Sunday, June 29, 2008


The "Buckaroo" Gang

Chris - hanging on while Gretchen (successfully) works to dump him in the lake
Greg - skiing
Gretchen - skiing
Greg & Gretchen
Mike, AKA Gilligan
Barbie - lovin' the glasses

Becky, waiting to ski
Becky, skiing (FINALLY!)
Chris - skiing

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


We are on vacation on Lake Barkley in Kentucky right now. We are on our first "adults only" vacation that we have been on since Maggie was born. (A BIG THANKS to both of our parents for making that possible.) We went with two other couples who are friends of ours - we have a lake front cabin with beautiful views of the lake. One of the couples brought their boat, and I already got my shoulders a little red from the lake yesterday. Stronger sunscreen is definitely in order today.

Forgive my lack of updates for the week!

Friday, June 20, 2008


I took Maggie shopping for a new pair of tennis shoes this afternoon. For about eight or nine months, Maggie and I have been wearing the same size shoe - size 7.5. No longer. Today she passed me up. The new Nikes we purchased for her today are 8.5. The size 8 fit perfectly, but realizing that to get any length of wear out of them, she would need some room to grow, we bought the 8.5. Yes, 7 year old daughter wears a size 8.5 shoe. I think height wise, she is likely to pass me up by the time she starts third grade. Chris has laughed and teased me about Maggie wanting to borrow my clothes and shoes. I had to laugh today as I realized she is going to be borrowing his shoes, rather than mine in the future.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


The difference between two kids raised in the same house can, at times, be astounding. One distinct thing that separates my children is the level of interest they show in finding out information about their birthparents. We have had both of our children since birth, so neither one have any actual memories of their birthmoms.

Maggie asks a ton of questions about her birth mom and her background. I can remember the exact moment when Maggie realized that she wasn't "the same" as Chris and me. She was about two years old and sitting on her potty chair before she got in the bathtub. She was completely naked, and for whatever reason, she looked down at her belly, then over at the dog and declared, "I'm brown like Dempsey. You're not brown like me and Dempsey." And so it started.

Maggie has always had an intense curiosity about birth mom. We have tried to answer her questions as honestly as we could, at the level she was ready for. A lot of her questions we don't have answers for, simply because our knowledge about her birth mom is limited. Some questions she asks over and over again, as if wanting to solidify certain facts in her mind, lest she forget them. I would say that at least once every two weeks, she asks me some question about her birth mom, her adoption, or something that relates in someway to her background.

Being only seven, Maggie doesn't have a real solid grasp on how the whole adoption thing works. In reality, you fill out scads of paperwork and have every angle of your life examined top to bottom. You give intimate details of your marriage and upbringing to complete strangers at the agency. You have people come to your home and measure and inspect. You take classes to educate you on adoption and parenting. You pay money. And then you wait for the phone to ring.

I think in Maggie's mind, she envisions us walking among the little baby beds in the hospital nursery, carefully inspecting each baby before we finally settled on her. I have tried to paint a more accurate picture for her, but I can't seem to dispel this fairy tale notion that has settled in her head. I know that when she is older, she will be better able to understand.

As for Aleita, the child has yet to ever ask a one question about adoption. Now granted, she is only four, but by the time Maggie was the age Aleita is now, the questions had already started to come. In fact, Aleita has yet to ever mention one word about the fact that she is a different skin color than Chris and me. She has, on occasion, made reference to her own brown skin color, but it has never been in contrast to the white of Chris and myself or to question why we are different from each other. She has been in the room or in the car several times when Maggie has asked questions of her birthmom and such, but seems to have no interest in pursuing the conversation further regarding her own adoption or birthparents. One time, when sitting at the table at dinner, Maggie tried to pique Aleita's curiosity about her birthmom by throwing out a few random things that she remembers from when Aleita was born. I pulled Maggie aside and told her that when Aleita was ready and wanted to know more, she would ask the questions and that it wasn't Maggie's job to instigate it. As for Aleita, she has made reference several times to the fact that she came from heaven - - I think as far as she is concerned, that is all the background information she needs to know.

