Thursday, December 25, 2008

Some People Call Me The Space Cowboy

Christmas! We have a family tradition of prolonging the agony. When the kids were younger they always woke up at about 5:30 AM. Today Joe woke up at about 8:00. We always let the kids get into the stockings without parental supervision mainly because we wanted to shower and dress before we started taking pictures. I made a nice breakfast of french toast, bacon, fresh raspberries and juice. After breakfast we went to open presents. Do you get how painfully slow this is for kids who really want to open presents? At this point the kids were dying when they were younger. Joe is now ten so he is used to this routine and he was a pretty good sport about it. By this time it was about 9:30. I figured I better get the turkey in the oven because it takes a long time to open presents. So we didn't get to the tree until around 10:00 AM.

We always open the presents one at a time and that can take a couple of hours. I think we were finished opening presents around noon. My idea is that kids wait all year for this one day. I don't want to rush it and have it all over by 6:05 AM.

I had to make a run to Albertsons because I had forgotten to make or buy cranberry sauce. Turkey, cranberry sauce... I know what you are thinking. Why did Bonnie cook Thanksgiving dinner for Christmas? It was primarily because our pneumonia induced restaurant Thanksgiving feast was so bad that we all still had a hankerin' for the traditional meal and now that I am feeling better I was happy to fix it. As I am posting this blog I have my leftover turkey carcass in the pressure cooker making broth for future use.

Joe got Guitar Hero World Tour and Rock Band for his Wii. When he opened each one I think he wet his pants a little, he was so excited. Today I got to help the band out by singing Hotel California and The Joker. The way the singing works is you get points for singing on time and on pitch, even if you sing the wrong words. Joe really likes being the lead singer but sometimes he needs help from his mom so I am right there especially if I know the words. John and Jeff also like being the lead singer so we had to take turns with the mic.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sometimes I Should Just Keep My Mouth Shut

This is one of those times. The subject is wide spread underage drinking. Why is it condoned by so many? I just attended a Military ball tonight at the Dallas Hyatt Regency where everyone in attendance was served a glass of champagne regardless of age for a toast. I know that at least 3 of the 10 people at our table were underage. One girl was 16. She and her date chugged their toast because it was in front of them, and no one was there to stop them.

The general manager of the hotel happens to live in my neighborhood. Maybe I will call him and ask him about his alcohol policies. I could question the board members who put the ball together. I am sure the answer will be that it was about 4 oz of champagne. What is the big deal? And if I call the police, well the party is over so why don't I just prove it.

But I've tried keeping my mouth shut and I just don't seem to have that talent. That is just the way I am.

I wrote this post about 2 1/2 weeks ago and did not publish while I let the emotion simmer down. Today I published 3 new blogs. The others are a little more uplifting and one contains a bunch of pictures so feel free to check them out.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Dodging Bullets at the Naval Academy

Today Joe had his classroom winter holiday celebration (PC language for Christmas party). I had talked to Mrs. Tomasavic earlier and she wanted John to come and talk to the class about life at the Naval Academy. John wasn't very excited about this. He told me that he hated being voluntold what to do. I like that word and I am going to incorporate it into my vocabulary. While he was complaining about how dumb and unproductive it would be to talk to fifth graders who would have absolutely no interest in the Naval Academy, I had him help me take stuff over to the school for nachos for the party. We happened to be there right on time for John's presentation. Imagine that.

When both fifth grade classes came into the library the boys started peppering John with questions about guns. They were asking him about his experience shooting terrorist machine guns and Marine assault weapons. John had to admit that he only shoots rifles and pistols, and only on the shooting range. Other questions were if John had ever been shot accidentally on the shooting range, and if he had accidentally shot another person or animal haplessly crossing the shooting range while he was practicing shooting. I think one kid asked him if he had ever shot a deer. John showed them his expert medals for rifle and pistol which were pretty impressive. He talked about the food at King Hall and tried to get a fifth grader to do a chow call for the Spring Creek cafeteria. He talked about going to school and taking really hard classes. I didn't hear everything he said because I had to help set up for the party. The teachers were happy because the kids learned something new. The kids were entertained, and we were ready for them when the party started.

I think it is funny that fifth grade boys are so interested in guns. The questions the girls asked had to do with haircuts for the female mids and uniforms. I asked John if there was any upper classman at the Academy with the last name of Bullets. He looked up the mid list and determined that there was not. Darn! That was the only way he could have claimed to be dodging Bullets at the Naval Academy.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

John Is Making Me Fat

I wrote a post a few months ago about how I had been able to wear my tightest jeans with ease. I had attributed my weight loss to walking. Something happened yesterday that has made me rethink my conclusion.

I picked John up from the airport. He was so happy to get home. He has been gone for 6 months. We met Bob for lunch at Mercado Juarez. John has not had decent Mexican food the entire time in Maryland and he knew what he was hungry for good salsa, chips, enchiladas, rice and beans. We also stopped at Sams and Target. John asked if we had tortilla chips at home. Did we have filled pretzels? Did we have Skittles? Well, the list went on. The answer was always, "No, I am watching Joe's weight." It finally occurred to me that I was actually benefiting by keeping Joe on a diet of carrot sticks and hummus.

I know John has huge caloric requirements. I just hope the rest of us can resist temptation.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

An Answer to One Of Life's Most Perplexing Questions

I don't know how things work at you house, but we can never find tape when we need it. I have established a tape zone. I have hidden the goods in a private stash. I have put it on the desk with a dispenser. I have bought 10 rolls at a time hoping that there would be so much tape that certainly it would present itself. But, alas, most of the time when tape is needed I have to run to little Walmart for a roll.

Today I was cleaning up John's room preparing for him to come home tomorrow. It wasn't too bad until I swept under the bed. I found three rolls of scotch tape, a nearly new roll of packing tape, and a nearly new roll of masking tape. I really don't know what he was doing with all of that tape in his room. Whenever he needed a gift wrapped he would come to me claiming that gift wrapping wasn't his talent. I would usually agree to do the job for him. This almost always started the unfruitful hunt for tape. John would give no clue that he was hiding a stash under his bed.

When John was two he asked for tape for Christmas as his main gift. It was pretty cute when Santa had to clarify that Johnny wanted tape, and offered to bring him a few toys too. John seemed to think that tape was not only fun to play with but had some wonderful healing properties. Anytime something would break he would ask me to tape it back together for him. I wish I could have repaired his broken toys with tape but that usually doesn't work.

But I digress. The answer to the question of ,"Where is the tape?" is under John's bed.

I also found a hammer and two phillips screwdrivers,answering a few more of my perplexing questions.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Depression-The Double-Entendre

I was out doing some errands today and my mind wandered onto the subject of the gloomy economic situation because I saw a billboard advertising for patients suffering from depression for a medical/drug study. I thought about how a year ago I probably wouldn't have associated the word depression with the economy. I was particularly thinking about the impending bail-out of the American auto industry. A few short weeks ago the financial sector got the bail-out. Now the Auto industry is asking, and who next? I understand that government intervention is needed under extreme circumstances. If you listen to the news you hear the extreme desperation everywhere. But you all can watch the news and make up your own minds.

As my mind was wandering, I thought about my two grandmothers who weathered the depression while raising families. They had diametrically different political views. My Grandma Bullock was a true blue democrat. I have seen her tear-up at the sound of Ted Kennedy's voice. She would have been for the bail-out. In her personal life she was one of the most charitable people I have ever known. During the Great Depression the down and out were always knocking on her door. She had very little but she could always prepare a sandwich and a drink for anyone who knocked on her door and asked. At her funeral I spoke, and noted how she did the work of the Savior by feeding the hungry. She never wanted to turn anyone away. What if she turned someone away and he happened to be John the Beloved or One of the Three Nephites?

Unfortunately, during a time of need in her life she was turned away. This was in 1938. She and my grandfather had just moved to Mesa, Arizona from Ogden, Utah. Grandpa Bullock had been sick for about a year with a lung ailment. Back then, if you had a respiratory problem the doctors sent you to Arizona for the dry, warm climate. He had a job lined up but he had not been paid yet. The move had cost them more than they had planned, so they were out of money. My mother was still a baby and they had no milk for her. Grandpa Bullock went to the grocery store and asked if they would give him some milk for his baby daughter. He explained the situation and offered to pay them back the next week when he got paid or when his family in Utah sent them an emergency loan. The owner of the grocery store told him to get out of his store and to stop begging. Basically saying, "Don't come back unless you have money. We don't want beggars in our store." Grandpa had to go home and tell Grandma that there would be no milk for the baby that night. Grandma was pretty resourceful though. She had a little white flour so she browned it in a pan and added water to make a really thin Mormon gravy. She put that in the bottle and gave that to my mother. The next day, Grandpa went to a little Chinese grocery store/restaurant. The owner had compassion and gave him milk. They were able to get by with the milk and what they had until they got paid. My grandfather was able to pay him back the next week.

