that movie.”

Brittnie: “You never saw it? Really?”  Why do kids ask you that like you lie all the time or something?

Me: “Nope.  Unless I am feeling highly intelligent and educational I try to avoid movies with massacres and sub-titles.” (Keep in mind that I have no idea if this movie has sub-titles. I’ve never seen it.) “Those tend to appear in movies about Native Americans a lot.”

Lyndsie: “Not in Pocahontas!”

Again because these are my children both girls suddenly began singing (at exactly the same time – it really was rather eerie.) “Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon?”  (Click here if you’d like to hear the full song.  I just got that one phrase.)

Me: “I’ve never seen a blue corn moon.  Wait maybe I have.  I don’t know what one is.”

Lyndsie: “What is blue corn anyway?”

Brittnie: “I think it’s the stuff they used to call ‘Indian corn’ but we can’t call it that now.  What do we call it? Confetti corn? Flint corn? Something like that.”

Me: “Whatever it is it affects the moon.”

Jakob: “And makes wolves cry.”

Me: “Yeah.  I’d be a little more worried about that.  Especially if I were Pocahontas. She didn’t have door locks. ”

Jakob: “So?”

Me: “If there is a wolf howling outside I want a lock on my door.”

Jakob: “Mom.  Wolves don’t hurt people.”

Me: “Sure they don’t.”

Jakob: “They really don’t.”

Brittnie: “Great.  If there is ever a wolf in the back yard we can send Jakob out to deal with it.”

My youngest son was not going to be distracted from making his point and getting the last word.  (I have no idea where he got that quality.  Must be his father.)

Jakob: “Wolves aren’t that much different from dogs.  They are from the same family.”

Brittnie: “That’s kind of like saying Erik (our 21-year-old son) and Lyndsie are the same because they are from the same family. Erik being the wolf of course.”  (Nothing like throwing your brother, who isn’t there, under the bus.)

Lyndsie: “Then what am I?”

Brittnie: “One of those small yappy dogs.  Like a chihuahua.”

Lyndsie: “I don’t speak Spanish.”

Me: “Fine.  You are a Scottish terrier.”

Lyndsie: “I’m more like a husky. Fat and lazy.”

Me: “No Jakob is more like a husky.” Then realizing I had just put my foot in it I did what all good mothers do when they realize they just said something really stupid.  I kept talking. “Huskies are not fat they are sturdy and strong.  They are loyal, always warm (I will add here that our youngest son is one of the warmest blooded people I have ever met.  EVER!) and have beautiful eyes.  See? That’s Jakob. And they are not lazy. They are some of the hardest working dogs around. ”  Nice save Mom!

Brittnie: “Yeah. Don’t you ever watch movies?? ‘Balto’? ‘Eight Below’?”

Lyndsie: “Weren’t the huskies the ones the dog sled guy said were all brawn and no brains?” (reference: Eight Below)

Me: “No those were the Alaskan Malamutes.  Erik would probably be more of an Alaskan Malamute than a wolf actually.” (Mom rule #342: It is okay to throw your college age son under the bus if it saves your fanny from saying something potentially hurtful to your youngest son a few sentences ago.  Particularly if said older son is more known for his weight lifting records than his scintillating conversations.  Besides he will never know.  Unless he reads your blog of course.  Even then he won’t care because he wants you to mail the laundry he left at home to him.  He’s no dummy. Moms never just mail laundry.  Don’t get mad at the woman who sticks snacks in the box with your sweat pants.  Oooo…I’m rambling in the midst of telling a story about rambling….. That’s bad isn’t it?)

Lyndsie: “Okay. What is Brittnie then?”

Me: “A Golden Retriever:  Loyal,  pretty relaxed, even-tempered and calm unless they get fixated on something that is bothering them.  Then they are annoying as heck.”

Lyndsie: ” So why am I the only one who is a yappy little annoying dog??”

Me: “I don’t know Lyndsie. Why are you a yappy little annoying dog?”

