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19 posts from July 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sometimes the Pain is too Great

This story is about my beautiful daughter, Kathleen. 

Regardless of everything else, this has been my place for sharing my life.  In many ways it is my daily journal and a place where I can share my enthusiasm for my life, my family, my children, my impossible homeowner remodeling experience.  But, for me, it is also a place where I can share my deepest sorrow.


My life is mostly happy, mostly joyous, mostly blessed.  I have a wonderful and loving husband, and a healthy family, with 3 wonderful children at home, and 2 adult daughters who I love dearly.   I am blessed that my mother has lived with us for 10 years and that God gave me and my family the strength to care for Bob's parents for 4 years.  And,  yes, they lived with us, too, for that time before my father-in-law passed away in 2005 and we had to put his mother in a nursing home for Alzeimer's patients.  She doesn't remember any of us anymore.  It is so sad. 


But, even with all the happy posts and stories I have shared with you, I suppose there has to come a time when we all must feel some pain, and unfortunately, that time for me is now.  I hope you will understand and bear with me during this difficult time.  Writing it down is healing for me.  I am otherwise, completely overwhelmed with grief.


I am a failure.  A complete and utter failure as a mother.  You see, when I was 19, I had a beautiful baby girl - Kathleen.  And that was nearly 30 years ago.  I wasn't married and I was scared out of my mind for what I had let happen in my life.  I was stupid.  I was naive.  I was a child having a child.  I had no business bringing this precious child into the world, but I did, and although I am glad I made that decision, it is now the most painful thing in my life to endure.  But, and yes, there is a big whopping "but."  Nobody should have to endure what my daughter, Kathleen, is enduring now.  Not only am I suffering, but she is suffering more.  Far more.  And she won't let me help her. 




If I had a magic wand, I would change everything except for her life in my life.  I just wish I had some idea how my childish behavior back then - all those years ago - would destroy her.  I needed direction, guidance, and love.  Kathleen needs those things all the more now.  And I looked for it in all the wrong places back then.   I was insecure and scared, and although I had my mother, I felt terribly alone.  But that is not an excuse, just an observation.   I won't make excuses here.  I am fessing up to it all.  This just takes time I suppose.  I just need to get it all out.  If you can't read personal and painful expression, then please change the station.  Because this is going to be one hell of an emotionally driven story.




It doesn't matter that Bob and I are raising Glen, Kathleen's son, or that we have raised him as our own since he was 2 weeks old.  He is 8 years old now and a precious angel and smart as a whip. 




It doesn't matter that I see Kathleen in everything that Glen does and in every thing he is. 




It doesn't even matter that Kathleen has failed to contact him, communicate with him or with us, or has completely separated herself from her son and her family. 



It doesn't matter that Glen has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome or that maybe, very possibly, Kathleen had the same thing growing up.  But back then, nobody knew much about Autism or Asperger's.  None of this matters now because you see, Kathleen needs us, but she doesn't want to give in.  She wants to do it all on her own.  Always has.  She doesn't want anyone's help.  She has shut herself off from the world, from her son, and from her family.




This is a photo of my daughter, Kathleen, taken 1 week ago by my mother
who is visiting my brother in Florida where Kathleen has been living
for 2 years with a friend in an apartment in Lakeworth, Florida.  I do
not know who this is anymore.


When I got these pictures in the mail yesterday from my mother, I dropped them on the floor, and then I fell to my knees.  I am utterly destroyed.  I feel the need to take my daughter in my arms and hold her, feed her, help her, stroke her hair, and tell her that I have always loved her and always will - unconditionally.



I feel a need to take my daughter's feet in my hands and wash them, and kiss them, and tell her I am sorry for not being the mother that she needed growing up.  That I will do anything I can to help her and will she please forgive me for my shortcomings and let me help her.  "Kathleen, my precious daughter, please forgive me.  For any and all the pain I have caused you in your life, please forgive me.  I am begging you."


Kathleen was a beautiful baby.  Gloriously happy. Spunky.  Full of life and curiosity. 



She always seemed to have a smile on her face and a sparkle in her eye.  You know the kind, the one where your baby looks at you and you swear they know the world inside out?  That was Kathleen.



Kathleen had an enthusiasm and an interest in objects that seemed almost as though she were inspecting every inch of it.



As she got older I realized that she had a special gift for art.  She is extremely talented and we knew this early on.



Her drawings, even at the age of 2 years old, were extraordinary.  I knew in my heart that Kathleen was special and that she would be an artist of some kind someday. 


She used to say the darndest things too.  One day, while dropping her off at school when she was about 7 years old, she said, "Mommy, I am not going to school today.  I am going to spend the entire day with you."  I said "Really, and why is that?"  She replied "Because I already know everything and I don't need to go here anymore."  Well, of course, I insisted she had to go to school.  She wasn't very happy with me.



As she got older, Kathleen's artistic ability took off and she began to show an interest in fashion and design.  We got her involved in some modeling schools but she eventually lost interest. 



She did wonderful though.  She was a natural when doing fashion shows.  She didn't have a care in the world when she was on the runway, and she would strut her stuff on stage to Madonna's "Vogue" with personality, beauty, and grace.



Kathleen had the most beautiful face, the most beautiful smile, the most introspective eyes.  I couldn't believe she was my daughter.



We lived with my mother in Florida during her pre-teen and early teen years.  I was struggling with owning a salon in Boca Raton and keeping that afloat and all the while fighting a horrible custody battle over Kimberly, my 2nd daughter, whose father, Doug, was in the Army, was remarried, and living in Missouri.  That experience was hell, but more importantly, it consumed me, and at that time, I thought I wouldn't survive the fight. 



The problem I faced with being consumed in my business and the custody battle was that I didn't give Kathleen the attention she needed.  I wasn't there for her like a mother should be.  I neglected to show her, through my actions, how important she was in my life,  and so each day passed; and, I guess she was just existing in her grandmother's home, as we all were, involved in her school and her activities and with her friends and her sister, Kimberly.



You see, I had married a man in the Army when Kathleen was 15 months old to give her a father,  then my father passed away when I was 5 months pregnant with my 2nd daughter, Kimberly.  And 10 months later we had Kimberly, born with a tragic heart condition that required immediate medical attention. 



She had to have open-heart surgery when she was a slight and delicate 7 lbs and 3 months old.  She has since had to have 4 open-heart surgeries.  Her own life has been a tragic score of events that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.   I only wish I could take it all back and start over. 



I wish I knew then what I know now about being a good mother.  I wish I had appreciated my babies more back then.  The emotional loss is excruciatingly painful and almost unbearable at times.  But, I have no one to blame but myself.  I was an adult.  A very young adult, maybe, but still an adult.  The choices I made had a profound effect on my daughters.  It changed who they are.  It changed who they would become.  I had no idea.  My mother offered support, but not the emotional support and guidance that I needed to be a better mother.  I don't blame her by any means.  I needed her, yes, but as mother's go, she was doing the best she could.  She was alone and she needed her own children.  She needed me and my brothers.

Kimberly, thank the Lord, is healthy, happily married, and living in the cold breezes of Minnesota now.  I cannot take credit for her being the good girl that she became, because although I raised her and loved her for the first 7 years of her life, from then on she was raised and cared for by her father and his wife in Missouri where she could be close to her doctors, and out of the throws of emotion and turmoil that I was facing as a young, inexperienced, and troubled mother of 2 young daughters.



By her mid-teen years, I had completely lost control of Kathleen.  I did not keep a check on her friends and I was too wrapped up in my own life, fears, relationships,  and insecurities.  I was blind to what was happening to my daughter, and ignorant to how much she really needed me.  I was so wrapped around the axle and emotionally driven that I almost couldn't function normally.  The responsibilities for my children and my life were frightening and tragic.




Kathleen suffered during all those years that I cared for Kim and shuffled her back and forth to the hospital.  Kathleen was always in someone else's care - my mother helped care for her mostly, and Kathleen and she became very close.  Still, the one person Kathleen needed the most wasn't there for her - her mother.  And that would be me.  I mean, I was there, physically, but "there?"  Nope.  I wasn't there for Kathleen.  Honestly, though, what did I know at 21 about raising 2 children and a having a child ill with heart disease?  Nothing.  I knew nothing.  And to make matters worse, I lived each day in the throws of emotion.  I let my emotions and my feelings rule every aspect of my life.  I needed to get a grip on things and I was completely clueless.  Sorta what you call living by the seat of your pants without the seat.



