Friday, December 11, 2009


Police: Drunk woman passed out on horse

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn., Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Police in Tennessee said a horse rider participating in a Christmas parade was arrested when she drunkenly passed out atop the animal.

Shelbyville police said they received a report during Saturday night's Christmas parade of an apparently inebriated woman "wearing a red coat who was riding on a white horse" in the parade, but officers could not locate the woman or her mount on the Shelbyville square, the Shelbyville Times-Gazette reported Thursday.

Investigators said they found Patti Lynn Moore, 46, sleeping on top of her horse outside a North Cannon Boulevard motel about 15 minutes after receiving the report.

Moore was arrested and charged with public intoxication. She was released after posting $500 bond.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I was browsing through the LL Bean catalog that came in the mail yesterday, in the section titled "Out of the Ordinary Last Minute Gifts." Though I was hoping for inspiration for some of those hard-to-buy-for people on my list, I came up short here. I didn't find anything that screamed someone's name to me. One item I did find provided amusement though. For those of you who are wondering what to give to that incredibly lazy child on your list, I have found the perfect gift:For the low, low price of $14.95, you can buy the "SNOWBALL/SNOW BLOCK MAKER SET." The description states, "Lets kids build their own forts and fill them with perfect snowballs."

When I was growing up, we had snowball and snow block makers, and they were called our hands. Believe it or not, they were free and did the job just fine. In fact, my brother and I built some pretty impressive snow forts in our time, several that featured multiple rooms, most that boasted slides off the tops, and one that I recall even had a stained glass window. No kidding - - we figured out that if you froze water in a bar pan and added food coloring, it made something of a stained glass window (not a very attractive one, of course, but who else can brag that their snow forts featured such striking attention to detail?) You will have to keep in mind that we grew up on a farm, so we already had lots of drifts to work with, plus a dad that used a tractor and blade to push the snow into big piles. Still, we put a lot of work into the making of our "snow mansions" . . . . all without the assistance of the LL Bean Snowball/Snow Block Maker. Just think of the amazing projects we could have completed had we had this fantastic tool! We had no idea just how deprived we were.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Last night, I stopped at my grandparent's house and took a look around for the last time. When dad called me a few weeks ago and told me that the house has a buyer, I wasn't sure that I wanted to do so. The last time I was in the house was in August when all my grandparent's belongings were auctioned - - on that day, as I watched the furniture being carried out and saw the house emptied, it really hit me that I was seeing an era come to an end. The home has always been in my dad's family, and has been my grandparent's home since before I was born.

When my grandmother died in October 2008, I knew that this day would come at some point. It’s funny how there are certain things in your life that you think will always be there – then one day, they’re not. I never imagined a time when I couldn’t just walk right up to the door of that house and not walk right in.

Now it will belong to someone else who never knew my family gathered around the massive dining room table (that had so many leaves that it practically spread into next week.) The folks buying the house never knew a time when apple trees stood in the side yard (or knew that my brother and cousins and I would use the fallen apples as projectiles in a sometimes-painful game of apple tag.) They never saw my family all gathered on the front lawn and on the porch to watch the annual parade in August (and catch the massive amounts of candy.) They never knew us watching movies shown with an old-style movie projector, playing Dominoes at the table, or running through the dining room and making the dishes shake in the china cabinet.

During the last few years of her life when my grandmother’s Alzheimer’s had gotten bad, I didn’t think much about these things. I realized, of course, that things would change, but it was something that was going to happen LATER. When Grandma could no longer take care of herself and had to move to a nursing facility, her home kind of went into a state of suspended animation. When it unfroze and everything was piled onto rack wagons and carried out for auction, the finality of it became truly apparent. Perhaps it is just always difficult when another connection to your childhood is severed. I have no desire to return to my youth, yet that doesn't stop me from waxing nostalgic for those times every now and again. As I took that final look around last night, I realized that ready or not, LATER had arrived.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009


Aleita's kindergarten class had their Thanksgiving play this morning at her school. The parents (or whoever the kids' guests were) could then stay for lunch with the kindergartener. The play and songs that the kids performed were very cute - - what is not to love about a bunch of little kids dressed up as Pilgrims and Indians? (Aleita was a Pilgrim, which was bad casting in my opinion. Regular readers of my blog and those that know her can agree that she is much more of the Indian variety.) At any rate, she made a pretty cute Pilgrim with her braids sticking out from beneath her little white paper bonnet.

After the performance, the kindergarteners went back to their classroom to remove costumes, then met up with their guests to go to lunch. I discovered that it only takes a brief witnessing of parent/child interaction at your child's school to reaffirm the belief that perhaps you are not doing such a bad job at being a parent after all. The mother that sat beside me at the lunch table had brought a younger child with her who was perhaps three years old. Her kindergarten son and three year old daughter spent most of the time at lunch throwing things back and forth at one another while the mom begged them in a whiny voice to stop.

The parents of the child who sat across from us had packed their child's lunch - and what a healthy alternative they had offered him in place of the cafeteria lunch: The kid had a vat of cheese spread and a roll of crackers. The tub of cheese spread was the kind you get when you order from a school fundraiser - - probably enough for ten people to easily share it - - yet here was this five-year old boy, happily consuming 100 grams of fat in one sitting. Toward the end of the meal, he said to his dad, "I want some of your applesauce," then without hesitation, proceeded to dip his index and middle finger onto his dad's tray into the applesauce and shovel it into his mouth. His dad simply said, "here's my spoon if you want some," as he handed him a utensil to use.

The funny thing is, when I have volunteered in Aleita's classroom, I find that most of these kids are actually fairly well-behaved and pretty nice little kids. When I used to teach elementary school, I often noticed the same thing - - kids will usually live up to whatever set of expectations are provided to them. I had many parents that wondered why their child would behave so much better for me than they would for them. My five-year old is certainly no angel, but you can be sure that if she took her fingers and dipped them into the food on my plate, I would be sure to give her something - though I doubt it would be a spoon.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Today, Chris and I drove separately to church because I had chimes practice 1/2 hour before Sunday School. (yes - we drove both cars the whole two blocks to the church - - it was raining, cut us some slack!)

After church, Aleita decided to ride home with me, and Maggie with Chris. Aleita, ever the competitor, said to me, "Hurry up, Mommy! Beat them home!!" She was ever-so-impatient with me as I did the responsible-mom thing and made sure she was properly buckled into her seat belt.
As if to provide additional incentive to me, she yelled, "C'mon! The last one home's a rotten chicken!!"

Rotten chicken....rotten close.

(By the way, we ended up as the "rotten chickens." They beat us home.)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009


Thanks to my friend Michelle for sending me this link. This commercial seems so antiquated, yet if my older daughter saw this, she would want every single thing mentioned.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


My mom has often referred to Wal-Mart as the "gettin' place" because you can get just about anything there. Gettin' place, indeed. I was listening to a news program on the radio yesterday on my way home from work. One of the news items they mentioned is that Wal-Mart, corporate giant extraordinare, is now selling caskets online. Yes, you read correctly - - the nation's best known big box store is now hawking specially priced coffins for those discount-minded folks that want to lay their love ones to rest without blowing the bank.

I visited Wal-Mart's website and browsed through their selection of caskets which range in price from $895 to $2,899. The "site to store" option is not available for have to have it shipped directly to your home. I suppose it would be awkward to go to the service desk to pick up a 250 pound steel coffin anyway. How embarrassing to have to wheel out Grandma's final resting place past the softener salt display and the people buying their groceries. Knowing my luck, I would probably get the cart with the janky wheel and end up accidently smashing it into the shampoo display outside the Wal-Mart Smartstyle Hair Salon.

I was also curious about shipping time. The Wal-Mart site says that it can take 24 - 48 hours to process the order before it is shipped, and it quoted total time until delivery as anywhere between 2 - 5 days. Some questions come to mind:

1) Where does the dearly-departed hang out until their burial chamber arrives?

2) How would you make funeral arrangements if you are unsure when the casket will arrive? Does the newspaper obituary read: "Funeral time TBA, pending casket arrival."

3) Often when someone dies, the loved ones are so grief-stricken that they have trouble putting together the arrangements. In order to facilitate the soonest arrival possible of the casket, do they have to dry their tears, get online, pick out a casket, then resume grieving?