Lyndsie: (amid the uproarious laughter of her siblings) “Mooooooom!”

Me: “On the bright side when Scottish Terriers are being calm and quiet they are some of the stinking cutest dogs around.”

Brittnie: “Let that be a lesson Lyndsie. Calm and quiet equal cute.”  I don’t think that was helping much.

Suddenly Jakob was feeling left out: “Mom I think you are a collie.”  Since our dog was a golden retriever/collie mix he thinks that is a high compliment.

Me: “I’m not that energetic.  Nope.  I’m more like a good old mutt.”

Suddenly a thought hit me.  I turned to my oldest daughter and asked, “How did we get here anyway??”

Her reply: ” ‘Last of The Mohicans’ Mom. Remember?”

Oh right.  That makes perfect logical conversation sense.

weird conversations

Okay, so in my childrens’ case it is “weird conversations with your family”, but…….


Kids Quotes #15


This morning as I procratinate  prepare to “undeck” our halls my mind is going over the fun things from this Christmas in our home. In the midst of my thinking it occurred to me that I haven’t posted a Kid’s Quotes for a while.  It isn’t that my kids haven’t been funny. It’s that I’ve been to busy “holly and jolly-ing”  to make note of them.  So before they are ever erased from my ever shrinking memory here we go:

Dropping off 10-year-old Jakob for his last day of school before holiday break last week I told him to have a wonderful day. “Mom. All we are going to do today is watch movies and sing. I could do that at home.”  He probably had a point but I made him go to school anyway.

That same evening, giddy from the prospect of having four days off, I was making pizza for the kids while listening to a “Glee” Christmas CD.  My girls were preparing frosting  and one of our oldest daughter’s friends was on his way to our house to help decorate cookies.  Suddenly the inspiration to sing along – badly – and throw in a few killer dance moves overtook me.  With a look of horror on her face,  our 18-year-old, Brittnie, looked at me and said, “Are you about done with that?”  What? She didn’t think her friend would enjoy a front row seat? Kill joy.

In a like fashion, Christmas Eve morning found me in the kitchen listening to my favorite Mannheim Steamroller CD when suddenly the need to perform an impromptu ballet overtook me. (What was in the peppermint flavored coffee anyway??) Wide eyed my children finally turned to their father. “Dad. Mom is losing it.  Make her stop.”  Their father, my ever loyal husband, replied with a grin, “Why?  I think it’s kind of sexy.”  (I love that man!!) After a chorus of “Ewwwwwws” 14-year-old Lyndsie piped up, “Really Dad? Must you make us all sick for Christmas??”  I love freaking my kids out.

Driving home for Christmas with my family last Sunday my kids were in rare form: hyper, cracking jokes and making each other laugh.  After a conversation between the youngest two I heard Jakob say, “I’m funny. I’ll be making Mom’s blog.”   Me: “Is that a goal in life?”  Lyndsie piped up: “No but you have to admit that was funny.” Me: “It was but I probably won’t remember what he said.” L: “Sure you will. You remember everything.”  Me: “I remember less and less every day.” J: “Don’t they sell pills to help that Mom?”  Smart Alec.

Because it was our final time to celebrate in this house during dinner on Christmas Eve my husband encouraged our kids to share some of their memories fromChristmases the past 14 years.  It was fun and one of my favorite memories shared came when our 21-year-old Erik started talking about how they would send Lyndsie down early in the morning (night?) to check out what Santa brought and report back to them.  Brittnie piped up: “Remember the year we got pets and she came upstairs all excited, ‘Britti! You got a FISH!'” (Lyndsie was probably three at the time.) E: “Yeah. Then remember she ran into my room, ‘Erik you got a RAT!’  I said, ‘A rat?’ and she said, “Well it’s alive and furry and running around and you got him!’ ” (It was a guinea pig for the record.) B: “Yeah and we were like, ‘Thanks for ruining Christmas Lyndsie!'”  Me: “Wait! You sent her down to spy and then got mad when she told you what you got? How does that work??”  E: “Well she was the quietest on the stairs.  We didn’t expect her to tell us everything.”  Me: “Serves you right.” B: “You’ll notice she isn’t the one we send down now!”  They send someone down?  I had no idea.