I am not bothered by Maggie's need for answers about her history, or for the lack thereof on Aleita's part. I just find it interesting the difference between the level of curiosity of each of them regarding this topic.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Look up the word "mooch" in the dictionary, and you may very well come to Aleita's picture. She has become our resident begger, in particular when food is involved. It is no secret that Aleita loves to eat. As soon as we are finished with breakfast, she asks what is for lunch. Likewise, it is not uncommon that when we are halfway through lunch, she wants to know what is for dinner. It is not unusual to hear cheers of excitation come from her when she finds out that one of her favorites is on the menu for the upcoming feed. Announce that we are having pizza or "basagna" or chilli for supper, and she will happily dance around the house all afternoon, making up songs about that particular food. (Yes, I doesn't take much, right?)

But in addition to loving her favorite foods, Aleita has also discovered that whatever is on your plate perhaps tastes better than what she herself just consumed. Take for example, breakfast. She usually gets some choice of what she has, within reason (she knows better than to ask for, say, pancakes, on a weekday morning.) Ordinarily, she will eat a bowl of oatmeal or cereal, or perhaps an English muffin with jelly. No matter what she has just eaten though, it never stops her from coming around to my side of the table when she is finished and asking for a bite of whatever I am eating. Sometimes it is the very same thing that she herself just ate. Sometimes it is a different type of cereal - - no matter. She will beg, whine and cajole until she is either given a bite, or sent to the other room so that she doesn't stand there and stare at you as you finish your meal.

That glass of water that you're drinking? She wasn't thirsty until she saw you with one. Now she would like a drink of yours, please and thank you. Ask her mid-afternoon if she would like some carrots or an apple and the answer is usually "no thank you." However, walk into the room while you are eating the aforementioned food and she immediately has to have some as well.

The same holds true in restaurants. Soup or salad come with your meal? Guess who is going to ask you for a bite? You got mashed potatoes while she chose the fries? Hers are good, but she wants to try a bite of yours just to make sure she isn't missing anything. She of course, likes the burger she is eating, but she needs to know how the chicken pot pie you are eating tastes as well. Again...and again...and again.

I know that we are to blame for allowing it to be so. We have surpassed so many other common mistakes that often drag parents down, like allowing your kid to sleep in bed with you or serving them hot dogs or chicken nuggets for every meal because they refuse to eat anything else; I guess we were due.

So a word of warning - - if you join us for dinner, guard your plate. There is a little four year old lurking close by, just waiting to move in on your plate. Beware the mooch.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


I caught part of an episode of Jeopardy! yesterday, and it occurred to me that I have a penchant for retaining useless information, but when it comes to remembering facts about people and places and dates and cultures, well, I am a total child of the Internet. Want to know that names of six Brady kids? I'm your gal. Want to know the current King of Spain? It is Juan Carlos I. I know that because I looked it up on Wikipedia on the Internet. I will also forget it about ten minutes after finishing this blog entry.

I would never fare well on Jeopardy! Sure, I am able to answer some of the questions. I'm not a complete idiot. However, I would do much better if I could use the pause button on my DVR during the live show like I do when I watch it to give me a few additional seconds to think of the answer. There are certain categories of historical significance that I can manage to actually pull off. Somewhere, deep in my brain, some information from a high school or college history class must have stuck.

Nonetheless, I am loath to admit that I seem much better suited to answering pop culture questions. I can tell you all the people who were shipwrecked on Gilligan's Island. I can name at least three of Brangelina's kids. I can tell you the lyrics to Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" and the name of the three horse races that comprise the Triple Crown. On the Jeopardy board, I would ring in constantly for the category on the music of the Eagles, yet stand painfully, numbly staring off into space while the other two contestants answered all the questions about World War II. As teenagers, they were apparently reading biographies and watching The History Channel while I was reading Seventeen and watching reruns of The Cosby Show. (But I can name all of the Huxtable kids if asked - -doesn't that count for something?)

Thursday, June 12, 2008


I took a week's vacation from work this week to assist with our church's Vacation Bible School program. We actually combine with several other churches in the area, and have about 135 kids there everyday. I was unable to attend the organizational meeting they had a few weeks ago, but I wasn't all that picky about where I was put. My only request was that I not have to be with the pre-school kids for all three hours each day. (God bless people like my friend, Barb, who teach in a pre-k program everyday. There is special place in heaven for her.) When I was teaching in the public schools, I found that I was much better off with students old enough to understand sarcasm. Go figure.