4) Some people make their own funeral preparations ahead of time which saves money, expedites the process, and doesn't leave loved ones having to deal with arrangements while they are racked with grief. Would it be considered odd to order your own casket from Wal-Mart and keep it in the basement until needed?

Finally, I am wondering what others would think of you if then knew you ordered the dearly departed's casket from Wal-Mart. Would they think you as prudent and savvy or cheap and callus? Would they applaud your decision to be budget conscious in these lean times, or would they whisper viciously to each other during the funeral service about what a skinflint you are?

Oh yes - - and would the casket have one of those sunshine yellow happy faces emblazoned on the side?

If you would like to check out Wal-Mart's casket

selection, here is the link.

Friday, October 23, 2009


I was at Target a few nights ago picking up a some things and got in line to check out. There were only a few people ahead of me, so the line was moving right along. Still, it was the end of the day and I was tired, and I caught myself staring wistfully at the Starbucks as I moved forward in line. The Starbucks is, of course, located strategically just beyond the checkout so that even if I wasn't thinking about wanting one, by the time I leave Target, I always do. I had to remind myself that I would be eating as soon as I got home, and didn't really need the extra few hundred calories from a Chai Latte.

As I was standing there, my thousand-yard-stare was interrupted by the man in front of me saying, "These aren't for me."

I blinked, focused, and looked at him to see what he was talking about. He was a guy in his early 40s, and was standing there very uncomfortably holding a package of adult diapers and waiting for his turn in line.

I hadn't actually noticed that he was holding a package of Depends until he pointed it out. Dude - two words for you - What. Ever. I am a complete stranger that you will never likely see again. Why feel compelled to tell me that you will not be using the disposable drawers you're toting around Target?

I missed a few beats while I took all this in. Finally, I very profoundly answered him: "OK," I said.

Perhaps an "OK" wasn't what he was looking for. Maybe he wanted me to tell him that I too shop at Target all the time for adult diapers for someone other than myself. He was apparently so hyper-sensitive about it that he felt obligated to further explain.

"These are for my father," he said. "He lives with my wife and me - has for past six months. These are for him."

He obviously wasn't going to let this go, but I didn't really know what else to say to him about the matter. Somehow, "good for you!" or "how about that!" didn't really seem appropriate.

Instead, I decided to try to add a little levity to the situation. I held up the package of Batman underwear I was buying for Aleita and said, "These aren't for me. They're for my daughter."

He just looked at me for a moment, rolled his eyes and shook his head slightly as if to say 'whatever' and turned back around. It was soon his turn to go through the cashier's line.

After his chattiness, I was a little surprised. I then quickly realized that he thought I was making fun of him, like "Yeah, those Depends are for your dad like these underpants are for my daughter. Right." I thought about trying to explain that my five-year old daughter is really into boy stuff -- superheroes, action figures, Power Rangers....thus, the Batman underwear. Then I thought, "who cares?"




Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Dear Mr. Bass Man,

I know you think that when you drive by with your car stereo thumpin' and people turn their heads to look at you, that it somehow means that they are very galvanized with you and your bitchin' stereo system. You seem to feel that we are all in awe of the fact that you can make our windows rattle from 100 feet away with your woofers or tweeters or flippers or waffles or whatever those impressive stereo components are called. It also seems that the louder your music is turned up, the lower you slide in your seat in the car. Sometimes I can barely see you over the dash because you have the seat tilted so far down. Perhaps all the vibration from the bass is weakening your muscular system and causing you to have the inability to remain upright. The same thing happened to my great aunt, but I think hers was caused by calcium deprivation. She could hardly see over the steering wheel in her car either.

I want to let you in on a little secret though, Mr. Bass Man. There is a reason that you never see any women driving a loud, bass booming car and sitting all tilted back in the seat. It is because we think you are ridiculous. We have no desire for our ears to bleed simply by taking a ride in the car. In fact, we find it kind of amusing that your stereo system obviously cost more than the car you are driving. Were you that kid in school that the teacher always wrote on your report card, "seeks attention in inappropriate ways."? I'll be willing to bet you were.

I know, I are working hard to forge a certain image for yourself so that others will see you as a rulebreaker or a badass. You are just trying to carve out your niche and prove you are worthy of notice. But, when you are thirty years old and struggling with hearing loss and realize that you already need a hearing aid, just recall your glory days of cruising around in your rusty Cavalier with the bass a thump-thump-thumpin' and think about how cool you looked all tilted back in the seat with your hand draped over the steering wheel. I am sure you will think that it was all worth it.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Greetings from the Leper Colony. Today was a relatively good day - - though there was still lots of hacking and coughing and blowing of noses, it was the first time in a week that no one was running a fever.

For those of you who don't live in the neighborhood and haven't driven by and seen the big, flashing "PLAGUE" sign posted on the house, we are in isolation mode at the Hale household. A trip to the doctor yesterday resulted in a diagnosis of H1N1 for three of four Hales - - and also one of pneumonia for Maggie. Our kitchen counter now resembles a small pharmacy.

The fourth Hale (me) now has several new exciting hobbies, including drug dispensing, constant surface disinfecting, near-compulsive hand-washing, and putting my hand on my head to check for fever every time I sneeze.

The doctor said that if everyone is fever free over the weekend, they can return to their lives on Monday. Hope springs eternal that I will avoid this illness altogether. If not, at least I will have the couch to myself.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Today I was eating lunch in Panera and I went to use the restroom. It was a two hole joint, and I opted for the non-handicapped facility. The water was running in the bowl as the toilet filled from a recent flush from a prior occupant. As I went to close the stall door, I noticed a dribble ring all over the seat. I quickly opened the door that I had begun to close and spied the culprit at the sink, washing her hands.

"Hmm...," I thought, "she can urinate all over the seat, but still belongs to the clean-hands club. Interesting..."

Said I, "Did you just come out of this stall?"

Said she, "Yes. Why?

Said I, "Because you peed all over the seat."

Said she, "I did?!?" (sounding all shocked and pious...c'mon....really??? You knew you did!! If you want to squat, fine.... but don't act all superior when someone calls you on your seat shower.)

Embarrassed, her cheeks turned pink. I gave her "the look" (it's similar to the "mom" look, but has a "whatever, bitch" attached to it) and proceeded into the handicapped stall. I was amazed to notice that she did indeed go into her previously desecrated stall and wipe up her mess. She then exited the bathroom. I know she was probably indignant, but it wasn't exactly a moment that she could go gripe about to her friends.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Maggie and Aleita have both had the creeping crud this week. By creeping crud, I mean the flu. It's that thing that's "going around." Ask anyone. If I mention to someone that the kids are sick, they feel compelled to tell me that it is "going around."

Me: The kids have both been sick this week. They have really high fevers and coughing and snotty noses.

Random Someone: Yeah. It's going around.

I think there are also several people in a competition (that no one wants to win) to see whose school district can have more kids out sick.

Me: The kids have both been sick this week. They have really high fevers and coughing and snotty noses.

Random Someone: Yeah. There were a million and a half kids gone from school today. It's going around.

The kids have begun to open their mouths like baby birds as I drop Tylenol and Motrin into their waiting maws. We have gone through a veritable forest of tissues this week. Their little noses are sore from all the blowing.

Aleita was sick from Sunday night through yesterday. She did go back to school today. She still has a cough, but was fever free all day yesterday. I could tell she felt better yesterday too - she spent Monday - Wednesday lying in the big chair in the living room and watching T.V. She would occasionally get down on the living room floor and spread out a game, but she would mostly just lie on the floor and look at it, rather than actually play it. Anyone who knows Aleita and her normal energy level knows that this behavior is quite a deviation from the norm.

Maggie still isn't back to school, and won't be tomorrow either. She continues to run a fever, though it is at least low-grade now. She still has body aches and a cough and is just overall, very lethargic. She stayed at Grandma's house today and is going there tomorrow as well. Even feeling crummy, Maggie was happy to go to Grandma's house. After all, convalescing at Grandma's is far superior to convalescing at home. When Aleita found out that Maggie got to Grandma's today, she had much sympathy for her sister's continued illness, noting, "NO FAIR!! When I was sick, I had to stay home!"

