Everything You Never Wanted to Know About IVs

When I was a little girl I had 10 cases of pneumonia in a year which landed me in the hospital every time.  Since my dad was the director of food services there, I equated hospitals with two things: all the chocolate pudding you can eat and needles. Sad to say, the former did not make up for the latter.

So I had this major needle phobia from about 2. It was so violent that vaccinations saw me strapped to a hard surface like Hannibal Lector from Silence of the Lambs, down to the grated mask.  When I grew up and became pregnant with our first, the thing that kept me up nights was that I would need an IV for the birth; not the pain of having someone ripped out of my body, mind you, just the IV.

Sure enough, I am a tough stick. Think tracks up and down both arms like a junkie and blood on the floor.  I’ve tried everything: deep breathing to relax, hydrating like a marathon runner, watching it go in, not watching it go in – nothing works.

The very worst part of my kidney transplant, aside from seeing my dear friend wheeled away to have her very first surgical experience because of me, was getting the IV.  First of all, the needle was the thickest tube in existence.  I had sucked from milkshake straws with smaller diameters.  Sure enough, it took so many tries I lost count after a while.  When they finally got the needle in I was so lightheaded and catatonic from the trauma Troy said they debated skipping the anesthesia, which would have saved us loads of money, which is why they used it in the end. The anesthesiologist needed a new summer home.

While I was under they put in a mainline thingy in my neck.  It reminded me of the dreadlock look the Predator sported in his movies, only it was 5 IVs than dangled from a hole just behind my ear.  It sounds gross, but I adored them, even affectionately naming each one (Luke, Leah, Yoda, Obi Wan and Tiffany).  I would have kept them my whole life if possible because you could both give meds and get blood painlessly from these tubes of joy.  But they wouldn’t let me keep them. Why?  Why?  It’s not like they were going to be passed on to the next patient.  I saw them get tossed in the red bio-hazard box on the wall.  I raised four people.  Maintaining a main line would be nothing. It was just mean to make us part.

Anyway, currently I’m fighting my second kidney infection in two weeks. The first time I had to have the IV moved  because my hospital stay was going to be least four days and the nurses in the ER are selfish and lazy.  They care nothing for placement, just want good stick statistics, and so go for the big veins in the crook of your dominant arm.  At this point your elbow might as well head to a Sandals resort for a well-deserved vacation because it will not be used for the duration of your stay. By the way, using your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth and taking a shower one handed is amusing enough for reality TV.

On this stay I learned the hard way that when you have an IV in long enough the vein will “go bad.” When this happens the  flesh around it painfully swells so you frantically depress the nurse call button like you’re communicating eminent disaster through Morse code while praying your arm doesn’t explode. To date, this has happened three times, so I have had four IVs in a week and it took eleven sticks to get there.  My arms look as colorful as a Cinco de Mayo parade. Each time I need a new one the nurse tells me that they’re calling in Flight for Life Team, as these guys are fantastic at giving IVs while moving in a helicopter, so should be able to find a vein they can drill.

They never actually call them.

Just one of the "misses" that I'm quite proud of

I’m starting to think the promise of the Flight Team is their way of calming me down because, let’s face it, paramedics are just behind firemen on the hotness scale, and saving lives in a helicopter is totally swoon worthy.  So now I’m watching my door expecting a Brad Pitt look alike  in uniform to enter at any minute while “I’m Holding Out for a Hero” is playing in my head, instead of becoming more and more anxious about another IV.  Inevitably one of the floor nurses will show up and burst my bubble.  When she finally has success I’m handed saltines and a can of ginger ale to make up for the Flight Team ruse, as if that’s a fair exchange.  Still, this chick is in charge of my pain meds and stool softeners so I have to be gracious – and the cow knows it.

Nope, IVs are no fun.  At times I look up at my giant bags of antibiotics and saline and think, “With the right straw I could put those suckers down the old fashioned way if it meant relief from this needle taped to my arm.”  When I suggest this my nurse just smiles and makes reference to my stellar sense of humor.  Looks like I’m stuck with the IV.

Pardon the pun.

Posted in IV, Kidney, Kidney Transplant, Life with Little Heather, Medical | Leave a comment

Laughing At Spilled Milk: The Hobbit House

Moving into the Hobbit House


Last month I released two of my boys into an experience every entitled middle class college kid should have to go through: living off campus.

When I took my first child to college – and left him there – it was emotionally violent.  I literally heard the ripping sound coming from my heart as Troy walked me back to the car to go home (why is this not as tough for dads?).  What gave me comfort was knowing my son was living on campus; and that he would be home for Thanksgiving; and that we had family texting so I could bug him loads with nosy questions; and that he locked himself out of his room before we even left, so still kind of needed me.

Dorm life is a nice half step for parents because, while the child is not at home, they are somewhat supervised. Sort of like leaving them at summer camp.  A lot of stuff goes on that is frowned upon, but there is always a responsible adult to go to when things get out of hand. Yes, the dining is horrible, but all the food groups are covered, and someone cleans their bathroom: a real plus!  It’s when your kid leave the dorms to strike out on their own in some run down, low rent, inner city tenement type cracker box that the reality of their independence hits full force.

No exaggeration, I prayed for nine months that Tommy and Johnathan (a college junior and sophomore respectively) would find cheap housing for this year so that we could stop bleeding debt. Therefore, all were thrilled when the boys got into the “Disciple House” last spring.  Each paying $177 a month, the rent is super cheap so they can cover it, and their food, with their part-time jobs.  Plus, the Disciple House is packed with Christian guys who are committed to growing in their faith, so the influences around them are spectacular. What I forgot, but became crystal clear a last month, is that the place has no mother.

It all started with a cat.

My family is deathly allergic to cats.  Seriously, the boys once visited a home with several of them and for days Tommy was a living impression of Don Corleone with a head cold and I had to keep reminding myself that the slasher-film serial-killer breathing that floated through the house was just Johnathan in recovery. Since the Disciple House had a resident feline, the boys asked if they could take the “room” in  the basement where it never roamed.  I use the term room loosely because it was more or less an 8×8 storage closet with a 6 foot ceiling.  We had to measure to make sure the bunk beds would fit all three dimensions. Still, it was off a little kitchen-y thing and they would have their own bathroom.  Since there were seven other guys who would be living in the 1500 square-foot-split-between-three-levels house, this arrangement seemed tolerable…

…until we arrived.

The House Coordinator never told the other guys when we were coming – then headed off to Arizona – so while my boys had paid rent all summer to reserve their place, apparently no one had decided exactly where that place would be. Therefore, when we arrived, the storage closet bedroom looked like this.

Johanthan, my 5'9" son, giving the room perspective. This is the spacious part.

Downstairs room shrinking from 8 feet to 2 at the closet

Where the room quickly shrinks down to 2 1/2 feet wide. Yikes.











The stuff in this space was not that of my sons.  Nor was it of any of the other boys living in the house.  It all belonged to a previous tenant who was graduated, employed, living elsewhere but had left his stuff, including his non-hypoallergenic cat, behind.

