Feb 28, 2011

One Flu Over the Cookoo's Nest

You ever have one of those weeks when nothing goes the way you planned? So Monday was President’s Day and the kids were all home from school. My sweetie took a floating vacation day so he could spend the day with us. We had a terrific time! We went out to my favorite restaurant, Chick Fil A for free breakfast, then we spent the afternoon cleaning the church and playing basketball. After that we drove to Mt. Mike’s for pizza and Krispie Kremes for dessert. Then we all went home and watched a movie. It seemed like the perfect beginning for an amazing week. I couldn’t have been more wrong! 

On Tuesday, the Dog Walker woke up not feeling well. I told him to suck it up and I sent him to school. But after he left I started feeling guilty so I called and made him a doctor’s appointment. He’d been sick for quite a while, but mostly just a hacky cough and congestion. I convinced the doctor that he had a sinus infection and begged for a prescription. With a self-satisfied smile I drove to the pharmacy, assuming the worst was behind me. 

 Later that night, long after the little ones were sleeping and I had finally drug my own tired bones to bed, the lights in my room were abruptly switched on. Even without the light, the wailing was enough to wake the dead. In my somewhat confused, half-awake state and without my bifocals, I mostly recognized Sport. He was crying and complaining of a headache, a stomachache, you name it…if anything could ache, it did. First I sent him to the bathroom, then I had him take a shower. The fever started a couple of hours later and by the time the sun was up, it was pretty obvious that he was not going to school. My Dog Walker was also feeling bad, so he stayed in bed. A quick visit to the doctor later and Sport had a confirmed case of Influenza B. 

Now this seemed pretty unfair. Each and every year I line up all the kids, grownups and little ones, and I march them into the doctor’s office to get their annual flu shots. They grumble a little, but they all submit when I guilt them into it. You see, the baby is always too young for a flu shot and Sport is actually allergic to them (another time I’ll tell you that story). That leaves our ranks exposed, so the only thing we can do is circle the wagons and hope. This is the first time this strategy has not worked, and Sport was one sick little guy. When he wasn’t feverish and hallucinating, he was complaining about a headache and dizziness. 

The doctor put him on Tamiflu and called in prescriptions for everyone in the family, but the co-pay was $50.00 for EACH prescription! So we filled two of them and hunkered down, just waiting to see who would be the next victim. Turns out it was Baby Doll…and Curly…and Scout…and Prima Donna. I was awake most of the night with Sport on Tuesday night, then on Wednesday night when Baby Doll started running a fever, it felt like a medical ward off MASH as the sickees just kept coming in. 

Curly climbed in my bed first. He was hot and feverish and immediately curled up in a tiny ball. Half an hour later Scout crawled up next to him. She was also burning up. (Just for the record, she sprawls out on the bed even when she’s sick.) Prima Donna just didn’t bother to get up until 1:00 in the afternoon. So when they were finally awake and somewhat lucid, I lined them all up and gave them each a spoonful of Tamiflu (mixed with chocolate milk, of course). Unfortunately, that strategy didn’t work either, Teach woke up this morning with a fever and headache. If you don’t hear from me for a couple of days you’ll know why…but for right now, the only thing wrong with me is lack of sleep. That and the usual insanity plea.

Feb 27, 2011

Brush with Fame Sunday Style

Sundays are difficult at our house. Even though we have 1:00 church, we can’t manage to be on time. This past week was no exception. I told the kids early in the week that Sunday would be our brush with fame because I had heard that our favorite wide receiver in the NFL was blessing his baby in our church. They were all excited about that, but to me it only meant one thing…we’d better show up early! 

We called the times down the stairs starting with "Fifty minutes!" That meant our big white bus would leave for the church in 50 minutes (really it meant 55 since my sweetie always padded it by about 5 minutes). I pulled the baby’s dress on and snapped her little shirt. Would I remember to throw a sleeper in the diaper bag this week, just in case? (Of course not, but you don’t really want to hear about another blowout!) 

"Thirty-five minutes!" I threw my boots from the balcony to the entry way floor. "Does everybody know where their shoes are?" I called. I picked up the baby and headed down the stairs. Kids were running every which way in various stages of church attire. I didn’t see a single one that was completely ready. We also take Taco and Burrito (our 4 and 6-year-old grandsons) with us to church and they were running around with everyone else. I started slicing ham for some sandwiches. 

"Twenty minutes!" my sweetie called from the office. He was gathering the lesson for the 12-year-old class. I set the sandwich makings on the counter. "Lunch if you are hungry!" I called. Kids came running from all directions. I headed into the living room to put on my boots. 

"Five minutes!" I called as I handed the baby off to Crafty so she could strap her into the car seat. I pulled Curly’s shoes on and zipped his coat. It was snowing outside. Kids started heading out the door. After everyone was buckled in we set off. Apparently we weren’t the only ones expecting a celebrity today. It was still five minutes to one and the chapel was packed! My sweetie insisted we sit in the foyer until the song and prayer were over, then he and Sport went into the gym to set up more chairs. 

We enjoyed the baby blessing from the foyer as well. Then they opened up the big doors to the gym and additional seating. The kids tromped noisily to their seats as we grabbed a row near the three-point line. It wasn’t long before hot wheels cars were zooming noisily across the floor. I had Princess quickly gather them up and we handed out the crayons. My sweetie was near the center with Curly and Burrito on the outside. I was on the other end with Scout and Baby Doll. The others were lined up in between us. Curly and 4-year-old Burrito were making a huge ruckus! 

Santa at last years Christmas party.

Finally, I stood up and tripped over kids all the way to their end of the row. I pulled Curly into my lap. I had spotted someone famous! No, it wasn’t a famous football player; he was out in the hall with his sweet little baby. I tapped Burrito on the shoulder. "Look over there," I whispered. "Santa Claus comes to our church!" Sure enough, our good friend had not yet converted back to his shorter red beard. He spent his holidays dressing up as the jolly old elf and except that today he was in a shirt and tie instead of his red suit, he looked every bit the part. "You know he is watching you two to see if you are being naughty or nice." Santa smiled and winked at the boys. Burrito’s eyes grew large and he turned around in his chair and folded his arms. Our brush with fame was complete. I looked at the clock. "Fourteen minutes!" I shouted in my brain. Maybe I’d make it after all.