I have been waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop all week and for Chris and I to become the next victims. My hope is that the flu shots we received a month ago are of this strain and we will avoid the ick that has plagued the kids. (The kids got their flu shots too, but only a week ago, and it takes about two weeks for the shot to work.) Even so, every time I blow my nose or feel a slight twinge of discomfort, I put a hand to my head to check for fever and think, "Oh crap! I'm getting it!!" It wouldn't surprise me. It's going around, you know.


Thursday, October 8, 2009


A few days ago, I was in the bathroom fixing Aleita’s hair in the morning before school. She had been in her bedroom playing with her Tinkerbell cellphone before I called her to get her hair done. She brought her phone along with her into the bathroom and played with it while I began combing through her hair.

With Aleita’s hair, she has two usual styles – braids or afro-puffs. Each has its unique advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantage to braids is that they take a lot longer to put them in and take them out, thus requiring more time to sit still. The advantage to braids is that in the morning, they are much faster than puffs because all we have to do is put hair oil between the rows. The advantage to afro-puffs is that they are much quicker to put in and take out than braids, but every morning, I take each of them out of the band (usually 2 or 4 puffs) and comb through them and oil her scalp, then put the puff back in. I will add here that two things Aleita hates are standing still and having her hair combed.
Given, the word “patience” is not often uttered in the same sentence as “Aleita,” and this morning was no exception. Her hair was in puffs, and she was in no mood to stand still and have her hair combed. She continued to play with her Tinkerbell phone as I did her hair, sparing no opportunity to convey her impatience with the beautification process. After an unfortunate tough hair snag, she said, “I’m calling 9-1-1 on you!”

The following dialogue took place on her Tinkerbell phone (keep in mind that every time she pushes a button on the phone, Tinkerbell responds with a few different messages):

Aleita: Hello, 9-1-1?

Tinkerbell: What beautiful wings you have!

Aleita: Yes, I would like to report something bad.

Tinkerbell: Do you want to come fly with me?

Aleita: This woman here keeps pulling my hair. I need you to come and arrest her.

Tinkerbell: You would make such a good fairy!

Aleita: She won’t let me go eat breakfast. She just keeps making me stand here.

Tinkerbell: What beautiful wings you have!

Aleita: She just pulled my hair again.

Tinkerbell: You would make such a good fairy!

Aleita: OK – I’ll tell her. Mommy, they said you need to stop or they’ll come arrest you.

We did manage to finish up her ‘do, get breakfast, and get on with the day. The police never did show up to haul me in my “crimes.” Next time, I may not be so lucky. If I get hooked up for excessive hair pulling, starving my children, and inciting extreme boredom, I hope one of you will come bail me out.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Aleita stayed home sick from school yesterday. It was nothing too serious - - she woke up in the night snotty and coughing, and in the morning, she was wheezing quite a bit. She was visibly tired in the morning, and so I thought it best just to keep her home and make sure it didn’t turn into anything worse. She spent most of the day laying around and not doing very much – we played lots of games and she watched some movies.
At one point in the afternoon after she had finished a movie, I turned the DVD player off and changed the source on the television from the setting used for the DVD player back to the one where you can watch regular TV. Playing on regular TV at that moment was one of the afternoon soaps.

Before I even had a moment to react, the woman on the show said to her companion, “This whole thing has gone to hell in a handbasket.” He responded to her, “What did you just say?” and she said (again), “You heard me….this has gone to hell in a handbasket.”

I quickly switched the TV off, but apparently, not soon enough. Having been schooled about “hell” by her older sister, Aleita is familiar with the concept of the fiery down-below, so that word immediately caught her attention. Aleita said to me, “what does that mean?” I explained that it meant that things were really bad and they probably weren’t going to get any better anytime soon. I added, “It’s just something that grownups say sometimes.” I then changed the subject and asked her if she wanted to come help me with what I was working on. Aleita loves to be a helper, so she gladly agreed.

My project at that moment was stripping the wallpaper in the back entry hall. Fun stuff, I know. To a five-year old though, it was a grand venture. I gave her the scoring tool and she gladly made designs all over the wall with it while I worked on soaking the wall with DIF and stripping off the wallpaper that had apparently been applied with industrial-strength glue. After an hour with not very much progress, I sighed disgustedly and said, “UGGGHHH… This is a nightmare!”

She said, “What’s wrong?”

I told her that whoever had put the wallpaper up had done a very bad job, and it was going to take a very long time to take it all down. I also showed her where the wall had some damage that had been covered up by the wallpaper, but now I was going to have to figure out how to deal with it. I told her that it was just a lot worse than I thought it was going to be.

She looked at the holes in the wall and the wallpaper mess and then exclaimed, “this is going to hell in a hamper!”

Handbasket….hamper….so close….though stripping wallpaper is enough to make almost anyone agree that it is a project straight from hell. She was quite right about that.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


“Here’s your change, sweetie,” said the clerk to me at the gas station this morning as she handed me back the difference. I collected my change and seriously fought the urge to say, “thanks, sugar.” She was all of maybe nineteen years old….and she had just called me “sweetie.” (though I’m sure that is also how she addressed the guy behind me, and the lady behind him.)


I have to admit that it gets on my nerves to be referred to by one of these terms of endearment by someone I don’t know - - though it seems to annoy me more when it is by someone who was born about the time I was graduating from high school. Does this bother anyone else?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


The girls' school has a website that allows parents to check on their child's progress regularly. The teachers can input their grades, as well as add comments about assignments.

Tonight I was checking over both of the girls' accounts. One of the comments under Aleita's made me laugh - - under her marks for physical education last week, she had gotten an 80%. The teacher's remark made by the grade was "needs to practice galloping."

Better get my five-year old geared up for the next big P.E. test....she is going to gallop her butt off this weekend until she gets it right!! We will not have any gallop slackers in the Hale house!

Monday, September 14, 2009


When Aleita got up this morning, she sneezed seven or eight times before she had even made it out of bed. She came into the bathroom and got a tissue and blew her nose and said to me, “ I don’t think I should go to school today - - I don’t want to sneeze on everyone.”

I told her that I thought she would be fine once she woke up a little bit (she has some allergy issues, but they seem to get better after she is up and around for 20 minutes or so.) I said to her, “besides, if you have to stay home from school, you’ll just be bored.”

She thought for a minute and then said, “I know! We could go the zoo. The animals won’t care if I sneeze on them!”

Needless to say, if she is still sneezing, she is doing so on her fellow kindergarteners today…..not the alligators and the lemurs.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Well, Aleita is officially on her way to becoming a little mini-me. Like her momma, she is developing a strong penchant for playing games. I just realize how odd this sentence sounds - - I don't mean that she is learning to mess with people's heads (but I will be oh-so-proud once that day arrives, of course,) but I actually mean that she, like me, is a game player - - of the board and card variety.

When I was a child, even from a young age, I loved to play games. My brother and I spent a lot of time at my grandparent's house in the spring and the fall when we were little because my parents are farmers, and they took care of us while they were planting or harvesting. My grandmother was a "game player" too. I would say that she indulged me by playing games one after another with me, but I think she enjoyed it just as much as I did. By the time I was six or seven, I could play King's Corners, Canasta, Spit on Your Neighbor, and a few Poker varietals, such as Royal Rummy and Pokeno. Of course, we also knew the standards, like Yahtzee, Uno, Sorry, Rummikub, Rummy, and Monopoly. Even today, it is pretty typical to drop by our house on a Friday or Saturday night and find us playing cards or a game with friends - - one of our latest game obsessions is "Blokus."

Aleita is definitely following right in my footsteps. She has a whole stash of games in the living room, and as soon as she gets home from school each day, she digs one of them out. She prefers it when we play with her, of course, but if she can't find a willing opponent, she will play against herself. Her latest favorites are Trouble, Chutes and Ladders, Uno, Candyland, Spiderman Yahtzee and Memory.

And like me as a child, Aleita has learned that there are ways to up your odds of winning when playing a game. Specifically, she has learned how to cheat.

I was actually something of a game-playing the time I was 5, I had become rather adept at stacking the Uno deck in my favor. As soon as the bus would drop me off from my half day at Kindergarten, I would run in the house and hope that my dad hadn't gotten home for lunch before me. If the coast was clear, I would set to work getting our noontime Uno game ready. I always thought I was so clever that he never figured out how I managed to end up with all the "Draw Fours" in my hand during that first game.