Going upstairs to ask the other residents what was up, I was confronted with no less than four very short, barefoot, amiable but clueless college boys. (I texted Troy “It’s a house of hobbits!” He proceeded to read this aloud in front of them (why? why?), which upgraded the description to “A house of humorless hobbits.”). Because their room was not ready, I got my mad mama bear growl going and four sets of furry feet began to scurry around looking for a solution.  They unceremoniously evicted the cat to the basement and assigned my boys a room upstairs as they wanted to “preserve the community feel” of the place (surely not because they didn’t want to empty out the packed storage closet room thing.  Nah, couldn’t be).  Only problem was, Tommy and Johnathan’s side of this new room was still chalk full of other kids’ stuff.  Oh, and it had been the cat’s main digs.

Where to start?

Just a few of the things the previous tenants left behind.


Cleaning out your teenage child’s bedroom is just about as gross as stain treating skid marks and catching vomit.  Still, a parent is somewhat immune to it because it is their child. Cleaning out the room of two young guys unrelated is almost too much to ask.  The only thing that made Troy and I able to dive into the years of junk under beds and stuffed in corners was the knowledge that we were creating space for our sons.

We found many mismatched socks, countless college papers, empty medication bottles and feathers all over (yes, feathers; little white, float up your nose if you disturb them feathers).  We now know the grades, medical history and social security number of two boys we have never seen.  (Through some miracle, there was no abandoned underwear.  Never doubt God’s goodness). The feathers – and there were lots of them – we figure are either the remains of a kill the cat dragged in or a pillow fight that went south. We then vacuumed until the old carpet’s nap stood at attention like a over zealous Marine Private – all the while engulfed in a whirling dervish of panicked, barefoot hobbits.

The bedroom was bad enough.  The bathroom of seven college boys defies description (two share an even smaller bath on the main floor).  The only evidence that I was not in a third world country was that there was an actual toilet instead of a hole in the ground with footprints on either side.  Frankly, I don’t want to talk about it, but will say the line of towels was cute.

Evidence of seven guys for one small bath.


After cleaning the room out we moved our son’s stuff in then took them grocery shopping. This is when I began to panic in earnest.  The boys said they only needed allergy meds, cereal, ramen noodles, and ice cream.  After a lecture about how protein is the power source of the brain, they grudgingly let me add eggs, cheese, and peanut butter to the cart.  Not wanting to push my luck, I remained mute on the fruit and vegetable thing.

Returning to the house we were informed that there was no space in the kitchen for their food. They could have part of the basement fridge, but there was no room at all for anything else. Trying to maintain my cool, we ran to Target for a shelving system.  Now my boys have to leave the house, walk around the side, descend a precarious flight of stairs to the dank cellar – where the offending cat now lives – to retrieve their Totinos and have a pantry by their bunk bed.


Love that my boys' food pantry is right next to Tommy's pet snakes on the left

Eventually we had to leave.  Troy would not let me clean, saying the boys needed to figure it out, when we both know that what they all need is a house mother.  I would like to volunteer for the job.  It would only take a month or so to get the place ship shape, load the freezers with nutritious meals, and bathe the cat.  Plus I could  audit Johnathan’s Middle Ages Literature class.  Troy said no.  I’m still bitter.

Interesting thing is, the boys seem to be doing fine. No fainting from malnutrition or break outs of major debilitating diseases from their petrie dish pad.  And, though there are seven other guys living in a house made for three, Tommy and Johnathan seem to be taking it all with patient humor.

Of course, it could be indifference born out of popping Allegra like M&Ms, but whatever.

Posted in Acceptance, Appreciation, Child-rearing, College, Expectations, family, food, humor, Husbands, Kids, kids and school, Laughing At Spilled Milk, Letting Go, Mommy Grief, parenting, Self Control | Leave a comment

Laughing At Spilled Milk: The House of Horrors

My house isn’t working for me anymore.

I don’t mean that I loath the layout or location; it has literally stopped working. Apparently, like some bitter middle aged woman, it is offended by the upgrades we have been forcing on her so has gone on strike.

It started in June.  The family was stripping the kitchen cabinets of two rounds of primer, paint, and polyurethane, in record heat, when the air conditioner decided it would only blow cool air in the cool morning. Once the heat kicked in, it kicked off.

In July Troy called a repair man (see Troy: George Washington screaming) so that those helping us install the new hardwoods wouldn’t collapse on the sub-floor with heatstroke. We were informed that our antique furnace was emitting in the low twenties of whatever measurement they use to determine the output of carbon monoxide into our house. Twenty-nine and you’re dead in your sleep. So now, despite just spending half our savings on refinishing cabinets and sale flooring, we need to buy a new furnace.

In the same week Troy and I are in the kitchen finishing breakfast before heading out to price baseboards when we hear the sickening sound of dripping.  We follow it to the dining room to see the ceiling has soaked the entire length of the room.  After several minutes of mute denial, we get every bowl we own to catch the water from the overflowing toilet in our upstairs bathroom.

The start of dining room ceiling repairs



The next day our projector screen TV stopped working.  With football season approaching, Troy starts to panic in earnest.

All too soon it’s August and we’re finally ready to put in the floors.  Running the air compressor, we lose the outlets in the garage (and everything in the outside freezer), on my side of the bed, and in all the bathrooms.  I now have to do my hair in good faith and wedge the ironing board between Troy’s side of the bed and the claw food tub that is waiting to be installed once we exterminate the mold colony in the master bath. Sadly, Troy still hasn’t figured out the issue with the outlets, but the electrician’s warning that we would soon need a new electrical box is ringing in our ears.

The Clawfood tub that currently resides in the middle of our bedroom

Pipe declaring its independence from the joint

Pipe in basement with dry wall ripped out. We will never be able to match the paint.

Floors done, we start putting in the baseboards.
Troy goes down to the basement for something and comes back up with more grim news.  “Please try not to use the kitchen sink,” he tells me. ” The window bench in the basement is flooded with water.”  After taking out four feet of dry wall he finds that our house, which was built on bentonite, is “adjusting” and popped a pipe completely off the joint.

If this isn’t enough,

– The new door jambs prove that our doors are not standard size; we use a mallet to close them and a crowbar to open. On the upside, enforcing time out on a teenager has become much easier.

– Now with hardwood floors in the kitchen, the oven will stop working if it feels you walk across them, so I have to glide around like Dorthy Hamel without  the talent.

– The clothes drier stopped emitting heat. Seriously. All it does is give our garments a cold, wet joy ride.

– The engine casings on both of our cars are lose because our garage is now a full four inches higher than our drive way.  Parking in there is like ramming a curb.

– The fridge is making funny whirring noises that currently will stop when we give it a smack, but how long will this tactic last?


So aside from the shower, and a few ceiling lights my house is no longer working for me. Troy and I expect it to swallow us up in a rage, like in the final scene in Carrie, any day now (and living on bentonite, this is a real possibility).

But hey, at least our domestic coffin will have beautiful cabinets and some killer floors!