Feb 26, 2011

Basketball Mom

Some things never change. This morning we crawled out of bed around 10:00 so the Dog Walker could get to his basketball game at the church by 10:15. I’ve admitted in the past to being a basketball junkie, but there are sometimes when I’d probably be better off if I just stayed home. We sent him off at 10:10 in our orange and rust colored 1970 Chevy truck so he wouldn’t be late. By the time I got myself and Baby Doll dressed and out the door it was pushing 10:30. We arrived at the game during half-time so it was relatively easy to find a comfortable seat in the overflow. I unzipped Baby Doll’s coat and we settled ourselves in for an exciting second half. 

Dog Walker has been playing basketball since he was about seven or eight, but the game stresses him out and he forgets the rules or throws a shot from half court instead of setting up a play. For 17, he’s a big kid; almost 6’3" and 300 pounds, with large hands and size 14 shoes. He’s been actively involved in sports for most of his life. Did I ever mention that he’s Autistic? I’ve never allowed my kids to be quitters and just because he is Autistic, that doesn’t exempt him from those rules. 

The Jr. Jazz games he played when he was little were pure torture for his mother. He didn’t understand the rules or instructions from the coaches so he would just run back and forth about 10 feet behind the others boys, screaming and crying his frustrations the entire time. If you didn’t know better, you might just assume that he was upset because no one would give him the ball.  He didn’t really speak until he was about eight and then he couldn’t carry on a real conversation until he was ten. All through that time, he still played basketball with some very patient coaches. Each time a new season began I made sure I spoke with each parent and coach, "My son is Autistic. Hopefully he won’t say anything weird or inappropriate to your son. Please let me know if he causes problems." 

Then there were the games. He would complain or pout or cry and sometimes all three at the same time. Every game required me to make that long trip around the court at some point during the game to talk with him and help him settle down. For the first 3 or 4 games of every season he would yell at me from the floor, "I hate you! I hate this game! Mom MAKES me play basketball! This is NOT fun!" Most parents just gave me a sympathetic smile and secretly breathed a sigh of relief that they could stay in their seats. 

As a sometime coach and parent, I yelled encouragement and occasional corrections from my seat in the bleachers. This would bring even more comments from my son, "Stop it, Mom! I don’t want to play anymore!" Or my personal favorite, the primal "Arrgghh!" But he always kept running and moving, chasing the other boys and the basketball. A single shot on Saturday would keep him happy all week. 

When he was 14, I quit signing him up to play. Church ball was cheaper and more convenient, and sometimes I could miss a game, knowing that our friends and neighbors were there being supportive. So, back to today’s game…halftime ended and my son took the court with his friends. A neighbor assured me he had been doing well with lots of rebounds and blocks. They ran back and forth, back and forth with my son trailing a little, but obviously a big part of the game. He tossed a few up but they bounced off the rim. I could see the frustration building, but he kept on running. 

He finally picked up a rebound and tossed it in for two points. Usually that would be enough to keep him happy for the rest of the day, but not this time. 
About 30 seconds later he tried putting up another one and he got hacked on the arm. A whistle blew. "Number 11, on the shot, shooting two!" My Dog Walker made his way to the foul line. The first shot was up…and swished the bottom of the net without going through the hoop. On the second try he managed to hit the rim, but the rebound fell to the other team. As he turned to run with his teammates down the floor, I almost missed it. "You shouldn’t have come!" he shouted in my direction. Some things never change.

Feb 25, 2011

Friday Freebies: Coupon Night

The Meanest Mom 
I am still so new to this blogging thing that I have to call Bossy every time I need to understand the rules.  She would love it if I would spend hours every day promoting various blogs and reading examples from others.  I prefer the writing part and I truly don't have time to spend more than a few minutes a day while Baby Doll is nursing, Curly is climbing on my back and kicking my chair, and Scout is pestering me for just one more book. 

That said, I have read some of the blogs she forwards to me and one of my favorites is "The Meanest Mom."  I want to be more like her when I grow up.  Today Bossy forwarded me a contest on her blog I couldn't say no to. The Meanest Mom, Walgreens, and BlogHer are teaming up and one lucky reader of her blog will win a $100 gift card to Walgreens

Since there are about 100 Walgreens in a 2-mile radius of my home, I've had plenty of opportunity to shop there.  I love their rebate program where you can go in and buy some weird thing you've never tried before and then get all of your money back.  Check out her contest here.  Be sure to tell her twelvemakesadozen sent you.  

Don't forget to enter in my giveaway.  I have enjoyed reading your emails and comments.  Don't forget to enable your email on your blogger account or leave an email in your comment so I can contact you if you win!  Submissions close TODAY Friday, Feb. 25th the winner will be contacted on the 27th.   Onto the Freebie Friday:

We love to eat out! To us, it means no dishes and no clean-up. The only problem is that it’s expensive! Although I haven’t come up with a cost-free method of eating out every night and twice a day on weekends, I have figured out a way we can eat out about once a month with very little cost. It’s called Coupon Night, and my kids think it’s great (mostly because we usually get at least two desserts). In most of our public schools, teachers give out lots of coupons. Our kids have received coupons for kids’ meals, chicken sandwiches, frozen yogurt, ice cream cones, cookies, movies, water-parks, and plenty of other things. We also cut out coupons from the local newspapers for free candy bars, buy 1 get 1 free dinners at fast food places, and other things that we can share. Then we find a night on our busy calendar when most of us are home, and we map out our strategy. 

It is important to plan our stops so that we actually have a meal before we get any desserts. We also want to make sure that everyone gets a share of our collective booty. Sometimes we have to supplement our coupons with a few dollars, but we try to keep our cash outlay at less than $10.00 for the night not counting gas. I have a large manila envelope on my desk where we stash all of these coupons until the chosen day. First, we gas up the van and get our free car wash. We’ve got to look good, even if we are being cheap! We might start at Fat Jacks pizza where three of our kids had earned free small pizzas. After getting their pizzas we head to Chick Fil A where we pick up four free chicken sandwiches and then stop in at Sonic and grab some buy 1 get 1 free hamburgers. We share and munch on our way to Smith’s. 