Aleita hasn't learned deck-stacking in Uno just yet, but she has learned how to place the Memory cards so that she cleans up on matches before you even have a chance to blink. Last night, she asked me to play Memory with her. I told her to set it up, and when I finished what I was doing, I would play. It didn't take long once play started to figure out that I was going to lose that game.

I didn't even call her on her wily ways. Dare I say I was just a little bit proud?

Thursday, September 10, 2009


As we were eating dinner last night, Maggie said to me, "Fix Dempsey's ear."

Dempsey, our Boxer dog, was sitting beside me as we ate dinner, and at some point, one of his floppy ears had flipped up. I said, "why do you care?"

She winced and said, "It just bothers me - it doesn't look comfortable."

I gave her a strange look and she said, "You know when someone's shirt collar is flipped up or their tag on their shirt is sticking out and you just want to fix it, but you don't even know them? That's how looking at his ear makes me feel. I just want to fix it."

Laughing, I straightened out his floppy ear (which of course, if we had waited 20 seconds, he would have done himself by shaking his head.)

The funny thing was, I knew exactly what she was talking about. I have had that exact feeling before - - feeling uncomfortable because of someone else's shirt tag sticking out, or collar being flipped up. I also get that feeling when I see a woman who has long hair and it is tucked into the back of her shirt or jacket.....or when I see a woman who has her bra strap twisted....or when someone's necklace clasp works its way around to the front.

What about you? What are some of those little annoyances that drive you crazy?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


You know when you are in mixed company and someone farts, and everyone looks a little surprised, but no one says anything? That’s how we are going to treat this temporary absence of mine from blogging. Yes, it happened, but really, will talking about it change anything? Moving on….

So school has started and both of my kids are now “school agers.” School is much the same this year as last year for Maggie – she enjoys the social aspect of it all, she likes to read and write, and hates math. Right now, place value is her mortal enemy. We have already spent many hours, sitting at the kitchen table, working on tens and hundreds and thousands and oh-the-joy-of-it-all.

Aleita loves kindergarten like we knew she would. Aleita is up for anything that offers structure and provides a challenge. She has been excited to start kindergarten since this past April when she did her screening - - she was incredibly disappointed to find out that she would have to wait until August to start school. She thought she should get to start the next day.

The day she started school, Aleita arrived home pouty and upset. I asked her what was wrong and she explained that she was not given any homework, and since she was now a school-ager, she wanted homework. She settled for me giving her some words to write and some math problems for her “homework.”

Aleita’s biggest challenge is finding time at lunch to actually eat. After spending so much of her morning contained, once she has a moment of downtime, she simply has to let it out. Thus, she spends more of her lunch time talking than actually eating. Aleita is generally a slow eater anyway – she and my mom usually compete for the “last one done” award at family dinners. She is struggling with having a time limit placed on her at lunch because of the need to eat and leave so that other classes can use the cafeteria.

After the first full day of school, I asked, “what did you have for lunch today?” She answered, “pineapple.”

“What else?” I asked.

“I just ate pineapple,” she said, “and two drinks of milk.”

She explained that by the time she got through the line and sat down and started eating, it was time to leave. I asked her if she ate, or if she talked, and she said, “why can’t I do both?”

The second day was no improvement. When I asked her what she had to eat that day, she answered, “raisins.” Yep – that’s it. Raisins.

In kindergarten, they do have a snack and milk in the afternoon, so don’t take too much pity on her - - she is not forced to sustain herself all day on two sips of milk and a handful of dried grapes. We did talk with her about the need to eat her lunch and not talk so much, and I think things are improving. So far, she is not withering away, so that is a good sign. I would also hate to think we are spending $1.80 each day for a lunch that is only making it into the garbage instead of her stomach.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Dear God,

I know you know best and there are reasons for everything you do, but I am respectfully requesting that the thunderstorms and rain stop for a little while. The farmers in these parts really need to get their crops in the field, and all these inches of rain are making that impossible. Could you hold off and send the rain towards the end of June? An inch or two a week from then end of June through late August that comes in a nice gentle shower would be desirable. My flowers and plants and grass do indeed love all this rain, but I really am thinking of the farmers and how much they need things to dry up so they can get in the fields.

Oh yes - - I almost forgot to mention that my five-year old has crawled in bed with me in the middle of the night three times this week during thunderstorms. Three people in a queen sized bed is not a good thing. I am tired and grumpy and when momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. Please - the thunderstorm thing (esp. in the middle of the night) - let's call that off for now, alright?

(and don't forget about the farmers.)

Thanks - and Amen,

Friday, May 8, 2009


(but really busy too.) Sorry for not writing lately. I'll try to step it up.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Maggie and Aleita just got done eating supper and asked if they could have some of their Easter candy afterward. Aleita started digging through her basket and said, "Where are all my Reese's Peanut Butter Cups? I know there were more in here!"

Hmm....I wonder where on earth they could have ended up???

Monday, April 20, 2009


On our recent trip to visit my family in Dallas, we spent the first night on the way there in Oklahoma City. The next morning, before heading on to Dallas, we went to the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Do you actually realize that it occurred 14 years ago yesterday? Do you remember where you were when you heard about it? I was a sophomore in college. I had just finished my morning classes and headed down to the sub for lunch with my friends. As we walked in, it was strange not to hear everyone laughing and talking. Instead, all eyes were glued to the big screen T.V. in the corner where they were showing the horror that had occurred that morning at the Alfred P. Murrah Building.

I am certain that I didn't completely understand the enormity of the situation at that time. It is strange how insulated most of us truly are from events of this magnitude. At nineteen, I recognized that what had happened was horrible, but couldn't make a direct association to my own life. After all, I didn't know anyone that had been killed or injured - - to be honest, I probably only actually knew even a handful of people that lived west of the Mississippi River at that point in my life. Let's face it -- at nineteen, most of us are pretty self-centered beings - particularly those of us who receive an extended childhood by going straight out of high school to college. The ramifications on humanity from terroristic acts wasn't something I could really wrap my mind around at that point in my life.
When we decided to make Oklahoma City our stopping point for the night on our trip, I knew that I wanted to visit the memorial before we left the area the next day. My nineteen year old self wouldn't have wanted to - - my thirty-three year old self couldn't imagine being in Oklahoma City and not taking the time to do just that.

I had heard it was a beautiful and touching memorial, but even I was unprepared for how moved I was by it. We entered through what they refer to as the "Gates of Time." There are twin gates at each end of the memorial that frame the area of the former Federal Building and mark the formal entrances to the Memorial. The East Gate bears "9:01 a.m." (representing the innocence of the city before the attack.) The attack occurred at 9:02AM. The West Gate then bears "9:03 a.m." (representing the moment in which lives were forever changed, and for the hope that came from the tragedy that had happened.)

As soon we entered the area, my eyes were drawn to the Field of Empty Chairs. I couldn't help but tear up. There is one chair for each of the 168 lives that were taken the day of the bombing. They stand in nine rows to represent each floor of the building, and each chair bears the name of someone killed on that floor. Nineteen smaller chairs stand for the children (there was a daycare for children of employees in the building.) Those small chairs were the hardest to look at, yet my eye was continually drawn back to them. In front of the chairs is a very shallow reflecting pool. It provides a very placid and soothing quality to the entire memorial.

There is a museum right next door to the site, but we opted not to go in. I don't think our kids (ages 5 and 8) could have handled it. I have heard that sometimes kids can be very intuitive about certain things involving death, and it was that way at the memorial with Aleita. When we got to the memorial, we had parked across the street. As we made our way up to it, Aleita grabbed my hand and held tight - - if you know Aleita or are a regular reader of my blog, you know that Aleita is somewhat of a "wild child." If anything, we usually have to rein her in and keep her from running ahead of us - -her holding my hand without being asked to do so was strange enough. However, before we could even make it up the ramp to the memorial (and even get a glimpse of it,) Aleita stopped in her tracks and said, "I don't want to go in there. It's not a happy place. I don't like it here." Talk about goose bumps. It was as if she somehow already had some knowledge of the horror and destruction and sadness that had happened there, though we hadn't said a word about it to either of them.