 Her childhood was marked with me searching for love, searching for my mother's approval, searching for my identity, searching for answers.  I was a mess.  Fortunately, I was never one of those persons who did drugs or smoked or drank.  I didn't do any of that.  Thank God.  If I had, I probably would have been 6 feet under a long time ago.  I did tell my girls I loved them, every single day, and I hugged them often.  I also yelled a lot back then and had a habit of throwing a fit out of emotional necessity for an outlet for all my pent-up distresses and frustrations.  That was wrong, completely wrong.  I'll be the first to admit I was a mess in my 20s.



When Kathleen was in her mid-teens, she got into the wrong group of friends and that is where I lost her.  Things spiraled out of control after that, and there was no turning back.  She dropped out of school in the 10th grade and left home when she was 18.



Two years later, after spending her life jumping from one friend's home or apartment to another, Kathleen got off a plane and presented us with a precious baby boy - Glen Everett.  And then, she never again looked back.  She walked away 2 months after she and Glen came to live with us, got on a plane to New York and her life was to be forever changed.


She lived in a horrible apartment in a bad neighborhood and then moved back to Florida, then back to New York, and now back to Florida.  Spiraling down a tragic lifestyle that none of us can understand. 




She tried her creative hand at fashion design and was doing well.  Other designers took notice of her work and it looked as though she may actually be successful at her creations.  Kathleen had always been creative, artistic, imaginative, expressive.  How unfortunate - she must have got that from me.




No, I do not believe for a second that Kathleen has ever done drugs.  I do know that she smoked at one time and for all I know still does, although I don't know how she affords it.   And for anyone who cares to know - I do not smoke and never have.  I have never done drugs, and I don't drink either.  I think alcohol and beer  and wine all taste like Nyquil.  I'd rather have an iced tea.  Call me old school,  but I think cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol are disgusting, smelly, nasty things to put into one's body.  Yuk.  So, when Kathleen started smoking and drinking casually with friends, I didn't say a word, but I was left speechless.  I don't judge her though.  I really don't.  I guess I'm the weirdo, not her.



Despite the difficulties and challenges she faced, Kathleen lived in New York for a number of years.  She went there with 100 dollars in her pocket and a dream.  That would scare the hell out of me, but we're talking about Kathleen here.  The one with no fear.  The one with creative energy to knock out a wall, the one who could teach me a few things about being strong and fearless.



Her teens were filled with visions of a teenage gothic - black lipstick, and black nails.  Black hair, and black eyeshadow.  Black clothes and a very black life.   She was drawn to the Renaissance Festival and made a big splash on the pages of the newspaper a few times.  She was enjoying this time in her life I suppose, and now that I look back on it, I think she just wanted to be somebody else.



There was never any talking to Kathleen.  She refused to listen then and she refuses to listen now.  She seemed depressed and angry, hateful and cruel during those teen years.  It was frightening.  I am trying to listen and understand her.  No, I wasn't an emotionally absent mother, but I might as well have been.  Kathleen ignored me completely and I just let it ride.  The days came and went and Kathleen got older.  We became emotionally distant.



I need to understand what has brought her to this place in her life where she has lost her spirit and will to live.  I am trying to understand why she would let herself fall apart and not even try to pursue a happier, healthier, life and lifestyle.   I am so confused and I feel a desperate need to help her.  She is my child.  She is my daughter.



But how?   Before it is too late I need to find the hand of an angel to guide me in my words and actions so that I can help her find her way.  I pray there is an angel on Kathleen's shoulder right now, for without that angel, she will continue down this road of despair.  I am so afraid that road is near a dead end.  How do we break down this wall?



"Kathleen, I love you babydoll.  I love you and adore you with all my heart.  I can't begin to understand the tragedy that has been your life, or the pain that you are feeling.  I don't pretend to understand anything anymore.  I do know this - that you are the most important person in my life right now.  You have always been important.  You have always been special."


"But now, I hear you screaming at me.  I hear you, Kathleen.  I hear your angry words and I feel your pain.  It doesn't have to be this way.  I promise you I will do everything I can to help you.  Help you back up on your feet.  Help you find your way back to your life.  Help you find your passions again.  I'm here for you my sweet and precious Kathleen.  Please don't let go.  Please, sweetie.  Please come home where we can give you all that you need and more.  Oh - so much more." 

Please tell me it is not too late.  Please tell me there is hope for you and hope for me.  Please tell me that we will find our way back into each other's arms and hearts where we belong.  Please Kathleen.

I love you with all my heart."  - Mom


(written by my dear and precious friend of 35 years, Alison Caltrider - artist, writer, friend, and soul sister)

There is a Place where the heart is pure and golden

Where love is undefined, but real

There is a Place where giving of oneself is unconditional

There is a Place where accepting of others is unconditional

There is a Place where the light is constant, but never so bright,

One can’t look upon it in wonder

There is a Place where we think darkness can envelope us,

But we find the darkness is an illusion,

Only to realize the light

There is a Place where we are embraced by the love of

Divine Wings

There is a Place where we find ourselves whole and good

Where we see others in love and grace

There is a Place where there is no need to forgive,

It is beyond human comprehension

There is a Place yet to be discovered within ourselves,

Where wisdom has always resided

We are in this Place at all times,

But in our human experience, we forget

In Our Spirit, we always remember, and the Clarity of who

And  what  we are is always present

We only have the present, but it’s the Place we need to be

It’s the Place that shows us these things

It’s the Place that never ceases to exist


Alison Elaine Caltrider


Thank you Alison - I needed your words.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Matthew the Maestro Pt. 2

Matthew the Maestro Pt 2 My son, Matthew, is doing an incredible job learning the piano.  And yes, so is my daughter, Sarah, and my grandson, Glen.  But this post will be about Matthew, as I like to praise each of my children individually and on their own merits, because each are so special to me and boy do they know it.  Spoiled kids.  But hey, if you can't spoil your own babies, who can you spoil, right?  I do try to keep balance, though.  "Try" being the operative word here.

P1000906.JPG So, let's talk about Matthew and his piano lesson.  He wanted me to sit in on his last lesson, and so I did.  All children want their parent's approval, validation, and praise, and I am more than willing to offer it up.  Especially when they have earned it.  And Matthew has definitely earned it.

P1000908.JPG It wasn't always this easy to get him to sit at the piano and practice, or to pick up his theory book and study it so intently, but for whatever reason, something clicked about 2 months ago and now it is full speed ahead on the keyboard.  What glorious music fills my home!  I love it, love it, love it!

P1000909.JPG Matthew is a good listener too, and he also does well with his schoolwork.  However, and yes, there is a "however," when it comes to mathematics, he shuts down.  I homeschool all my children, so some subjects can be challenging.  Interesting how it is different subjects for different children.  Still, Matthew listens and tries really hard, and if he isn't "perfect" he gets really upset with himself.  Sometimes a little too upset.  Nobody, especially an 11 year old boy, should expect perfection; and, although I tell him this often, he tries his best to be his very best.   I just wish he wouldn't be so hard on himself.

P1000910.JPG See that hand up by his head?  He's in deep thought.  It is so quiet in the music studio that you could hear a pin drop, and Tango, the resident dog, sniff your shoes.  See Claire?  That is Claire Ritter - Music teacher connoisseur,  and extraordinary jazz musician, recording artist, and composer, in her own right.  Go here to see her website and listen to her incredible music compositions.  You won't be disappointed.  She is amazing.

P1000915.JPG Which might explain, too, why my children are so amazing playing the piano.  Claire has a tremendous ability to draw them in and grab their attention.  She encourages them, praises them, and yes, she even corrects them when they flub up.  My kids think she is the coolest.  She even has a set of drums and an electric keyboard that she hooks up and uses to accompany them on their pieces.  Yeap, Claire is pretty amazing, and thanks to her time, expertise, and talent, my Matthew is an extraordinary pianist and I am so proud of him I could burst.  I think I'll burst now.  Okay, I bursted, and Matthew got his cheeks pinched (again), and his forehead kissed (again), and hugged till he couldn't breathe (again).  I do so enjoy embarrassing him.  Hey!  That's my job!

P1000916.JPG And as we were leaving, Tango followed us out the door because she wanted to make sure we made it safely to our car, but first, we had to pet her and let her back inside - it was way too hot out there.  She is such a good doobie.

P1000917.JPG And so, as we were leaving, Glen pointed out to Matthew that his lesson was outstanding, and that his music was over-the-top glorious, and that he will go home now, take Matthew's piano books, and try to do the same thing (gotta keep a good healthy competition going on here).  So, Matthew scratches his head and says "Mom, do you think I did okay today?"  And I will look at him with adoring eyes and say "Matthew, you were the best.  I am so proud of you I think I'll pinch those perfect pink cheeks some more. and kiss you some more."  Matthew's eyes get big and he says "Awww, Mom, Not Again!"