The funny part of this story is that Grandpa Bullock's new job was the Health Inspector for the City of Mesa. He told me that the grocers who turned him away ran the filthiest meat and dairy department in town. He was constantly writing them up for infractions. He witnessed them putting water in the cottage cheese to bump up the weight. He noticed evidence of rodents. He was a thorn in their side from 1938 until 1972 when he retired. He also told me that the Chinese Grocer ran the cleanest store/restaurant in town. So maybe he wasn't John the Beloved, but you never know who you are turning away.

Grandma and Grandpa Stockam were staunch Republicans. It is almost as if Self Reliance was their religion. They would rather starve than ask for or receive help from the government or anyone. They came to Arizona from Oklahoma in 1932. This was at the time of the dust bowl when immigrants from Oklahoma were going to California. Think Grapes of Wrath.Grandpa Stockam suffered from a respiratory ailment also. So they would always distinguish themselves from all of those poor Okies who were relocating for economic reasons, because they were relocating for health reasons. They sold everything they had in Oklahoma and bought a truck. Grandpa had to teach himself how to drive. Evidently it was pretty scary. Grandma had little faith in the car and probably less in Grandpa's driving abilities because when they got to the top of a hill Grandma took herself and all of her kids out of the car. Grandpa would drive down the hill while the family walked. He would wait for them at the bottom of the hill and prepare lunch or set up camp, whatever the time of day required. Then all of the family would pack into the car to go up the next hill. At that pace it took them over a year to get to Arizona. They picked crops along the way. They broke down in New Mexico for several months until they could raise enough money to fix the truck.

They raised 11 children by picking cotton and raising dairy cattle. This was where the 11 kids came in handy. They milked by hand and picked cotton by hand. They had few material possessions and life was hard. But this is the way they thought it should be. I haven't heard of Grandma Stockam feeding the hungry except for those 11 hungry kids who ate beans and biscuits almost every night by the sweat of their brows and the labor of their hands. Maybe the down and out knew that if they came knocking on the Stockam's door the best they could hope for would be cold beans on a cold biscuit sandwich.

My father and his twin brother were the 9th and 10th children. They were born about 3months early and weighed about 5 pounds between the two of them. Chances of success in 1936 of that small of babies was pretty low. Fortunately they were able to afford Borden brand sweetened condensed milk which they mixed with water and put in a bottle. If any of you are familiar with sweetened condensed milk you know how much sugar those babies were getting. The babies thrived on the high sugar diet. The Borden company heard about the success and sent out representatives to try to use the twins in a advertising campaign. They were trying to offer my grandparents thousands of dollars to take pictures of the twins and tell their story. Grandma Stockam got really angry at this. She kicked them out of her house and told them that she didn't need their charity. Obviously, she had never been to business school. She couldn't imagine anyone giving her money if she didn't have to work like a pack mule for it. She could not envision the reality of intangible assets. I think I can safely say that if she were alive today she would be drastically opposed to the bail-out.

Last Saturday we rented the movie Kit Kitteridge American Girl. This is a movie about a 10 year old girl who gets to make it through the depression. She and her family have to do things they would never have imagined just to keep up with the mortgage payment. I know it sounds like a kid's movie but I really liked it. Joe liked it too even though he is a boy, so the message seems to transcend age and gender limits. If you see this movie you will have to notice Kit's friend Ruthie. Joe thinks she is hot.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

White Elephant Ideas

Today I went to the Spring Creek PTA Board Christmas party hosted by my friend Cathleen. It was really fun. Every year we do a white elephant gift exchange. My contribution this year was a couple of gold fish which cost 12 cents each, a glass bowl pulled out of my cupboard, some tap water conditioner and some gold fish food. Total out of pocket--$5.26. There was a $10.00 limit so I was well under. I can't say it was the most popular gift, but it might have been if it were picked earlier or if it were a different crowd. My sense of humor is a little more warped than the standard woman's sense of humor.

Here are some other great ideas. How about keeping your eye open during the year for some really big sized or outlandishly weird panties or a bra? Just make sure no one sees you bring it in. Also you need to act really appalled that any one would dare put such an inappropriate gift in the exchange. Another idea is to wrap up your husband's most prized possession if he is going to the White elephant with you. Wouldn't that be a hoot? I think you would need to video his reaction. A couple of years ago John put a picture of himself with a huge braces style smile and giving the double thumbs up. Kyle, the 14 year old boy who got it was pretty surprised. Not even John's girlfriend at the time traded for the picture. Low-Blow! She didn't remain his girlfriend very long. Just a hint to any girl out there, if your husband or boyfriend puts a framed picture of himself in a White Elephant make sure you steal it and then jealously guard it so that no one will steal it from you. This may require your best academy award winning performance but it could be worth it.

I would love to hear of any other great ideas so feel free to comment.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Oprah's Big Revelation


Today Oprah has come out of the closet and confessed that she has gained 40 pounds. I know she thinks she is stunning us with this big revelation but seriously, who didn't guess she had gained weight. There are some things you can't hide from the public. She has been wearing loose fitting, sweat pant-style clothes for over a year. On top of everything, this is who she is. She gains weight and loses it all of the time. No one is shocked. No one is saying,"But she said she was so done with the yo-yo diet." There seem to be a few solutions to ending the yo-yo dieting cycle but they require death at a low spot, surgical intervention, or just giving up.

Almost every woman has to diet and work hard at looking good and being healthy. Call it a yo-yo diet, call it a lifestyle change, call it whatever you want. When we cease to engage in it we end up with an out of control weight problem. There may be reasons to avoid dieting. I know I have had valid reasons. But the result is never pretty no matter how good the reason. The solution is always a major course correction.

Good luck on your big lifestyle-change this year, Oprah. And good luck when you do it again in a few years.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Looks Like Navy Wins Again, Kaydet Chump

Today Joe, Bob and I went to Cool River restaurant to join a watching party for the Army-Navy game. It was a good old fashioned spanking of 34 to 0 Navy. Traditionally, West Point fans meet up for the game, but not even one showed up. That was pretty much the way it was on the field in Philadelphia.

A guy sat at our table who graduated from Annapolis in 1960. His father had gone to USNA and graduated in 1931 and died during WW2. So he grew up in a single parent home. When he went to USNA it was really tough for him to get used to grown men yelling at him every day. I thought about this and realized that when my father was insistent that I go to the Naval Academy in 1978 I declined because I had no desire to be yelled at by grown men on a continual basis. I woke up every day while growing up to a grown man yelling at me to hit the deck. This was the way it started, and continued along the same vein for the rest of the day, day, after day, after day. By the time I was 18 I had a belly-full and was ready to move on. It is pretty amazing how the mind of an 18 year-old works and how so much of life revolves around our choices and preferences at that time of our lives.

Right before the game started President Bush walked out onto the field and all of the Navy fans at the restaurant erupted into a spontaneous round of clapping and cheering. I wonder how the response will be next year for Obama.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Free Skate at the Galleria and My Newish Purse

This morning when I was reading the paper I found a notice that today was free skate at the Galleria. Even the skate rental was gratis. I called about 3 of Joe's friends to try to find a buddy with whom to share the joy but I couldn't find any takers so the two of us packed up and went, planning to meet Bob when he could get there. As soon as Joe hit the ice he had a great time. I am going to blame the fact that I am still recovering from pneumonia as to why I stayed on the sidelines to watch. Bob doesn't have that excuse. If I wasn't going to pull out my well worn pneumonia note I would use the lame excuse that Ice skating makes my feet hurt.



Joe did pretty good at skating. He has only ice skated once before so I wasn't expecting much. He figured out how to go fast and then he started trying to do tricks like spins.



At about 9:30 PM Bob and I decided it was time to go but our little lunch bucket was having too much fun. He kept coming up to the sidelines and asking for water so I finally told him that as soon as his glass of water was gone we were gone also. He started to take really small sips of water, but eventually with a few gulps on my part all of the water was gone and we left. Joe thinks he would like to take ice skating lessons if he could find a friend willing to go with him. We shall see.