Anyway, I was asked to assist with the music portion of Bible School. The music portion consists of me and another VBS helper, Carl, who teach the kids the VBS songs. All of the songs are pretty simple and repetitive, but catchy enough that the kids like singing them over and over again. I wish the same were true for Carl and me. Of course, we are getting to sing them six times over every day because we work with the kids in groups by age level. Carl and I are gettin' a little tired of singing about God's Big Backyard (our VBS theme this year.) Only one more day....I think I can make it.

I discovered something very comical today as we were teaching one of the songs. I didn't realize just how strongly the kids relied on us to do the motions to the songs (oh yes, a VBS song would be complete if there weren't a bunch of motions to remember.) Carl and I stand up in front of the group and do the motions so that the kids can mimic us. Today as we were working on a song, my nose itched and so I scratched it. Three of the kids stopped what they were doing and scratched their nose too. They went right back to the correct motions once I did, never missing a beat. I almost thought I imagined it, until a few seconds later when I itched it again, and two of them again did the same thing. I started laughing and they just looked at me like, "what?" Of course, they were five year olds, but still.... None of the nose itching kids got the humor in why I was laughing, so I just went on.

I always wanted to be a trendsetter, but this isn't quite what I had in mind.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


We just got home from picking Dempsey up from the vet. He had to be sedated today to get more x-rays and a biopsy done. $350 later, we brought our dog home with the diagnosis of canine lymphoma. In short, our beloved boxer dog Dempsey has cancer.

Our vet said our only options at this point are:

A) take him to the U of I vet school and spend $4,000 - $5,000 in chemotherapy that may or may not work, and could possibly actually shorten his life.

B) continue to give him prednisone and the cough suppressant that he has been getting and let nature run its course until his quality of life becomes an issue.

We chose to do that latter. Our veterinarian said that if was hard to tell how much time he had left because the tumor has been so fast growing, yet seems to have been temporarily slowed by the meds he has gotten the past few days. She estimates anywhere from a month to a year, though a year was the absolute best we could hope for.

Dempsey has been with Chris and me since our first anniversary. He has lived in all three of the houses we have owned, and was there when we brought both our children home from the hospital. He sleeps in his dog bed on the floor next to my side of the bed every night. Every day when we come home, even if we have only been gone a short period of time, he still wags his entire backside for us because he is so happy to see us. He is obedient and smart and loyal and I can't believe he's dying.

Today I am sad.

Aleita & Dempsey -- Aleita had just come home from the hospital after having her tonsils removed. Dempsey seemed to sense that she needed him. In this picture, she is watching TV while using him as a pillow.

Monday, June 9, 2008


I witnessed something tonight that made me shudder - - something I had hoped to never witness my husband doing. He had just gotten home from work and came into the house. I was sitting talking with him, when he reached up with the car keys he had in his hand and proceeded to scratch inside his ear with them.

He could tell I was repulsed - - I am not sure if it was the expression on my face, or the gasp I gave and then telling him " don't you ever do that in front of me again." He looked surprised at me and then said, "What? My ear itches."

I explained that seeing men pick their ear with a car key completely and totally grosses me out. (I have no doubt that there are some women who likely do it as well, though I have yet to actually see it happen - - thank goodness.) I witnessed my dad do the same ear-pick key thing for years and had to bite my tongue about how vile I considered it. However, with my husband, I felt more than obliged to let him know that what he considered an innocent scratch of his ear with the car key was utterly deplorable to me. In a word, YUCK.

Belch in front of me. Fart if you must. Just please don't stick your car keys in your ear for a quick scratch.

Saturday, June 7, 2008


I am wondering if the time has arrived that we should consider building an ark. We have had almost fifteen inches of rain in the past three weeks and everything is saturated and flooded. Since last night alone, we have had another three inches. The backyard has standing water in spots, and the sump pump is working overtime. The ditches are overflowing and everything is just a mess. I am worried for my parents who don't have all their beans in yet, and in this rate, may not get it in. They also have corn that is no doubt under water right now. Perhaps they could consider planting rice?

Thursday, June 5, 2008


It's kinda hard when you have those "Oh my goodness I am getting really old" moments. I had just such a moment last night. I had gone with some of my girlfriends to dinner and a movie, then back to my friend Barb's house for wedding cake and spiked punch, leftover from her daughter Neysa's wedding this past weekend. After we had eaten, Barb asked if we would like to see some of the pictures that her daughter Kalyn had sent via email from the wedding.