As we walked around the memorial, Aleita continually echoed her readiness to leave. It had nothing to do with being a bored kid - - she was quiet and subdued and quite clearly uncomfortable - - and she never let go of my hand. In fact, she asked me a few times to pick her up and hold her. I think that Maggie could sense the sadness that Chris and I felt as we walked through and read the information, but she was highly curious about the whole thing. She had dozens of questions, but God bless her, she has led such a sheltered life that she had such a difficult time just wrapping her mind around the fact that someone would actually want to hurt other people....especially children.

Though I think that the museum itself would have been interesting and moving and would have provided an even more in-depth understanding of that day, I know that it would have been more than either of the kids could handle. It showed footage from immediately after the bombing, pictures of the victims, artifacts from the bombing, and had audio from the bombing itself (recorded across the street at a meeting of the Oklahoma Water Board.) It is definitely something I want to see, but it will have to wait until the children are older.

I highly encourage you to visit the memorial if you get the chance. It is also worth your time to visit the website:

Saturday, April 18, 2009


On the way to the Athletic Club this morning, the girls and I were talking about pets. The girls were talking about what kind of pets they wanted to have when they were adults. Aleita mentioned that she would have a dog and a cat. Maggie said she would like a cat, but wouldn't get one, since I am allergic to them. She said, "Mommy can't come to my house if I have a cat, so I'm not going to have one."

Aleita agreed and was silent for a moment. Then she said, "When Mommy dies and goes to heaven, then I'll get a cat."

At least she has something to look forward to.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Last week we went to visit my family in Dallas over the Easter holiday. As we made our way south (and west), we stopped the first night in Oklahoma City. We stayed on the top floor of the hotel, and as soon as we got into our room, Aleita pulled open the curtains and looked out the window and declared, "I CAN SEE THE BOODY WATER TOWER!!"


Aleita just got done doing the ugly cry. She is currently sitting on the landing of the stairs, solemnly looking out the window at the neighbor's house and occasionally letting out a "huh, huh, huh" as a few tears roll down her face. She is staring at four happy kids jumping on the trampoline in the yard and hating every minute of it. One of those happy kids is her sister. Maggie is playing with three of her friends from school and laughing and having a ball. Aleita was not allowed to go with them. She is the saddest girl on earth right now.

Sometimes it just sucks to be the little sister.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


We recently visited my family in Dallas over the Easter break. On the Saturday before Easter, we went to an Easter Egg Hunt at my aunt's church. When we arrived, the children were lining up behind the roped-off area for their appropriate age division. As we started to walk the kids over to find their age group, a woman from the church came over and asked everyone to first go gather at the pavilion so that the minister could tell the kids the story of Easter before the egg hunt. I took Aleita's hand and started to walk with her over to the pavilion. On the way, we passed all of the playground equipment. Aleita looked at it longingly.

"Can I go play on that?" she asked.

"Not right now," I said, "They want to tell you the Easter story and then you can hunt for eggs," I explained.

"The story about Jesus?" she asked.

"Yes," I answered.

"The one where they nail him to the cross?"

"Yes," I answered.

"The one where they roll away the rock and he's not there?"

"Yes," I answered.

"I know that story," she said, "I'm gonna go play until they're done."

Saturday, April 4, 2009


As I write this entry, Aleita is sitting on the steps of porch, eating a bowl of grapes and forlornly watching the ice cream truck roll on up the street. About ten minutes ago, she came breathlessly running into the house, yelling that she heard the music from the ice cream man. I told her we were not getting ice cream today. Mainly, I let the ice cream truck roll on by because:

1) it is really expensive - - most items are $3 - $4, and I could purchase an entire box of the same ice cream treats for what one costs from the ice cream man

2) Aleita doesn't really even care that much for ice cream. She NEVER eats most of the ice cream treat she picks when we do get ice cream from the ice cream truck. Of a $3 treat, she eats about 50 cents worth.

3) perhaps I am just the meanest mom on the planet.

Aleita is more enamored with the idea of the ice cream truck than with the actual ice cream itself. Still, even though she knows she doesn't really like the ice cream treats all that much, it thrills her to no end to go out into the street and up to the window to peer at the selection of treats on the side of the truck. She loves to make her choice and have me fork over a wad of cash to pay for it. She then happily skips back to the house holding her ice cream, then after she eats about three bites of it, announces that she is finished and pitches the remainder in the garbage. I tell her that she is not going to get any more ice cream from the ice truck because she doesn't eat it and because it is expensive. She says she understands. Then, the next time the ice cream truck rolls around, she begs to start the process anew. This ritual never varies.

She was right about the ice cream truck being in the neighborhood today. He just rolled up in front of our house where she could get a perfect view of the kids with nicer parents and more expendable funds running up to the truck to get their treat. I held firm today - - no ice cream treats. (It was slightly easier because I didn't have TWO kids begging me at once, as Maggie is in Decatur with Chris at the moment.) I told her if she wanted a snack, I would be happy to get her one though --- she agreed, and I put some grapes in a bowl for her - -which is why she sitting on the front steps eating grapes while "all the other kids in the world except her get ice cream from the ice cream truck" - - according to her.

As you can see from the picture, this man and all his children go without shoes so that they can have those expensive ice cream treats from the ice cream man.

Monday, March 30, 2009


I know it's kind of frightening, but this lovely little creature is now adorning my desk at work. Maggie painted it at the after-school program and told me she wanted me to take it to work and use it as a paper weight. I kind of feel like I have a figurine from the Tammy Faye Baker collection sitting on my desk now. But no matter - - my child made it for me, and I will cherish it.

(OK - perhaps 'cherish' is too strong of a word.....)

Sunday, March 29, 2009


A short while ago, Aleita was following Maggie around the house, doing her best to get smacked. I was actually surprised that Maggie didn't come to tattle on her. Aleita is tired and a little grouchy, so she is doing her best to "share the love."

For about three minutes straight, she continually asked Maggie, "Why did the chicken cross the road?"

The first time she asked, Maggie said, "to get to the other side," to which Aleita joyously responded, "No! Because there was a chicken party!!" Then she laughed and asked her again.

"Why did the chicken cross the road?"

Maggie sighed and responded, "because there was a chicken party."

Aleita giggled and said, "No! To get to the other side!" Then, she asked her again:

"Why did the chicken cross the road?"

Maggie, patience running thin, responded, "Whatever I answer, it's going to be wrong, so why don't you just tell me?"

Aleita said, "No! You have to tell me!"

Maggie ignored her and continued working on the picture she had been drawing.

Aleita persisted, "Why did the chicken cross the road? Why did the chicken cross the road? Maggie! Answer me.....answer me!! Why did the chicken cross the road!? Why did the chicken cross the road?!!?"

I decided to cut Maggie some slack and asked Aleita to come help me do the dishes from dinner. The child is apparently some freak-of-nature, because helping with the dishes is one of her FAVORITE activities. She happily complied, and in the process forgot all about the road-crossing chicken.

I told them they could play in their rooms for 15 minutes before bed -- she is currently doing her best to recruit Maggie to be part of the band that she is forming in her room. (to which Maggie keeps responding, "LEAVE ME ALONE!") I better go read them their stories and get them in bed before she writes a song about chickens.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


As I was walking back to my office from downtown after lunch today, I was meandering along and looking in the various shop windows. In the display at one of the stores were angels of many different sizes and varieties, along with a fancy, hand-painted sign reading, “Children are a Gift from God.” As I walked a few feet further, I noticed that they also had a small sign on the door of the shop, right by the handle, which in bright pink letters read, “CONTROL YOUR CHILD! IF THEY BREAK IT, YOU BUY IT.”

Apparently God’s gifts have been wreaking a little havoc with the merchandise these days!

Friday, March 20, 2009


I have been in Chicago-land this past week for work. Yesterday, I actually did get a few hours of shopping in - - one of the things I picked up was a new shirt for Maggie. When I got home tonight and was unpacking, I had her try it on. It had a bird on it flying through the sky, and in fancy, swirling writing, it says, "Don't pollute my air." Maggie looked at it for a moment, but couldn't tell what it said because the writing was so loopy.

"What's written on this shirt?" she asked.

"Don't pollute my air," I told her.

She looked at me with a tiny grin and said, "I don't pollute the air....except when I FART!!" Then she laughed like a lunatic.

You gotta love eight-year old humor.