Posted in Acceptance, Expectations, Home Improvement, home making, humor, Letting Go, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Sikh Memorial: What I’ll Never Forget

Last month I had the honor of speaking at a candlelight memorial service for the local Sikh community who were grieving the heartbreaking murders of their brethren in Wisconsin.

Place of Worship at Singh Sabha

I was not as put together and prepared as I like to be when addressing an audience.  Because of a series of unfortunate events that made us half an hour late and reduced me to tears of frustration, I arrived off kilter.  Then the coordinator of the speakers asked if, instead of delivering my prepared speech, I would offer up a three minute prayer of forgiveness for the shooter and his family.

Typically, curve balls energize me.  Adrenaline kicks in, my mind focuses like a laser, God tells me what to say, and brilliance soon follows.  However, that night it was as if there was a thick membrane separating us.  God wasn’t getting through; nothing but static.  With shaking fingers I appealed to my Facebook friends for prayer and called my pastor for suggestions.

Within minutes I was being introduced with only one small idea in my frenzied head (a sentence that stuck amidst the wonderful paragraph my pastor had suggested). Resigned to sputtering nonsense in front of a large crowd of mourners, suddenly the Holy Spirit pierced like a sword through my racing thoughts and sparked the outline for a three minute speech.  Honestly, I don’t remember most of what I said, and that’s OK; the important things are those I will never forget.

I will never forget that God totally showed up. Yes, it was at the last minute, but he did and always has for me.  I am grateful for this tangible reminder.

I will never forget the dear Sikh people I met that evening. They were welcoming, gracious, friendly and engaging.

I will never forget the Sikh man who sat with me at dinner and shared his heart.  He said that for 500 years his people, who build their faith on peace and tolerance, have had to fight. Always in the minority, they never had a voice. He spoke of how hopeful Sikhs were that America would be different; here they would have freedom of speech, of worship, and not be discriminated against because of the great diversity this land houses. Their reality has been quite different.  America has been no better.

“We are so hurt,” he said.  Their children are bullied on the playground.  Their men are roughed up in the streets.  They are treated with derision and suspicion.   “Why do we have to give up our culture and become just like you to be accepted?  Why can’t we all embrace and learn from each other’s cultures? Do you really want to eat only hamburgers every day?  Don’t you want variety?” Eloquent point.

America has not been safe for the Sikh people.  “There was only one place where we really felt safe,” he told me, “Our temple; and now that has been taken away as well.” I will never forget the heartache, and pain I saw in the tear-filled eyes of a man who my beloved country has so thoroughly disappointed.

Speaking of eating hamburgers every day, this may sound shallow, but I will never forget that Langar. The Sikh people practice lavish generosity, and this meal, Langar, is just a small example.  After every prayer service they open the kitchen and feed any and all who come, no matter their color or creed. At this temple, they do this three times a week!


Usually food prepared en mass is bland – you know, stuff of the nasty cafeteria variety.  Not this food.  It was an Indian feast most would pay top dollar for.  We sat on long rows of lovely carpet while Sikh men and women went up and down the aisles laden with stacks of warm naan, large pots of steaming rice and spicy vegetarian dishes with chasers of the creamiest, most perfectly spiced chai tea it has ever been my pleasure to drink. For hours they went from person to person, encouraging more food like the proverbial Italian mother.  It was glorious.


Durbin kids enjoying Langar











Finally, I will never forget that I was able to share all of these wonderful experiences with my children.  They saw my anxiety when we were running late, and that we actually arrived at the perfect time.  They witnessed God showing up, giving me the words to say.  They feasted upon and appreciated the food of another culture and, most important, heard the stories of the Sikh people that touched tender places in them.

What happened in the Sikh temple in Wisconsin is heartbreaking.  It was evil at its height.  However, God brings beauty out of ashes, and I saw the evidence that day when people from many faiths and cultures came together in defiance of a hateful act against diversity to heal as one.  My prayer is that America can be a country where we embrace and learn from our different cultures and backgrounds while standing together in unity – which is what we are supposed to be about.

Because personally, while I love them, I don’t want to eat only hamburgers every day.

My new Sikh friends

Posted in Acceptance, America, Diversity, Faith, family, food, Friendship, goals, God's provision, Kids, Love, parenting, Sikh Memorial for Wisconsin Temple, Sikh temple shooting, Wisdom, World Cultures | Leave a comment

The Unsung Heroes of the Aurora Shooting

Well, not really unsung, just not sung loudly enough.  Their heroism should be like a belting-out-with-all-your-might-in-a-stadium-with-equally-enthuistic-fans sung.

Actually, there were many, many heroes that night whose praises should be sung out that way, but right now let’s focus on the Aurora police department. These guys have so impressed me, I’ve been looking for a cop to bear hug and shower with steak dinners and warm cookies.

Let’s back up. Last Thursday/Friday night my family attended the midnight showing of Batman: The Dark Knight Rises at our local AMC Theater – 15 miles from Aurora. As we approached the entrance to the complex, cops were standing guard. This made me feel both frightened and safe: frightened that an event like this was potentially dangerous; safe because our police department foresaw this, so were standing watch.

Midnight showings of long-awaited films have a joyful, carnival atmosphere.  People dress up in costumes. Theaters let you bring your own food so small feasts abound in the isles. Strangers strike up animated conversations like old friends.  Teens perform movie scenes at the front of the theater (a perfect “stage”) to entertain the crowd.  It’s a time to indulge in some innocent fun; to break loose and let your defenses down.

Predictably, some high school kids went down front and began to play out fight scenes from previous batman movies, showing off their flips and fancy moves.  The crowd laughed and cheered them on until a police officer made them stop, enforcing that the area must remain clear of people.  Troy and I thought he was being a fuddy-duddy at first, but soon saw the wisdom: it would be all too easy for a real-life villain to open fire from that position into the packed stadium seating.  I became nervous because for the first time in all of our midnight show attending history our kids were not beside us, opting instead to sit with friends. I began to work through how I would get to them if anything bad happened, but soon comforted myself with the knowledge that, while Batman watched over Gotham from the heights of skyscrapers, our neighborhood police were remaining vigilant on the ground.

Soon, the movie started and all uneasy thoughts vanished.  Afterward, we had a wonderful time debating the good and bad of the film as we always do. While I enjoyed it, I was a little irritated and turned off by its portrayal of the Gotham Police Department.  Spoiler alert: the Gotham Police not only all go into an underground tunnel where they are – no surprise – quickly trapped by the villains, but later approach the bad guys from a narrow street where they are easily gunned down – something your average 12 year old knows is tactically ridiculous. Why, in these super hero movies, are the police so often portrayed as incompetent and foolish?  I felt it was dishonoring to the many men and women who uphold our rights and keep us safe.

Five hours later a friend woke me with a worried phone call.  “You didn’t go to the AMC in Aurora last night did you?” When I said we hadn’t, she told me about the shooting.  I thought I was dreaming because of my thoughts from the night before, but alas, the events of July 20th were all too real.

