Four for Four, Plus One More

Our family has been a buzz of activity over the last few weeks.  It all began earlier this year when our youngest son met the girl of his dreams.  Now, there was a lot of pressure on him because our older three kids have amazing spouses who love them and fit in with our family like they were hand-picked by God, which we believe they were.  So, when Scott met Julie, there was a lot at stake.  It didn’t take long before we realized that she is wonderful.   Over the Thanksgiving holiday he proposed and she said yes!  So it looks like we are going to be four for four in the kid-in-law department.

But that wasn’t the only thing afoot.  Our son, Joe, and his wife were expecting their first child.  He came a week late but arrived on December 6, healthy and beautiful.  They are living with us temporarily, so our lives have taken a bit of a return to earlier times.  We live in the same house we lived in when Joe was born.  So just when my baby who is 27 is getting ready to get married, we are transforming the house for our grandson.

Before Thanksgiving my house was overrun with my father-in-law’s furniture, which we pulled out of storage so Bob could refinish it.  You may remember that he was blind so there were quite a few spills and rings from glasses marring its finish.  So arranged among my regular living and dining room furniture, we had a large credenza with bookshelf, two dressers and two nightstands.  There was also a pile of artwork resting in a corner of the room.  We suddenly had too much stuff!

I was desperate to clear out the excess because not only were we getting ready for our grandbaby, we also were going to need a spot to put our Christmas tree.  I was determined it would not go on top of one of my father-in-law’s dressers, but that was looking like a viable possibility.

A few days before Thanksgiving we were able to consign and/or sell his remaining furniture and transform the living room and dining room back into something we could live with, even if that does include a sofa in the dining room.  Clutter stifles me, distracts me and gives me an excuse to be unproductive.   When the excess was removed, happiness and contentment returned.

Christmas tree and baby paraphernalia are all set up.  Notice no bedroom furniture in the living room.  Victory!

Christmas tree and baby paraphernalia are all set up. Notice no bedroom furniture in the living room. Victory!

Now all I have to do is finish my Christmas shopping, do some baking, clean the house (again), wrap the rest of the presents and finish the book I’m writing.  Last week I decided I would not panic until Tuesday (today).  So far I’m not panicking.  I guess I’m procrastinating doing that, too.

Thank you, God, for Red Lights

I was heading to my son’s house to stay with my grandsons for a few days.  It had been a busy morning and I left my home an hour later than I had planned.  I needed to be there by 2:30 to receive the boys from the school bus, and I had to stop at Costco for gas.  It was 2:05 when I finished filling up.  There was plenty of time, except I needed four things from inside the store – four things that were just steps away.  If I could be in and out in 10 minutes, I would just make it in time to get the boys.  Of course, getting in and out of Costco in ten minutes would be a major miracle.  I was up for a miracle.

I was back in the car at 2:18; that was thirteen minutes, which was a major accomplishment for me but only a minor miracle.  As I drove down SR436 I prayed that I would get to their home before they would.  I knew it was tight.  I felt like God was saying, “Trust me.  Be at peace.”

That meant that I didn’t need to give in to anxiety and wouldn’t need to go 80 mph when I got on I-4.  I was at peace.  (The thought of a delay due to getting pulled over by the police occasionally crept into my mind.  Ain’t nobody got time for that.)

file4281249501933 (1)I met one green light after another.  I thanked God for the green lights.  I knew he was using them to get me there on time.  Then I came to a red light.  I thought about the boys.  God gave me peace.  He didn’t say I would get every light green.  He only told me to trust him.  That meant that even if they had to wait for me, he was caring for them.  So, I thanked God for the red light.  After all, he was in charge of that, too.

I pulled into their neighborhood and had to go through the security gate, where three trucks were lined in front of me.  I sat there waiting as a school bus rolled by me.  One of the trucks went through and another school bus passed.

Finally I got through the gate, it felt like it took forever, but it was only about four minutes.  I turned onto their street and there were the boys – one house away from their home.  I would have beaten them home if they hadn’t broken into a run when they saw me.  I am amazed at how God cares for his children.  He gave me just the right amount of green and red lights to get me there in a timely manner, but most of all he gave me peace that I could trust him with every detail.  I just love that.