P1000919.JPG And so we drive home.  Top down, fresh air, enjoying this perfect day.

P1000922.JPGAnd of course, we don't forget to waive goodbye to Starchaser - the resident horse. 
"Bye Starchaser!  Stay Cool!"

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Our Little Soldier - Matthew


Matthew is our little soldier.  He loves playing soldier with Glen and with his friend Alex.  I can't tell you how cute it is to see a sweet boy like mine come downstairs all geared up for some army action.  Sounds come into play too.  What is it with boys and those noises that come from their mouths to duplicate shot guns, pistols, trains, trucks, cars screeching, pretending to be dying, and so many more.  It's amazing to me how distinct the sounds are too.  It must be a testosterone thing, because both Matthew and Glen do it, and none of my 3 girls ever have.  It doesn't matter what the boys are playing, some noise has to be made to compliment the experience.

Look at that face.  Doesn't that just make you want to pinch his cheeks and kiss him?  I thought so - me too.


Let the war begin.  Can you hear those noises coming from his mouth?  "Aarrrrgh!"


He had to get a good eye on his subject.


Wait, he spots another subject over here.  He is on top of it for sure.  Nothing gets past my little army guy in white socks.


Ah, the perfect position for getting the perfect shot.  As he focuses on his subject to get the perfect aim, he licks his lips so he will get the perfect sound experience as he shoots.


Then he stands by his dog, his companion, his friend, his partner in war, and he smiles.


Because they are best buds.

Matthew Playing Army

And nothing can stop them as long as they're together, of course a tummy rub would be nice too.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sleep Over Silliness

Sarah's Sleepover

My daughter, Sarah, had a sleep over last night and we could hear the giggling and silliness all night long.  Well, maybe not all night long, but a good chunk of it.  Because Sarah had 2 of her friends who are sisters, staying over together, Sarah and Matthew and Glen opted to switch rooms so that all 3 could sleep in the same room.  You see, the boys have a big room (formerly known as the bonus room) for their bedroom and Sarah has a normal size bedroom with all her girly stuff.  So they switched.  By morning, the fun began to take hold and Matthew had it in his handsome little head that he was going to play a prank on the girls.  Don't you just love sibling rivalry? 

The girls had the door closed and they were giggling and doing girly things like talking about boys and probably putting on lip gloss and playing with Hannah, (she's a girl too), and then there was this pounding and knocking at their door.  So the girls rush to open it and nobody is there.

Sarah:  "Okay, who did that?  I know it was you, Matthew.  Glen?  Matthew?  You better come out or I'm gonna get you"


Sidney:  "Let's go find him."

Hope: "Yeah, let's find him and tickle him"

Sarah: "Come on, let's go get 'im.  Matthew, you better come out of hiding!"

 Sidney:  "I wonder where he is?"

Hope: "Did you check behind all the doors?"

 Sarah: "No, but I'm gonna let him know who's boss when we find him."

 Sidney:  "Where could he be?"

Hope: "Look out front, maybe he went outside"

Sarah: "I don't think so, he's hiding alright."

Sidney: "He doesn't want to be tickled."

Sarah: "Would you?"

 Sidney: "No"

Hope: "He's gotta be here somewhere."


Sarah's Sleepover

Adolf wanders into the laundry room and sticks his head behind the basket of laundry.  Hannah waits patiently for the girls to return and play.  Isn't she sweet?

Sarah's Sleepover

Sarah:  "Matthew, you are so dead."


 Sarah's Sleepover

Sarah:  "Well, maybe not.  Since you are lookin' at me like that with those big blue eyes.  Geez, what I do for you.  But, we are going to tickle you." 


Sarah's Sleepover

Matthew:  "No, No!  Darn I hate being tickled!"

And so, the tickling continued, and Matthew - Poor Matthew - enjoyed every second of it.  The trouble he gets himself into.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Glen, the Computer Whiz


I have this little person in my house who comes to me with the funniest remarks.  As a result, I am creating a new Category called "Out of the Mouths of Babes" since my babes say the darnedest things. 

Meet Glen-meister: 

An 8-year-old computer addicted future techno geek whiz kid who wanted his password so that he could sit for hours glued to a computer screen and changing the background images and reformatting the disk. 

Glen:  "Mom, can you type in my password, please?"  (Yes, he said "Please" - we do teach manners around here)

Me: "In just a minute sweetie"  (Yes, I call him sweetie, because he is a sweetie - most of the time)

Glen walks back to the kitchen and the computer and spends the next 5 minutes fumbling with buttons.


"Mom, I am sure I know my password." 

"Oh really?  Then what is it?"


(laughing) "Thumbsucker?  Why do you think it is that?"

"Because my hint says that it is what I've been called since a baby." 

(smirking) "Oh my!  Aren't you clever.  Nope, not it, but if you keep messin' with that computer, I am sure you'll figure it out."

Glen looks at me glumly and walks backs to the computer - waiting patiently, sucking his thumb, and trying to figure out what his password is.



To no avail.

But I arrive to save the day and I typed in his password so that he could spend 2 glorious parental-controlled hours on the computer.

Oh, the things my chillins say just to tickle my fancy.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Matthew the Maestro

The FinaleMy son Matthew has been taking piano for 3 years now and he loves it.  He did, however, go through a period of not practicing, but once it clicked it was glorious music all the way.  I think he might be competing with Sarah and trying to catch up to her skill on the keyboard.  Either way, he is doing an incredible job at entertaining the family. 

The other day, Matthew was getting ready to go for a motorcycle ride with Dad, but he had to wait until Dad got off a conference call, put on his shoes, pulled out the bike - you know the routine.  So while he waited he entertained us.  

Matthew playing the piano

Can you hear the music?  Isn't it wonderful!!!


Outstanding Matthew!  You little charmer you. (I'm blushing)

Intense moment

An intense moment while he plays Beethoven's Fur Elise flawlessly


He never missed a beat.


Such expression.  Such emotion.  Such intensity.  Such, such......TALENT!

 The Finale

And now for the finale.  As he glides his fingers across the keyboard and winds down the classical piece, he knows he has won our hearts.  He knows he has succeeded in playing the piece to the composer's satisfaction - and ours.  He knows - he is the Maestro!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dinner for 5 and some Sticky Fingers


Tonight the family went out to dinner, and when we left our house at 7:30,  we were hungry and hadn't a clue where we were going to end up.   First, Bob wanted to try some place on Independence.  Bob is telling me that this is supposed to be a good restaurant.  He's good at trying to convince people with his wit and wisdom.

Bob: "This place is supposed to be great.  I hear the food is great."

Me: "Say's who?" 

Bob: "Says everybody."

Me: "Who's everybody?"

Bob: "Everybody around here."

Me: "And who do you know around here?"

Bob: (Now obviously in a quandary) "I hear it's good, let's try it." 

Me: "There's - like - nobody here"

Bob: "It's usually packed"

Me: "How would you know, have you been here before?"

Bob: "No, - Crap Susan, let's eat." 

This conversation was obviously going nowhere.  So we all pile out of the Suburban. 

Sarah: "Are we here?  Is this where we are going to eat?" (She was in the back ignoring any conversation with iPod plugs in her ears)

Me: "I think so, why?"

Sarah: "Because it looks like a gas station only nobody is here but us and maybe a few other people."

Bob: "Would you 2 stop it please, this is supposed to be a great place to eat."  (Bob is notorious for thinking he is the aficionado on where to eat)

Sarah and I try not to laugh.  We open the door and it was a clean little place.  Then we noticed that there was a menu board overhead of a counter to order, and then we could sit down.  There were 2 other people in the restaurant.  It wasn't what we had in mind.

Me: "Well? Is this what you had in mind?" (Looking at Bob)

Bob: "Let's get out of here." 

  The evening got a little bit better, although not by much. (Note: We have never eaten at this little Restaurant, and I have since heard that it has good food.  We'll have to try it sometime.  It was just not what we were looking for on the night we went out with our family).

So we all pile back into the Suburban and head off down the road with nowhere to go at 4 dollars a gallon and 5 gurgling stomachs.  We like living on the edge.  It builds character.   I suggest we head to Ballantyne where there seems to be a few more restaurants to choose from, a few less tattoo parlors, and hopefully some of these places to eat will still be open by the time our warped and ravenous family arrived. 