At Smith’s, we usually stop at the bakery and get free cookies. Then we grab a cart for a few more goodies. I have a couple of buy 1, get 1 free coupons for two-liter bottles of soda pop, so we pick up several kinds for later. On our way out of Smith’s, we head over to Menchis and everyone gets a frozen yogurt (free, with coupons, of course). We stop by the RedBox on our way home and pick up a couple of free movies. After we arrive at our house, we pour everyone a free soda, pop in one of our free movies, and sit back to relax and digest with no dishes, no clean-up, and no financial guilt.

Speaking of free food check this out: http://www.chick-fil-a.com/FreeFryDay.html 

Feb 24, 2011

Eat Mor Chikin

I know you were all looking forward to the rest of my dog story, but it will have to wait for a couple of days. I want to tell you about something fun that happened to us yesterday. My kids like to enter contests (you know, like my doctor story contest that ends tomorrow), particularly writing or art contests. So our local Chick Fil A sponsored a writing contest. It was open to grades K – 6 and the rules were pretty loose, you just had to write a story about the Chick Fil A cow. The prize was 52 free kid’s meals! And since we love Chick Fil A, that sounded like a pretty fun prize. 

So Crafty and Sport got right on that (ok, not really, it took some poking and prodding from their mom), but eventually they came up with some amazing stories. I ran them out to the Chick Fil A a couple of hours before the deadline. Then last Saturday we received an e-mail informing us that Crafty’s entry had been chosen as a Finalist. So we were invited to come to Chick Fil A for an awards ceremony and two of us could have a free dinner. We arrived at the restaurant about 10 minutes early and placed our order. I brought a bunch of us along to cheer her on so I had to buy dinner for everyone else. (Thank goodness for coupons! There were ten of us and I paid just over $16.00 and that even included drinks.) I was glad we were there early because by the time we got our order the place was packed. 

Anyway, after everyone was seated, the kids were called up five at a time in four different categories. Then they were invited to read their entries. Did I every mention that Crafty is shy and quiet? It became evident rather quickly that she was expected to read her entry out loud to this room full of people. She fidgeted in her seat. "Mom, you can read the story for me," she suggested. Some of the Kindergartners had their parents do their readings. "No," I said firmly. "You are perfectly capable of reading your story all by yourself." She shifted uncomfortably. "Dad?" He shook his head. "How about Princess?" I asked with a grin. Now the only person more shy and quiet in a crowd than Crafty is Princess who shook her head vigorously at the very thought of standing up in front of all of those people by herself. She is my girl who at 14 still cries when I make her go to a door to sell Girl Scout cookies. Finally the third/fourth grade category finalists were announced. 

Nervous Girl by ~themedusa

We sent Crafty to the front of the room by herself. She was fourth in line so she had to stand there while three other kids read their entries. When it was her turn at the microphone the lady in charge handed her entry to her and smiled at her expectantly. In fact, the whole room was waiting rather impatiently for her to begin. We had already sat through 13 stories and we were all ready for them to announce the winners so we could go home. Even the Chick Fil A cow mascot had gotten bored and walked out. 

 Crafty put her hand over the mike. "I don’t want to read it," she whispered. The room breathed a sigh of relief. One less story to listen to.  The lady took the mike back. She smiled her benevolent smile and glanced around the room. Obviously she wasn’t feeling our collective relief. "OK if I read it?" she asked Crafty sweetly. Crafty turned a little red around the ears and nodded her head slowly. She had one line in there about stapling the bad guys mouths shut. Hmmmm….. 

It took another half-hour for all the kids to read their entries. Sadly, Crafty wasn’t the grand prize winner, but she did get some fun prizes…a chapstick, bumper sticker, magnets, a pen, and a tiny stuffed cow. Oh yeah, and 2 free kids meals. Looks like we’ll be going back soon! (Eat mor chikin!)
Register with Chick Fil A for access to contests.

Feb 23, 2011

Dogs (part 1)

My grandparents had an amazing dog when I was a kid! Her name was Tanjo and she could hold 21 marbles in her mouth at the same time. I’m not sure who taught her this stupid trick, but first she would lie on the floor under her favorite chair. After gathering all of her marbles from the dog food dish, we would sit on the floor about 15 feet away and roll them quickly at her face. She would dutifully grab each one and hold it in her mouth until all the marbles were covered with saliva and dog germs. Then she would race to the kitchen, spit them all back into her bowl, and run back to her hiding place under the chair. We knew what that meant, "Get the marbles, Stupid!" in dog language. We would head back to the kitchen, retrieve the slimy disgusting orbs, and start the game all over again. Now that was one cool dog! 

Our neighbors across the street also had a dog. We were good friends so that gave us open access to petting their dog. Then one sunny summer day we were playing basketball on their court when the dog showed up. She was acting a little strange so I approached her in an effort to comfort her. Let me remind you that this was a dog I had played with many times, but on that particular day, I should have stayed as far away as possible. The dog had been injured and when I got too close, she attacked me. She bit and scratched me in several places before the neighbors pulled her off and called the animal shelter. She was put down and they had to send samples in for Rabies tests. We were terrified that I might get really sick. The tests came back negative, but that was the day I decided that I really didn’t like dogs much. 

When Teach was about three, my sweetie finally convinced me that maybe I was being a little paranoid, so he bought a puppy…a purebred Basset Hound. We named him Jake. He was cute, but a lonely little thing that didn’t take kindly to sleeping in the garage by himself. So we bought a little female named Jessie. The kids made a big deal about them getting married, and it’s a good thing because before we thought it was even possible, Jessie was acting funny and getting fat. A week or so later she delivered a litter of eleven pups! 