I got this purse at the end of October when I was in Chicago with Megan. I got it at Macy's. It is a Fossil. I got it on a good sale with a coupon. The reason I am bringing this up is because I have had so many women admire my purse. I like it too. But, I am not kidding, the only people who have told me they like my purse are African American women. They will cross the store admire it. I don't know what this says about my tastes. I admit I like bold colorful purses and shoes. I better double check the genealogy.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wish It Tasted More Like Chicken


I voted for Luby's but Bob wanted more of a buffet style meal so we went to Palominos. The first mistake I made was to put what I thought was a scoop of dressing on my plate. I took a bite and realized it tasted like fish. It was actually a crab cake. I had to go rinse out my mouth. So I went back and asked for the location of the dressing. The lady pointed to the grayish goo next to the overcooked turkey drying out under the heat lamp and next to what they may have called gravy with floating carrot nuggets. The bad thing is that everything except for the pumpkin pie tasted like fish.


Okay, I didn't go for the food. I wanted to spend time with my family. Joe loaded up on fried chicken nuggets and was almost too full to eat anything else. Jeff talked him into getting a rib.


But like I said, Joe was really stuffed and had to rest up for dessert. Bob and Jeff came up with a plan that they could just take a nap there at the restaurant and in a few hours be ready for seconds. I didn't get why anyone would even think about making plans to get more of that delicious food. Joe laid there until Bob came back with pumpkin pie then all of the sudden he had the energy to get dessert.


Have you ever noticed that if you are trying to avoid having your picture taken you end up having a really bad picture taken? Bob, you might as well pose and smile and look like the handsome guy you really are.


But as long as I am talking about Bob I feel compelled to reveal that he has accused me of somehow paying off the doctor for the signed note excusing me from fixing Thanksgiving dinner. There is no money trail so I guess I got away with it.


After dinner we sat around a while just enjoying each other's company before we went home for the requisite nap. When the guys wake up we are going to Quantum Of Solace. How successful would I be if I surprised everyone and bought tickets to Twilight instead?

I am really looking forward to making a great dinner for Christmas. I never do a turkey because I hate to repeat Thanksgiving but I am really tempted to do it this year since it will not be a repeat.

John will be home for Christmas as long as he doesn't do any egregious act at the Naval Academy bad enough to get his holiday leave cancelled but not so bad to be separated from the service. Megan and Chris might be here too! Just imagine the Karaoke party on Christmas Eve.

All of this resting is doing me good. I went through all of the Black Friday ads and my adrenaline is pumping! This is a year when Walmart seems to be the place to be tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Cancelled

On Friday, after meeting Joe at school, I had an appointment with my doctor. I had been coughing and quite honestly, I could not walk across the street without becoming winded and having to sit down for 15 minutes to rest up from the exertion. He took a chest x-ray and informed me that I have pneumonia. I told him I was glad that I was in on Friday so that I could get the antibiotics so that I could be ready to do the Thanksgiving thing this week. He blew a gasket and told me that this was serious, that it wasn't like strep, and there was now way I was going to be well enough to be cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

So how does a healthy gal get pneumonia? I blame myself. I had been doing my famous Feast or Famine diet and it was a famine day. I went to bed kind of hungry and woke up about an hour later really hungry. I had a tin of cashews by my bed and grabbed a handful then went right back to sleep. I woke up two hours later choking on acid reflux. I must have aspirated the acid which started the downhill spiral. The lesson to be learned from this is either don't go to bed hungry, don't eat a snack while sleeping, or if you wake up hungry just go back to sleep. At least I am not contagious.

I've been taking the medicine since Friday and today is the first day that I am starting to feel better. I still have to rest up a lot and I am trying not to exert myself. And there is now only one day left until the big day.

I guess we will go to Luby's or something. Jeff volunteered to do all of the work, but I let him know that you have to shop for about two days and cook for about three days to get the entire meal done by yourself. He had a hard time believing this. All of that work for a thirty minute meal and 4 days of leftovers.

Okay, I am the type of person who makes my own cornbread several days in advance because I can't imagine buying those prefab seasoned bread crumbs. If you read my last post you also know that I am the type of person who grows my own herbs. It is this way with everything I make for the meal. It is all fresh, and made from scratch, not a store bought pie in the place. And I really enjoy the process.

Fortunately, I get to have a vicarious Thanksgiving experience this year through my daughter. She is going to cook a turkey! I've already given her thawing advice. I tried to convince her to go fresh but she refused. I'm not going to give her brining lessons or anything complicated. The goal is to get the turkey perfectly roasted in Michigan while I am on the phone in Texas. What a cooking challenge!

You can imagine that after the doctor specifically told me not to cook Thanksgiving dinner I did not broach the subject of Black Friday. I figure if he did not specifically forbid the activity then maybe I could use my own judgement to see if I am feeling up to the task. I have been checking out the ads online but I haven't crafted the battle plan yet. I will probably make two sets of plans. One that includes me if I am feeling okay and one that instructs Bob and Jeff down to the last minute detail about my expectations.

Yes, you read it right. Bob has been converted to Black Friday shopping and has been a devotee for several years. So in a year when I have to cancel Thanksgiving I still have something for which I can be grateful.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cilantro Secrets Revealed and Love is Still the Same in the 5th Grade

 

I had complained about my anemic cilantro over a month ago and just look at what happened. I can't take credit for this. Evidently, cilantro likes a cool climate. It is healthy and robust and I really enjoy using it in cooking and salads.

 

My Italian parsley did well in the heat but it is doing even better in cooler weather.

 

The Purple basil likes the heat and cooler weather too. My regular Italian basil and lemon basil are now looking sickly and are going to seed.

 
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I met Joe and Daniel at school today for the annual Thanksgiving Feast. I was totally entertained by the antics of fifth graders. Alexis was trying to sit by Dillon but about 3 or 4 minutes after she sat next to him he would switch tables. She would wait about 45 seconds so she wouldn't give herself away and then she would go to his new table. Then three other fifth grade girls would follow her, until he switched tables again. This went on for about 40 minutes.


This is a picture of Joe with Alexis in line waiting to get their trays. Joe and Daniel happily informed me that they and Paul are the only boys Alexis does not have a crush on in the forth and fifth grades. I was having a great time and wished Bob was there to enjoy the dinner and show. I decided to buy him a tray of Spring Creek's finest cuisine and heat it up for him in the microwave for dinner tonight. I am even going to give him my extra milk. Now that is love. I know how to catch a man.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Feast or Famine compared to the Morning Banana Diet

Every year after Halloween Deanna, Megan and I go on a diet. We have developed this over the past few years. We started out eating yogurt, coconut granola, salad with no dressing and maybe some chicken. That was the first year. We can't eat yogurt without gagging and the granola, while yummy, created some pretty severe gastro-intestinal problems, emphasis on the gas. So we have evolved. Now we drink a light and fit yogurt smoothie every morning while eating a banana and a handful of cashews for breakfast. Lunch is a simple low carb meal, like tuna lettuce wraps. We tried pretending to eat dinner the first year by pushing the food back and forth on our plates so no one would notice but some how the food was always miraculously gone. So now we just try to eat another low carb/ low fat meal. We skip dessert and skip snacks. We allow ourselves one feast a week. We call this diet the Feast or Famine Diet. So, when we go to a bunch of holiday parties we have to choose just one a week to eat whatever we want. At the other parties we just hang out at the vegetable tray.

By the time Christmas rolls around we are pretty famished but we generally lose about 5 pounds each for our effort. But the pounds are actually more valuable than meets the eye. Do you realize that most women gain about ten pounds during that same period? If I am down 5 pounds I am actually down 15 pounds because I have to add in my projected weight gain. This is new math at its best.

A lot of people say that they are just going to try to not gain weight during the holidays. I have found that this just doesn't work for me and I haven't really seen anyone else who has been successful with this tactic. For me, during the holidays, if I am not actively losing weight, I am gaining weight.

We were experimenting for the last few weeks trying out the Japanese Morning Banana Diet but we just felt too hungry. The Morning Banana diet is all of the rage in Japan right now. I have read that it is hard to even find bananas in that country. This is the basic diet: eat 1,2 or 3 bananas for breakfast with a glass of tap water. Eat whatever you want for lunch. Eat a 3:00 PM snack. Eat whatever you want for dinner. Don't eat anything after 8:00 PM. The press is that a lot of Japanese people are losing weight, as if they need to lose weight. Sounds easy, but I just can't seem to make it without breaking the diet at about 9:30 AM. On the other hand there is something magical about the morning combination of yogurt, bananas and nuts. I don't seem to get hungry until after 2:00 PM.