Bob: "Do you want to eat there?" (Pointing to some restaurant on the right)

Me: "Naaaa"

Bob: "We could try that one" (Pointing to a restaurant on the left)

Me: "Naaaa"

Sarah: "Oh! Wait!  There's Ruby Tuesday!  Let's eat at Ruby Tuesday!  I love Ruby Tuesday!"

Me: "Naaaa"

Sarah: "Why Not? I'm starving!"

Me: "There's a place.  Sticky Fingers.  Let's try that."

Sarah: "Aw, please Mom, can we eat at Ruby Tuesdays?"  (And by the end of the evening, we are all going to wish we had)

Bob: "Let's try Sticky Fingers"

Sticky Fingers

Suddenly this song comes to mind - "Party pooper, party pooper, every party's got a pooper and the pooper is you, party pooper." 

Me: "Naaaa - just kidding.  Let's try Sticky Fingers"

Having not eaten there before we didn't quite know what to expect, although we had a pretty good idea it was probably ribs, and I could already see Bob salivating in the driver's seat.  It looked sorta like a Ruby Tuesday kind-of place on the inside.  It was clean and we were greeted with a great big smile from the Manager, and an "A-92.5" from the health inspector.  I don't know about anyone else, but I certainly look at that grade on the wall in every restaurant I enter and often wonder what it was that brought this one down 7.5 points from perfection. 

We were seated comfortably, and between the manager, Brandon, and our waitress, the service was top notch.  Please note that there was a full moon out last night, and for this reason, I reserved the right to be a complete stinker.  But hey, I'm an honest stinker.   So far so good.  We're starving and the green towels for napkins were starting to look appetizing.

Matthew: "I'll have chicken tenders with French fries and a chocolate milk"

Sarah: "I'll have a hamburger and fries and a Shirley Temple"

Glen: "I'll have a hamburger and French fries and an ice tea"

Bob: "I'll have a full rack of ribs, baked beans, cole slaw and a sweet tea" ....yada yada yada

Me: "I'll have a half-a-rack of ribs with fries, cole slaw, and a sweet tea"

I certainly can't complain about the service, because our server was as cute as a button and provided us "service with a smile."  When the food came we were just a little bit disappointed.  Not completely, just a little bit.  The burgers were good (so says our children, and believe me, they know if a burger is good and they'll tell you if it isn't.)  The Shirley Temple did not make Sarah want to jump off the Good Ship LollyPop - in other words - she didn't like it.  The chicken tenders were "Greeeeat" and I was looking for the tiger in the room courtesy of my son Matthew.  And the ribs and the fries left a lot to be desired. 

I don't know about anyone else out there, but I've never eaten a rack of pork ribs whereby I had to pull off a membrane from the backside of the ribs.  That turned my stomach from the onset just having to mess with it.  The ribs were not the most tender I have ever had, nor were they the most tasty.  Actually, they weren't very tasty at all.   They weren't bad mind you, but they weren't good either.   Hey!  It was a full moon last night people!  Nobody said I had to be decisive!  Let me clarify - I thought the ribs were terrible.  Bob will eat anything and so he thought they were - well - edible. 

The fries were not good.  As in "not bad, but definitely not good."  McDonald's fries are good.  Longhorn fries are great.  Sticky Finger's fries tasted like they had been left in the deep fryer a tad too long and we were eating what was left over from the afternoon lunch.  Then too, it was getting late.  The cole slaw was good.  Not great.  Just good.  As for the beans,  Bob could take 'em or leave 'em. 

I could not eat but maybe 2 bites of the ribs and I couldn't eat another bite.  Bob couldn't either.  There was something about that membrane and the bland taste even with the barbeque sauce that just gave too much significance to our carnivorous cravings and the hog that had to go down to satisfy our palette for pork this night.  Yuk. 

Sarah: "You mean that that is a pig's ribs?  What did they do with the heart and lungs?"

Me: "Do we have to have this conversation at dinner?   I've already lost my appetite."

Sarah: "But what did they do with his guts? Aw, forget it, I've got to go to the bathroom"

Glen: "I've got to go to the bathroom too"

Bob: "Me too, I'll take you" (he looks at Glen and takes a bite of baked beans)

Glen: "Can't Sarah take me?"

Me: "No Glen, she goes to the Ladies room, you go to the Men's room"

Glen: "Oh"

Me: "Can you wait till we get home?" (talking to Sarah)

Sarah: "No Mom, I've got to go NOW."

Me: "Fine!" (so I scoot out of the way)

Glen: "So Sarah are you going to take me to the bathroom?  I've really gotta go!"

Sarah: "No Glen!  Dad is going to take you."

Bob: "I'm coming Glen.  Hold your horses."

Matthew: "I've gotta go too." 

Bob: "Well come on then."

This was turning into a typical family night out.  Give me Peace Dear Lord.  Give me Patience.  Grant me the tolerance to make it thru the evening without garnering another dang gray hair.

So, as I sit there - alone - with my thoughts on this full moon of a night, I decided to howl at the moon. 

Sarah returns.

I call over the manager - Brandon.  A very nice young man with "customer service supreme" written all over his face.  He is truly a very nice young man and a wonderful manager.  Couldn't ask for better.  I proceeded to do something I find very uncomfortable to do - I told him how bad the ribs and the fries were.  He took it like a real man and with a smile too.  Then Bob returned and put in his 2 cents.  Now remember, Bob is the authority on good dining and knows where the good stuff is.  And if I had listened to him earlier we may have had a better meal at the little restaurant on Independence.

Bob directed Brandon to some good Rocky BBQ and I directed him to some great Longhorn fries.  Together they would make for good Sticky Fingers. 

Oh well, it wasn't a complete loss.  The children chowed down on animal cookies as if it were their last meal, and Brandon handed us the check - 0.00.  We were completely unprepared for this surprise from Brandon and suddenly felt bad.  Still, Brandon was the epitome of professional management and asked us to please come back and give them another try.  He told us their wings are great. 

And you know something?  I'll bet they really are great. 


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Are You a Shlumpadinka?

Well Glory Be!  I'm a Shlumpadinka.    I'm not so sure that I'm proud of it, but hey, with a house filled with 6 people and 2 dogs all of the time, I'm lucky to have time to shower, much less look like I just had an Oprah Makeover by all the most fabulous stylists and makeup artists in the country. 

I've seen today's show before, and happened to see the tail end of it again today when my hubby turned on the television to watch the news.  I had the same thought I do every time I see an Oprah makeover - "When is she going to call me and give me one?."  I'm not big on watching television.  To tell you the truth, I hate watching television.  I'd rather read, or take a nap, or clean my kitchen.  I do have TIVO however, in the event I feel so inclined to watch a favorite show like Oprah.  In this case, Oprah was doing her part to make all of us Shlumpadinkas feel like Shlumps.

  I love Oprah, but really, I am not going to get up, shower, fix my hair, put on my makeup, dress to the nines, in heels, to do the laundry, slave over a hot stove, homeschool my children, clean the kitchen - you get the picture.  Would you?  If I have to run an errand, I'll get dressed and throw on the convenient baseball cap to hide my bad-hair day, and my idea of dressed is a pair of shorts or sweats with a t-shirt.  But if I have to run my children to a piano lesson 5 minutes from my home in the country?  Nope - if I've been busy in my pajamas, in my pajamas I will stay, and take the kids to piano, praying the entire way that I'm not in an accident.  God forbid.  Clean underwear time. 

Yes I'm pathetic.  I have succeeded in turning into my mother - only worse.  At least she gets dressed in the morning.  I used to be magnificent. (I say this with a smirk)  Completely, totally, gloriously pretty.  Big blue eyes, long dark hair, flawless complexion, 5'8" and 104 lbs with long skinny legs and a body to make Julia Roberts snicker.  That was 20 years ago.  It's been all down hill since.   I'm now almost 3 inches shorter and 3 inches wider in most parts.  I still have pretty feet, though.

I remember asking my mother how she could go 2 days without a shower and not be disgusted with herself.  I used to say "Don't you care about yourself? Don't you want to make yourself look nice and attractive in the event John Travolta comes for dinner?"  She ignored me - totally. 

  I would say stuff like "I'll never stop taking care of myself.  I will always shower every morning and fix my hair, and put on my makeup, and shave my legs, and file my nails.  I will never let myself go."   And then it happens, the dreaded change of priorities in our life - husband, children, pets, housework, gardening, mowing the lawn, writing a blog.  Lord knows I don't have time to care about my nails or my hair!  And it's true. 