Besides the horror of the event, the thing that impressed me most was how quickly the Aurora police were on the scene – 60 to 90 seconds after the first 911 call.  They were so fast, they apprehended the suspect in the parking lot.  Then, when it was revealed that there were explosives in his apartment, they evacuated his building and the one beside it, contemplated the complicated tripwires for days, and then performed a controlled detonation.  No more lives were lost.

As president Obama said later, the Aurora Police Commissioner “did everything right.”

The police often get a bad rap.  We loathe them for pulling us over when we breach a traffic violation as if they do it purely for the money – like they’re throwing department parties with it instead of providing a consequence for unsafe driving. Never once do we thank them for enforcing the rules placed for our protection – even from ourselves. We take for granted that they will protect us instead of extorting bribes for basic services like the law enforcement in so many other countries.

Like our military, our local police departments daily put their well-trained lives on the line to provide the invaluable service of keeping us safe – and are paid a pathetic fraction of what their work is worth. How do we show our appreciation? By portraying them as incompetent so the audience sees the need for a fictional super hero. We should be ashamed.

Don’t get me wrong; The Dark Night Rises was entertaining and fun.  However, shortly after midnight, when a real bad guy let evil reign in him, those in the Aurora AMC didn’t need Batman. Why?

They had their local police department.

More than super hero enough.


Posted in Appreciation, Aurora Police, Aurora Shooting, Law Enforcement | Leave a comment

Laughing At Spilled Milk: Hunting for Hardwoods

For eleven years (as long as we have lived in our house), Troy and I dreamed of replacing the stain magnet carpeting with hardwood floors.  While most people in our comfortably middle class neighborhood would have long ago whipped out their Visa and contracted someone to do the job, we have not for one reason: Troy.

You may be expecting this to turn into a case of husband bashing, but I am actually quite proud to have married a man who believes in saving up to pay in cash, refuses to hire someone to do what he can eventually figure out, and enjoys shopping.

As you know, I hate shopping, but for Troy it is the way his primitive hunting instinct presents itself. Channeling nomadic ancestors, he subconsciously believes that he has only so many arrows to bring down his prey, so waits patiently (too patiently, I often believe) for the perfect specimen to cross his prowling path before digging into his quiver.  My dad says Troy is just cheap like his mom. “They grip a dollar bill until George Washington screams.”

Thus, it took years to pick the ideal floors because Troy enjoys the hunt far more than the kill.  For a few more years, we would “visit” them to affirm our choice. Last month we stopped by and found that the floors were on sale to the degree that even Troy had to admit it was a deal too good to pass up. He pondered it until the very last day of the sale, drew back his bow and shot.

The floors we picked

I went into a mild panic, suspecting that my spouse had been replaced by a pod person, because this man had just bought a new kitchen table the previous week, from a store.  I emphasize this because only once before have we bought furniture from a store, and that was with our wedding money.   Yes, we had “stalked” this table for months and combed Craigslist looking for a better deal, but eventually he slapped down the greenbacks, going so far as to purchase insurance for it; this from a man who maintains that bike helmets are sissyfying a generation.


The precious, insured table

So I spent that week peering into my husband’s eyes to make sure his soul was still there while he hopped on Facebook to round up friends to help with instillation. The family room is lined with thirty, eighty pound boxes of hardwood flooring (SO happy that the boys are home from college and will work for cheap pizza) as they acclimate to dry Colorado, which gives us time to get up to our neck in the brutal tar baby of home  improvement.  I’ll share that fun little trail of projects next time.

Flooring acclimating in our family room

Posted in goals, Home Improvement, home making, Housekeeping, humor, Laughing At Spilled Milk, Marriage, planning, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Laughing At Spilled Milk: The Ring of Fire

Jenny Girl began dating a very nice boy a few months back.  Not long after he asked her to “be his,” she warned him about The Ring of Fire.  Her brothers had been drooling to do it ever since the idea came to them her freshman year of High School, but never had the chance until “The Boyfriend” came along.

At first I was unsure that The Boyfriend should be put through The Ring of Fire. He seemed an upstanding fellow with an endearing tendency toward shyness which tempted me to shield him from The Brothers.  Plus, I feared he would spontaneously burst into flame during the process and didn’t want to return him to his mother as a pile of emotional ash…until he kissed my baby girl.

She shared the momentous event, all glowing and happy, and then skipped upstairs to her room, feet touching nary a step. Smiling after her I turned to the men in my family and declared “The Ring of Fire is on, boys!”

The Brothers got down to the business of planning and eventually the date was set: Wednesday, 11am so that Troy and I could attend on our lunch hours.

The Boyfriend was punctual. Jenny Girl was permitted to come downstairs for an encouraging hug and then banished back to her room.  He was invited to take a seat on the hard wooden stool opposite The Brothers who sat on the comfy couch.

Each brother held three things: a pen, a sheet of paper with a list of questions, and their weapon of choice: steel pipe, nine iron, and a shovel which the oldest continually drummed his fingers upon.

Johnathan: Before we begin we would like to let you know that, of the guys Jenny has been interested in, we like you the most.  That being said, we will not be merciful. There are 18 questions here.  Five of them are make or break, so if you answer one of those wrong the interview will stop, and you will have ten seconds to leave the premises before we come after you.  (Turning to his brothers) Should we tell him ahead of time what these questions are?

Tommy: (smacking the pipe against his palm, looking The Boyfriend in the eye) No.  If he can’t figure out which questions would be make or break, we have our answer.

Johnathan: Fair enough.

Tommy: (To The Boyfriend) When is a good time to have sex? (Yes, that was the first question.  Poor guy)

The Boyfriend: (Quickly and firmly in a relieved in a “Yes!-I-know-this-one kind of way) Marriage!  (There is an uncomfortable silence as the boys mark their papers which makes him panic and add), or never; whichever you guys prefer.

Johnathan: Why do you want to date our sister?

The Boyfriend: Oh, gosh, I mean, there are just so many reasons, it would take a forever to list them all!

Johnathan: We have time.

The Boyfriend: Um, well, you know, I mean, she’s…pretty, and, um, smart….and, you know…funny, and ah, pretty.  Yeah.  Yeah, she’s great.

(Jenny said later that this is the one question she knew was coming, so warned him about it.  He actually practiced the answer with her and it was lovely, but he drew a total blank in the heat of the moment)

Timothy: How should you react if the two of you have a fight?

The Boyfriend: She is always right. Always. Maybe we could also talk about it sometimes, but I’m always wrong and she is always right.

Tommy: Are you familiar with “The Bases.”

The Boyfriend: (We could have read by the light of his red glowing face) Um, yeah, I think so.

Tommy: Would you name them for us please.

The Boyfriend: (In obvious physical pain) Um…well…I don’t know them exactly, but, you know, I’m familiar with the concept of…the…you know…bases…I guess.

(Tommy then stands to “chart” the bases through a brief interpretive dance)

Tommy: Now you know them. So, when is it OK to go to second base?

The Boyfriend: Oh, wow, um…after a long, long, long time – at least two, three years – at least.

Troy: (Not able to restrain himself) Who determines when you move to the next base?

The Boyfriend: (Soberly) Jenny.

Troy: Thank you.  Proceed, boys.