Dumb and Dumber Pre-View

Think about the last 20 years of your life.  What has happened?  How have you changed?  Do you remember where you were 20 years ago?

Because we were responsible parents, Bob and I were sitting in a movie theater watching Dumb and Dumber.

Twenty years ago Bob and I had four kids at home, ages 15, 13, 10 and 7.  We were in the throes of parenting.  Our oldest two had broken into the teen years.  Everything was shifting.  We were going from navigating our children through Disney movies to a pop culture which we weren’t comfortable with and which we didn’t want influencing them.

IMG_2554-0Before the kids could go to a movie, Bob and I would go see it and give it a thumbs-up or down.  This was a pain sometimes.  We didn’t particularly want to see Dumb and Dumber, but we were told, “Everyone was going to see it.”  Our oldest assured us that he could handle it (my least favorite phrase ever).

So we slinked into a Friday afternoon matinée hoping no one would see us.  We grabbed our popcorn and diet coke and braced ourselves to watch a stupid movie.

Now, I am good for an easy laugh.  I write a humor blog for goodness sakes.  But I was not prepared for this movie.  Bob and I laughed so hard we almost fell out of our seats.

Our kids were waiting at home for the results.  We came home and told them, “This was one of the funniest movies we have ever seen.  We laughed until diet coke nearly squirted out of our noses.  You would love this movie, but you can’t go see it.  It’s crude and inappropriate in so many places.  We’re sorry.”

There went our Popular Parent award.

Now our kids are all grown.  Full disclosure – we own this movie (though we won’t let our grandchildren watch it.)  So can you guess what we’re doing this weekend?  That’s right, going to see Dumb and Dumber To.  It’s not to preview it for our children; we want to see what old age is like for Harry and Lloyd.  We need to answer the dramatic question – Did poor little Billy get scarred for life by holding a dead bird which had its head taped on?  And will we ever know what became of that little home-wrecker Fraida Felcher?  Mostly, we want a good laugh with a little story wrapped around it.

Our youngest son Scott has offered to go see this first and make sure it is suitable for us.  We assured him we can handle it.



Saving the Day in a Hallmark Store – It’s NBD

I had an amazing moment in a Hallmark store wherein I was able to help two ladies out of a dilemma.  I noticed these ladies, who were about my age, in deep conversation about a decorative license plate.  After several minutes, they crossed over to where I was and asked me if I could read it.  Neither of them could figure out what it said.


Without so much as a second thought, I said, “Cutie forever.”  Well, I hadn’t heard that many accolades aimed in my direction in years.  They high-fived me and were giddy with excitement over my interpreting what is the present-day equivalent of reading Egyptian hieroglyphics – abbreviation speech.  You would have thought I pulled them from a burning building.  This must be what it feels like to be in a “state of fabulousness.”

Yes, I had cracked the code.  It was really NBD (no big deal).  I felt like I had received an award as they went on and on about how smart I was.  I remained humble.  I didn’t want to let them know that it was really 2EZ a problem to solve.

ATEOTD (at the end of the day), as I reflected with my husband on just how awesome I was, he was nearly speechless.  Finally, he said, “UR.”

“Y2K (you’re too kind),” I replied.

NTS (note to self), maybe my high school dream of being an interpreter can still come true – forget Spanish, knowing Abbrev Speech will be much more valuable.


The Woes of Car Shopping

I mentioned in my last blog post that Bob and I had been car shopping.  I think that is responsible for my recent gain of a few pounds.  I can’t blame it on the stress of shopping or on the fact that we were running around too much to eat properly.  I blame it on Nissan – in particular on a salesman at a local Nissan dealership.

We had been scouting out the different compact SUVs and were interested in Nissan’s version, the Murano.  A young salesman took us out on the lot.  He was noticeably wet behind the ears.  He pointed to a Quest and said, “This might be what you’re looking for.”

“Uh, I think that’s a minivan,” I said.