One added benefit to the Feast or Famine Diet is that in January when the diet is officially over everyone else is trying to take off ten pounds and no one is tempting us with rich food at every turn. It is like having a 6 week grace period after the diet.

It is not bad to be on a diet this time of year. It gives me an excuse and a reason to plan my holiday eating. I actually talk to people at the parties and when I go home I have self respect. Also it makes me very picky about the time I choose to have the feast. For example, if I am planning a feast and get to the party and the food is gross or just mediocre, I change my feast day.

After explaining the beauty of this plan I have to admit that I really look forward to Christmas every year. I think I may be just as excited as the four year-olds. I finally get to eat carbs! I am not really interested in what is under the tree unless someone would wrap me up a package of rolls with butter.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Becoming A Real Boy


Jeff came home from Houston this weekend. His wallet had been stolen and he was trying to reestablish his identity. When you lose everyting you just are not a real person. He had lost his birth certificate and social security card sometime during his stint in the navy. I had ordered a copy of his birth certificate because as the mother I am entitled to get one from the State of Alaska. When he got home the first thing we did was get his driver's license. This was a lot easier than Jeff thought it would be. Maybe if you bring your birth certificate and your mom and you still resemble the picture on your original license, that is enough. Next we went to get a new social security card. The only reason he was able to get that was because he could answer all of the questions like birth date, mother's maiden name...The guy said the Birth Certificate proved little, only that someone had been born. The concern was that some unscrupulous people are going around overtaking the social security numbers of people who have died.

He waited around until yesterday to see if his ATM card had come in. No, things like that never come in as quickly as you need them. Jeff left this morning and I will have to mail him his goods when they come in. I had to do this routine for myself last January when I left my wallet and phone in a restroom in Gallop, New Mexico on my way home from Las Vegas. I never found anything and had to cancel and replace all of my cards. This experience has made me be more careful. I gave Jeff a smaller wallet with a chain. I am not blaming Jeff for getting ripped off but if he carries around that double sized wallet that is exposed in his back pants pocket, he is really tempting every pick pocket in sight. Discreet wallets seem a lot less tempting to me.

Jeff took Joe to see Kung Fu Panda on Saturday night. They made up a new recipe called a ravioli omelet. I am pretty sure it is an omelet with ravioli filling. Not too tempting to me but Joe just can't stop raving about it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Bad Day Defined

After stewing in my disappointment about Obama's victory I was about to do a blog about how ugly Michelle Obama's dress was last night during his acceptance speech. I mean the dress was just screaming "Instantly slims you 10 pounds." As if our eyes were going to be drawn to the red splotchy inset instead of the wide black side panels trying to hide her over-sized hips. Had she truly been convinced her husband was going to win, perhaps she should have gone on a diet to lose ten pounds instead of buying a horrid dress to do the job. He has been way up in the polls for over a month. That is enough time to take care that fashion problem. As I was trying to figure out how to get her picture on my blog I found out that many other people felt the same way about the future first lady's style and have written extensively about it, so I am freed up to help all of my fellow Republicans put this into perspective.

Tonight I went to a visitation. Our Elementary Principal's baby daughter died this weekend from SIDS. I think she was about 4 months old. I looked at the collage someone had put together and there was little Emily dressed up as a Tootsie Roll for Halloween. From what I understand, she had been put down for a nap on Saturday night and she never woke up.

Jennifer is a pretty popular principal with a lot of friends and connections. I could hardly find a parking space at the mortuary. The flowers were beautiful. Emily was beautiful, but this was really sad. Jennifer is really holding up well considering the circumstances.

I wish I could throw her a lifeline and tell her that the road ahead is not going to be tough but that would be a lie. I can only welcome her to the club. This is how parents who have lost a child define the special bond we have with other people who have lost children. It is a fraternity that no one wants to join because the initiation fee is way too high. But once you are in, you have some friends who can really help you like no one else because they have been through it before.

I don't know of any other group of people who could understand why I didn't wear a seat belt for two years after Matthew died. I purposely did not put one on because I figured if I were to get in a wreck or hit by a drunk driver, I wanted the result to be big. It is not as if I was purposely trying to end my life, its just that I was not going to let an opportunity to pass to the other side slip by because of a mere safety precaution. See, I told you that only club members would get this.

Another characteristic of club members is that we don't feel that our families are in that protective bubble. When someone is late and I don't hear from them I automatically assume they have been killed in a car crash. This was a pretty tough road for the teen drivers in our family. As a matter of fact, when Megan was a senior she was in a car that was totalled by one of her friends. As the crash was occurring the last thought going through her mind was, "Mom, is going to be so mad about this." Fortunately, everyone walked away from the wreck. I was feeling guilty about making my kids feel guilty about dying. But then I came to the conclusion that I truly felt this way and I couldn't apologize for that.

I was telling a non-club member about how I try to live my life with no regrets. I realize that every time I kiss my husband or children goodbye it might be for the last time. She tried to see my point but told me that it would be impossible to live life that way without faith in the future. I tried to see her point, but as a club member I have left the Garden of Eden. I know by personal experience that my family is not exempt from death.

One of the best lessons I have learned from all of this is the definition of a Bad Day. A bad day is when your child dies or you have to go to your kid's funeral or viewing. I haven't had a bad day since May of 1996. Every other problem pales in comparison to a truly bad day. I love mundane days. I am grateful every time we get back from a road-trip and nothing major happened. I can tolerate failure and disappointments because its not the end of the world. As long as my kids are here there is hope for the future. Occasionally, I break through and everything works according to plan. When this happens I am having a good day. And rarely, life goes better than expected. Maybe this is the definition of a beautiful day.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Sarah Palin Visits Far North Dallas and Holds a Mini- Election for Trick Or Treaters On Our Front Porch


I decided to ditch the normal Halloween decorations and breakout the Fourth of July decorations. I filled the slushie machine with red and blue slushies. I dressed up in a red suit and put on a flag pin and flag earrings, put my hair in an updo and greeted my little guests as Sarah Palin.


It was pretty fun! Sarah is very easy to imitate with her Canadian-style accent and catchy colloquialisms. She gives us way too much material.

When the kids came up to the door I shook their hands and introduced myself as Sarah Palin, down from Alaska, campaigning for the McCain-Palin ticket. I then offered them a chance to vote for president by choosing a red slushie for the McCain-PALIN ticket or choosing a blue slushie for Brock Obama. If a kid picked the blue slushie I had to inform him that he would only be getting half of the slushie because I was going to give the other half to poor children whose daddies make a whole lot less money than his daddy makes. I explained that I didn't think the kids got the whole pie analogy because kids don't really like pie, but they like slushies so maybe they could understand what this election is all about.

At this point most of the kids changed their minds and decided they really wanted a red slushie. Of course, several kids stuck to their guns and said they didn't care if they were only getting half a slushie, they were voting for Brock. I didn't make any kids cry but there were a lot of conflicted kids. What should you do if you really like blue slushies but you want McCain to win? Most kids bit the bullet and got the color of their favorite candidate. Well, isn't that the way it goes in politics? I guess this is good training for the future for all of these pre-adults.

Some parents apologized for their kids if they choose a color of slushie not in keeping with the family political philosophy. These kids were usually pretty young and either couldn't read, or just didn't care. They were just choosing the most delicious slushie. The parents usually enjoyed the show. The Dems thought that I was making a joke of Sarah Palin's stupidity. I got corrected for misspelling Brock's name. I had to claim innocence, "You mean he's not an American?" The Republicans thought I was putting the whole thing in terms so simple that even a child could understand. I haven't heard any complaints and my house did not get egged last night so I don't think I offended anyone.

I think CNN and all of the other political pollsters have it wrong. According to my very scientific and accurate poll, the McCain-Palin ticket is going to kick-butt on Tuesday. As proof, I have a whole freezer full of blue slushies that I could not even give away.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bad News For the Target Crowd

I went to Target to try to find a flag pin for my Sarah Palin costume today. Fortunately, I have a red suit left from my Relief Society President days. I stopped at the snack bar to get a pretzel combo. I was going to drink the diet coke and I was getting Joe the pretzel for his after school snack. The saleslady rang it up and said, "$2.71, please." "There has to be a mistake. The reader board says that the cost is $2.00." She tried to convince me that the difference was sales tax. I told her there was no way sales tax was that high. Then she confessed that the price had just gone up that day to $2.50 and that the board had not been changed yet to reflect the increased price. Somehow she was able to over come the system and charge me $2.17, including tax. But here is the problem. The cost on all of the $2.00 combos at Target are going up to $2.50! So if you want to get your combos for $2.00 you had better run in before they change up the boards, and bring a calculator to prove their math is wrong. And all of this had to happen just when Chris had come around to really enjoying Target.