Timothy: If you and Jenny are being physical and she says “no,” what does that mean?

The Boyfriend: That I should leave the premises immediately.

Timothy: We would have taken “stop,” but that works.

Johnathan: Who is Jesus to you and what is your favorite Bible verse?

The Boyfriend: Oh, wow, Jesus is, like, everything.  He’s, you know, big!

Johnathan: That’s what he is.  Who is he to you?

The Boyfriend: Oh, well, he died for me, you know.

Johnathan: OK, yes, and your favorite Bible verse?

The Boyfriend: Um well, it’s all so good, you know, the Bible, it’s a big book.  There are just so many good ones.

Johnathan: Name one please.

The Boyfriend: OK, um, I always liked that one about nothing, you know, separating us from Jesus love for us…not demons or anything else (like the scary big brothers of your girlfriend, for instance).

They then went on to ask:

–          How his relationship with his parents is and did they like Jenny

–          A good age for marriage

–          His grades and plans after high school

–          How he would defend Jenny if needed

–          What it means to treat a woman with honor and respect

–          What does mistreating a woman look like

–          Are a person’s feelings more important than being honest with them

–          The healthy way to end a relationship

–          If you mistreated our sister, what would you expect us to do to you? (The Boyfriend: use the items you are holding, on me).

The Brothers then instructed The Boyfriend to stay on the stool while they left the room to calculate his results.  They tallied their scores and converted them into a percentile, then went back to the couch and glared at him silently until even Troy and I were uncomfortable.  Finally Johnathan said, “Welcome to the family!” Relief and joy washed over The Boyfriend’s face.  The Brothers then offered him their score sheets so that he could see where they expect him to improve, which he eagerly accepted.  Jenny was allowed to give him a quick hug before The Brothers whisked The Boyfriend off to lunch.

After, Jenny asked me how The Boyfriend did.  “His answers were good. The Brothers gave him a 91%, but frankly, he was in with Dad and me just for agreeing to do The Ring of Fire. That boy slayed a dragon for you today, Baby.”

“Don’t I know it!” she replied.  “It’s wonderful, isn’t it, mom?”

“Yes, it sure is.” I said, adding, not aloud, “Because now if he gets out of line we can legally kill him.”

Posted in Child-rearing, family, humor, Kids, Laughing At Spilled Milk, Letting Go, parenting, parenting goals | Leave a comment

Laughing At Spilled Milk: Welcome to “Coddling Your Kids Cooking!”

Recently I decided the offspring should learn to cook, mostly because the two middle guys will have a house next year at college, so need to learn to make more than cereal and Easy Mac. The fact that I’m wiped after work has nothing to do with it.  I swear…kinda.

Anyway, the plan is to have each child cook dinner once a week. The ground rules are:

–          They can spend no more than $15 per meal

–          They must choose proteins that are on sale at the market that week

–          They must shop for the foods themselves

–          I will only give advice/instruction if asked – their rule for me. What was the impetus for this, I wonder?

–          They must completely clean the kitchen when dinner is over (This includes stove and countertops, two items that seem to be invisible in our family, and frankly, the sweetest part of the deal!)

We have just finished our first week.

I drove them to the market and waited near the check out as four young adults realized that the signs above the isles occupy space for a reason, generic is your friend, and the importance of figuring out your total before you hit the checkout – all lessons I am still learning.  Please don’t tell.

Johnathan was the first to cook.  He wanted lots of help with his hamburger gravy, but commented that my tone was a bit heavy on the Mary Poppins.  “You sound like the host of a new Food Network show, ‘Hi! Welcome to Coddling you Kids Cooking!’” If someone knows how to teach a teen in a way that doesn’t offend them, I’d love to hear it.

Tommy’s calzones were yummy. He made his own pizza dough and rolled out each calzone, then filled them with a fistful of cheese and a mound of greasy cured meats that only the very young can enjoy guilt free.  I took mine with a baby Aspirin and a double Prilosec.

Jenny Girl made fried chicken and popcorn. Not popcorn chicken, chicken with popcorn: that common side dish. She went solo, banishing me from the kitchen.  At one point I went downstairs for water and saw a perfectly round billiard ball of butter on a cookie sheet (She used the ice cream scoop).  Reminding myself that she had to clean up the mess and that our smoke alarms were intact, I quickly left the room.  Defying all odds, her chicken was wonderful – not at all greasy – and the popcorn kind of worked.  Who knew?

Timothy had to learn the art of defrosting for his steak.  Because he placed the packages one atop the other this took two days.  A carnivore to the core, he never once thought of serving anything with the steak (we could hear the outraged cries of Boulder carried upwind), but it turned out perfectly: medium rare and tasty.

I would call this week a success.  The worst thing we ate was a bland impromptu stroganoff I threw together to cover Timothy’s frozen steak.  The kids learned quite a bit, which is fun to watch. Oh, and, praise God, we all dodged food poisoning!

Posted in Child-rearing, Cooking, food, goals, humor, Kids, parenting, parenting goals | Leave a comment

Laughing At Spilled Milk: The Great Biking Debacle

OK, yes, my next post was supposed to be about strategies to overcome Marthaholism, but to be honest, I’m still digging myself out of a bad spell so don’t currently have much to say about it. Instead, you get to hear me process today’s exercise nightmare.

I decided to bike to work.  Our new Youth Pastor has been doing it all week and encouraged me to do the same touting it’s benefits for personal health and the environment. I only live four miles away, so I thought I’d give it a go.

Getting there was great: lots of downhill, but just enough peddling to make it a comfortable work out. Granted, the whole way I feared the ride back as it would be 3pm on a hot June day and mostly uphill. However, I arrived to work invigorated with just the right amount of serotonin released and anticipating a good day, until…

When one bikes to work, there are many items you should bring: water bottle, change of clothes, extra deodorant, hair brush and so on.  One thing you don’t  need: your keys – unless you’re the only person in the office for most of the day.

I peddled around the building a couple of times in denial, removed my bike helmet to feel the cool breeze through my hair, took a long pull from my water bottle and faced the inevitable fact that I had to turn right around and go back home.

It sucked.  Yes, the incline was not constant, and yes, it probably got no more extreme than 15, 20 degrees, but I’m an out of shape mom in my 40’s, so had to get off and walk twice – which did nothing for my ego, let me tell you.  This humiliation made me defensive and bitter.  Stupid sanctimonious new Worship Pastor. Never trust a man who makes his living hanging out with teenagers, has an immaculate office, and makes his own veggie burgers.  Besides, he’s 10 years my junior and only had to bike half the distance. Oh, and he’s from Chicago – the home of Capone, Governor Dailey, and the Bears. I mean, seriously!

All that to say, even though it was 9 in the morning, it got real hot real fast. Half way through I felt warning signs that something in my chest – heart, lungs, an important artery – was going to explode. If that wasn’t enough, I had just waxed my face the night before so the sweat made it sting like I was undergoing a very precise jelly fish attack.