It was Christmas time and our house was suddenly turned into Animal Farm. Normally the dogs stayed outside, but it was way too cold for the pups out there. We lost one the first week when Jessie crushed it in her sleep. That’s when my sweetie built a 6 x 6-foot wooden "pen" for them in the basement. He filled it with newspaper and wood shavings and that became their new home. We spent an exciting six weeks raising pups and then we sold them for as much as $200.00 each. We clearanced the last couple at $125.00, but all in all it proved to be a pretty productive business. 
Someday Bossy will post actual pictures of the puppies.

We were surprised when Jessie went into heat again a couple of months after all the pups were gone. Unfortunately, Jake got aggressive and attacked Teach when she attempted to separate them. She received a cut on her face that required stitches, and I remembered how much I didn’t like dogs. It wasn’t too long after that we were forced to sell them both. Our new house was not quite finished and we had sold our old one. That meant an apartment for a couple of months and dogs were not welcome there. We heard that Jessie delivered another litter (13 this time!) shortly after she arrived at her new owner’s home. What a bonus for them, 14 for the price of 1! I hope they had a big basement…  Jump to part two here.

Feb 22, 2011

Birth Story: Baby Doll

Frank Wilson
Baby Doll was born in October, a full month before she was due. Now this was rather unusual for me. Most of my babies wanted to stay in the womb permanently and had to be coaxed out with a case of Pitocin. She couldn’t wait to kick her way into the world. The night my water broke I waited for a couple hours before finally waking my sweetie. "I think my water broke…" I said anxiously. He rolled over and yawned, "I don’t think so," he began. "Let’s see if we can go back to sleep." So we did. 

The next morning I still seemed to have a slow steady leak but no contractions. My sweetie went to work as usual. I called my doctor and moved my appointment up a day. When I arrived at his office, he seemed amused as I told him the story. "Well, I tend to agree with your husband," he said. "Given your past history, there is no reason to believe that the baby is coming for at least another couple of weeks." But just to humor me he ran a test anyway. I waited somewhat impatiently. "Well?" I asked. "Hmmm," he said thoughtfully. "It appears to be inconclusive." I shifted my huge belly to a more comfortable position. "I think I’ll send you up to the hospital just so we can be sure." He patted my shoulder. "What are the odds?" I asked. "I’ll give you 50/50," he said. He always gave me 50/50. 

I jumped back on the freeway and headed for the hospital. I didn’t have anything with me but my purse, not even a novel or magazine to waste time while I was waiting. I called my sweetie, "He sent me to the hospital…" I began. "Do you want me to come?" he asked. I knew he had an important meeting and he was not happy about missing it for a false alarm. "No, just go to your meeting. I’ll let you know." I shut my phone and concentrated on driving downtown. It was almost noon, so I drove by a McDonalds and grabbed a hamburger on the off-chance that I wouldn’t be eating for at least 24 hours. My labor was always long. 

I finally arrived at the hospital around 1:00 and the nurses were waiting for me. My doctor didn’t mention that he was planning to call me in! They set me up in a room and then left me alone. After an hour I still didn’t know anything. Eventually a nurse came in and ran a few tests. Nobody seemed all that excited and I was starting to worry about my kids at home. This was taking forever! Finally someone came in with a stack of paperwork. "Sign this stuff," she said as she wrapped a blue wristband around my wrist. "Why?" I asked. "Am I staying?" I still didn’t know anything. "Hang on a minute…" she hurried out the door. Ten seconds later a nurse came in to talk to me. "The tests were positive…we’re having a baby today!" Suddenly my mind was churning 90 mph. I had come to check on the baby, not have one today

I made a half dozen phone calls and lined up the anesthesiologist (we couldn't have any pain). This could not be happening! Before long my sweetie arrived. Hours and hours and a case of Pitocin later, my beautiful little Baby Doll pushed her way into the world. At 6 lbs 8 oz, she was the smallest of the twelve. They had an emergency crew in there just in case. It took them 45 minutes to determine that all was well, but then they left us alone. We examined her delicate features and counted each tiny toe. She was perfect! We excitedly called the kids to inform them that their little sister was finally here. When I called Bossy, she seemed a little bummed. "What’s wrong?" I asked. "I thought you would be excited." She paused for a moment, then she said, "I hope you know you missed Grandparent’s Day today!"

Feb 21, 2011

Falling in Love: The Honeymoon.

The reception was long and we were very tired by the time the cake was cut and the gifts were all loaded into his parents’ car. We intended to help clean up until his dad told us to get going. We were only driving about 35 miles up the road and staying in a small motel in a sleepy town just off the freeway. We quickly changed our clothes and tossed the bouquet. Many hugs and kisses later we ran for his parents’ other car (we still didn’t have one of our own). Our little brothers and sisters pelted us (hard!) with rice as we crossed the parking lot. 

My new husband reached for the door handle and was greeted with a handful of shaving cream. He was NOT pleased. He pulled open the door and balloons and newspaper exploded from the car. We started moving them when for some reason he opened the glove box. It was also filled with shaving cream. At that point the exhaustion and stress of the day seemed to win. He pulled out the registration papers and stomped over to his dad. "Look what they’ve done!" he fumed. "We can’t drive like this!" His dad calmly took the papers and smiled. It was hard to rile him up. "Why don’t you two just take the other car?" he suggested. "We’ll take this one home and get it all cleaned up." This seemed to appease my sweetie. 

The car kind of looked like this.

He took my hand and led me to the other vehicle. "No more rice!" he commented firmly as we passed our little brothers. He pulled open the door. The car was completely full of all the gifts. The only seat available was the driver’s seat. "I guess we’ll have to rearrange some of these gifts," I said. "Just push them toward the door," he suggested. "We can snuggle up on this side." That sounded like a great idea to me. Seatbelts were only suggested then, not required. We both climbed into the front seat and headed out of the parking lot. I was a little sad that we didn’t have anything to identify us as newlyweds…no tin cans to clink and clatter on the pavement or anything. As we drove off into the night, I dozed against his shoulder. It had been a long emotional day. 