Christmas morning Jakob, who doesn’t believe in Santa any longer but still really likes presents, woke us all at 7:30.  I smiled at his bleary-eyed older siblings as we gathered in the living room.  Me: “You’ve been waking me up for years.  No grumbling.”  Brittnie: “We aren’t grumbling.  Besides in a couple of years he’ll figure out that the gifts will be the same gifts two hours later.”  Oh I hope not!

One of my favorite memories from this Christmas will be Erik sitting in the kitchen last Saturday while I was puttering about.  He kept pulling up videos of Timothy Hawkins a comedian he loves.  I don’t remember the last time I laughed that much.  I’m going to share two of my favorites:

If you watched that to the end, I am totally getting a t-shirt that says, “Jesus loves you but you are annoying.”  I’m going to wear it ever day at work for the next five months.

We now have “little helpers in the car” “little helpers in the kitchen”….you get the drift.

During Christmas breakfast Erik’s chair was in the direct sunlight reflecting off of the snow and streaming in the window.  He moved a little. Me: “I’m sorry you got the blinding chair.” E: “No worries Mom.  I can eat bacon blind.”

My husband, who is Superman, has a thing about filling the cars gas tanks when it is cold outside.  He thinks he should do it. While Brittnie was working he traded my vehicle for hers so he could fill her tank. Apparently she came out of work while he was gone because I got a text: “Am I supposed to drive the Escape? My car is gone!”  I texted back that her dad had it hang tight.  A little while later both my husband and daughter walked through the door. Me: “You found each other.” My Husband: “I found her all right. She started walking home.” Me: “What??” Brittnie: “Well the Escape was locked and I didn’t have keys so I didn’t know what else to do.”  (I might insert here that the doors have a key code.  Just saying.) I started laughing at her. B: “Well Daddy didn’t answer my text.” Me: “So you started walking?? It’s 5 degrees outside!” B: “I didn’t know what else to do!” MH: “Hmmm…how about walking back in the store and waiting. Or – hey – use your phone and call me.” From the other room Lyndsie interjected: “Wait! You can call on a cell phone??”  Me: “Apparently not everyone can.” B: “You people are all mean and you suck!”  From the other room, Jakob: “Maybe….but the rest of us aren’t freezing.”

While driving somewhere Canon in D came on the radio. Brittnie: “I don’t get why this is a Christmas song. It’s a wedding song.” Me: “Because they added words. You know ‘On this night, on this night, on this very Christmas night.” B: “Oh I know but it is still a better wedding song.” Me: “Wherever it’s played it’s beautiful.” Lyndsie continued to try to discuss whether it was better for Christmas or weddings when suddenly Brittnie says, “Shut your trap! It’s a beautiful song!”  We’ll work on a beautiful attitude later I guess.

That’s what Christmas was about for us this year: time together, love and a lot of laughter.  Perhaps that is why I’m busy procrastinating about packing the decorations away for our upcoming move.  I want to savor a little longer but the bubble wrap awaits….

photo credit:

photo credit:


Merry Christmas Blogging Friends


I received this note and two cross stitched pictures from our oldest daughter (now eigthteen) last year.  I share it with you today as a reminder that it isn’t always about making sure that everything is “perfect” for your children for Christmas.  We never have. While our kids know beyond anything else that they are throughly loved, they have never gotten all the “best” gifts nor has our home ever been perfect. Our house is filled with love and laughter and the importance of spending time together.  Those are the things she remembers now. That’s what has made Christmas magical to her. I kept the note as a reminder for myself:  “magical” comes from the heart.

May your holiday be  “Magical” and filled all the things that make you happy: love, laughter and the ability to let not things be perfect.

Merry Christmas from our House to Yours!