On the way to my meeting in Chicago-land today, I was stopped at a stoplight in the Palatine-suburbia area and saw this place. It cracked me up, so I took a picture with my camera phone and thought I would post it.

In case you can't read it, the name of the place is the "C'mon Inn."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


If it weren't for the "beep" from my car when I hit the lock button on my key ring, I may never find it in the Wal-Mart parking lot. I know - I should pay better attention to where I leave it parked. Barring that, thank goodness I can make it "call" me whenever I have lost it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Maggie often asks questions about her adoption and about her birth mom - - she has a very natural curiosity about her background, and has since she was quite young. We have gotten very used to her occasional queries into the subject. (Aleita, on the other hand, may very well assume that she was descended from wolves because she has no interest in the subject of her adoption. The only part she cares about is the fact that we have an "Aleita Day" party for her every year to celebrate her adoption day.)

So a few days ago, when Maggie brought up the matter of her adoption, it was no great surprise to me. She wanted me to tell her about the day we actually went to the courthouse and her adoption was made final. I began to explain it to her, and when I got to the part about the judge she said, "There was a judge?"

"Yes," I answered her.

Her eyes grew wide and she gasped and said, "Was it Judge Judy?"

I laughed and explained that it was actually not Judge Judy, but a man named Judge Diamond.

"Were we on T.V.?" she continued.

"No," I told her, "We were at the Macon County Courthouse. Not nearly as exciting."

She seemed a little deflated that her adoption was somehow not as "flashy" as she was imaging it in her head. Truly, I wonder what sort of fantasy she had concocted in her head about the day of the adoption.

I do remember the day of her adoption quite well. We had fought for Maggie for almost 19 months in court (she lived with us since she was three days old though.) On the day of her adoption, we were in the courtroom with family and friends, and it was my turn to testify on the witness stand (which is just a formality once you have reached that point in the adoption process.) Maggie, however, was a very energetic toddler and did not want to be contained by sitting on a bench with her grandparents. She fussed and whined and made it clear that she wouldn't be happy until she was allowed to get down and walk. Since we were the only ones in the courtroom, the judge said, "just let her be - she won't hurt anything." Thus, my 19-month old went wandering around the courtroom while I was giving testimony on the witness stand.
She meandered all over the courtroom, winding her way among all the guests we had with us, up to the court reporter, and finally coming to see me on the witness stand. At that point, she decided to play "peek a boo" by bending down behind the wall and popping her head up and yelling "boo!" at everyone. She was a hoot, but it totally distracted me giving my testimony to the point that our attorney had to remind me to pay attention to his questions. When it was all said and done and the judge declared the adoption granted, I don't think there was a dry eye in the house. I cried out of joy, and I cried from the relief of knowing that our struggle was finally over and that she was officially ours, forever.

Not exactly the grand beginning that she had pictured, but yet, one of the very best days of my life.
Chris, Maggie & I - Maggie's Adoption Day, June 10, 2002

Our attorney (Garry Davis), Maggie & I - -

Maggie's Adoption Day, June 10, 2002

Monday, March 9, 2009


For those of you that miss the reference in today's blog title, a few years ago, Jessica Seinfeld (Jerry's wife) published a cookbook called "Deceptively Delicious." It was full of recipes that featured sneaky ways to include nutritious fruits and vegetables in your everyday cooking without your kids realizing they had been duped into eating something healthy. Tonight, I got a little deceptive.

I started with chicken broth, and cooked carrots, a red pepper, and a half head of cauliflower until tender. Then I added some spices and some shredded smoky cheddar cheese. I took the whole thing and dumped it into the food processor and pureed it until it was creamy smooth, then returned it to the pan to stay warm. I cooked some chicken breasts on the grill to go along with it, and told my family it was "cheesy carrot soup."

Three out of four Hales gave it a thumbs up - - Maggie, Chris, and I all liked it, but Aleita wasn't a fan (she did at least try it though.) I was mainly overjoyed about my little experiment because I had managed to get my husband to eat cauliflower -- and compliment me on it! He is a fairly picky vegetable eater (though not as picky as some RITTERS I know.) He always deflects my attempts to get him to try new things when it comes to vegetables. Even if it is something I am fairly sure he will like, he will refuse to try it if there are certain vegetables involved. In that respect, my kids are much better eaters than he is. They will at the very least TRY something before they decide that they don't like it....and for the most part, they will eat almost anything.

I could hardly wait to announce my victory at the dinner table tonight. As soon as the last drop of soup was gone from his bowl, I proudly shared with him that he had just dined on soup containing CAULIFLOWER. He tried to downplay my victory by saying that I only got him to eat it by mashing it to bits and adding cheese, but I don't care. The fact remains that he still ate cauliflower. And liked it. Ha.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Last night as I picked Maggie up from her Brownie meeting, I told her she could ride in the front seat on the way home if she wanted to. Before anyone freaks out and calls me a horrible mother and a child endangerer, please keep in mind that the meeting location is four blocks from our house, as well as the fact that my 8-yr. old is practically the same size as I am. Anyway - she was thrilled and thought she was big stuff because she got to sit up front. Hey - some kids are pretty high maintenance, but mine is thrilled with a ride in the front seat. . . how awesome is that?

I started the car and then we got buckled in and ready to roll. Earlier that day, I had driven to a lunch meeting along with another one of my co-workers. I didn't realize she had left the seat warmer on until Maggie turned and gave me a funny look and said, "My butt is getting hot."

I explained that the seat warmer must have been left on earlier, and reached over to flip it off. She said, "NO! Leave it on! I like it." It was a chilly evening, and the seat warmer did feel nice in the cold car. She then asked, "Do we have these in the back seat?"

I told her that they were only up front in my car. She had this look of awe on her face, then she said, "So everytime you and Daddy get in the car and it's cold, you turn these on?"

"Yes," I answered.

"That is so not fair," she protested. "No wonder you guys want to sit up front. I want butt warmers in the backseat!"

I explained that some cars are made with heated seats in the back, but mine just happened to only have them in the front. She thought for a moment, then asked, "Are Daddy's seats like this in his car?"

"Only in the front in his too." I answered.

She shook her head and let out a little noise of protest. Then she declared, "When I get big and have a car, EVERYONE will get butt warmers."

I can't say that I disagree with her. Now that I have had a car with seat warmers, I never want to have a car without them.

Friday, February 27, 2009


My friends Alycia, Barbie, Gretchen and I spent last night in Chicago. We had tickets for this morning to attend a taping of the Oprah show. (No - I DIDN'T get a car.....but I did get to see Jennifer Hudson perform live, which was awesome.)

After the taping, we went to a great little restaurant called "Silver Cloud" that advertises its "comfort food." I was a little disappointed that chicken pot pie is only the dinner menu, but I made due.

Anyway, as we were getting ready to leave, Gretchen asked our waiter for a to-go bag so she could put the rest of her turkey club sandwich in it. She said to us, "Do you think I could find a homeless person to give this to?"

I should have prefaced this statement -- on the way to the restaurant, we saw a homeless guy with the required homeless-guy sign begging for money. Seeing him, she commented how much seeing homeless people disturbed her daughter, Andrea, because she feels so badly for their plight. Andrea has been so affected by the difficult situation for the homeless that she helps raise money for the Good Samaritan Inn (a local soup kitchen) as well as volunteers there at times. Since Gretchen still had half of a very good sandwich that she hadn't even touched (the portions were big), she hated to see it go to waste if someone who was hungry could have it.

As luck would have it, we DID see a homeless person as we came to a stop light after leaving the restaurant - he had the required homeless-guy sign and everything. Putting down her window, the guy beat feet to the car because he expected money, but instead Gretchen handed him the bag saying, "I have a turkey sandwich if you'd like it."

He pondered for a moment then said, "where's it from?" Clearly surprised, Gretchen stammered for a second, then answered, "Silver Cloud."

"OK." the guy answered. He then took the bag and hooked it on one of the posts of the nearby fence and went back to trolling for change among the cars stopped at the stoplight.

Forget what you've been told. Apparently, beggars CAN be choosers.


Tonight, I had Aleita help me dry dishes, put the dishes from the dishwasher away, transfer the laundry from the washer to the dryer, and take the recycling items out to the garage to the appropriate containers. After we had completed these tasks, she asked if there was anything else she could help me do, and I told her that was it for the night.