When we finally arrived at the motel, he gently shook me awake. "Time to wake up," he suggested. I moaned. I never did like getting up. I looked around at the dark, unfamiliar parking lot. "Better lock the doors," I commented. He rolled his eyes. "You’re paranoid," he said playfully, as he reached into the back to push down the manual locks. We checked in and got our keys. Then we moved the car six spaces down the parking lot until we were parked right in front of the door to our room. "Let me get you inside," he suggested, "Then I’ll come back for our bags." We walked to the door and he scooped me up to carry me over the threshold. Once inside, I started turning on lights and checking the bathroom. He came back in with the bags and reached back to lock the door. 

"What are you doing?" I asked. "Locking the door?" he said innocently. "We can’t leave all those gifts in the car!" He looked puzzled. "Why not?" I couldn’t believe he didn’t see the danger here. "They might get stolen!" I said. "But it will take me 50 trips to bring them in," he reasoned. "They’ll be fine." I started putting my shoes back on. There was no way I was letting all of those beautiful gifts spend the night in the car all by themselves. He sighed and unlocked the door. Twenty minutes later, the gifts were stacked in neat little piles around the room. Again, he locked the door. My eyes swept the room, taking in what looked way more exciting than Christmas morning. 

There were about 100 gifts in that tiny room. "Let’s open some!" He groaned and dropped down on the bed. "Aren’t you ready for bed?" he asked. "Just a few?" I pleaded. He sat up and looked at me. Slowly a smile spread over his face. "OK, you choose." A few turned into some.  Some into many.  And then eventually all the gifts were open. It’s no wonder I love this man! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Feb 20, 2011

Falling in Love: Wedding

I wanted to have the perfect small town wedding. We set our date for the following April, so I had plenty of time to prepare. My parents were somewhat less than thrilled and they weren’t afraid to say so. His family was wonderful! They were happy and helpful, welcoming me into the family with open arms. Graduation came and went and summer quarter began. We both had a few classes to finish before we could graduate with our Associates Degrees. Then he would head to the University for a year and I would go to BYU. We would marry the following spring and then I would transfer to the U with him. 

To understand the rivalry and my betrayal go here.
All was going according to plan until I found out that my dad had not processed any of my paperwork for school. That meant no grant money for housing and food. I was very upset! Even with my amazing scholarship, I didn’t have enough money saved up and my parents were not in a financial position to help me. That was the shove I needed to take charge of my own life. 

Our actual decorations.

I quickly filed paperwork for myself and received a scholarship to the U. We also moved our wedding date to September 10. That gave us only six weeks and we had not even started. It’s easy to get things done quickly when money is no object…it’s much harder when you are on a shoestring budget. Because of our change in plans we were forced to pay for our own wedding. My grandma had a friend who did weddings and she offered her backdrop and decorations, although we had to set them up by ourselves the night before. We rented my dress and we made all the bridesmaids’ dresses. I also did all the flowers myself. My brother-in-law took care of the photography and I had a neighbor make our cake. The night before the ceremony we spent a couple of hours setting up at the church and then we headed to the bowling alley for a late supper. 

We were both exhausted! My Lab Assistant flopped into a booth and began nervously playing with the salt shaker. Our food was taking forever. He obviously needed to talk. "What’s the matter?" I asked cautiously. "Nothing," he mumbled. I relaxed a little. It had been a hard day for both of us. He continued to twist the salt shaker in his hand. "Really?" I prodded again. He shifted restlessly in his seat. "I don’t know…" he began. Now it was my turn to be nervous. "This is such a big step…maybe we shouldn’t get married." This was not what I expected. "You’re telling me this the night before our wedding?" My voice was rising, I was not handling this well. He mumbled something incoherent as the server approached with plates full of burgers and fries. 

I don’t remember how the conversation went from there. I do know that when I showed up for the ceremony the next morning I wasn’t 100% sure that he would be there. But he was right on time and he looked amazing in his white tux. We held the reception at the church and we greeted friends and guests for almost three hours. My dad eventually gave up the fight and joined our party. I think he even enjoyed himself. It did take him a while to forgive me for the powder-blue tux…Visit again tomorrow for one last look at our honeymoon. It will be G-rated, I promise.
For some reason the fountain is a tradition in our small town.

Feb 19, 2011

Falling in Love: The Proposal

The Dark Crystal
 It was finally spring! The year was 1983 and I could see my whole future unfolding. I was going to graduate from high school in May, finish my two-year degree in August, spend a year at BYU, and then get married the following summer. It seemed like a perfect plan. My Lab Assistant and I had even named our first child! One of our early dates was to a showing of The Dark Crystal. I loved the name of the main character and playfully suggested, "When we get married, let’s name our first child ________!" "OK."  I’m pretty sure he thought I was crazy then, but it didn’t really matter. We were young and life was good. It was easy to make all kinds of crazy plans. Unfortunately, it was a lot harder to make those plans realities. 

By March we felt mostly committed to each other, but he refused to make it official. All I wanted was his school ring and an invitation to "go steady." I still don’t know exactly why he was reluctant to take that step, but it became a source of contention for us. My parents jumped at the chance to break us up completely, and when a high school boy invited me to the prom, they insisted that I accept the invitation. I secretly hoped this would help him make his decision once and for all. Within a day or two after prom he asked me to go steady and by the first of May, I knew he was looking for a real ring. 

It was nearly Memorial Day and graduation was quickly approaching. He came by the house and asked me if I wanted to go to the Malt Shop for some ice cream. The Malt Shop was a local favorite with the college kids and we loved their hot fudge shakes with nuts. It was still chilly, so I grabbed a jacket and we headed out the door. We talked about school, graduation, finals, and upcoming tests. Soon we arrived at the Malt Shop and placed our order. We slipped into our favorite booth and held hands across the table while we waited. 