Just in case you were wondering, I couldn't find a flag pin at Target. I wonder if they will be able to survive the bad economy with two red flags in one day.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Newest Member of the Straight-A club



This is a picture of Joe at Sky Ranch. He went to Sky Ranch October 15, 16, and 17th.

Joe came home from school today and was so excited. He had a paper that I just had to look at. It was his progress report and he had all A's! I told him that I was very proud of him. He has had to really try hard and study in school. He is one of the youngest kids in his class and he has an older mom who is pretty laid back now compared with how I used to be. He had the same surprise for Bob when he came home. "Look at this paper, Look at this paper, Dad!" We love to look at those kind of papers any day of the week.

So I am going to have to ask his Aunt Deanna for an invitaion to the Lost party for the straight-A crowd.. He is willing to be Jack!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Wicked Weekend In The Windy City

I arrived at O'Hare last Friday morning. I was meeting Megan and Chris for a late Birthday celebration for Megan. We had been planning on doing something like this for about two years. I got on the train at the airport and headed for downtown Chicago because Megan and Chris were still on their way. As I sat on the train looking out at the city scape I noticed something terribly wrong with the trees. They were discolored and losing leaves. I was contemplating what terrible disease was spreading and how the arborists were going to handle the blight and how the tree services were possibly going to be cutting down affected trees, when it occurred to me that it was just autumn and leaves fall off trees in autumn. I had just flown in from Dallas where we don't experience leaf change until December so I was in the wrong paradigm.

 

Whats up with the sickly trees?

 

Chris is just a lucky guy! We went to Barnes and Noble and put our names in the witches hat to see if we could win the lottery to buy front row seats for $25. Chris's name was pulled out of the hat. Having seen Wicked twice, he was not anxious to see it again. He allowed me and Megan to go to the show while he opted to watch the Michigan Game at the ESPN Game Zone. I just love this musical! My only criticism was that Fiaro was too short. It just doesn't seem right when Fiaro is a Munchkin. I want a tall, good-looking, Fiaro with a lot of charisma.

 

We went out on a boat ride on Lake Michigan and up the river. On the lake the temp dropped a good ten degrees. I was prepared with three coats so I didn't freeze. We brought a lunch with us and had a picnic while on our 90 minute cruise. Chris was some what hesitant about the picnic, but the bacon, bagel, and cream cheese sandwiches were fresh. The chips were BBQ Kettle. How can you go wrong with bottled water and bananas? I even packed donuts for dessert. The guide provided us with lots of Chicago historical and architectural information. At first I went to placate Chris. He had suffered through two days of shopping on Michigan Avenue without a complaint. What a trooper. I have to say that the boat ride was one of the more fun things we did on the trip. Not that shopping wasn't fun. It seems like every major retailer has a flagship store on the Miracle Mile.

 

Chris and I are standing next to each other near the bean in a downtown Chicago park. The bean is highly polished and very reflective and you can actually go inside of it.

Another highlight of the trip was the Hershey Store. They make the most incredibly delicious cupcakes. We bought one almost everyday and split it between us. When you buy this cupcake you are getting a cupcake and a show because the Hersheyizer has a cute but somewhat sadistic personality which comes out when she makes a cupcake.


I carried the cupcakes home for Joe and Bob. Joe has decided that I am not going to Chicago without him in the future. Joe made his cupcake last 4 days. That boy has been seriously deprived of sweets.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Clean and Mean

Today as Joe was getting ready to go to school I had to remind him to brush his teeth and wear socks. Bob had to remind him to wear deodorant. Last night we had to remind him to take a bath after football practice. Another challenge that I am usually successful with is getting Joe to wear clean clothes. He is okay with taking his dirty clothes out of the hamper and re wearing them. He did this last Friday with his Spring Creek shirt. He had worn it under his football jersey during practice earlier in the week. I did not notice until he got home from school. Let's just say that I was tempted to burn the shirt, but Joe had become accustomed to his aroma so he could not smell the problem.

I know Joe is ten and he needs these constant reminders about personal hygiene. I am relatively certain that in a year or two he will be motivated to take care of these things on his own. I remember what got me motivated to take care of my personal hygiene was the help I received from all of my 6th grade friends. Okay, they were real jerks but I got the point! Wash you hair everyday even though your parents tell you to wash you hair once a week. Bathe daily even though your parents tell you to bathe once a week. I am not sure why people in my parent's generation bathed and washed their hair so infrequently. Maybe it was a combination of depression thinking along with a desert-rancher lifestyle. Wear deodorant everyday and carry an extra bottle in case it fails in the middle of the day. Try to wear clothes from the right decade and make sure they are clean. Brush your teeth twice a day. Use mouthwash and carry mints. Keep your hair combed and carry a comb with you to fix things in the middle of the day.

My point is that what your parents fail to teach you, or what you fail to learn from them, or those things they teach you incorrectly, your pals in 6th grade will help teach you these valuable lessons and make the necessary corrections. It is never kind and never gentle but it is effective. Joey is still in fifth grade but next year he will be in the sixth grade. This is why I am confident that Joe will eventually end up with good hygiene.

Feel free to share how your 6th grade friends helped you become a more hygienic person in the comments. I know I am not the only one who was taught valuable lessons. If you would rather share stories about your kids or your brothers and sisters that would be great. They will never see this blog! But if they do see it they will think it is funny. I promise.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Its All About The Jeans

I always put away my jeans about the middle of April and I don't pull them on until about the middle of October. Yesterday I saw the weather forecast and decided that it was time to break out the long pants because the morning temperatures were in the mid-50's. I put on a pair of Calvin Klein's that fit me perfectly in April and went to do my hair. As I stood there with my curling iron I noticed that the jeans were sitting too low and that there were hands full of fabric on the backs of my thighs. I was amazed! They were too big! I quickly went to my dresser and found the jeans that I can usually only wear right after I have had a serious round of the stomach flu. I put them on and zipped them up. I did not even have to lay down on the bed and use a hanger to get the zipper up.

This is a new one for me. Usually October finds me searching for the biggest jeans in the dresser, laying on the bed...vowing to go on a diet. So what has made the difference? I have been walking almost every morning. I only walk for a mile and a half. I keep thinking that I need to do more but maybe not. I have a walking partner, Debbie Pope who meets me at 6:05 AM at one of the local high school tracks. We walk at a moderately fast pace. I can actually jog a lap without stopping but I usually do not.

I started walking this summer when I signed Joey up for Running Club through the City of Richardson. I had chased him around the track the year before and I decided that the $40 price tag for some one else to motivate my child to exercise for an hour a day for two months was a great bargain. So while Coach Armond was working with about 15 kids, most of the mommies would walk around the track. Okay, there were two mommies who ran around the track but they were not in my league. At the end of July Debbie and I decided to keep going. It was pretty painful then because it was so hot. There were a few days when we only walked one mile because of the sweltering heat and humidity, without a wind to cool us off. We brought Joey and CeCe with us until school started. It really motivates me to get out there if I know someone is waiting for me. I have been walking regularly for over 4 months now.




This is a picture of Debbie P. She is an intelligent, consistent and fun walking partner. She has a blog which you can access through her website at www.hamtam.com




CeCe came to Joey's birthday party this summer.

I put on my skinny jeans and went to a PTA board meeting. While there one of the board members brought a scrap book from 12 years ago. I found a picture of Megan performing in her 6th grade Christmas program and I found a picture of myself. I was going through such a hard time after Matthew died that I gained a lot of weight. At the time I was jogging 5 miles a day but still gaining. After I quit jogging I gained even more and ended up about 100 pounds over weight. I was really glad that I had a great moment with the skinny jeans before remembering how dark and dismal those days were. Unfortunately my weight has always been an indicator of my mood. I was reading in the paper two days ago that statistically the best way to lose weight is to get divorced. You actually lose personal weight in addition to that 170 pounds of ugly fat you have been dragging around called your ex-spouse. The emotional strain just takes away your appetite, unless you are like me.

Okay, now for the bad news. I am either going to have to buy a few more skinny jeans or gain weight because I only have the one pair. There is also the question of what I will wear now after I have a stomach flu. Can you all remind Bob how lucky he is to have me around because after he reads this his eyes will be rolling back into his head. I have been so many sizes.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Ship Called Liberty

I texted John today with the quick note feature asking, "How is it going?" I got the reply, "Terrible." "Whats wrong?" "Everything."