Still, I made it. Yes, I took the easy path through the park and cut through my neighbor’s yard to avoid that last big hill.  I also took the epidural during childbirth – more evidence that sometimes survival of the fittest refers to the smartest and not the strongest, so back off self-righteous, veggie burger eating, tree hugging masochists. I may not be fit, but I have personality. I’m relate-able. Loads of people like me.  Only California and Boulder like you.

Stumbling into the house, I went straight to the kitchen and plunged my bare hand into the death by chocolate ganache cake I had baked for a coworker’s birthday.  Hey, I was late on my morning meds and they have to be taken with food. Don’t judge me.

Soon after, I had to go upstairs to change my clothes.  It was a brutal, cruel climb, similar to using your last energy to reach the top of Mount Everest only to learn it’s actually the next to last peak. Going up almost broke me, but coming back down was worse; my legs gave out so I had to do the butt slide to the main floor. What are those muscles in the front of your thighs?  Whatever they’re called, we won’t be on speaking terms for quite a while.

Sorry, but I don’t see myself biking to work anytime soon for several reasons:

–          I love my van.  It blows cool air in my face and gives me all the exercise I need.  After all, shapely right ankles are really the most important feature on a woman, right? And yes, I’m not doing my part to help the environment, but buying gas stimulates the economy, so I’m still a good person.

– It’s three hours later and my face is still red as a beet – either because of the humiliation or because my cardiovascular system is in a total panic, neither of which is a kind thing to do to myself (Although it is nice to have some color since all of my make up melted off).

–          I have carried, pushed out and fed four people from my body, and gravity has been pulling on it for 43 years.  It’s not like biking to work will make what’s drooping down snap back up.

–          God gave us clothing to cover our physical flaws and the only person who sees me naked is middle age and going bald.  Who exactly am I trying to impress here?

So, I’m giving up on biking and going back to my first love – walking.  It’s good for you and no one gets hurt.  Still, the day wasn’t a total loss.  I now have a killer workout playlist!

Posted in Aging, Body Image, Expectations, goals, humor, Laughing At Spilled Milk, Letting Go, Weight, Wisdom | 12 Comments

Hope for the Marthaholic – A Story of Recovery

“It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night anxiously working…for God gives rest to his loved ones.” Psalm 127:2

Ten years ago I was a raging Marthaholic. My day was scheduled from dawn ‘til long past dusk and I got a rush from drinking in the sight of my daily planner in all of its color coded glory. I was productive.  I was popular.  I was proud.

Then one day, when about to start my morning routine (lying in bed for 5 minutes mulling over everything that needed to get done), I noticed that it was painful to move just about every muscle in my body, very similar to fever symptoms. I took my temp, but it was low if anything, so I shrugged it off and decided to push through.

The next day was the same.  So was the next.  And the next.  Soon brain fog and extreme fatigue set in.  It felt like the earth’s gravitational pull had tripled, making it necessary to exert tremendous effort to do anything. Simple tasks like folding laundry left me shaky and out of breath.

I should tell you at this point that in addition to being a Marthaholic I am a hypochondri-a-phobe, meaning I’m deathly afraid that illnesses are in my head. Yes, unless I have a tangible symptom like leaking green puss from my ears or a limb spontaneously falling off, this chick doesn’t do copays. It took me a solid year to go in.

Turned out that for no discernible reason, my kidneys were only functioning at 20%; the toxins kidneys filter out, were staying in. They gave me meds to stabilize things and told me to limit my activity.

Now, illnesses don’t stop Marthaholics; they just makes us feel like martyrs – a total plus for our egos.  Sure, the to-do list was way shorter, but there was still a to-do list.

It was my son who inadvertently made me aware that I had a problem.

Timothy was 14 when he announced that he was going to observe Lent by giving up all screen time (Movies, video games, etc.).  Timothy is Autistic. To an Autistic, this is right up there with abstaining from water and oh, let’s say, breathing. When we asked him why, he said, “I need to fast from the stuff that’s been more important to me than God.” Then he turned to us with those big blue eyes and asked innocently what we were going to give up.

Now, I hadn’t observed Lent since Catholic school and I don’t think Troy ever had, but we wanted to be supportive, so for the rest of that week we racked our brains for things in our lives that fit Timothy’s criteria. Troy got his right away, but nothing came to me, so I asked God for advice and waited.

It was the morning of Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent) and I still had no ideas, so laid in bed trying to summon the courage to face the pain of getting up, all the while making a to-do list in my head of everything that I should accomplish that day. Suddenly, God’s thoughts cut across mine.

“This.  This is what has become more important to you than Me.  This is what I want you to give up for 40 days.”

My to-do list? But without it, how would I know if it had been a successful, productive day? Still, you know, it’s like, God, so I said OK and committed to 40 days of waking up in the morning and simply saying, “So, Father, what shall we do today?” and then let Him lead me through, task by task.

My friends were sure I heard wrong.  God would never ask any woman to do such a thing. (Keep in mind they were fellow Marthoholics – my list making buddies). One even gave me an out declaring spontaneous Lent rules such as “Only empty calories and media are acceptable fasts” and “A Lent plan is not binding until you receive the ashes,”  (The latter being quite a loophole as most Protestants don’t take ashes), but I knew this was what I was supposed to do.  Besides, how much could my life unravel in 40 days?  And I could still use my calendar to remember doctor’s appointments and school events.  God wasn’t unreasonable.

The first week was the hardest.  I just laid there in my bed feeling stupid and awaiting orders; yet, they always came.  “OK, get up now, brush your teeth and get dresses.” I did.  “Sit down for a bit.” I obeyed. God had me rest a lot.  It freaked me out because all I could think of was all the stuff I wasn’t getting done.  Like any addict, I quickly became pissed off.  He’d have me put in a load of laundry then do something pointless like play a board game with the kids for an hour.  Why was He holding me back?  Didn’t He realize that everything I did was really for Him?  What the heck?  I really, really wanted to quit.  Thankfully, I was born with an overactive conscience that made it impossible to do so.

By the second week I started to notice several things:

–          I was spending a lot more time enjoying my family

–          Everything got done that truly needed doing (Apparently, Jesus was trustworthy with my time. Go figure).

–          My personal stress level plummeted because my schedule was God’s problem. As a result we had a fresh injection of joy in the house.

–          There was a subtle, yet profound shift in my relationship to God.  I wasn’t spending my day for Him, I was spending my day with Him.

It was a precious time and the first step in my recovery.  However, once a Marthaholic, always a Marthaholic; I fight it every day.

Next time we’ll talk about the strategies I have found helpful for staying on the wagon.

Posted in Expectations, family, home making, Housekeeping, Kids, Laughing At Spilled Milk, Letting Go, parenting, planning, Self Control, Wisdom | Leave a comment

Laughing At Spilled Milk: The Truth About Marthaholics


“Take my yolk upon you and let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle in heart, and you will find rest for your soul.” Matthew 11:29


“Jesus loves me.  This I know, for my completed to-do list tells me so.” – Marthaholic Anthem


From my previous post you now know that I am a Marthaholic who recently fell off the wagon.  But how?  And just what is a Marthaholic, anyway?