When I said those things to my mother I was wrapped up in myself and lookin' good.  I mean, I wanted to look clean, fresh, feminine, attractive.  I wanted to look beautiful.  Now?  Huh?  What a sad state of affairs getting older has on our beauty and our brain.  Priorities change, life goes on.  Exterior beauty is not the end all to end all.  At least I hope not or I am in for a world of hurt. 

I suppose I can make myself look decent if I am going to dinner with my hubby or we are having friends over, but I'll be the first to admit I need a makeover.  I have completely lost my way.  I don't know how to dress anymore.  I have no clue how to fix my hair anymore.  My makeup is hardly  noticeable, and I don't exercise - unless you call running up and down stairs a hundred times a day and pushing a vacuum exercise. 

So I am asking the reflective question.  If you are a SAHM, do you make yourself beautiful every day or do you hang out in your pajamas to do your housework?  I have nothing but the utmost of respect for those women who can pull themselves together with ease and look fabulous at the drop of a hat, but I am not one of those women anymore.  It takes me twice as long to look twice as bad. 

Tell me your story.  Have your priorities changed?  Do you live in your pajamas?  Are you a Shlumpadinka?


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Pink Life

SarahPinkLife Well, bloggin' must run in the family, along with writing, drawing, piano, painting.....geez!  We've just got too much going on here.  Sarah wanted to start her own blog and I agreed that it would be a good idea.  She just couldn't take any bad pictures of me or talk about how she wishes there were no boys in the house.  I encouraged her to take pictures and write about her studies and she thought it would be a lot of fun.  I think it is a great experience for improving her writing and language skills and more. 

Sarah is entering 9th grade in the fall, and I want her to enjoy this time in her life.  So, if you have a teenager who would enjoy visiting Sarah's blog, then visit The Pink Life

I will be monitoring her blog and making sure all is safe - and that there are no bad pictures of me on there.  God Forbid! 

She'll be discussing her studies, sports, music, Hannah Montana, boys (blah) and more.  You know, typical teen jabber.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sarah - the Next Norah Jones

My sweet Sarah is composing.  She started taking piano about 4 years ago and has really taken to it with a passion.  She never ceases to amaze me with her ability to learn a new piece quickly, but then again, she practices daily, and sometimes several times a day.  Her dream is to attend Julliard and I am all for supporting her dreams.  Sarah is 14 and has been homeschooled since kindergarten and she will be starting 9th grade this fall.  These kids grow up way too fast, but anyone out there who has kids already knows that.  I'm so proud of her - can you tell?!!!  And I just wanted to share this with you because I believe she is going to be the next Alicia Keys or Norah Jones ...

Wait till those braces come off.  We'll have to fight the boys off with a rifle - and Adolf of course.

Daily practicing.  When she takes off the ear phones, the house is filled with beautiful music.

Sarah working on her composition.  She has already composed one song called "Spring Mystique" and I am going to record her playing it and post it here on Raisin Toast.  It is really cool to listen to.  Now she is working on another composition.

This is her 2nd year playing soccer too.  No matter what she does she really gets into it whole-heartedly.  She was kickin' some butt in this game.

So why am I sharing these things with the world?  Because while introducing you to my wonderful, fantastic, super-duper, magnificent, intelligent children, I am going to be adding a Category on Raisin Toast about my "Children" under "Family" and I am going to be adding a new section altogether on "Education" so that you can keep up with all the great things my children are learning. 

In the meantime, I wanted to introduce you to Sarah - my baby girl who is growing up waaaay to fast for her own britches and is smart as a whip.  I love her music and as soon as I can figure out how to work the dang recorder on our piano, I will record her music on CD.  Now how do I get it on iTunes?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Congratulations Tim & Denise!


Well I'm a complete mess.  I'm sobbing and sniffling.  My nose is running and I'm using every muscle in my jaw to smile and frown at the same time.  Going to a Broadcast feed of a Wedding of a dear friend is exhausting! 

But, I love him.  He has been my friend since the age of 17 and Teller Training School for a bank that we both worked for.  It was like our first jobs ever and I wasn't even out of high school yet.   Tim and I dated when we were just kids really.  We were in the car together driving to his house after class one day when they announced on the radio that Elvis had died.  Dang, that's a long time ago.  Anyway, Tim and I have some wonderful memories together and I cherish every one.  Especially the one today.  I'll tell you about it in a minute. 

Tim was (and still is) a cool dude.  Always wearing the most fashionable clothing, always driving the hottest cars.  A really great family too.  I will never forget, however, the day he asked me to marry him.  I was shocked - not to mention still a sniveling idiot.  I told him I couldn't.  Well, he wasn't about to take "no" for an answer and sent me a red rose every day for about 2 months hoping that I would reconsider.  I just wasn't ready.  Duh.  I mean, we were both 17 for Goodness Sakes!  Nevertheless, we have always remained good friends, seeing each other on occasion, and always remembering each other's birthday every year since.  I can always count on Tim to send me a birthday card. 

I remember one day, Tim and I were driving home from class in his car down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC.  It was hot as hell-fire and the traffic was backed up wall to wall.  It was just not moving at all.  We were in the right lane next to this sidewalk and an iron rail fence.  I happened to glance over and noticed that there was an elderly man lying face down on the sidewalk.  It freaked me out and I told Tim I had to see if he was okay.  Tim said "Are you crazy?!!!

We're moving now, I can't stop the car!  I have nowhere to park this thing, Susan, no, you can't get out.  You can't get out of the car here - I mean now - I mean, you can't get out of the car now, are you nuts?!!!!!"  Of course I'm nuts, Tim, and by now I know you surely know it.  Still, with cloggin' high heels (it was the 70s) and a flirty dress with cap sleeves, and panty hose (Lordy did I ever hate those things) I got out of the car and started running back towards this poor black man lying face down on the pavement.  I started hopping on one foot and removing my shoes till I was running in my panty hose.

Tim was afraid for me.  He told me to be careful and that I was completely crazy and that I didn't know if this could be a hoax or something.  I knew in my heart - instinctfully - that this man was hurt and I, yes I, was going to come to his rescue.  What surprised me the most was that with all the traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue that day, that nobody stopped but us.  Not one person - until I rolled him over and started giving him CPR.  I don't know where I learned it, (must have seen it on TV or something), but I ripped open his button-down shirt, put my ear to his chest and didn't hear a heartbeat.  I pressed on his chest and started to give him CPR. He looked to be about 60 or so and was an average built man.  Here I was, all of 17 years old, in 100 degree heat, on a sidewalk just a few blocks from the White House giving mouth-to-mouth to a complete stranger.  That was when people started to come from their cars to see if they could help.  Tim was standing behind me just watching like we were in some movie or something.  I think he was in shock.  Me, I was SuperWoman!  Oh, excuse me, I was SuperGirl!

Someone next to me now said that they had asked someone to ask someone to ask someone else to call an ambulance.  You have to remember something here - this was the 70s - there was no such thing as mobile phones.  Heck, car phones didn't exist either, and finding a pay phone was slim to none around the White House.  What were we going to do?  Go knock on Gerald Ford's door and say, "hey buddy, we need to borrow a phone, there's a guy kissin' the sidewalk without a heartbeat."  I don't think so!

It was 10-15 minutes later, but the ambulance finally arrived.  He had to drive on the sidewalk to get to where we were, but they got there just the same.  The good news is that I got the man breathing again, and although he was woozy and wasn't completely conscious, I saved a life that day.  I know it, and Tim knows it, and the poor man, whoever he is, well, he knows it too.  Oh, and God knows it.

I never got his name.  One of the paramedics looked at me that day and said "You saved this man's life young lady, you should be very proud of yourself. That was a selfless act and not many people would have done what you did." 

It was strange to think about what he had said to me.  It is strange to think about it even today, because for me it was a natural instinct to jump right in and help this human being who had had a heart attack in the heat - that is what the paramedic said it appeared had happened. Fortunately, it had happened probably a minute or so before I saw him lying there helpless.

Doesn't it bother anyone in this world that we don't care for one another?  Shouldn't humanity care about all other humanity?  That's just the way I am I guess and I don't care what anyone says or where I am, I would do it again in a heartbeat. 

That was a defining moment in my life.  I know it was for Tim too.  We were forever bonded by this man on the street and a friendship that was defined by laughter, tears, hugs, and good memories.