There is nothing like this type of exchange to prompt an immediate call from a concerned parent. My call found him in the library, unable to speak much above a whisper. He told me he really could not talk but the cause of all of his distress was that it was Master Chief Week and that he had to go. I assured him that I was going to send a care package that I had been putting together for him for a few weeks so that he at least has something to look forward to this week.

I have tried to find out what Master Chief Week is but nothing pops up on the USNA website or even on a google search. I am going to assume that the company Master Chief gets to put the company in order as she sees fit during this week. Normally the first class students(seniors)are in charge. The Academy is a laboratory for leadership where the upperclassmen get to practice on the underclassmen. The Master Chief is actually an enlisted sailor whose job at the Academy is to make sure certain jobs, especially military discipline,are accomplished in the laboratory. John let me know that his Master Chief is especially into the plebes doing sanitation detail. This has never been John's forte even though he was required to do this chore for about 6 years at home. He is just so clean. He hates to get his hands or clothes dirty from drippy garbage. Imagine John taking out the trash in a uniform which will be inspected.

He also had to switch to uncomfortable winter uniforms today, adding to his misery. In addition, he is not allowed to stay in his room during the day, but if he happens to be in his room to change or something, his room has to pass an Alpha inspection. I suppose that was why he was in the library when I called him today. From a parent's perspective, I know he will get more mid-day study done in the library as opposed to his room. But I am sure that he would disagree.

Well, they can't kill him and they can't stop time, so this too shall pass. Maybe I should remember this when I get trapped in those Master Chief Weeks in my own life when everything seems so dismal.

I reminded him in a note that I sent with the care package that he really is doing well academically. He is not on Ac probation as are many plebes right now. He still has town liberty privileges which he treasures.

This reminds me of a funny story when we went to see John during Plebe Parent Weekend. He finally got his mobile phone back after a six week enforced break. He had not been off of the yard for the entire Plebe Summer and he was just so elated to finally be getting off campus. He immediately texted all of his friends, "I'm on Liberty!" Ryan Vissotski texted back, "Great! What's Liberty?" His friend Andy Thursten texted back, "Is Liberty a ship?"

Last week was Beat Air Force Week. John really liked that week because he got to walk in the halls instead of chopping(jogging) because he taped Beat Air force on the bottom of his shoes. There were several other privileges that the company kept losing and earning back. Pranks were pulled on the visiting Air Force Cadet in John's company. They switched out all of his uniforms for Navy Whites so that was all he had to wear. The Midshipmen visiting at the USAF Academy built a mock submarine in a courtyard. On the bad side, one of John's room mates got arrested for robbing the Mid Store while he was out pulling a reconnaissance mission to paint a statue on the yard. Later he was released because it was a case of mistaken identity.

This whole experience is such an emotional roller coaster. I have always preferred the sure and steady course, but I don't always get what I want.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Megan Hits the Big 2-4

Twenty four years ago today Megan was born into the world in Anchorage, Alaska. I was such a proud mother. I knew that I had the most beautiful baby in the world. She was 8 pounds 5 ounces and was about 20 inches long. She had a big, thick swath of black hair. This seems funny, but I could swear she was born with a tan.

She was hungry from day one. I didn't have any other children to compare her with but it seemed like she cried a lot. I later realized this was not my imagination. If she was not eating or sleeping, she was crying. But I did not mind. It was really difficult to find a babysitter though.

I remember taking her into the mall with me when she was a couple weeks old because I had a gift certificate to a certain store. Fortunately, she was sleeping so that meant she was not crying. I put her down on the counter to complete the transaction. A couple of women came by and thought she was a doll for sale and were musing over her life-like characteristics and wondering what the cost would be. Now that I tell that story I wonder why I didn't have her in a stroller, why I put her on a counter, now that I know how easily a baby can fall off. I am a much better mom now and I am grateful that I had a wonderful, forgiving daughter to practice on.

After my mother died a month and a half ago I was contemplating my own miserably bleak childhood. I realized I have had several perfect childhoods with my own children as they were and are growing up. I finally got to take piano lessons three times. I got to play on a bunch of sports teams with great uniforms and important life lessons. I got to play the oboe, the trumpet, the drums, the acoustic guitar, and the electric guitar. I have had more toys than I could have ever possibly imagined. I had big boxes of new crayons, markers with ink, glue, tape, and blank paper to draw on instead of notebook paper. I have worn stylish clothes and had great haircuts. I listened to popular music. I got to buy books at the Scholastic Book Fair. I was the center of about four birthday parties each year. Just think of it this way, the lady with the cake gets a lot of attention. I got to swim, run, jump, and even pole vault! I could go on, but I think I have made my point. At the end of the day, I can say that I was able to share in the rich, full childhood experiences that I had longed for with my children, and I am grateful that they have shared their lives with me.

Happy Birthday Sweetheart! I love you.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bonnie, Bonnie, Mom of Johnny, How does your Garden Grow?

I dedicated a small spot of my garden this year to herbs. After reviewing our family eating habits I think I better put more of our space to this use next year. I use herbs almost everyday. When you have an abundance of fresh herbs it makes almost every meal better. I planted three different types of basil. I use the traditional Italian basil the most, but when I cook anything Asian I use the lemon basil. I really do not know the purpose of the purple basil. I use it in salads when I want a purple color and basil flavor.

I use my fresh oregano in a stuffed mushroom recipe. I use my flat Italian parsley every time a recipe calls for parsley or I need to freshen something up.

All of my herbs have grown really well except for my cilantro. I just water and use miracle grow sparingly. I have never needed an insecticide. Does anyone know the secret to growing good cilantro? I have never seen it look great in a home garden. The leaves are always small and anemic looking.

I also grew a bunch of tomatoes and peppers. I picked all of my ripe cherry tomatoes the other day and made a cherry tomato salad. Of course I added some fresh basil.
The dressing was 1/3 C mayo, 1 T Dijon mustard, 2 T cider vinegar. This was poured over a pint of halved cherry tomatoes, 1/4 C minced onion, and a handful of fresh basil, washed and chopped up pretty fine.

My confession is that I have not used too many peppers. I have a hard time with spicy food. I do not think I will put them in next year. My new and experimental plant this year was eggplant. I have really bad memories of the eggplant my mother used to cook. I found a recipe for a Schezuan eggplant that was pretty good the first time. The excitement seemed to wane on the second and third attempts. I will try something new next year and probably skip the eggplant.

The big hole in the garden is where the squash plants used to be. They were doing okay but they require a lot of insecticide in Texas. There is some bug that likes to eat the plant off at the roots. I kept them going for a couple of months but while I was gone at one point the bugs got to them and I had to give up on them. I was also having trouble with blossom rot. I know there is a solution and I will have to find it next year.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Hitch-Hiker's Guide

I got a call on Monday morning from Jeff. He was planning on hitch-hiking down to Dallas from Winfield. He thought it would take a couple of days to make it. He showed up Tuesday night at about 6:00. It is only about a six hour drive but he got stuck in Oklahoma City for about 24 hours. He was pretty surprised that people would not pick him up in the big city.

He walked through most of the city before hitching a ride in the southern part of OK City. He camped in a wooded area by a truck stop. He had brought some food with him so he was able to take care of his physical needs. Its good to know that all of those years of Boy-Scouting paid off. Fortunately the weather was good, not raining, not too hot. Maybe the Hitch-hiker's Guide should say that you are not likely to get picked up in the middle of a big city. Maybe this is because people in the city are not going out of town. Another big reason would be that a lot of people are just not going to pick up a hitch-hiker. I can honestly say that I am one of those people. I have heard way too many stories.

On Tuesday night Bob suggested that he look into getting a job on the Gulf Coast doing Hurricane Ike clean-up. Jeff made several calls and they were returned the next day saying that if he wanted to work all he had to do was show up with reliable transportation and steel toed shoes. He had the steel toed shes but he had left his reliable transportation in Kansas. His original plan was to drive his bike back up to Kansas and continue to look for a job up there.

He worked the next day trying to get his motorcycle running. It had been sitting in the garage for almost two years. His battery was not able to hold a charge. After he solved this it was still apparent that the bike could in no way be construed as reliable transportation. He decided to take the bike back up to Kansas and get his car and drive back down to Texas for the work. He called me yesterday at about 5:00in Tushka, OK and said that the bike was running ok, but not great. When he took off he was not wearing a helmet. I took a picture of him before he took off on my camera phone. I always take a picture of him before he takes off on a big ride because it may be his last. He always rolls his eyes when I tell him I'm going to take his picture but he always smiles.