She said, "C'mon! Can't we run the vacuum or dust?"

"Not tonight," I answered, "maybe tomorrow."

She pouted a little bit, then said, "OK. But I want to help you tomorrow."

I am recording this seemingly innocuous event so that years from now, when Aleita is older and reads all these wonderful stories that her mommy has written about her, she will know that there was once a time that she begged to do housework. Let it be known.

Monday, February 23, 2009


This past weekend, Chris and I went away with friends to Indianapolis. It was great to have some time with just the "grown-ups." It was great to take a trip where I was able to:

- sleep in

- not have to visit a children's museum

- only have to cut up my own meat at the table

- only visit the restroom when I needed to go

- have a conversation with adults without being interrupted every 30 seconds

- try on clothes in a dressing room without two other people being present who are making crazy faces in the mirror and fighting to sit on the little seat with each other

- visit a local artisan's fair without having to worry about my little whirling dervish taking out half the display

Of course, I was very happy to be back with my kiddos last night, and I could tell that even though they very much enjoyed their weekend at Grandma & Papa's house, they too were very happy to be back home with us. We collected them right after supper last night, and they were pretty tired. After baths and books, they were more than ready for bed.

Whatever lingering separation I felt from shifting from "grownup" to "mommy" came to a screeching halt this morning. I went into both of the kids' rooms to wake them up and get them stirring. Maggie made it up and to the toilet first, leaving Aleita bouncing around the bathroom, holding her bottom, telling her to "hurry up and get off the potty before the pee comes out!" I left them to it and went downstairs to make myself a cup of hot tea. Within two minutes, Aleita had joined me in kitchen, saying to me, "Guess what I'm missing!"

"Your tooth?" I asked.

"Nope." she replied with a grin.

"A holder from one of your braids?"

Again, she answered, "No!" with a silly smile on her face.

"I give up," I said to her.

With that, she lifted up her nightgown over her head and yelled, "UNDERPANTS!!" and then laughed like a fiend.

"Maggie took too long on the potty," she began to explain as she lowered her nightgown back down so I could again see her face.

With a sigh (anticipating cleaning up a mess) I asked, "Did you pee your pants?"

"No!" she said indignantly. "I just dribbled a little bit."

With that, she headed back up the stairs, all the while singing into her new light-up Hannah Montana sing-a-long microphone that she brought home from her grandparent's house this weekend.

Ah yes - - definitely back in the mommy role.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


For those of you who don’t know, I teach the Jr./Sr. High Sunday School Class at my church. This past Sunday, we were reviewing some of the lessons that we had done over the course of the past several months. I had set it up like a trivia game, with my students answering the questions.

One of the questions I asked was, “When the Hebrews were wandering in the desert, what did God send them so they wouldn’t be hungry?” Before fully listening and realizing what I was asking, my student Allison blurted out, “MOSES!”

I couldn't help it - - I started laughing at the shock of the thought of the Hebrews cannibalizing Moses. All I could picture was an old man with flowing robes, running through the desert while being chased by the Hebrews yelling, “DON’T EAT ME! EAT THE MANNA!! EAT THE MANNA!!”

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I know it has been awhile since I blogged, but truth be told, my heart just hasn’t been in it lately. The past several weeks have been trying ones for me and my family. With everything going on in our lives, my motivation has been seriously lacking.

In early January, Maggie was diagnosed with juvenile epilepsy. In mid-December, Chris and I became aware of these “spells” she was having in which she would be in the middle of having a conversation or doing something, and all of a sudden, she would freeze and just stare off into space for about 10 -15 seconds. When it was over, Maggie wouldn’t even know she had done it. In fact, most of the time it was so subtle, that we chalked it up to her just having a “spacey kid” moment. However, after the spells started to become more frequent, something clicked with me and I realized she was having petit mal seizures - - except most doctors today call them “absence” seizures - - pronounced with the end of the word rhyming with “sconce” because everything sounds better when you say it with a French accent.

To make a long story short, after an EEG confirmed the absence seizures, Maggie met with a neurologist who put her on anti-seizure medication. The episodes have lessened but are not gone entirely. She is also having some difficulty with the medicine because it makes her sick to her stomach, as well as makes her sleepy. We are meeting with a different neurologist tomorrow, so hopefully things will improve more in the next few weeks.

The good news is that these type of seizures only occur in children. In all likelihood, she will outgrow them as she gets older. However, there is a possibility that they could develop into more serious, severe seizures as she gets older (which are now called “tonic clonic” instead of “grand mal” because apparently somebody decided that rhyming words make epilepsy much, much cooler.)

I thought that the year started off on a bad note, and that things would get better from here. However, just as we felt we were starting to get a handle on all this, our family experienced another major shock a few weeks back. My Aunt Linda, my mom’s sister, was diagnosed with brain cancer. She had been having some health issues over the past several months for which she had not been able to find any answers - - then a seizure that left her left side paralyzed sent her to the hospital in an ambulance, and a CT scan revealed the problem.

After an operation to remove the tumor, the doctor seemed pretty optimistic about the whole thing, and our family breathed a sigh of relief --- even with her left side still paralyzed, she had made it through the surgery, and the doctors seemed pretty positive that strong radiation and chemo pills would take care of the rest. We rejoiced, thinking that physical therapy could assist with the paralysis, and feeling so grateful that the cancer was at least treatable. However, a few days later, the more detailed pathology came back, and it showed Glioblastoma - - a very rapidly progressive and lethal form of brain cancer, already in the last stage. We could hardly believe it when we were told that in all likelihood, she would have 6 – 12 months to live. The elation we had felt just days earlier suddenly turned to grief and disbelief.

One of the other factors that makes Aunt Linda’s situation even sadder is that my cousin Teresa (her daughter) is pregnant and due in two months with their first grandchild. Teresa is one of those pregnant women who just GLOW - - she has been so happy and excited about this baby girl she is carrying. What should be the happiest time in her life has now become one of the saddest because she is racked with grief about the thought of losing her mom.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. There are funny things that the kids do or say, or something comical that will catch my attention, and I think, “I should write about that….” but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I will return to blogging soon. Right now, writing about the day to day is just too hard with such a heavy heart.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


A few weeks ago, Maggie apparently saw something on T.V. or talked about something in school that sparked an interest in discussing STRANGERS. We have been having some intense discussions lately about what to do when someone that the girls don't know approaches them and tries to talk to them or persuade them to get in a car with them.

This topic is a serious matter, and we have been treating it as such. We answer all their questions, as well as reiterate over and over and over again the importance of staying safe and never getting into a car with someone they don't know. We have talked at length about how they should kick and scream and bite and hit if someone tries to take them. We have told them repeatedly that they should run in the house and get us if someone tries to get them to come outside the fence - - and that they should never engage in a discussion with an adult they don't know. We have tried to drill in their heads that grown-ups don't ask kids for directions or to help find lost pets, and that we would never send someone they didn't know to pick them up if we were hurt.

All this talk though has caused the girls to spin these elaborate stranger-danger stories, and at the end of them, they always want to tell us how they feel it should be handled. At first, we started out like this:

"If a stranger tries to get me to get in the car when I am playing out in the yard, I should run in the house and get you, right? If they try to grab me, I should kick them and scream and get away, right?"

"Yes," we answer. "Very good."

However, as time has gone on, the stories are getting more elaborate and filled with detail. A few days ago in the car, we were once again beating stranger-danger to death and Maggie said, "If I was walking to Barb and Greg's house and someone pulled up to the sidewalk and tried to get me in the car, I would run away and come tell you guys. But if you weren't home, I would run to Barb and Greg's and tell them. And if they weren't home, I would go to Ellen's. If the stranger in the car told me his dog was lost, I wouldn't help him look for it. If he said that you guys were hurt and in the hospital, and then tried to grab me and put me in his car, I would scream and say, 'MY DADDY IS A POLICEMAN AND HE ISN'T HURT AND YOU CAN'T TAKE ME!!' And then I would kick him."

Hearing this prompted Aleita to ask, "Who can I go with in a car?" We told her that if we ever needed someone to get her, we would send someone she knew well and trusted.

Aleita: "Like Grandma?"
Me: "Yes."
Aleita: "Or Barbie?"
Me: "Yes."

Aleita: "Or Aunt Stacie?"
Me: "Yes."