Having attended the wedding, most of the pictures and events from the big day looked familiar to me....that is, until towards the end of the pictures. There were pictures of the bride and groom and guests dancing and wearing crazy hats - - "they were doing the YMCA" noted Barb. I commented that I must have been in the bathroom while that was going on. But as the pictures continued, I realized that I wasn't waiting in line for the restroom when the YMCA dance was taking place. (though admittedly, there is no love lost from having missed this Village People wedding staple.) No, the reason I don't recall the YMCA dance is because we weren't there for it, nor for the following pictures that we saw where the DJ was done for the evening and Neysa's brother, Shay, brought out his keyboard and sang and played for the group. We missed that, along with the dancing and frivolity that ensued into the late hours of the night/early hours of the morning.

By 10:15PM, Chris and I had started yawning and getting tired - - we had both been up since about 6:30AM. By 11PM, Chris and I had headed for home to relieve our babysitter and to get some sleep. Only a few miles away, dancing and drinking and laughing and singing continued while I took off my makeup, brushed my teeth, and went to bed.

Until I saw those pictures last night, I still felt like one of the "young ones" at the wedding. Those pictures very soundly drove home the point to me that I am indeed, getting further removed from "the young group" every minute. Deep breath and a realization - - - we were at that wedding not because we are friends with the bride and groom, but because we are good friends of the bride's PARENTS. We are friends with the bride and groom, don't get me wrong, but we are actually very good friends with Barb and Greg, Neysa's parents.

It doesn't seem that long ago that Chris and I would have been the ones helping close the place down at 2AM. Now the thought of staying awake until 2AM sounds completely foreign to me. The spiked blue punch at the wedding was tasty, but I stopped after a few glasses because I didn't want to feel crappy the next day. I opted to sit out the majority of the dancing in favor of sitting and talking at our table with friends. While many of the party revelers were undoubtedly snoozing the next morning, I was on my way to church to teach Sunday School. Wow....when did this happen? I think adulthood crept up on me when I wasn't looking.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


We got the beans back. For anyone who has not yet read about our ongoing game of "Pass the Beans" with our friends, the Kirbys, you can get updated by going here:

This past Saturday night, we attended the wedding of a family friend. As we left the wedding and I went to get in the car, I pulled the door handle and discovered something tied to it. It was a gift bag, in the wedding colors of turquoise blue and brown, stuffed with matching tissue paper and tied with ribbon. On the outside was a note that read, "thank you for taking part in our special day."

Inside the bag, among the layers of tissue paper was the can of beans. Tag - We are it.

It is almost better when you have the beans than when you don't. Now the Kirbys are left to wait and wonder when they are going to get tagged back again. We already have a few good schemes to get it back to them in the works. I will keep you updated.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


About 2:30AM this morning, the tornado sirens went off. I, of course, slept right through them. Chris roused me and told me to go get Aleita and he would grab Maggie. We headed to the basement, just in time for the power to go off. It ended up going off and on several times, but never long enough for generator to kick on (FYI - the best insurance policy against power outages? spend $4,000 to have a natural gas Guardian generator installed and then you will never need it.)

I set Aleita in one of the recliners, and looked around for one of their blankets that they like to snuggle up with when they watch TV down there. "What are you doing?" she asked me. I told her I was looking for a blanket for her. She said, "I just want you, Mama." Aleita is not a big fan of anything that is particularly loud. She especially does not care for thunderstorms. She really hates sudden noises - the tornado siren scares her almost as much as the storm itself. Maggie always slept through thunderstorms, or at least if she didn't, she rarely came to our bed during one. Aleita is a frequent flier in the master bedroom during a thunderstorm. In fact, she had been in our bedroom about half an hour before the tornado sirens sounded, according to Chris (I am a heavy sleeper and usually sleep through her night visits, which is why she almost always visits Chris' side of the bed.)