“Oh, you’re right.  Sorry.  This is the one you want to see,” he said as he aimed us toward a Murano.  “Yes, this is the Milano; it’s a great little vehicle.”

He opened it up for us and let us sit inside of it.  He showed us the engine and told us all about it.  “The Milano will give you a smooth ride and, of course, the Milano gets great gas mileage.  We sell a lot of Milanos.”

Less Crunchy than an Automobile

Less Crunchy than an Automobile

Finally I couldn’t take it any longer and said, “You should probably know that this vehicle is a Murano, not a Milano.  A Milano is a cookie made by Pepperidge Farm.”

He was quite embarrassed but that didn’t stop him from continuing to refer to the car as a Milano.  Not once did he use the proper name.  Between that and realizing he didn’t know the difference between a minivan and an SUV, we were out of there.

Question:  If a car bears the name of a cookie, even in your mind, does that mean it could be a crummy car?  Probably not, but it’s pretty bad when car shopping puts not-so-subliminal messages in your mind that make you binge on cookies.

Who Am I? (A Deep Question to Ponder)

I don’t know what to label myself anymore.  It used to be so simple.  I was a stay-at-home mom.  While raising my children I have had numerous cottage businesses, but my true love was being a stay-at-home mom, caring for my husband and four children.  Now, my kids are grown but I still stay at home (technically I do a lot of things out of the house – it’s not like I’m locked in here).

So, what label should I give myself now?  The question is always coming up – what do you do?  Honestly, I hate that question.  Your job only tells others so much about you.  Maybe you’re an engineer like my husband.  Does that mean you are a scientist working in front of a computer designing things?  Maybe you build bridges or work in a nuclear power plant.  Maybe you take care of a building.  All of those things fall under the heading of engineer.  So telling someone you are an engineer doesn’t offer much, except that you excel in math and you probably have people ask you to help with their computer.

When I told people I was a housewife that didn’t mean I was married to my house.  In the same way, telling people I was a stay-at-home mom didn’t mean that I was always home.  This brings me to a situation I recently found myself in when Bob and I were car shopping.  We sat down at a dealership with a young man.  And I do mean young – his mother may have had to drop him off and pick him up.

He looked at Bob and asked what he does for a living.  Bob’s answer was easy.  Then he asked me, “What do you do?”

I answered, “Have you ever been to a circus and seen the cats performing in between the big acts?  I train cats.”

“Really?  You mean lions and tigers?”

It took a lot of training to get him to do this.  Not!

It took a lot of training to get him to do this. Not!

“No, domestic cats.  The ones you see jumping through hula hoops, pushing baby carts or climbing ropes and crossing tight wires.”  (I don’t know why I said that.  I had not planned it in advance.  Bob just sat there staring at me, probably wondering where a whopper of a lie like that came from and questioning everything I ever told him.)

The young salesman didn’t miss a beat.  “I didn’t know cats could be trained.  I have two I’d love for you to spend some time with.”

“Oh, yeah, cats can be trained,” I said with confidence.

Honestly, I don’t know where this story came from or why I perpetuated it; but telling it was the most fun I have ever had while car shopping.

Finally, after looking at Bob whose eyes seemed to say, “Who are you,” I confessed that I was having some fun with this guy.  He was good-natured about it, but he was trying to sell us a car.  We didn’t buy from him.  I wasn’t about to buy a car from a person who bought my cat-training story.   He simply couldn’t be trusted.

Relationship Disconnect

Politics has killed one of my relationships – one that spanned 31 years.  It’s sad – senseless even.  It didn’t have to end this way.  I tried to ignore the negatives and concentrate on the positives, but I could only take so much.

It was a phone call that made me realize it was over – another call with constant nagging about their political views.  It didn’t matter if I agreed or disagreed; they refused to listen to me.  It was like I was talking to a machine!  The audacity!  The arrogance!  I reached my breaking point.

Yes, my husband and I decided it was time to pull the plug on our home phone.  It was during the last presidential election season that we realized the end was near.  So, after much agonizing and gnashing of teeth, we have stepped into the present times and no longer have a land line in our house.  I will miss my “298” number, but I won’t look back.  I’m not sure what I’ll do when all the automated political machines find my cell number, but I can’t think about that right now.  I need only embrace the silence; oh, and remember that I don’t have to check my home answering machine any more.  Old habits are hard to break.