Kids Quotes #14


This weekend while baking cookies “Jingle Bells” began playing on the radio in the kitchen.  I was suddenly transported back in time to a similar scene several years ago.  That year Jakob ,  3 at the time, was sitting in the kitchen “helping” me when Jingle Bells started playing.  Suddenly he asked, “What’s a Bop Tail?”  In my head I was debating whether I wanted to explain that it was “bobtail” and what that meant exactly.  Every answer was followed with another question at that time in his life.  Before I could formulate my answer Brittnie, who was twelve and knew everything then, answered very matter of factly, “It’s BOB’S tail.  Bob is the horse’s name.”  J seemed satisfied and I didn’t have to explain docking horses tails so I let it go.  I still laugh every time I hear Jingle Bells though.

The girls were being girls and bickering. At one point Brittnie, 18,  looked at Lyndsie, 14, and said, “Geez. Hormones much? Eat some chocolate!” L’s retort: “You eat some chocolate!” Quietly from his chair poor 10-year-old Jakob said, “Why don’t you both eat some chocolate?”  It isn’t easy being the little brother some days.

Jakob was “negotiating” with me as usual. Me: “Please take your pile upstairs.” J: “Why don’t I just take it up when I go to bed.” Me: “Why don’t you just take it up now like I asked you?” J: “Why does it need to go up now?” Me: “Why don’t I just poke you in the nose?” J: “Hey! My nose is precious!”  He did get the message though and took his stuff upstairs.  Good thing.

Lyndsie had a particularly bad day at school one day and came home a bit cranky.  And snippy.  I must have raised my eyebrow at some point because Brittnie, who honestly believes that she never acts the same way said, “It’ll be okay Mom. She’s just been in a bad mood for about two years. She’ll grow out of it.”  Wisdom from the 18 year old.  Gotta love it.

Dropping Jakob off at school one morning I noticed he still had a ‘sleepy bug’ in the corner of one of his eyes.  Me: “Close your eyes for a second.”  He complied but I couldn’t reach the offending eye. Me: “Look at me.”  Jakob: “How am I supposed to look at you if my eyes are closed?”  Had me there didn’t he?

Another cold morning before school. J: “Is it really only 2 degrees outside?”  Me: “Yep.  I suggest you don’t dawdle while you walk in.” J: “Why do you hate me?”  Me: “Hate you? Because I’m taking you to school?” J: “Yes.” Me: “I’m just doing my job.I don’t hate you.  I don’t control the weather.” J: “Well I think that there should be a law that there is no school when the temperature  is under 20 degrees.”  He may have a point but I wonder if he knows just how many days of school he would miss in the winter.  Enough to take away summer vacation I’m sure.

Walking into the kitchen yesterday afternoon Jakob said to me: “Mom have I ever told you how wonderful you make things and how great Christmas is because of you.”  Me: “Trying to get a cookie?” J: “Yep.”  I wish he’d just ask but it wouldn’t be nearly as funny.  He’s my charmer.

We were watching “The Muppet Christmas Carol” as a family the other night.  Toward the end of the movie while Scrooge was pleading with the ghost of Christmas yet to come Lyndsie suddenly yelled at the television, “Oh for pity sake just go look at the tombstone so you can change so you can get on with your life already!!”  She doesn’t like other people’s drama obviously.  Just her own.

My girls were standing with me when one of my friends mentioned that she was getting a kick out of watching my husband and I flirt back and forth via Facebook.  Me: “Well we don’t see each other as much so we have to flirt somewhere.” Lyndsie: “Yeah it’s much better when they are like that on Facebook and not in person.” My friend: “Oh I think it’s sweet your parents still like each other that much.” L: “It is sweet I just don’t like it when they make noises.”  Now I knew what she was talking about (See here if you’d like to know)  but the look on my friend’s face before she said “Umm…T.M.I. Lynds” and the bright shade of purple that my child turned was one of my favorite things all week!