Aleita: "Or Rev. Ellen?"
Me: "Yes."

Aleita: "Or Diana?"
Me: "Yes."

Aleita: "Or Jeremy?"
Me: "Yes. Wait....who?"
Aleita: "Jeremy....the Schwan man."
Me: deep sigh. "No, Aleita. We wouldn't send the Schwan man to come get you."

In a crisis, you have to know who to call, right? minister.....the Schwan man.

If he'd let me eat the ice cream, I might be tempted to go with him too . . .

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Someone "tagged" me with a challenge to come up with 25 random things about me. This list has taken me two days to compile -- I thought it would be easy, but I found that I would think of a few, then draw a complete blank. So - - after two days of working on it off and on, here are 25 random things about me:

1. My snack food craving of choice changes on a regular basis. Last month it was Wheat Thin Crisps. This month, it is Del’s chocolate covered pretzels.
2. We really need to put an extra bathroom in the basement. Instead, we are taking the kids to Disneyworld in May.
3. The font I used most often is “Comic Sans.”
4. I don’t drink coffee, nor does my husband. We don’t even own a coffee pot.
5. I couldn’t go to sleep right away last night, so as I was lying there, I thought about what flowers I wanted to plant this spring in my yard.
6. I sleep with a fan on every night for white noise.
7. I don’t vote in primary elections because I don’t want to have to register a party affiliation - - did I mention that I work for an elected official?
8. I sing along in the car with the radio. I am sometimes self conscious of this when I pull up next to someone in traffic and I am the only one in the car.
9. I absolutely love Caller ID. Yes. Sometimes I screen the calls.
10. Some people say they drink red wine because it is good for them. I drink red wine because I like red wine. I am especially partial to Pinot Noir and red blends.
11. I started getting gray hairs when I was about 19 years old. If I didn’t color my hair, my natural hair color right now would be about half very dark brown and about half gray.
12. I never thought I would stay in central Illinois after college.
13. I have never felt more at home than I do living where we do now, in a small town, in central Illinois.
14. We put up a bat house in the fall in our yard and hope to have bats move in this spring. Bats are excellent for mosquito control. In the summer, mosquitoes are the bane of my existence because I have a horrible reaction to mosquito bites.
15. I sometimes wish I had a more unusual first name - - unusual as in unique, not weird.
16. Some people say that if they won the lottery, they would keep their job and continue to go to work every day. I am not one of those people.
17. The kids and I have been eating Clementines like crazy lately…..we go through about a 5 lb crate a week.
18. I have a bottle of hand lotion by every sink in my house and one on my desk at work. I hate it when my hands are dry, so I put hand lotion on every time I wash my hands.
19. I have my 14-digit library card number memorized because I use the online library system so much to order books.
20. The smoking ban in Illinois public places has made me even more intolerant of cigarette smoke.
21. I sometimes wonder what in the world I did with my time before we had kids.
22. I always take off my wedding ring when I put on my makeup.
23. I still think of my parents as young, yet my parents are older than my grandparents were when I was a child and considered them to be “really old.”
24. People think I am really good at remembering birthdays, but I have an online program that sends me an email a week ahead of time so I remember to send a card.
25. I love butterscotch sundaes from Dairy Queen.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Aleita has had a somewhat rough week at school. She is still struggling with keeping her "high-spirited" ways in check at times during the day.

On Tuesday, she refused to nap, instead staying awake and singing a self-composed song to her teacher, Miss Jeanne, about her love of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Miss Jeanne happened to be sitting at a table near Aleita trying to eat her lunch (yes - you guessed it - - a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.) Aleita's act of serenading her favorite sandwich in and of itself would not have been so offensive, except for the fact that singing about it apparently roused a deep-seated hunger in her that apparently her own lunch only twenty minutes prior could not quell. Deciding to act upon her sudden need for PB & J, Aleita made a few attempts at actually taking Miss Jeanne's sandwich away from her. After being scolded and put back on her cot, Aleita was of course upset that her attempts at PB & J thievery had been thwarted. Her day was pretty much downhill from there.

Wednesday did not offer much improvement.

This morning as I got out of the car at the school and got Aleita out, I squatted in the parking lot beside her before we entered. Face to face with her, I talked to her for a minute about the need for her to behave, and how hard it was for me to pick her up in the afternoon, only to find that she had had a bad day. I told her that I knew she didn't want to be punished when she got home, and that I also knew how much happier she was when we were all happy with her. I told her that I loved her very much and wanted her to show everyone at school what a wonderful girl she is. After a few minutes, my heart-to-heart with her complete, I gave her a hug. "Be my good girl today, Aleita," I said.

She looked up at me with her big brown eyes and said, "Mommy. Do you smell that? Something smells like ham."

So much for rationalizing with a four year old. I sighed and shook my head and silently said a prayer that she wouldn't burn the school down today.

In the end, she actually had a pretty good day. I don't think my pep talk this morning had anything to do with it though. Last night at supper, Chris reminded her that there were two pieces of Grandma Helen's chocolate cake left in the fridge, but that she could only have one if she behaved at school (she had been denied cake on Tuesday and Wednesday - - even worse was watching her sister eat a piece each night.) When I called around lunch time today to find out how her day was going, her teacher told me that she had been good, and I talked with Aleita a little bit and told her I was proud of her. The first thing she said to me was, "I'm going to be good all day and get Grandma's cake tonight!"

And she did. She enjoyed her dessert immensely (but what's not to enjoy? my mom makes THE BEST chocolate Texas sheet cake.)

Hey - whatever works.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Last night, just as we were getting ready to eat supper, Aleita let out a string of sneezes, looked at us in surprise, and then began to laugh out loud.

I looked at her curiously and then said, "what's so funny?"

Still laughing, she answered, "I just sneezed so hard that I made a little pee come out!"

When it comes to a 4-year old, if you are going to ask the quesiton, make sure you that you really want to know the answer.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Jacquelyn, a fellow blogger and good friend of my sister-in-law, Julianne (also a fellow blogger), has "tagged me." The instructions of the tag game were to go the fourth folder in my pictures file on the computer and post the fourth photo. I had to smile when I saw this picture....hard to believe she was ever this little. This picture is Maggie, when she was just a few days old and weighing in at about 6 pounds, along with our good ol' Boxer dog, Dempsey. At the time, Dempsey was a young dog of two years old. His brown coat is very light now, and his black mask has been replaced by white.

For a comparison, I am including another photo that was taken Christmas 2007 of Maggie, Dempsey, and myself. How things change!

The other part of my instruction from Jacquelyn is that I am now supposed to tag a few others - - since Julianne has already been tagged, I can't include her - - but I WILL tag Kristin and Karen.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


On Saturday, Chris and I went into the Club to work out for a little while, and Maggie and Aleita went to the kids' room for the cheapest child care around ($1 per kid while you work out.....though I am thinking - how would they know if I left for a few hours and snuck out to get groceries instead?) Anyway - that afternoon after we got home, Aleita was discussing her morning experience in the kids' room. She mentioned, "I played with Max, Jacob, and Doofus."

I looked at her in surprise and said, "what did you just say?"

She repeated, "I played with Max, Jacob, and Doofus."

I then did the parent-talk that goes into one ear and out the other and reminded her that it isn't nice to call other people names, and how did she feel when other people called her names....blah...blah...blah....

She looked at me with a shocked look on her face and said, "I DIDN'T call anyone a name!"

"Aleita!" I said, "You just called some little boy a doofus!"

She looked at me indignantly and said, "That's his name!"

"Aleita," I said, "there was no one there named 'Doofus'.....Why did you call him that?"

She defensively answered, "His name was so Doofus! I heard his brother call him that so I knew that was his name."

Apparently she thus preceded to call him by his sibling-appointed name of 'Doofus' for the entire time she was there.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Sorry for my lack of colorful commentary lately. Since we have resumed from Christmas break, I am snowed under and simply don't have the time to entertain the masses with the latest installment of what is happening way down yonder in the patch.

I provide instead a pitiful substitute, but one that I do hope will at least stir up some laughs. As the world prepares to bid adieu to the man who is perhaps the least popular President of the free world ever, I thought it only fitting that we should recognize some of those "human" moments that just really brings it home for you what a good ol' boy George W. really is. Enjoy.

Letterman's Top 10 George Bush moments