For Sale on Ebay

For Sale on Ebay

Layna and the Cat – A Purrfect Pair?

Happy Layna is close to the cat who is trying to act aloof while tracking a lizard.

Happy Layna is close to the cat who is trying to act aloof while tracking a lizard.

We are just coming off of four days (and nights) with my daughter’s children (ages 11, 9, 6 and 2).  Needless to say, I have been in recovery mode for the last two days.  Layna, the two-year-old, is especially active.  She’s adorable, but she will wear you out.

Layna has a thing for cats.  You may or may not remember that my husband Bob and I have a serious No More Pet Pact.  This was enacted after roughly 35 years of pet ownership.  We simply don’t want to be bothered with them anymore.  However, since our son and his wife have temporarily moved in with us, and they have a cat, we’ve had to relax the rule.

Layna could not be more excited about spending time with the cat.  Her poor daddy is highly allergic to them; and after observing her with one, day in and day out, I think they have an effect on her as well.  While she doesn’t break out in a rash or have trouble breathing, she does become very hyper and (for lack of a better word) “catish.”  As for the cat, he’s a nervous wreck.  I think he may be developing an ulcer.

By the end of our time watching the kids, it had become difficult to tell the difference between Layna and the cat.  For example:

  • A cat wants to go in and out all day, so does Layna.
  • A cat walks on all fours, so does Layna.
  • A cat meows, so does Layna – in fact she does more than the cat.
  • A cat’s babies are called kittens. Layna folds her blankie up like a little package and says it’s her baby.  When asked if it’s a girl or boy, she replies, “It’s a meow.”
  • A cat will get up on the table when you aren’t looking. Layna will, too.
  • A cat eats its food from a bowl without the use of hands. Yep, you guessed it – Layna does, too.
  • A cat uses the litter box in the bathroom to go pee-pee. Layna is happy to take her diaper off and go pee-pee in the shower.
  • If a cat is trapped in a room behind a closed door, you can often see its paws protruding from beneath the door. Layna does that, too (only her paws are called hands).
  • A cat is easily occupied by chasing a red laser light around the room. That keeps Layna busy, too.
  • A cat will sleep 16 hours a day.  If only Layna would, too!



Even in Sadness, Light Shines Through

June 4, 2014, was the last time I posted on my blog.  I am determined to post before July ends, so here I go with a snapshot of what the last several weeks have looked like.

June was Family Eye Doctor Appointment Month – at least it was for my parents and father-in-law.  During one week I had four separate appointments for them with a total of six appointments in three weeks.  They all go to the same group.  I am the transportation and extra set of ears for my parents and the “seeing-eye-daughter” for my father-in-law.  (He’s legally blind.)  I think I’m making friends there.

In mid-June, Bob’s two sisters came down to visit their dad.  Bob’s and my prayer was that he would be healthy and they would have a good visit.  His tendency to contract UTIs (urinary tract infections) would often land him in the hospital.  We hoped he wouldn’t be going through that or anything else during their stay.

God is good.  Their visit was amazing.  They spent a week with him and saw him every day.  Bob and his sisters took him out to lunch, which can be challenging.  It was a special time with him and his three kids.  They had great conversations and walked down memory lane.  There were no incidents.  The new declines that we were beginning to see were barely noticeable during their stay.  We were so thankful.

Two days after they went home, he fell.  A few days later on June 30, Bob and I were heading over to visit my parents to celebrate my dad’s 91st birthday when we got a call that he fell again and was being sent to the ER.

He was admitted.  We all thought it was a UTI, but it was not.  I think he was worn out.  It was his time.  On July 4, he was moved to Hospice House.  On July 7, he passed away at the age of 91.  It had been a long year for him, full of challenges physically and consequently emotionally.  We are thankful that he is now at rest in Heaven.

How kind of God to give such a wonderful final visit with his daughters.  And we are thankful for Hospice House – a place to die with dignity surrounded by people who understand, comfort and help.