It wasn’t long before they called our number and my Lab Assistant retrieved our food from the girl behind the counter. After he set the tray on the table, he slid back into his seat and then handed me a cup. I pulled out the long red spoon and placed a mouthful upside down on my tongue. It was cold and smooth with just the right amount of chocolate. "Ummm…" I murmured. "I love this place." I stuck my spoon back into the cup for another frosty bite. But my spoon wouldn’t go down. "What the…?" I jabbed harder. "There’s something in my shake!" I wedged my spoon between the cup and the object and up popped a plastic bubble like the kind you get in a vending machine. I grabbed a napkin and wiped off the ice cream. My heart began to pound as I carefully pried the two halves apart. The top finally slid open and I pulled out a beautiful diamond engagement ring. A tiny folded slip of paper asked, "Will you marry me?" Tomorrow I’ll tell you all about the wedding.

Feb 18, 2011

Falling in Love: Courtship

We are going to skip this week's Friday Freebie to continue the courtship story in honor of Valentine's Day.  Please come back next week for another free activity.  

I would love to be able to say that we both immediately knew we were right for each other and we got married and lived happily ever after.  Unfortunately it was much more complicated than that.  I was only 17 and even though I thought I was all grown up, I was self-centered and selfish.  I was still a senior in high school for at least half my waking hours.  I wanted to participate in high school activities like the prom, but most importantly, I still wanted to chase boys and have fun!  I really wasn’t ready at that point for a serious relationship and given my split personality (college co-ed vs. high school senior) it was easy to live a dual life.  I was also getting an incredible amount of pressure from home to not get serious with anyone.  My parents were excited about my 4-year scholarship to BYU and they were afraid that getting married might jeopardize that opportunity.  The thing we didn't realize then was that there seemed to be a force, like a strong magnet, pulling us together and no matter how hard we tried to break those bonds, we were unable to separate.

John Travolta and Olivia Newton John in Grease
My lab assistant accused me of mind games and he was probably right.  In my mind it was all a game and the seriousness of the possible outcome didn’t really occur to me at first.  I was so flaky it's a wonder we ever got married!  Like one time when I was angry with him for some silly little thing, I immediately went home and called another guy and invited him to pref.  Shortly after that I went on a high school trip to Washington DC and spent the week chasing and then running from a boy from South Carolina (Stalker!  He didn’t give up quickly…he wrote to me for months and I don’t believe I ever even held his hand!)  After I was back from my trip I would often go out with another guy and then call my sweet and incredibly smart Lab Assistant to help me with my homework.  Each time I broke his heart he got so frustrated that he took all the broken glass in the lab and threw it into the recycling bin with such force that it shattered into tiny pieces.  

None of my high school friends even knew I was seeing someone until my lab assistant and I showed up together at the New Year’s Eve dance.  Then they gave me a lot of crap because he had a less-than-missionary style haircut.  I was a bit embarrassed by that and the next day he immediately cut his hair.  I should have known then that he would do anything for me, but it took much longer for that fact to sink in.  He gave me some wonderful gifts, a large stuffed teddy bear for Christmas, a heart-shaped crystal necklace for Valentine’s Day, and green M&Ms for St. Patrick’s Day.  He never neglected an occasion to show me how he felt.

That winter was very cold and the snow hung around for weeks without a ray of sunshine.  One night we were parked in front of my house.  We had been sitting in the car for a long time and the windows were pretty fogged up.  The snow was also piling up on the windshield, but we were talking and laughing, totally oblivious to the storm.  That’s when my dad showed up. 

Stock photo WCBS2
My parents were negative about any guy I went out with more than once, but did I ever mention that my dad was extremely unhappy about this developing romance with a college boy?  Even after I turned 18 in January, he thought I was way too young for the amount of time we were spending together.  Anyway, that night he wrenched open the door and the snow fell in little piles onto the seat of the car.  “What are you two doing in here?” he demanded.  Before either one of us could answer, he yelled, “Get out!  Don’t you know the power lines are down?”  We quickly climbed from the car and into the deep snow.  The power lines were sparking right above the car.  The snow was so heavy that they couldn’t take the weight.  It wasn’t long before the emergency vehicles arrived, but by then we were safely inside the house, drying out and warming up. 

Several days later we were once again sitting in the car when my lab assistant put his head in his hands and told me he didn’t know what he was going to do.  Concerned, I snuggled closer, “Why?” I questioned.  “Because I can’t live with you and I can’t imagine life without you.”  I was stunned and didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t say anything.  Then he continued, “I think I’m in love with you.”  Now I have heard this line from guys before; the first time was when I was in 7th grade, but he seemed serious.  “Why do you think that?” I asked.  “Because even with all of these people trying to tear us apart, we seem to be stuck together,” he said.  I was surprised and scared about what that could mean to our future.  “Why don’t you think about it for a while?” I suggested.  “Maybe you’ll want to take it back.”  I hadn’t really thought about how I felt at that particular moment and I was certainly not ready to confess my undying love just then.  He shook his head.  It took me a couple of weeks to realize that my feelings were the same.  Tune in tomorrow for the proposal.

Feb 17, 2011

Falling in Love: First Kiss

 My lab assistant and I spent a lot of our spare time together that week, working and talking, but now everything was different. We weren’t just friends anymore. It was time to take our relationship to a new level. I hate to admit that I had some previous kissing experience and I was pretty sure that he didn’t have any. That said, I tried to make it easy for him to make a move. He just didn’t seem to get the hint.

Exactly one week from our first date, we sat together in my car in the library parking lot.  We'd spent several nights there together until they dimmed the lights and my lab assistant insisted we had to leave.  It was December 10th and cold. We were snuggling and talking about finals and how glad we would be when school was finally out for the Christmas break. Remember this was a small town? At some point my mom showed up. It was way before the days of cell phones and when I didn’t answer the office phone she came looking for me. It didn’t help that we had fogged up the windows. Unfortunately it was from warm breath and cold air, nothing else. We chatted for a few minutes, then I promised to come home soon and she left us alone.

This seemed to be as good a time as any for expecting that first kiss. I knew he was nervous so I moved a little closer to make it easier. The tension was as thick as the ice in the parking lot. It seemed to be taking forever for him to make up his mind. Finally his lips touched mine. It was sweet and gentle and scared, but quickly took on a mind of its own. I’m not even sure why, but to diffuse the moment, I blew a breath of air into his mouth! His eyes popped open and he pulled away. I don’t think this was what he had imagined it would be like. Then to make matters worse, I started laughing! He looked confused for a moment; then he started laughing too.