Dear God 9


Christmas Traditions: Cookies


The time has arrived! Last night I began making my annual Christmas cookie “to-do” list. The lists of cookies that I want to bake and the ingredients I will need to bake them.  The list of people I want to give cookies as gifts this year. (Have I ever mentioned I’m a list person?) The anticipation is building.  After I go spend a small fortune on ingredients and see the task that I’ve created for myself the dread will build.  Okay not really dread.  More like the “I have lost my mind yet again this year.” And then I’ll move on and get excited again.  Baking cookies for Christmas is as much a part of me as my skin.  Hmmm….perhaps that was a gross reference considering I’m talking about food here.  Let me try again: baking Christmas cookies is as much a part of me as breathing.  Wait! Cooking.  No breathing on the food.  Baking cookies…oh never mind. You know what I’m saying here: I love to bake Christmas cookies.  I’m good at it.  Much better than I am at similes.

I was a bit concerned this year that I was going to have to ditch some of my baking plans.  Last week my ever faithful mixer died.  The little mixer that could.  My faithful friend of the past 20 years.  We’ve baked a lot of things together my little mixer and I.  Baking is therapy for me.  My little mixer was my co-therapist and she died. (I really have no idea if the mixer was a girl – I’m just assuming here.) It was a tragic loss considering the time of year it is so I bemoaned the passing of my friend on Facebook. Now it isn’t like I couldn’t go out and by myself a new hand mixer. I can.  I was just being sad. Much to my shock and delight my sweet mother-in-law read my post and offered a solution for me.  She had an almost new Kitchen Aide stand mixer that she never uses so she sent it home with my husband.  Yes – my mother-in-law is that cool.  I’ve been eyeing Kitchen Aides for years but was too cheap to go get one.  Christmas came early this year. I have a mixer I love and the Christmas cookies have been saved.

Now I know that I probably sound a bit like a sugar addicted psycho here but Christmas cookies are a huge part of holiday tradition for me.  For as long as I can remember they have played a part in preparing for Christmas.  My mom would patiently let us help her make them when we were little.  When we got older she joyfully turned the job over.  My grandmother, who loved all things Christmas,  spent weeks and weeks making different kinds of cookies.  One of my favorite memories of her at Christmas time were the cut out decorated cookies she made (and often sold).  They were so pretty that you almost hated to eat them.  Almost but not quite.  They were also delicious so you ended up eating them anyway.  One of the things that gives me joy this time of year is pulling out her recipe for those cookies (and several others) and baking them just like she did every year.  I also love that I have her cake decorating tips so I get to use the same tools she did to decorate them. It connects me to my past and since I have always included my children in the bake-a-thon every year it passes a tradition down to the future.  Corny?  Maybe.  But it sure is fun.

Over the years I’ve passed more of the “honor” of decorating to my kids.  They handle it completely for me now and enjoy doing it.  Here they are in full “cookie mode” the past couple years:


While the cookies may not be as perfectly decorated as my grandmother’s were they are still made with a lot of fun and love just like hers were.  I think she would have smiled if she’d seen her great-grandchildren enjoying it as much as she used to.


Last year my daughter invited a few friends over to help decorate the cookies.  We went through a lot more frosting than normal but I do believe they had fun.  (They must have because she intends to do it again this year. )  I must say there were some new twists on our “usual” decorating schemes.  For example, this was “Charlie Sheen Teddy Bear”:

cookies6Don’t you love his red eyes?  Appropriate, no?

While my kids tackle the decorating I power bake through other tried and true favorites.  Our house becomes a cookie factory for a few days. A really good smelling cookie factory that makes me remember years past.


It sounds like a lot of work and hassle but it really is one of my favorite things to do this time of year.  I love the tradition and the smells and…well….the results!  There is no thing more fun for me than having loaded cookie trays to give away and take to gatherings.


This is one tradition that my entire family enjoys whether they be bakers or eaters – or both.  