The years passed and I went in a different direction after declining Tim's proposal and so did he.  I went to work at my father's restaurant - The Olney Inn - that burned down in 1978 - and besides,  I wanted to date hot muffins from the Naval Academy.  Tim was pissed.  Then I started dating this 33 yr old Italian Stallion at my father's restaurant who played the accordion and sang love songs and made all the women drool and slobber and melt - like butter on a very hot - ouchy hot - muffin.  So, I strutted my skinny little stuff around the Inn and Alberto fell for me too. 

I just ate it up.  Here Alberto was all yummy and everything and he had it bad for me.  He was twice my age!  I had to sneak around with him because my father would definitely not have approved.  And he didn't.  When he found out that Alberto and I were seeing each other, he fired Alberto, but not before Alberto proposed to me at a dinner table with my father and said he would make sure I finished high school.  My father fired him on the spot. "You're fired Buddy - now take your italian butt out of here and don't come back."  Oh well.  It was fun while it lasted.  Yes, I snuck around with Alberto for a little bit more after that firing incident, and that REALLY pissed off Tim.  To this day if you mention Alberto, Tim will turn 3 different shades of violet.  Oh, and yes, I am still friends with Alberto too - even after all these years.  I wonder why that is? hmmm. Let me think about this now.  This is getting deep.

Anyway, Tim got married to someone and that lasted 10 seconds.  He told me he was on the rebound from me and that I made him do it.  Lame excuse Tim.  I mean really lame.  Then he married Renee and they were married for about 20 years and had 2 very handsome and distinguished sons.  Then Renee got ants in her pants and left.  And to think that they had just built a beautiful home in West Virginia with a view to die for.   So Tim was alone again, always promising me that he would fly thru Charlotte and visit - Not.  He's a busy guy people!   

So, this past year he started dating Denise, and Tim was never to be the same.  And just the other day, I received an email from my dear Tim asking me to attend his wedding at the Bellagio in Las Vegas via Satellite Feed on Tuesday night at 6pm.  And so, I did.  I was a complete mess, of course.  I'm not good at weddings or funerals.  I don't even have to know the person and I'm falling apart and people are having to peel me off the floor and throw hords of tissue my way.  Well, maybe I wouldn't go that far.  I was sure happy for them though!

It is pouring like crazy outside and our electricity kept going off and on and I thought I would miss Tim's wedding.  But the good Lord came through and not only did I see his wedding  (Tim was wearing some really hot white pants to match his really cool white hair), but I took some screen shots of it too to share with all you people readers out there in cyber world.

So, let me introduce you to Tim.  Notice the Red Rose on his lapel?  See - Denise gave him the last and final rose.  Smart girl.

I am so happy for Tim.  And, I am so happy for Denise too even though I don't know her - yet.  They look so handsome together.

And this is where they got married at 6pm this evening - The Belligio in Las Vegas:


And this is the Chapel:


And these are the screen shots I took from the Satellite Feed of his wedding:


Beautiful Chapel


And so it does...


Tim enters the chapel - so handsome, so distinguished, so fashionable


Denise enters the chapel - so beautiful, so tanned, so in love


Tim meets her halfway, as all men should and she takes his arm and they stroll to the alter


To Love, Cherish, and Honor...."To Honor?"


Aren't they a beautiful couple?


Oh my


T: "Hey good-lookin?  You free tonight?"


D: "Why sure I'm free.  Actually, tonight I'll be a married woman - not so free anymore.

But a date and a good dinner sounds good."


D: "What do you want - steak? ribs? breasts? thighs? tacos?"


T: "Actually Sweetie, I was thinking more like just going straight to the dessert"


T: "Hmmmm, let's see now, yeap, that's what I want to do - go straight for the dessert"


T: "Oh dear, did that tickle your funny bone?"


Kissy Kissy, Smooch, Smooch, mwaaaah,


D: "Now let's get something straight, When I ask you to do something you say 'Yes Dear.'"


D: "Suddenly I don't feel so well"


D: "Actually, I have something in my eye.  Dang that mascara"


T: "With this ring, my love, I thee wed and agree to say 'Yes Dear' to every question."


T: "Did I get the right size?  I think I might have to lick your finger to get it on"


D: "With this ring, Tim, I thee wed, and agree to be everything you ever dreamed of and hoped for"


T: "Honey Buns, you sure look scrumptious across this table"


D: "This candle represents our love, our life together."

T: "And my promise to honor you and cherish you and to say 'Yes Dear' whenever possible"


D: "I love you so much.  Give me a kiss you hunka - hunka burning love"


D: "Can we please go eat now?" 

T: "Yes Dear"


D & T: "Yay! We did it!  We're hitched!....and hungry"


D: "Sweetheart, there is this cozy little restaurant around the corner with a great view"


D: "Oops, almost forgot to wave to all the people out there.  Wave to the camera Sweetie"

T: "Yes Dear"


D: "I'm Famished!"

T: "Me too." 

D: "Let's blow this pop stand!"

T: "Yes Dear"


Best Wishes Tim and Denise.  You do know that I'm just messin' with ya, right?

I know you didn't really say that.  Well, maybe you did.  Heck, I wouldn't blame you really, I mean - go get you some honey pie and lots of lovin' tonight!  Woohoo! And a good dinner too.

Denise - you have a really, really, really great guy, but you obviously already know that.  Stay sweet.

Congratulations Tim & Denise. 

- Susan

Monday, July 07, 2008

Yes, I'm Married to a Crazy Man


It's true.  Bob's crazy.  And I should know, because I used to be crazy too.  Emphasis on "used to be." You see, in my younger and crazier life, I rode Harleys.  I grew up on the back seat and then graduated to the front seat in 1989.  I bought me a nice, shiny, candy-apple red Harley Sportster 883.  For a first bike, it was perfect for me because at the time I weighed about a hundred pounds soaking wet and if I dropped it, like I did often, I could maybe pick it up.  Actually, I couldn't pick it up, but I did engage the resources of good-lookin' men in the vicinity when I did drop it.  Then I sold it and went back to college.  Hmmm.  This is turning into a  fessin' up post.  Okay, whatever.

I went back to college and majored in Pre-law because as a Harley rider, I wanted to get my degree and go onto law school where I could be a kick-ass lawyer.  When you are a Harley rider, you tend to be good at kickin' ass.  So I sold my bike and traded it in for a college education.  I moved from Florida to Maryland and attended Georgetown University where I hated Statistics and dreaded Economics and loved International Law and Business.  I graduated near the top of my class (although a little bit older than most of my student com padres) I was proud of what I had accomplished and was ready to go to law school.


Then Bob came along.  We had gone to junior high and high school together and had been acquainted since the age of 11.  My life, however, took a different turn in high school as I was interested in really good-lookin' men and Naval Academy jocks in white uniforms - not Bob types.  It was a yummy time of my life.  Trips to Annapolis were wonderful.  I love Annapolis.  I love the Chesapeake Bay.  I love the tiny shops near the water and the 4500 midshipmen strolling around town.  It was a smörgåsbord of hunka-hunka love in Annapolis, and my hormones were raging.  Not a good combination I'll have you know. 

I didn't go there alone.  I had plenty of girlfriends who were suffering from the same raging hormones, so we all went together and would dance our way thru the weekends at Disco Dahlgren (that was the dance at the Naval Acadamy's Dahlgren Hall) and the Officer's Club.  Those high school years were the best.  The thing was, however, was that I was not interested in anyone at my high school.  In my eyes, they were a bunch of babies and would probably grow up to be a bunch of losers too.  I wanted to date someone distinguished, handsome, strong, muscular, with a clear complexion and deep voice.  No problem, right? 

Midshipmeninannapolis So I found me a sailor.  A future officer sailor, and I fell in love and I melted like butter on a hot muffin.  Mike was a cool dude with a strange sense of humor that I loved.  He was handsome, distinguished - well, you get the picture.  I had it bad for him.  He drove a white Corvette and let me drive it to and from the Academy on the weekends.  Rain, sleet, snow, hail storm - it didn't matter, I was going to get the 50 miles down the road from my home to the Academy if it killed me.  And one day it nearly did.

I was driving Mike's Corvette down Rt. 50 in the dead of winter.  It was snowing and the roads were slick and icy.  Two lanes in each direction, when a huge 18 wheeler began to pass me on the left.  Both of my hands were gripping the steering wheel so tightly I swear it left permanent indentations.  I was praying.  I  tend to do that when I see my life passing before my eyes.  When the 18-wheeler passed, I started to brake - wrong - I mean really wrong - as the front of the car began to hydro-plane towards the direction of the 18-wheeler and just missed his back tires.  Holy Damnacious!  My life passed before my eyes and that was a quick trip - I was only 18.  I mean, what life? 