So, I have not heard from him since yesterday. The good news is that I have not had a policeman come to my front door regretting to inform me. I am such a worrier. What is more dangerous? Hitch-hiking across country or riding a motorcycle without a helmet? I think my worries are justified.

Update

I called his phone repeatedly today and got nothing. Finally I called the guy Jeff has been staying with and asked him if he had seen Jeff. He let me know that Jeff had come in at about 5:00 AM. He had not anticipated that the weather would cool so much. He had to make several stops because he got too cold because he was wearing inadequate gear for the conditions. Maybe this is something he should put in his yet to be written book, Motorcyclist's Guide to America.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Navy Beats Army at the Dallas Galleria

Yesterday Bob and I put on our matching Navy Midshipmen shirts and went to Macy's to sell shopping passes to raise money for the military ball held for all Service Academy cadets and midshipmen at Christmas time. The passes were $5 each and allowed you to take a 20% discount on almost everything in the store, except for what you probably wanted to buy. There were other charities trying to sell the passes too, so we were competing with blind orphans for charitable dollars. I tried the sales tactic of reminding victims, I mean customers, of the freedom they enjoy because of the military. So really, the Blind orphans are having a trickle down benefit from our military ball because they live in such a great country. There were a lot of people who said that they were graduates of the Academies and many who had had children or grandchildren who had attended an Academy. Everyone who had an academy association bought one of our passes. We were successful at getting sales from people who were really going to buy something and were not just window shopping. Non-English speakers were not good targets. Poor things just could not catch the verbal complexities of getting a bargain. This is pretty funny because when I go down to Mexico, getting a bargain is my main goal. My children get a little embarrassed when I try to bargain in my broken, pathetic Spanish but even this humiliation does not stop me. Does Pince Caleron still mean the same thing it meant when I was a kid? Because this is a phrase often shouted at me when I walk away without buying anything. We never shouted anything inappropriate to the people who just walked away from us. Maybe we are just more refined. I don't know how we fared compared to the other charities, but Bob and I sold more tickets in our shift than the West Point parents sold during any of their shifts. We were the only Naval Academy parents at the Galleria. So we did our part. Go Navy! Beat Army! We did!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Down, Set, Hut

 


Look at this football face! Joe's soccer team nicknamed him the big IF last year. He has that intimidation factor look. He does not really have the skills at this point to match the face, but when he gets it all together he will be awesome.

 
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This is Joe and his best friend Daniel. I think this picture is funny for two reasons. First, and most obvious, is that Joe is about 2 or 3 time bigger than Daniel. Joe plays right guard. I am not sure, but I think that must be equivalent to playing right field in baseball and we all know what that means. Jeff and John both played right guard when they first started playing football. The Muir boys have never been know for their ball handling skills. But, to quote Regina Moss, swim coach at RHS, " I can teach anyone how to swim fast but I can't teach anyone how to be tall." You never now how things will end up though. Megan kind of looked like this when she stood next to her friends in grade school. Amazingly, after puberty, some of the little kids were bigger than she was and she was definitly in the middle of the group as far as her size. Daniel plays tight end. Both boys are working really hard, which is the second funny point. Neither boy has ever really worked hard at a sport before. Last year I tried to get them to practice running at the track. I was heard to tell them that Grandma Stockam could shuffle faster in her walker to try to motivate them to put more effort into running. I thought I was unsuccessful until the last day of track. I really wanted them to run around the track without stopping at least one time in the summer so I told them that I would pay them $5 per lap. I had $10 in my purse and I was really sure it would stay there. Amazingly enough Joe ran 4 laps and Daniel ran 7 laps. That was a surprising day. The lesson learned: When boys are motivated they can do anything!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Childhood Obesity Crisis Breakthrough

 


This is Joe at his first official football game. colts Vs. dolphins. We have discovered something amazing. Joe puts on his football uniform and he can do anything! He can run and never get tired. He can workout for two hours without whining. He can take instruction from the coach without talking back. Look through that helmet and through the mouth guard at that huge smile. He absolutely loves playing the game. I think it is a good thing he is big and a good thing he lives in Texas where football is big.

At the time his game started Hurricane Ike was blowing through Dallas. We had high wind and constant rain and not one complaint.

 


Win or lose both teams line up for the good game routine. The Colts happened to lose this time 0 to 6. Joey wants to get better so we will put him in a spring league and maybe let him play arena football this summer. I am just glad he has found a sport that he loves!
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Saturday, September 13, 2008

RHS Wins! 27 Game Losing Streak Ends

September 23, 2005. That was the last time Richardson won a football game. That is until last night when they beat Denton in a 21-0 blow out. The bad news is that I stayed at home and watched Home Alone with Joey while Bob went to bed early. Joey begged me to take him to the game so that he could hang out with his cool friends and their even cooler parents who actually don't mind socializing at the game even though they do not have any kids playing football, in the band, in the drill team, or even in the high school at all. Quite honestly, even before RHS started this losing streak we did not win many games. I think when Megan was a Sophomore back in the fall of 2000 we may have won 2 games. Its been all down hill since then. When John was in high school, RHS only won that one game in September of 2005. He graduated June 2008. One game in three years! But as long as my kids played in the band we attended every home and away game. I used to put a tiny motorcycle helmet on Joey because when we would go to the games he spent all of his time running up and down the concrete steps and I was afraid he would bust open his head. He was only two, three, and four years old at the time so he had no interest in sitting on my lap for 2 1/2 hours. Maybe the memory of monitering him during all of those games while constantly losing has flavored my desire to attend RHS football games. I was kind of feeling guilty last night about not taking Joey to the game and promised him that I would take him to the next home game, even before I found out that the losing streak was over.

Go Eagles! Beat Anybody, please!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What I Would Do For Free Movie Tickets

I had the TV on the other day and was watching Good Morning Texas. A segment came on about the Sisters of Savings. This is a group of African-American women who find great deals and share them with the rest of us. So they had a great bargain this time. All you have to do is go into American Eagle and try on a pair of jeans and you get a free movie ticket to AMC. If you buy a pair of jeans you get 2 tickets. I went to Valley View Mall and tried on a pair. The first problem was really evident. "Don't you have any jeans that have a longer zipper?" I asked. A two inch zipper is just screaming popover. So the saleslady looked through all of their stacks and found some jeans with a 2 1/2 inch zipper. I was determined to get the free ticket so I took them into the dressing room and tried them on. That was when I developed a provable theorem. The length of the zipper in your jeans should be the sum of the number of children you have given birth to plus two. According to this theorem I need a 7 inch zipper. That is about right. There is a purpose for wearing mom jeans. They hold our stomachs in because we have lost that ability. I think American Eagle is just too cool for me.

But the fact remained that I only had one ticket and three family members who would want to go to a movie. So today I went to the Galleria Mall to another American Eagle. This time I looked through the stacks myself in case yesterday's saleslady was just trying to humiliate me. I might be able to understand why someone would want to buy jeans that are already ripped and frayed. But what I really don't get is why anyone would want to buy jeans that are strategically wrinkled and faded like they have been stretched over a really tight cameltoe for six months. That is the very look that I have tried to avoid all of my life. I remember my high school home-ec teacher would always stress how to create a good fit. She called the particular look being used on all American Eagle Jeans a crotch star and said it was the mark of horribly ill-fitting pants. The stretched over the crotch look was worse than wearing your pants too short. Fortunately, I did not have to model my new look for the sales people so they could verify that I had really tried on the jeans and looked as bad as they thought I might. The cashier handed me two tickets even though I did not buy the jeans. Mission accomplished.

So with three tickets we can go to a full priced movie! The only cost was my pride and dignity. Any suggestions? For the movie, that is. I already know I could lose ten pounds and get lipo and a tummy tuck to look better in those jeans.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Third Funeral Cancelled

Yesterday Megan left a message for Jeff on Facebook telling him that his grandpa was calling police stations and that his mother was calling hospitals because we were so worried. We had not heard from him for two months. This motivated him to call me. He said that he was kind of embarrassed to call because he had not gotten the job at Rubbermaid that he was sure he was going to get. Factory jobs are like that. They are so fickle. You can never really count on your factory job. There are so many variables, but one certainty. They are not really stable these days, especially in a weak economy. So he was waiting for something great to happen before he called home. His phone was also destroyed and he had no money to replace it.

I am really relieved that he is okay. The scenarios running through my mind were pretty wild. The reality is far better than my visions.