To get a good idea of what a Marthaholic is, let’s look at the woman we were named for: Martha of Bethany.  In Luke 10 we see that she is “distracted by the big dinner she is preparing.” Jesus confronts her, saying she “is worried and upset over all these details.” In short, Martha was so busy working for Jesus it never occurred to her to be with Jesus.

Marthaholics daily take up their crosses as Jesus tells us to in Luke 9:23, but then ignore the second half of the verse (and follow me). We do not put on our perfectly fitting yolks to work beside the Master (Matthew 11:29), but break our own path through life, pushing overladen wheelbarrows. Time with Jesus is not relational, but one more thing we want to accomplish to feel good about ourselves. Often it is little more than asking him to bless our plans for the day.

Marthaholics know that the “harvest is plenty and the workers are few,” and believe that our efforts can close that gap.   Therefore, when presented with a new opportunity, we think:

–          If I don’t do this, no one else will so,

–          If I don’t do this, the project will fail so,

–          If I don’t do this, God’s Kingdom can’t advance, Jesus won’t be able to return in glory, the evil one will vanquish the earth, and for all eternity the Cloud of Witnesses, Martyrs and Saints will look at me and say, “nice going.”

So, we pack our wheelbarrows with countless activities and obligations and the balancing act begins.

Now, wheelbarrows are fantastic for transporting a heavy load, but are rubbish for stability.  All it takes is saying yes to one thing too many and the whole thing tips over scattering mediocrity and failure in our wake. Not only does the quality of our work suffer, but our families, friendships, and personal health (emotional, spiritual, physical) do as well. Yes, when we reject the Yolk of Jesus and pick up our Wheelbarrows of Will we find no rest for our souls and burn out quickly.

I fell off the wagon recently because I looked at my calendar, saw an open space, and took that small window of free time as a sign from God that I was to say yes to a two month commitment.  I disregarded the immovables in my schedule such as:

–          A visiting aunt from out of town

–          My daughter’s prom

–          Easter

–          Two speaking engagements

–         Writing and delivering a sermon

–          A drama that needed writing for Holy Week

–          A part-time job

–          Moving boys home from college

–          My children like having food in the house

–          My husband likes having me in the house

–          Laundry

–          I enjoy blogging

–          I enjoy sleep

Instead I took up my wheelbarrow and started pushing it down my own path. To make me aware of my slip, God let me get pretty darned sick.  This seems to be the pattern.

Yes, the path of Marthaholism always ends in a crash and burn.  Next time we’ll talk about how to put the wheelbarrow down, take His yolk up, and find rest for our souls.

Posted in Expectations, family, goals, home making, Housekeeping, Laundry, Letting Go, parenting, Self Control, Wisdom | Leave a comment

Laughing At Spilled Milk: Hi, My Name’s Jamison, and I’m a Marthaholic

“As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home.  Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught.  But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing.  She came to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work?  Tell her to come and help me.”

But the Lord replied, ‘My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details!  There is only one thing worth being concerned about.  Mary has discovered it and it will not be taken from her.” – Luke 10:38 – 42


It has been 2 months and some change since my last post.  I was all prepared to give you the top ten reasons (excuses) why I have not written in all that time, but decided to come clean. The truth is I am a Marthaholic.  And I fell off the wagon.

I became a Marthaholic back in my early 20’s when I was a young mom fresh out of college.  You know, during my experimental phase.  There was a lot of pressure at the time.  I had all of these kids and felt lost, insecure and well, vulnerable.  All I was looking for was a little pick me up.

It was the typical story of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and hanging out with the wrong people. All the other stay-at-home moms made it look so glamorous. They said it would take me to a new level of self-awareness. Through peer pressure I was talked into trying just one “hit” of serving on a committee to see what it was like, assured that I could quit at any time.

It felt so good at first: completing a task, seeing immediate results for my labor and, oh, the praise!  I felt productive, valuable, popular even.   Plus, all this work was for God, so surely my labors would put us on really good terms.

But then I had to sign up for more and more things to maintain that spiritual high.  I said yes to church committees, volunteering at the kids’ schools, organizing bake sales. It wasn’t long before I was the coordinator for multiple teams and the word “no” was deleted from my vocabulary.

Naturally, I started having problems balancing it all, so to get everything done I had to turn to ….I started making…to-do lists (Cue ominous music).

By the time the kids were in grade school there were signs that the disease was taking over my life.  I’d be baking cookies in the kitchen and one of my kids would walk in and ask which committee they were for and could they have the burned ones?  During “snuggle sessions” with my husband I would be mentally making meeting agendas. There were calendars and daily planners strategically placed all over the house: on the fridge, in my nightstand, in the glove compartment, and a little one in my purse for emergencies. The lowest point was when I realized it had become a habit to write stuff on my to-do list – that I had already done – just for the rush of crossing it off.

Troy, my parents, his mom and my sisters staged an intervention, confronted me with my Marthaholism, and urged me to turn my life around.

I went cold turkey, quit everything, started homeschooling the kids (the only socially acceptable reason for resigning from all mommy extracurricular activities in suburbia), and started practicing the responses I would give to those women who would try to pull me back in.  “Let me pray about it,” and “I’ll ask Troy and get back to you” became staples in my vocabulary (Straight up saying no was still beyond my weak abilities).  It was rough at first, but with the support of my husband, family, and a few fellow addicts I made it through the worst of it.

Yet recently I fell off the wagon as I have so many times since.  Just like every other addiction, once a Marthaholic, always a Marthaholic. Next time, I’ll tell you how it happened and define Marthaholism in more detail.

Posted in Expectations, goals, home making, humor, Laughing At Spilled Milk, Letting Go, planning, Self Control, Wisdom | Leave a comment

Laughing At Spilled Milk: Dermatological Doom

This week I went to the mall to purchase a skin care system for my face.

The mall.  I went to the mall.  The mall.  I have to keep saying it to myself because if I do maybe the shock will wear off and I can somehow digest what I have done.

I went to the mall: the one place in the universe where I have an anxiety disorder; hives, shortness of breath, elevated heart rate – an emotional allergy if you will. Seriously, once in High School I snoozed in a coffin and found it cozy, but the mall?  There the walls of my mortality close in around me. There and IKEA, the Swedes answer to the mall.

I went to the mall…to purchase a skin care system for my face.

Remember that pathetic piano playing Muppet guy who couldn’t ever seem to plunk out Mary Had a Little Lamb?  Every time he would get a note wrong would bang the keyboard with his head yelling, “I’ll never get it!  Never! Never!” Yeah…replace “never!” with “why?!?” and the keyboard with the steering wheel in my van and you will have an accurate picture of me in the parking lot post purchase.

I have since decided that a series of unfortunate events led me to this temporary madness:

  1. The magazines in the grocery checkout lane. Apparently 40 is the new 25 – 30. I could choose to believe this is because we’re finally picking up the sunscreen and putting down the cigarettes, but what if that isn’t enough?
  2. Jennifer Aniston.  She is my age and her unnatural hotness leaves the real people looking like pug dogs. The selfish cow blew the bell curve.
  3. A “friend” educated me on the harmful effects of using body wash on my face. Apparently, this will cause it to dry up like a tumbleweed and blow off my skull by the time I’m 45.