I didn't tell Mike.  Not if I wanted him to continue to let me drive his sporty Corvette.  Heck no.  What?  Do you think I'm stupid or something?  Just because my heart was pounding out of my chest and I couldn't peel my hands from the steering wheel and I had to go and change my underwear.  Naaah, I was perfectly fine.

I drove home that night about 10 miles an hour sitting close to the steering wheel, my teeth chattering, and my hands planted firmly into the steering wheel.  You should try that in a Corvette.  It's not easy.  I made it home safe and sound - about 18 hours later.

Without getting into all the details of my dating experience with Mike, and by the way, he is the other crazy person who went riding with my hubby Bob today, just suffice it to say it was an interesting dating experience, and maybe someday I'll elaborate, but not now.  This is supposed to be about my crazy husband, and his crazy, life-threatening behavior today. 

I rode Harleys.  You've got that part, right?  I grew up on them.  I bought my first one in 1989 in South Florida.  Loved it.  Nearly got myself killed on the dang thing a few times, and rode in the pouring rain more than once.  I don't recommend it.  It is a sure way to get your ass in a sling and find yourself 10 feet under.  But, that's what Bob (and Mike) did today.  And if anything had happened to him, or Mike for that matter, I would have blamed myself the rest of my life.  Why?  Because I'm the crazy person who got them interested in the blasted motorcycles to begin with and I'm not good with regrets. 

When Bob and I married 16 years ago, he wanted for us to get motorcycles.  He had never had one and had never driven any, but because I had had one of my own and knew how to ride, he wanted one in a bad way and wanted us both to get our Harleys.  Not.  I told him not until we had a single-family home.  I wasn't about to blow our money on two motorcycles until we had blown our money on a house that we had to sink every dollar into.  Five years and 2 kids later, we had our single-family home on 3 acres and I now had the itch for a bike.  We lived in the country in Maryland and I looked out the window one afternoon and saw about 50 bikes cruisin' down the road.  I could hear the rumble-rumble of the engines that were notoriously Harley.  Bob was at work and I had an idea.  Everybody needs to stay clear when I have an idea because it usually costs money. 

Bob came home and I put on a sullen face and was sitting on the sofa in our living room. 

"What's wrong?" he said  "You look really sad.  Did someone die today?"

"No.  I've just been feeling really depressed lately (not really) and I've been needing some help" (not really, but boy did I have him fooled). 

Naturally, Bob was very concerned.  You should have been a fly on the wall and seen his face. It was priceless and full of worry. 

"I want to help.  I had no idea you were sad about anything or upset about anything.  Are you okay?"  he continued.

"Not really.  I've been feeling really down and so I called my therapist today and he wanted us both to come to his office and talk."  At that point, Bob's eyes were buggin' out of his head and his hands were sweating. 

"I had no idea.  You're usually so happy.  So silly.  So - so - motherly." 

Okay, he went a little too far with the motherly bit, but I didn't let up.  Then he had me thinking.  Did I look motherly or did I just act motherly?  So before I really got depressed and had to call for a prescription to fix what ailed me I told him we had to leave - immediately - and go visit my therapist (I didn't really have a therapist, but I think he thought I really did.)  Didn't he wonder when I had gone to all those appointments if I really did?  Don't get me thinkin' about this too long or I will go crazy. 

I told Bob I would drive.  The kids stayed home with my mother who has lived with us since 1998.  So, I'm driving along and then take a detour through Rockville.  I looked at Bob and said "We just have to make a quick stop.  It won't take but a second."


"Okay" he says.  "Whatever you need is fine with me."   He was such an adoring and loving husband back then.  Well, he still is I suppose, just a little lazier and Laz a fair than before. 

"Why are we stopping here?" he asked as we pulled into the parking lot of Rockville Harley Davidson.

 As we walked into Harley store, I looked at Bob and said, "Honey, I would like you to meet Larry, my therapist, and see that bright, shiny, black 1200 Sportster over there?" (as I pointed to the most beautiful bike on the floor in my eyes, of course)   

"Yeah" Bob said

"Well, that's my therapy."

At that moment Bob knew I had got him.  I had got him good.  He was so relieved he said "how much?" and he wrote the check right then and there. 

Several days later after Rockville HD had serviced the bike, I rode it home and was feeling gloriously free (and easy) and sexy, and strong, and in control - all at the same time.  Wow what a rush. 

Over the coming months, I taught Bob how to ride, and by Christmas we purchased him a Low-Rider.  The funny thing is, here, is that I had to drive it home from the dealership in the rain because Bob didn't have a motorcycle license yet.  Am I crazy or what?  It was a beautiful bike and we both did a lot of riding together over the course of the next 7 years. 

We did go thru a rough spot financially when Bob was laid off from work and I sold my bike.  I was so caught up with taking care of the children which now included my grandson, Glen, whom we began raising as our own when he was 2 weeks old.  Bob was out of work for almost a year and I knew that my bike was a luxury so I sold it.  I missed it, but I had plenty to keep me occupied.

Bob kept his bike and had a few friends to go riding with.  He enjoyed it and it was a nice diversion from the stresses he was facing being out of work, so I wasn't about to ask him to sell his bike too.  I just knew we would be alright.  And, I was right.


Bob got a job with Compaq and we were back on the road to recovery.  Before we knew it, we were doing great and so, we went back to Rockville Harley Davidson and looked at buying me another bike.  This time, however, not only did I end up buying a V-Rod, but Bob ended up trading in his Low Rider for a Road King.  Hey!  Someone has to carry the groceries, the t-shirts, the cameras, the rain gear!

I threw my leg over the prettiest, candy-apple red V-Rod and after driving it for the first time I was hooked.  It was the easiest driving Harley I had ever experienced. It was love.  It was - FRICKIN' AWESOME!   I enjoyed every second of the riding experience and someday I will write some stories here about my near death experiences on the road, but in the meantime....


I sold my bike. Yeap, I sold it about 2 years ago.  We moved to North Carolina 3 years ago and I had noticed that my eyes have been getting continually foggier.  I've had eye exams and even updated my glasses and sunglasses, but I didn't feel comfortable driving the bike with my eyes being so blurry, and I felt like my judgment on the road was compromised when I was on the bike, so I sold it.  That was the most difficult thing I have ever let go of but it was either that or my life, and I chose to live.  I listen to my instincts - carefully - and they were screaming at me to sell that thing before I'm buried with it.

So I did.  But Bob kept his bike.  He enjoys it and he doesn't ride often, but when he does I can't help but worry.  It's not his driving I worry about, it's the other crazy drivers on the road.  And today, he went riding with Mike, and not around the corner either, and they got caught up in a downpour that was blinding.  They rode smart, but it was still so dangerous.  I was never so happy as when I heard the rumble of Bob's Harley coming down the road.  I grabbed my camera and took pictures.  He was soaked to the skin, but I was never so happy to see him as I was right then.   

While Bob was drying off and getting a shower, I called Mike to make sure he made it home okay.  Sure enough he was fine and told me that it was a good day despite the rain.  They had fun. 


All I can say is that the Lord answers prayers indeed, and the 2 most important men in my life were safe.  And I could finally relax. 

Oh, by the way, and before anyone asks - No, I do not have any tattoos.  Thought about it though.  And yes, Bob still makes my heart go pitty-pat and I may not melt as fast, but Bob too, makes me melt like butter on a hot muffin.  I'm just glad he got his hot muffin home in one piece tonight.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Lawsie Mercy

Don't hate me, Ree, for stealing this video from you, who stole it from someone, who stole it from YouTube.  But, Lawsie Mercy!  I just had to share it because I have now watched it a dozen times and I keep going back for more.  I want that bitin' baby.  Would somebody please deliver him to me promptly so that I can hugem' and squeezem' and plant my ever-lovin' smackers on his big, fat, cheeks.  I'm in love with Charlie, and his big brother Harry, too.  Can I have em'?  Can I - Can I?


Oh my, naturally, while watching the above video, I just had to click on one of the other videos and came across this one.  This baby is after my own heart.  I'm tellin' ya, all my kids laughed just like this and it used to give me chest pains just watching it.


I know, I know, this post is getting a bit too silly for its own good, but hey, I'm a silly character ... I know you're smilin'  - I can seeeeee youuuu feeling silly - I see that grin.  And make sure you watch again before you go to bed so that you go to bed smilin' some more. Lordy Lordy was that fun.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Promises to My Son



We live in an abhorrent world filled with so much display of all things repugnant, distasteful, disgraceful, ugly, hateful, and foul that I learned from my son that it was time to change it, at least in our family.  So, I made a promise to my son, Matthew, that I was not going to add to the world of reprehensible things by promising that I was not going to spew another cuss word from my slippery mouth.  Promise.  Yeap, I promise.