He has some decisions to make. Desperation is like that. What once seems totally undesirable now has appeal. I could jump in and save him but he does not want that. He is very independent. He does not want finacial help from me. We talked about his options. I hope he makes some good decisions based on our little talk. I am grateful he called. I told him that I prayed for him today and asked Heavenly Father to help him overcome his fear about calling home, to know that I was not angry with him, just concerned; that I would not judge him, but offer consoling words. Our family is praying for him.

As I was saying this prayer earlier today I got the feeling that this is how Heavenly Father feels toward us when we become complacent in our relationship with Him. The point is you can always call home.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Two Funerals in a Row. A Third in the Works?

Saturday, August 23,2008 was my mother's funeral. Usually, if you attend a close family member's funeral you get a pass and do not have to attend any one's funeral for at least 6 months. You just have to use terms like its too soon or my grief is too fresh. Everyone understands this and no one wants to see you crying uncontrollably in public. So how did I end up at a funeral one week later?

On Wednesday morning, August 27th, I got a call from Pat telling me that she had just received a call from Sammy Owen who could not wake up her Father. She called 911. He had had a massive heart attack sometime that morning. He had gone for a period of time without oxygen. Pat said the situation looked grim. She was right. He was taken to the hospital and put on life support. Life support was removed on Friday and he died shortly after. Cindy did not have money for a burial so she decided to donate her husband's body to science. She was planning to have a little memorial cookies and punch reception at her house in lieu of a funeral. I was called by Pat and Dorothy to help plan this little event. I could not just sit by and help plan an event that was so short on what was needed. I brought up the point that a death without a funeral was like shacking up. Sure you could do it but was it good for the kids. Dorothy called All Saints Catholic Church and put a memorial service together for the next day. So how did I end up at a funeral one week after my mother's funeral? I insisted that one be held and helped plan it. You can't really do that kind of thing without attending.

I am going to have to say it was a beautiful service. It was comforting and dignified. Matt Owen's brother did the eulogy. He is a doctor and gave statistics about deaths from first heart attacks. He also linked his brother's death to his use of cigarettes. In addition he told stories about how his brother was always there to help him almost instantly and with out question. John Wiseman sang I feel My Saviors Love and I know That my Redeemer Lives. This was when I felt the freshness of my grief. I really had a hard time during the last song especially because it was a sung at my mother's funeral. Fortunately, Karen Holburn had a pack of Kleenex in her purse so that I could wipe my eyes and blow my nose. I was a mess.

After the service, we went to Cindi's house where we had some wonderful platters of food provided by Jason's Deli and paid for by one of Pat's neighbors who had heard about the Owen's problems and had compassion for them. We live in a really great neighborhood. There is so much support! The elementary, junior high, and high school PTA's all sent out letters to let everyone know what happened and about the special account set up to help this family out. Matt was only 50 years old. They have a 15 year old daughter and a set of twin boys who are 13.

I have really been worried about my son Jeff. I have not heard from him in two months but his friends had heard from him as late as a month ago. I was telling my father that I am going to give him one more week before I start to panic. I need a few days to clean my house and work on the yard before I start on the next disaster. My father decided that he could start to panic today. I think that is because I cleaned up his house really thoroughly last week and he does not worry about the yard. He called the police department in the town we last knew that Jeff was in. They have no record of him. This is good and bad. He is not in jail but where is he? He also called a Navy recruiter where Jeff should be drilling. They could not share any information because of privacy issues but they promised to give him the message if he is actually drilling there. Bob checked the mail today and found his phone bill . He has not made or received a call since July 21. I got to thinking about this and I have a new theory. I think he lost his phone or broke it. Megan and Rachael got on Facebook and found that he had signed in on August 24. That was six days ago. You can't sign into Facebook if you are dead. I had Megan leave a message for him about how we are looking for him and how he should call. The message also contained info on how to replace a phone even if he still has time left on his contract. I am still looking forward to hearing from him.

Having lost a child has made me kind of weird. I know that any of my children could die at any moment and this is pretty hard to bear. Where is my hope? I think I buried it with Matthew. But so far it does not look like I will be attending a funeral for the third Saturday in a row.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Five Year Journey to Eternity

Today was Joey's first day of fifth grade. He was really happy because he got the teacher he wanted and his best friend is in his class for the year! Five years ago on Joey's first day of kindergarten I got a call from my father telling me that my mother was seriously ill and in the hospital. They did not know what was wrong with her but she had lost a lot of weight and could not eat. They were doing all sorts of tests but they did not know if she would make it. I had to pack up Joey and we headed up to Arkansas as Bob took charge of the older boys. Thus began the long series of hospital stays, frailties, organ failures, surgeries, broken bones, and pneumonias.

The battle finally ended Tuesday, August 19, 2008. I really still can not define what went wrong. Except that everything went wrong. She did not have cancer. She was only 71. She had taken anti seizure medication for 35 years, which caused severe osteoporosis. The alternative was to probably die of a seizure at a young age.

I am relieved that this episode is over. I wish I could say that I feel no guilt about administering the morphine which relieved her pain, but hastened her death. I felt a lot better about it 12 years ago when my Grandmother Bullock was under hospice care and the nurse gave her morphine. The hospice my mother was under prescribed the morphine but the family administered it. Maybe this is part of the advancements we have made in medical science over the last 12 years.

My mother was really close to death several times over the last 5 years. Her main concern was that she would not have a decent funeral. I promised her years ago that I would make sure she was buried in her temple clothes, that the funeral would be held in a church, that an LDS bishop would preside at the funeral, and that she would have flowers. I think she imagined that my father would not know what to do and would just do the traditional Stockam graveside service with a Baptist preacher who would not know the deceased and would deliver a fire and brim stone sermon.

So I did my best to put together a nice funeral that would have made her happy. My sister Deanna and my niece Kathleen helped me dress her appropriately. She was so small that it was pretty easy. I really don't think she weighed 80 pounds when she died. We had to fix her hair. I do not know what the beautician was thinking but we walked into the room an were aghast to find the hair styled in some weird spiky punk rocker/ lesbian biker style. A can of hairspray and a comb helped. Fortunately most of her hair was covered by her veil. We also had put on some makeup. It seems like when you get to some of these back woods mortuaries they are afraid of offending God by putting makeup on the deceased. I had Bob drive the 15 miles from the house to bring me makeup. When we finished she looked beautiful!

We were able to provide family members to do all of the program except for playing the piano. Everyone did so well. It was one of those funerals that you could walk out of and just feel like hugging almost everybody.

I was really grateful that we did not have any tantrums or fights at the funeral, burial, or family dinner. Stockam funerals are known for dramatics and some of my worst memories are of these episodes. Now that the funeral is over the family gossip will fly ,so if you hear any questionable rumors about me, there may be an element of truth to them, but please don't give me the opportunity to defend myself. I really don't want to hear what everyone is saying because some of the past gossip has been really hurtful.

It is kind of hard to be around people who can be so unkind, ungrateful,cruel and rude, while putting a happy face on myself and trying not lose control or give them more ammunition. I know that not all families are like this. I know that not everyone in this family is like this. I have my husband, my children, and a wonderful son-in-law who love me! I have a sister and her family who work as hard or harder than I do to try to create beauty and harmony in a senseless situation.

When I got home last night at 9:30 Bob helped me unload the car. I sat down and was thinking about the events of the last 8 days. I found myself crying. I had been so busy and so on guard up in Arkansas that I could not shed a tear.

My mother was a wonderful woman who did the best she could with the hand she had been dealt. She was learning disabled and she had an extreme speech impediment. We all had to pull together. My sisters and I grew up with a lot of responsibility early on. We had to interpret for my mother because she was so hard to understand. Most of the time we did a good job at this but I have to admit that we were not always saints. There was no one to help us with homework. I remember tutoring my younger sister Deanna for hours every day. I was only 2 years older than her. It was a miracle that I would be willing to teach her and even more of a miracle that she would be willing to listen and learn. My mother always made sure we went to church. That was really hard because we never lived close to a church and she could not drive. She just called people and asked them to give us rides. Like I said, she did her best and she never gave up. I love her and I miss her. I know Mormon doctrine is that when people die their spirit leaves the body. The spirit does not have limitations like learning disabilities or speech problems. And when we are resurrected we will have perfect bodies to match our spirits. I just can not imagine my mother as a normal person, even though I longed for that so much while she was alive. How will I recognize her? These probably sound like stupid questions. But I bet that almost everyone who has lost a disabled loved one has similar issues. Heavenly Father, help this midshipman's mother.

About Me

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I am a stay at home mom but the clock is ticking. My husband and I only have one child left at home. I enjoy shopping and finding great bargains.