I found a blanket and sat down in the recliner with her. She immediately wrapped herself around me as close as she could get to me and snuggled against me. It was the middle of the night and I was tired, there was a tornado warning with strong rotations only a few miles from our home, we had hail pelting against the house, lightning flashing like crazy and thunder sounding every few seconds, but I was absolutely delighted to have my youngest child snuggled against me. She is so head-strong and independent that she never wants to cuddle anymore, so although there was a nasty storm going on outside, it did my heart some good to know that there are times when even my little Power Ranger wants her mama.

At one point, I had to laugh at a comment she made. She said, "If I were God, I would turn all the thunder booms and tornadoes into sunshine and then we could go back to bed."

This morning, our yard is flooded, the ditches are overflowing, farmers' barely up crops are under water, the grass seed I planted yesterday is surely washed away, and our cordless phone/answering machine bit the dust after being struck by lightning. But we are safe. And as Maggie reminded me this morning, I won't have to go out and water my flowers after I get home from work tonight.

Monday, June 2, 2008


Aleita & Dempsey, January 2008

I'm worried about Dempsey. Our beloved boxer dog will be ten at the end of this month, and his health has taken a serious turn for the worse lately. He has a bad case of bronchitis that he just can't seem to shake. He has had two vet visits and a few different kinds of pills, yet his cough and wheezing continue to get worse. When he tries to bark, all that comes out is a gaspy ruff. He forever sounds like he is trying to hack up a fur ball because of his constant coughing and gagging. After running across the yard, he sounds like an old man with late stage emphysema who has just climbed a flight of stairs (for those MTA folks reading, you will immediately think of Mr. Merriman, I'm sure.)

Dempsey is still very active and is eating well, so that is good. The day that he doesn't want to run and chase his ball in the yard will be the telltale sign for me that things are going to seriously go downhill. I have never known a dog that loved to chase a ball that way that one does. When he was a pup, he would play until your arm was tired and you refused to throw the ball anymore. As an old dog, he will chase it several times, then lay down for a rest....but after a few minutes, he brings the ball back, ready for more. He still gobbles up his food each morning and evening, and is more than happy to clean up any wayward food that falls off the table during dinner. For this, I am grateful. But though his activity is high and eating is fine, his bronchial symptoms continue to worsen.

Chris and I actually had "the talk" that I have been dreading this morning: at what point do you decide that you have to put on the brakes and say, "enough is enough" when it comes to vet treatment? When do you resolve that you just can't spend any more money in medical care for your much loved animal companion? I know that some people would say that there is no price too high for ensuring that a pet has any medical treatment in order to extend its life as long as possible (so long as the animal was not in pain, of course....though I am sure there are people who would keep an animal alive who was hurting for the selfish reason of not wanting to let it go yet.) I actually know someone right now who is paying a few thousand dollars for chemo treatments for their dog. However, we both agreed that we are not willing to go into debt to provide care for an animal that may not even be successful. We will do what we can, within reason, but can't justify spending tremendous amounts of money for an aging animal without any guarantees of success.

To top things off, in the past few months, we have spent about $1,100 in bills for Dempsey. He had two dental surgeries that amounted to about $900, and his treatments for his bronchitis have been about $200 so far, just for vet visits and medicine. The next step will be Xrays and then God-only-knows-what. I have tried to explain to Dempsey that for what he has cost us the past few months, he at least owes us another few years. He hacks at me in return.

This morning as I was getting ready for work in my bedroom, Maggie was sitting on the floor petting Dempsey. He was wheezing and gagging, and she said to me, "Dempsey doesn't feel very good, does he?" I said, "no sweetie, he doesn't." She then asked, "when is he going to get better?" I truthfully said, "I don't know, Maggie. I hope soon, but he may not get better either." We then talked for a little bit about the fact that Dempsey was sick and didn't seem to be getting any better, and that the medicine the doctor gave him doesn't seem to be helping. She looked at me morosely, and said, "Is Dempsey going to die?" I told her that I didn't know, and that I hoped not, but only God knew that for sure. She looked a little dejected, but didn't say anything and just continued to pet Dempsey. I then walked in the bathroom to continue getting ready.

I ran the blow dryer on my hair for a few minutes, then when I turned it off, I heard her talking softly from the bedroom. "Are you talking to me?" I asked her. "No," she replied, "I'm talking to God. I'm asking him to get Dempsey better." Talk about a lump in my throat.....

I hope God's not too busy today to hear a few prayers about an old dog that one family isn't ready to let go of just yet.