Matthew3 He makes the worst face when I say something distasteful, and I didn't want to see him squinch up his precious face anymore.  He came to me the other day and told me to please stop saying bad words because they hurt his ears.  I'm sure they hurt his brain too.  How could I look into those big, beautiful, blue eyes and not humble myself to his request?  I couldn't.  I melted.  I gave in.  I crumbled under the power of his gaze.  I got down on my hands and one left knee (my right knee is still - ah - hurtin' from my injury), I bowed my head, and I agreed - to the power of Matthew's existence, and because he is the cutest boy on the face of the earth - I will never cuss again.  Promise.

You heard it world, straight from my slippery mouth - and MacBook Pro laptop - that I will never, yeap I said "never" cuss again.  With a few exceptions.  Here is what we agreed:

Matthew5 I can say "crap" since that, technically, is not a dirty word.  I reserve the right to say "hell" on occasion.  Referring to the Netherworld, the abyss, and the fire and brimstone among us. 

I will, however, display my anguish, frustration, and disgust in other ways.  For instance, I will take it upon myself, and the help from my son, to create other words that sound just as nasty but have no meaning in our language.  Such as:

Spig (is this a real word?  Don't think so)
Dadgummit (got that one from Ree - the Pioneer Woman)

Actually, I have learned a lot from Ree when it comes to replaceable bad words.  She's good at creating new and interesting adjectives to our vocabulary.

And, when in reference to DirecTV I can say Vect R Cred Div Tre.

You heard it straight from me and the tips of my pretty painted fingernails tapping on my keyboard - I will "never" (oh dear what have I done?) cuss again.  For any reason.  For whatever.  For dishwashers that break, and toes that stub, and knees that get broken and smashed on flagstone, and billpay day.  I will never spout another reprehensible word from my mouth. 

Matthew2 How could I say no to that face?  That handsome, distinguished, intelligent, huggable, squeezable, funny, sweet, adorable boy of mine?  Wow, this might be tough.  Then again, I think it is worth it.  I may even be adding to the wellbeing of our environment.  Think Green. Think pinchable cheeks.  Think big, pleading blue eyes.  Think sweet bunny-wabbit smile.  Think mussy hair.  Think - he's mine.  All mine.  I bow to his every command, and his every freckle.

ooooooohhhhhhh - aaaaaaahhhhhhh


We went as far as the top of our driveway to enjoy the fireworks display, courtesy of Big Bear Bob and his infatuation with explosives - and blow torches.  It was quite the show, with the exception of all the residue falling out of the sky.  But we entertained the neighborhood from their front porch.  Would you like to see Bob's fireworks display?  Enjoy the pictures below...Happy 232nd Birthday America!

It all started with dinner...

Bob worked real hard to prepare a nice dinner for the family.  It wasn't fancy, but it was good.  Thanks Honey!  Please don't look at my kitchen in disrepair as I am attempting to remodel and refinish everything and I don't want you to think we can't afford cabinets or anything.   Truth is ... we can't.

Then came the fun the children were waiting for....


I really hate the kids around this stuff.  I called them away before Bob got flashy with the blow torch.

Continue reading "ooooooohhhhhhh - aaaaaaahhhhhhh" »

Fun Day at the Y! Happy 4th Everyone!


We just got back from a fun trip to the YMCA.  The Siskey Y is really great - and BIG.  They have all kinds of activities going on and a great outdoor pool.  They also have an olympic size indoor pool, but today, we were having fun outside. 

It was only Sarah and I and our neighbor friend Alex.  They had a blast and I enjoyed taking their pictures and watching them have fun.  I'm just happy that we live close enough to the Y to enjoy it.  The day has been a lot of fun so far and we still have fireworks to share this evening in the front yard.  Yay!

"I'm havin' such a great time I can't stand it."

Continue reading "Fun Day at the Y! Happy 4th Everyone!" »

Friday, July 04, 2008

What were they thinking?


This is one of those posts that gives me the willies.  This morning, my husband rode his Harley to the shop for some work and I and the kids met up with him for breakfast at iHop.  We're having breakfast and we couldn't help but notice the people around us.  A sad affair I'll have you know.  Still, there was this one kid sitting in a booth with a bad-ass haircut.  I had to take a picture.  Bob and I were thinking the same thing - "what parent in their right mind would let their child cut his hair like this?" If you know, please help me to understand, because honestly, I don't think I am old fashioned or anything, but this haircut looks absolutely ridiculous.  I actually felt sorry for the child.

Welcome to North Carolina folks.

While We are on the Subject of Haircuts...


Naturally, I now want to talk about "good" haircuts.  At least I think they are good, but opinions vary in NC.  Just the other day I took Sarah to get her haircut - by a professional mind you - as I have usually been the one to cut her hair for the past 14 years and it was getting impossible for me to handle.  Sarah has the thickest hair I have ever seen.  It is so impossible, in fact, that she refused to brush it or do anything with it, unless I forced her with hairbrush in hand.  Not a pretty sight seeing a mother and daughter fighting over a mop of hair with a hairbrush.  Anyway, I was sick of the mess and took Sarah, reluctantly, to a professional.  He did a really good job, and Sarah has a very pretty and manageable head of hair now.  Thank God! Here is her adventure to the hairstylist the other day:


Before the haircut.  "Geez Mom, do I have to go thru with this?"


"On second thought, this is feeling prrrreettty good right now. I could seriously get used to this"


"So what do you want to do with this mop?" 
"Huh?  You askin' me?"


"If you keep aimin' that camera over here I'm going to have to do something drastic to your daughter."


"Aren't I beeeeeautifulllll????!!!!" 

OF COURSE YOU ARE!  You are beautiful, intelligent, talented, funny, responsible, gorgeous, huggable, talented (oh, did I say that?), smart (another form of intelligent), incredible!  glamorous!  magnificent! outstanding! 


Note: For wonderful haircuts in the Charlotte area, visit Beauty Brands in the Providence Commons Shopping Center.  The funny guy cutting Sarah's magnificent head of hair is "Thom."  He's cool.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Can I Sleep Now?

"Thank God You're Home!  Can I Sleep Now?" Of course these are nearly the first words I said to my Big Bear when he walked in the door from his 3 day trip to New York.  I am so out-of-sorts when he goes away.  I'm like a child who wants to crawl under the covers and hide for 3 days straight.  I hate it when he leaves me in charge of the house, the kids, the dog, the cookin'.  I just want to *bleEcK* get sick and have my neighbors take care of me. 

When he's gone and it gets dark outside I get a little nutty.  I check the locks on the doors and the windows at least a dozen or more times, my eyes keep darting around the room wondering who is standing outside with binoculars just waiting for their opportunity to wreak havoc on my life.  It's exhausting!  I don't sleep either.  No, really.  I don't sleep.  I might pass out for a few minutes, but I don't "sleep."  I lie in bed and toss and turn and toss and turn and then I'll get up and turn on and off the lights in Bob's office, then I'll go check on the kids, then I'll do a load of laundry (which needed to be done now that I think about it), but I hate to put the clean clothes away so they pile up.  Then I read, then I pass out for a few moments, then I eat chocolate ice cream, then I check my stats, then I, then I - WISH HE WOULD GET HOME ALREADY! 

Talk about needy!  This is ridiculous! Thank goodness I didn't have to work any heavy machinery or I'd be in real trouble.  I just can't function when he isn't here and to top that off - my mother is gone to Florida for an extended visit and I'm a complete disaster.  Not that my 84 year old mother can fight off villains or anything when Bob is gone, but I have a sick sense of security just having her here.  I never feel grown up when Mom is here.  Kind of like a kid who knows their Mommy will take care of them when the boogie man shows up.  And being that she has lived with us for 10 years, I've been a child the entire time - and I haven't seen any boogie men yet.  Now - I think I have to grow up. *Emphasis on "think."* Darn.  I was so enjoying this second childhood, until the sun goes down and I have to listen to the hoot owl in my back yard.  whooooo.  whoooo-whoooo.  whooo-whooooeee! 

Bob's home.  He's safe.  He's sound.  He's happy to be home.  Not as happy as I am I guarantee it.  "So, Sweetie, Can I go to Sleep now?"  "Yeap, and I'll even take the kids out to dinner while you nap."  I knew there was a reason why I married this man.

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