On the last day that he was fully responsive, I spent several hours with him in the hospital.  He was living in his past and talking vividly about it.  I joined in his conversation like I was there with him.  Having known him for over forty years, it was not difficult.  I’ll always remember how happy he was on that day and how much he enjoyed reminiscing.  I had heard of things like this happening right before the end of life here on earth.  It was remarkable to witness.

The last thing he ever asked of me was to scratch his nose.  I think they had given him some meds that made it itch.  I gave it a good rubbing.  He said, “No, that’s not getting it.  The inside itches.  Scratch the inside.”

“Sorry, Dad, you’re on your own,” I told him.  He was not shy about asking people to do for him.  I don’t feel badly about not granting this last request plus it made him laugh when I said no.

Dale (Bob's dad) telling stories at our house last Easter

Dale (Bob’s dad) telling stories at our house last Easter

He also talked about his projects.  Right to the end, he was concerned about them.  For the last six months our daughter-in-law, Aubyron, had been more or less his secretary.  When she and our son moved back to Orlando, she wanted to help; so we hired her to see him weekly, take dictation from him and transcribe those last pesky stories that he had not completed.  Her duties also included delivering Icy Hot and Listerine and the occasional manicure and tweezing of the nose hair.  (This was not part of the original job description.)  She provided Bob and me with much-needed relief and she enjoyed visiting Grandpa.

When he died, we sent messages to our friends telling them that Bob’s dad had passed.  One of our friends asked us, “Hey, what was Bob’s dad’s name?”  He was always Bob’s dad or Mr. Anderson to them.  His name was Dale.  Among other things, he was a writer.  He encouraged me in my writing.  That being said, I guess I better buckle down and write.  That would make him happy.

Laura Bush, Muhammad Ali and Mary, Queen of Scots, Walked into a Room

One day Ella, our eight-year-old granddaughter, was visiting us.  She pulled out a biography of Laura Bush, whom she had been reading about over the last few weeks of school.  She shared all the facts she could remember with enthusiasm and answered several questions.  I told her about a time several years ago when I donned a wig and a pantsuit to dress as Mrs. Bush and joined my friend John Morgan at an event.  John is a George W. Bush impersonator.

Early in his career I would catch John glancing at me with that I-have-a-brilliant-idea look in his eyes.  “You look like Laura,” he would say.  “I know,” I’d answer.  “You’re creeping me out!”

John and his wife Kathy are among our closest friends.  Kathy used to impersonate Laura Bush and stand next to her husband during his gigs.  This was an extreme act of love for Kathy, who prefers to be more behind the scenes.  One day, Kathy couldn’t (or maybe wouldn’t) help her husband out, so she brought me the wig and talked me into standing in for her.  I guess that made me a Laura Bush impersonator impersonator.   I have to say – I know how Kathy feels!  I am glad for that once-in-a-lifetime experience but am happy to keep it as just that.

This story, along with what she was reading, made an impression on Ella; because when her third grade class prepared to put on a Wax Museum, she already knew who she wanted to be.  That’s right, Madame Curie.  Just kidding!

20140603-210624-75984499.jpgShe was very excited to gather her costume and become Laura Bush.  Our wonderful friends lent her the Laura Bush wig, so she was good to go.  Ella was also committed to helping her friends with their costumes.  One friend was going to be a queen, and she didn’t have a robe; so Ella borrowed an old kids’ robe from our house for her.  I struggled to see how Mary, Queen of Scots, was going to look regal in a faded blue bathrobe; but that was a problem for someone else.

The day of the Wax Museum arrived and the children were in position.  You would stop in front of each student and they would recite a small biography of the person they were dressed as.  A tri-fold board was behind them with more information on their subject.  Ella nailed her recitation.  As I checked out the museum,  I was happy to see that Mary, Queen of Scots, was not wearing a bathrobe.  That had been passed on to Muhammad Ali, who wore it well, along with a pair of boxing gloves.  I was also relieved that Mary was far from Queen Elizabeth I.  If you remember your history, you know that could have gotten ugly!



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