It was a long cold winter that year in our small town. I told you before that he didn't have a car and I did, but I drove one that belonged to my parents. That meant I didn’t always have open access to transportation. It was only three or four blocks to the college from my home, so sometimes I would have to walk to the library or to class depending on the situation. One night a week or so later, before there were very many more kisses (I don’t know, maybe he was scared to try again after the reception he got the first time), he was walking me home.

There had been a storm earlier in the day and the plows had come through, making huge piles of snow along the sides of the road. At each corner these piles were even bigger, some as high as 10 or 12 feet.  We were laughing and talking and tossing little snowballs at each other. I had on boots, so I was walking in the deeper snow. Suddenly I climbed up one of these higher piles and let my boots sink in. The snow quickly swallowed me up to my knees. "I’m stuck!" I called out playfully.

He hurried over, the concern clearly showing on his face. "What do you want me to do?" he asked, oblivious to my flirting techniques. "Get me out?" I suggested. He carefully stepped over the snow and gallantly reached out a hand to help me. This was not my plan. I wanted big strong arms around me and maybe more, so I played dumb. "I don’t think that’s going to work," I said. He inched closer. "I’m really stuck," I reminded him. Finally he seemed to get the message. He put his arms around me and pulled me to safety.

It was several years later before he understood that I could have gotten out of that snow bank all by myself. Come back tomorrow and I’ll tell you a little more about our stormy courtship and his declaration of love.

Feb 16, 2011

Falling in Love: First Date

So we met the first week in June of 1982. I survived the Survey Chem class with the firm intention of never taking another chemistry class in my life! But my job required me to correct homework and tests for the various chemistry classes, so chemistry became part of my routine. 

I was an English Major, so sometimes correcting homework was a bit beyond my abilities especially for the Organic Chem class. This nice lab assistant was the perfect person to ask for help! Not only was he in the Organic Chem class, but he could get paid for his efforts in my behalf. So we started spending many afternoons together, laughing, working, and getting to know each other a little better. 

I must confess that I was a big flirt and it never occurred to me to be anything different around him. It was obvious that he didn’t have much experience with girls and most of my flirting just seemed to frustrate him. After several months of working together I finally ran into him one night at the library. I was with my little sister and he was just hanging out and doing homework. We started teasing him and eventually I stole his class ring. That was really the first time I looked at him as being a romantic conquest. 

Several evenings later I was working in the chemistry office. The Organic class was having a test and I had several guy friends in there sweating it out. After a couple of hours, they were finally dismissed. What a ragged bunch! They had clearly used every bit of brain power they collectively possessed. These were some of the smartest guys in the school and they all congregated in the chemistry office. I was the only girl among them. 

My lab assistant sprawled in the professor’s chair, "I could sure use a steak!" he complained to no one in particular. Then, when he got no response, he said, "Anyone want to come?" "I’ll come," I said. We looked around at the rest of the guys. Each had his own silly little smirk on his face. "I have some stuff I need to do," said one. "Have fun!" commented another. Somehow I thought I had been set up, but I wasn’t going to walk away without a good steak dinner. Besides, this was probably the only way I was ever going to get this super-shy guy to ask me out. "OK, let’s go," I said. 

He didn’t have a car, so naturally I had to drive. We headed to the only steakhouse in town, a tiny café I had never been to before. I made up my mind then and there that this was a date and we were both going to act like it. When I pulled into the parking lot, he got out and headed to the door. I just sat there and waited. It took him a few minutes to realize that I was still in the car. I’m pretty sure that’s when he figured out that we were not just two friends grabbing a bite to eat together. 

 He came back and opened my door. We enjoyed our meal and talked about things that were a little more personal than homework and test scores.  Then I took him to my favorite place in the whole world…my grandparents’ house. 

They were a little nervous about me bringing a new guy around, but they took it in stride. Although my grandma took me in the other room and said loudly enough for him to hear, "Now don’t go getting serious with this one!" I was only 17 and college boys were definitely trouble. I can’t remember who suggested that we attend the dance that night, but somehow we ended up there. Several slow dances later and we were both convinced that our first date wouldn’t be our last…come back tomorrow and I’ll tell you about our first kiss.

Feb 15, 2011

Falling in Love: Chemistry

This blog has created a rather interesting change at our house. Suddenly everyone seems to be telling "Remember when…?" stories. Since it is Valentine’s Week, I’m going to share my memory of how my sweetie and I met and fell in love. (It may or may not be the same as his.) 

Bossy found me another t-shirt

We both grew up in small towns that were about 14 miles apart. We never met in high school although we have proof that we both attended some of the same dances and activities. I was what you might call a "Super-Over-Achiever" in high school. I had this crazy idea to graduate high school and the local junior college at the same time. I know this is rather common now, but back in 1983 it was not. I met with much resistance and my high school would not accept a single credit from the college. That meant I had to meet separate credit requirements at both schools. It was a little insane! I attended classes in the mornings before high school and then in the afternoons and evenings. During the summer between my junior and senior years, I signed up for a full load of credits at the college. 

One of those classes was Survey Chemistry. Our very first day was a lab and we were expected to bend glass. Now I had older siblings attending this same college and they had taken chemistry classes. I had heard all about this wonderful teacher and how good he was, but when I walked into the lab on that first day, the only person I saw was this quiet-looking young man who couldn’t have been much older than me. He seemed nice enough and he was more than willing to help me bend glass when it became obvious that I was pretty terrible with a Bunsen burner. Maybe he was just trying to keep me from burning the place down. 
I’ve always admired men with brains, but I never actually dated one. And at first I didn’t date this one either. He was very shy and he turned out to be the lab assistant, not the actual teacher. I didn’t know then that I would eventually go to work for the chemistry professor as his personal secretary and that this helpful lab assistant would become a good friend. Come back tomorrow and I’ll tell you all about our first date.