Today’s bonus:  My smart-alec husband and equally smart-alecy oldest daughter challenged me to spend 25 days blogging about my Christmas mug collection and call it “The 25 mugs of Christmas”.  (See what I put up with??)  I don’t have that many.  Well I don’t think that I have. (If you missed the story of my affinity for mugs you can read it here. it’s #7 on my list). They should have known better than to give me an idea however.  While I will not spend that many days boring sharing with you my adorable mugs and the fascinating stories behind where I got them I did decide to highlight a few of my favorites.  Without further ado I present today’s mug:


He (again – I’m not sure it is really a male I’m just assuming) is one of my favorite mugs for a couple of reasons.  My oldest daughter gave him to me the Christmas after she began her paper route.  She was 11 or 12 and was so proud to have her own money to spend that year.  (This was before she became a smart-alec who picks on me.)  She is a gift giver and had saved her paper route money for months so she could get everyone the “right” gift. Her father and I took a group of kids from our church to Omaha to go Christmas shopping that year and our daughter and her best friend shopped  together.  They bought identical presents for their mothers: this mug and the cute little salt and pepper shakers pictured here.  The bonus is that my daughter’s best friend’s mother is also one of my very best friends in the world.  Now even though she has moved 14 hours away I use that mug and picture her using her mug.  It’s kind of like having coffee with her even though we aren’t together.

Now do you see why I’m all sentimental about my mugs??

Extra added bonus! I heard this song today and have had it stuck in my head all day.  Give it a listen, I’m pretty sure it’s my favorite version of this “classic”


It Was Bound To Happen


I knew it! I knew I wouldn’t make it through the entire Christmas season without hearing the one song that makes me scream and turn the station.  It happened on the way back to work after my lunch break today. I was almost to the parking lot when it began playing.  My reaction was so violent that I almost rear-ended someone.  It’s on so soon in the season? I’m doomed to hear it over and over now.  I just know it.   I know you are dying to know exactly what tune causes me to almost annihilate other motorists in my frenzy to change the station and since Christmas is a time for giving I’ll share so you too can be annoyed today.  Here you go:


Before you think me a heartless person let me admit that the first few times I heard this song I was touched.  It’s sweet and sappy and quite Christmasy.  I really liked it at first.  Until they started playing it every five minutes during the month of December.  And then turned it into a movie.  Now when it come on you might as well be playing this:

I also like this one the first time I heard it.  Funny.  Once.  After that it is kind of like nails on a chalkboard.  Or….the neighbor’s dog who barks constantly.  Oh….wait…  Unfortunately I have trouble enjoying Jingle Bells now because somewhere in my head a dog starts barking.  Until I shut him up.

It’s kind of amazing how a version of a song will do that to you.  We have long had “A Very Veggie Christmas” at our house.  My kids, no matter how old they’ve gotten, still love that CD.  Why?  It’s funny.  Well and they use it against me. Have a listen to one of my favorite songs from the album:

Cute…no?  There is nothing better than a prepubescent asparagus singing a classic Christmas song with some sheep.  I love it.  One day when I was dropping our oldest son (who is now 21) at junior high school I attempted to sing the “” part with Junior Asparagus.  I obviously can’t sing like a young vegetable so it came out more like, well….screaming.  My children all looked at me in horror. (Mostly because we were pretty close to a public place and someone could have heard me.) Then they all laughed.  Now every year at Christmas we have to listen to the CD so that my children can all sing/scream through that part and make me laugh.  Our oldest is the best at it though.  Big stink.

My oldest daughter giggles during that song because she remembers the year that our church choir sang it. As they sang “joy joy joy!” my daughter and I leaned close together and perfectly sang “baa…baa…baa!”  (Don’t worry – we were quiet.)  Yep.  “While By My Sheep” is totally ruined for me.  I’ll never be able to sing it normal again. Funny thing is I don’t really mind.  I’d rather sing like Junior and the sheep.  My kids love it.

Here’s another Veggie version of a Christmas carol that’ll get stuck in your head.  You’re welcome!