So I researched skin care on the internet and picked the best one I could find at the lowest price, put on sunglasses and a stocking cap, drove my van to the “lair of greed” (it wasn’t even Christmas – the only acceptable time to darken those heavy glass doors), slapped down my greenbacks and ran out as quickly as I could feeling like I had just sold my soul in a drug deal or something (which probably would have been both financially and emotionally cheaper), all the while trying not to think of the starving babies of the world with their swollen bellies and sad, empty eyes.  “Yes, this money could have fed your village for a month but sorry, I really needed anti-gravity cream and dark spot corrector.”

And we’re back to the Muppet head banging image.

This is the part of the post where I figure it all out and conclude with a mildly inspiring lesson. (Pause to ponder) Can’t really do that this time because still not sure how I feel about it.  Really, ever since I have been nursing a migraine which I am translating as either my feelings of guilt or God’s judgment.

So, how about you?  Are there indulgences that you treat yourself to that you fight feeling guilty over?

Posted in Aging, Body Image, Expectations, Fashion/Style, goals, humor, Laughing At Spilled Milk, Looks | 4 Comments

Laughing At Spilled Milk: Picaken – a Test of Womanhood

Okay, I don’t usually post this frequently but the following must be processed.

I’m thinking about making a picaken for Troy’s birthday.  For those of you who may not know, it’s a pie baked into a cake.  This totally cool blogging chick, Jamie the Very Worst Missionary,* made it for her family and it intrigued me.

Unfortunately, I work outside the home now and don’t have the time or energy to bake a pie from scratch after work on Thursday, drown it in cake batter, bake it, clean the oven when it inevitably overflows, make my own butter cream frosting, and then decorate it with opulent restraint – which is a must.  Jamie did it and she is the self-proclaimed very worst missionary so it’s the least I can do. Except that I probably can’t.

Before working, this is exactly the kind of culinary venture I’d have readily embarked upon – slaved all day over it, in fact.  Then Troy would have come home from work, looked at the picaken, said, “huh,” and after his third bite would declare it “alright.” He’s not all that into desserts or easily impressed.

Wanting to generate some excitement about the project yet play it cool, I warned Jenny Girl not to be alarmed if she came home from school on Thursday and was greeted with a picaken.

Jenny Girl: Why would I be alarmed?

Me: Because you don’t like pie, but would probably have to have some since its Dad’s birthday.

Jenny Girl: That’s okay. You make a lot of things that I don’t particularly understand.  I’m used to it.”

My family is not much of a motivator when I think it through.

Yet I still want to make this picaken to prove to myself that I can juggle work and home; that I am the mythological Super Homemaker of the 21st Century (cue Flight of the Valkyrie).

Not that my homemaking skills were all that tight before. I still don’t understand why shower tiles don’t clean themselves when all they are exposed to is soap and water and so ignore them in protest.  Still, since the Ministry Assistant gig the house looks more…lived in, shall we say (The fact that we also lost half of our free domestic labor to college hasn’t helped either). If I can successfully make a picaken, then maybe I am one step closer to being all that I can be.

So, will I make this picaken on Thursday, i.e. give in to my insecurities and attempt to prove to myself that I can do and have it all?  Stay tuned to find out!

How about you?  Is there anything crazy and adventurous you do to prove yourself to yourself?

* I highly recommend checking out Jamie’s blog – especially if you’re into authentic, messy Christ discipleship vs. pretty, fictional Christianity. Oh, and she makes a mean picaken as her pics above reflect. http://www.theveryworstmissionary.com

Posted in Cooking, Expectations, family, family celebrations, food, home making, Housekeeping, Husbands, Laughing At Spilled Milk, planning | Leave a comment

Laughing At Spilled Milk: Romantic Valentine’s Days and other Legends

“All of my friends put down Valentine’s Day.  They say it’s a made up holiday for greeting card companies to make money and so it’s stupid.  Deep down we all know they are devaluing to avoid disappointment.  But I want a Valentine and I’m not afraid to say it!” – Jenny Girl

Ah, Valentine’s Day: the holiday that makes me face the glaring truth that Troy is not a fictional character from a chick flick who showers me with sparkly frivolities or spends his lunch hour writing poems to express his undying love. Nope, he’s just a guy.

Valentine’s Day is particularly harsh for Troy because he:

  1. Suffers from a gift giving disability. On my 21st birthday he gave me a maternity shirt in a Target bag then took me out to Chili’s for a virgin daiquiri. (He would like me to point out that I actually was pregnant at the time.  Like that makes it OK).
  2. Isn’t much better with verbal affection. He once said, “I told you I loved you when we got married.  If I change my mind I’ll let you know.”
  3. Is very frugal, so spending hard earned money on a greeting card feels just about as pointless and wasteful to him as wrapping paper (see #1 above).

Yes, V-Day is like Troy Kryptonite: it exposes all of his weaknesses. In the first decade of our marriage he would hand me a card looking all resentful and oppressed and say, “This is pretty close to how I feel about you.”  On the years we were really, really in love he would sign it.

My all-time favorite Troy Valentine’s story happened several years back when he came home on The Day looking as proud as a cat that brings his owner a newly killed mouse.  From behind his back came the Valentine’s card of my dreams: big and expensive with a gold embossed frilly heart on the front. Inside was a long mushy poem in gold calligraphy that took up both inside pages.  I loved it! It was beautiful, it was moving  (it was unsigned, but whatever)…and it had weird markings on the envelope.  Upon further inspection, this wide, catty-cornered line turned out to be an intricate design made out of…was that dirt?  Mud?  Wait…that couldn’t be a…tire track, could it? I looked up questioningly.  Beaming with pride he bragged, “Can you believe it?  I was on my way home from work and saw something red in the gutter so I pulled over and there was this card!  How cool is that?”  Very, very cool.  So cool in fact that I felt a bit of a chill so went to bed in my flannel footie pajamas.

After years of hurtful disappointment I finally came to a peaceful place with Valentine’s Day, because here’s the thing.  Troy loves me well just about every day of the year.  He may not buy me gifts, but he enjoys taking me shopping for clothes, shoes, even fun jewelry. He cannot seem to tell me he loves me without a “too” on the end, but pursues ways to spend time with me.  Most of all, he is supportive in just about every way from giving me a roof over my head to creating my business cards to editing blog posts in which I mercilessly make fun of him.  He is a pretty fantastic guy and I feel incredibly blessed to have him.

Troy gets a pass on Valentine’s Day because not only am I his Valentine, but he is mine. Therefore, my expression of love for him is that he doesn’t have to do a thing.  I plan the day and he only has to show up.  Since I started doing this about 10 years ago Valentine’s Day has been a wonderful time of smiles and snuggles, good food and good…other things. Plus, now that I’ve lightened the load he does a pretty decent job on our anniversary. My birthday is another story.


Posted in Acceptance, Expectations, humor, Laughing At Spilled Milk, Love, Marriage, Partner, Valentine's Day, Wisdom | 6 Comments