Just a quick reminder our first Give-Away ends on Friday this week so if you haven't already take a minute and enter.  You can send an email or comment on any post with your story. 

clip are from Home Chemistry Lab

Feb 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! Or should I say Happy Single Awareness Day?! That’s what the Drama Queen calls it. One of those days when you are the only one not getting a flower at the middle school or the only one not getting a smootch from your sweetie in the main hall of your high school. Or maybe you’re the only one not going to the Sweethearts Dance or the only one who has a blind date to the Institute Dance. (Hey, Teach, was he in an accident or was he blind at birth?) Seriously though, Valentine’s Day can be hard even if you have someone. 

Our church has a custom called the Adult’s Sweetheart Dance (not to be confused with the Youth Sweetheart Dance). Both are held at the church on the weekend before Valentine’s Day. Paying attention to the posters is critical! You would be in real trouble if you showed up at the wrong one. We have spent many happy hours at these dances, some nights just sitting and talking; taking a break from the kids, and sometimes dancing until our feet hurt. Often we show up near the opening song and stay clear through until the last slow dance. 

So this year we made our annual appearance, danced only two dances (the band was not my favorite), ate an éclair, drove back home to pick up Baby Doll, and then went out to dinner. We were trying to remember if we had ever missed one of these church dances since we moved to this area and we are pretty sure the answer is "no." Although it’s hard to say for sure since they are all pretty much the same. Except for the one in 1997. I had my knee surgery in the fall and I was still not completely healed. We spent most of that one sitting against the wall and just listening to the music. 

It was just before Valentine’s Day in 2001 that my sweetie was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. We had to skip the eclairs that year and only help ourselves to the carrot sticks and fruit. Then there was 2005. Scout was born the end of November so she was still really small. We took her with and she danced most of the night between us. 

One year they really threw us a curve! There were no eclairs, just ice cream and sundae toppings! Another year somebody got the bright idea that they were having a dance so they needed to take dance pictures. They accosted people at the front door and before they could say anything, they were thrust onto a couch, coached to smile, and their panic-stricken looks were immortalized for all time. Last year they actually put card games out on the tables so those with two left feet would feel like they could participate in some of the activities. 

 They always set up tables so couples can sit around and visit and eat goodies and just think about dancing when a slow song comes on. And this year they added something else…they put huge candy bowls on each table and filled them with conversation hearts, chocolates, chocolate covered pretzels, and gummy bears. We were supposed to get a little cello bag and fill it with stuff from each bowl. It was really just a ploy to get us to talk to people at each table, but we were smarter than that. 

We waited until they played a slow song. Most of the couples got up to dance and that left the tables empty. We quickly visited each candy bowl and scooped up a ton of goodies for our babysitters at home. Then we took our bags out into the hall and stuffed them into the pockets of my jacket. We headed back into the gym, once again giving the photographer the slip, and finished out the last part of the song. We stopped at the refreshment table for another éclair (stocked by my own Prima Donna), and ducked out the door. 

It wasn’t moonlight and roses, but the candy put all the little ones in a sugar-dazed stupor so we were able to spend the last tiny bit of the evening alone in our room. Well, if you call "alone" Curly in the little racecar bed and Baby Doll asleep in the crib…I’d call that a Valentine’s Day success.

Feb 13, 2011


**WARNING-  The following story contains graphic Mommy humor**

My kids are not the best-dressed kids in the neighborhood. Most of the time I let them choose their own outfits and they may or may not match. That said, when Baby Doll was born my amazingly cool and well-dressed sister-in-law gave her a darling red plaid dress with a matching Scottish-style hat from The Children’s Place. It was fully lined with a little silk slip, lace, ribbons; the works! 

Closest Bossy could find from memory

It finally fit this week and I was so excited as I dressed her for church. I started with a white turtleneck (the collar said "Broncos" but I tucked it on the inside so you couldn’t see it) and some tiny white tights. Then I pulled the beautiful fancy dress over her head and buttoned it up the back. I placed that round plaid hat on her head (she hated it, of course), and we were ready to go. She looked like one of those kids out of the portrait ads! Little did I know that I was in for no end of grief from my other kids. 

"Mom," the Prima Donna said, "that hat looks so silly!" 
From the Dog Walker, "You can’t wear a hat at church!" 

Even my little Curly, "She doesn’t want to wear that hat…let me wear it!" 

I ignored them all until the hat slipped down over her eyes and she began to squawk. It didn’t help that I pulled it off and threw it on the floor; she was inconsolable. So I took her out to the nursing room and gave her some milk. When she was totally sacked out I took her back in the chapel so that maybe I could hear a little bit of the meeting I was missing. She was sleeping soundly on my shoulder as I walked back in. Friends and neighbors smiled at her sleeping form, mouthing, "She’s so cute…" We headed for our traditional spot on the back row. 

As soon as we sat back down her little blue eyes popped open. I thought maybe she was looking for her hat, but no such luck. Now I’ve been around the block a few times, so I know a "blow-out" when I hear one. I frantically looked around for the diaper bag. Of course it was all the way down on the end of the row in the corner where my hubby was hibernating. By the time I got his attention, Baby Doll had gotten the attention of the entire back three rows!

I finally received the required gear and headed once more to the nursing room. If I received sympathetic looks, I didn’t see them. She was still pooping and I was walking as fast as I dared without running. I knew there wasn’t an extra outfit to change her into and I really didn’t want her to ruin this expensive little dress after wearing it for only half an hour. I laid her on the changing table and sure enough, the tights and the little turtleneck were covered. 

Not actual blow-out

I slipped the little red dress over her head in a vain attempt to keep it clean. That’s when I noticed that there appeared to be an extra piece of fabric hanging down from the back of the skirt. It was still partly attached with those little plastic hangers from the store. It’s a good thing I’m not smart enough to know that all fancy dresses come with bloomers, because wearing them as an extra layer under her skirt worked pretty well. The dress was fine, but I think the kids may have tossed the little hat in the Lost and Found when I wasn’t looking. I haven’t seen it since.