Friday, December 18, 2009

A Christmas story

Normally, I don't read through this kind of email. This one, though, I did. It was a new story to me, but the message is an old one that we often forget. With the panic of Christmas being a week away, and the media frenzy of commercials and cooking and decorating shows, news broadcasts giving "Must-buy" lists, we all need this reminder. Enjoy.

Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.

It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn't been enough money to buy me the rifle that I'd wanted for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible.

After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn't in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn't get the Bible, instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn't figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn't worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity. Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. "Come on, Matt," he said. "Bundle up good, it's cold out tonight." I was really upset then. Not only wasn't I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We'd already done all the chores, and I couldn't think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this. But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one's feet when he'd told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn't know what..

Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn't going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load. Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn't happy. When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. "I think we'll put on the high sideboards," he said. "Here, help me." The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high side boards on.

After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood - the wood I'd spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all Fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing? Finally I said something. "Pa," I asked, "what are you doing?" You been by the Widow Jensen's lately?" he asked. The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I'd been by, but so what?

Yeah," I said, "Why?"

"I rode by just today," Pa said. "Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They're out of wood, Matt." That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him. We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait. When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand. "What's in the little sack?" I asked. Shoes, they're out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn't be Christmas without a little candy."

We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen's pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn't have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn't have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn't have been our concern.

We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, "Who is it?" "Lucas Miles, Ma'am, and my son, Matt, could we come in for a bit?"

Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp.

"We brought you a few things, Ma'am," Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it. She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children - sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say
something, but it wouldn't come out.

"We brought a load of wood too, Ma'am," Pa said. He turned to me and said, "Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile. Let's get that fire up to size and heat this place up." I wasn't the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and as mu ch as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too. In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn't speak.

My heart swelled within me and a joy that I'd never known before, filled my soul. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.

I soon had the fire blazing and everyone's spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn't crossed her face for a long time. She finally turned to us. "God bless you," she said. "I know the Lord has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us."

In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I'd never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it.

Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.

Tears were running down Widow Jensen's face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn't want us to go. I could see that they missed their Pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.

At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, "The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We'll be by to get you about eleven. It'll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn't been little for quite a spell." I was the youngest. My two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away.

Widow Jensen nodded and said, "Thank you, Brother Miles. I don't have to say, May the Lord bless you, I know for certain that He will."
Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn't even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, "Matt, I want you to know something. Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn't have quite enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that,but on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do. Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand."

I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen's face and the radiant smiles of her three children.

For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ain't misbehaving

(I think that's the first time that word - the a-word - has ever come from me!)

It's not a good sign when your doctor walks into the room and the first thing out of her mouth is "Have you been misbehaving again?" Although this time, I promise I was not doing anything I shouldn't be doing. Honestly!

I called the office this morning because all this week I'd been having pains where I shouldn't be having pain. In short, my girlie parts were hurting like crazy! It felt like this baby was about to fall out. Last night was the worst. I had no energy whatsoever, and every part of me from my belly to my feet hurt like crazy. My back and hips were killing me, and the pressure "down there" was horrendous! I tried making dinner, and had to bring a dining chair to the stove to sit in to form the meatballs. I did ask Chris to come in and put a pot of water on the stove to boil for noodles, and later got out the carrots and another pot for me to cook them in. I rested while the meat and noodles cooked, then made the gravy. I can't make real gravy to save my life; thank goodness for mixes that are quick and easy. Just that simple thing hurt so much, though, that I camped out on the couch again and asked him to bring me some dinner and something to drink. I just couldn't do anymore. I was hurting so badly I couldn't walk. So, I didn't. I ended up falling asleep on the couch,and woke up just before midnight to go to bed. I could walk then, but my belly was SO sore. Once I was in bed, I couldn't move.

This morning, I was feeling much better. Thankfully. The more I thought about it, though, the more I thought I should call the nurse line just to make sure it was normal late-pregnancy pains. At this stage with Emma, I was at home all the time and not active at all, so I really couldn't compare. Also, that was twelve years ago! I can't remember what I felt like then. The nurse called me back, wrote down my symptoms, and checked with the doctor. Sure enough, I had to go in for a check. That is when I got the misbehaving line. Really, though, I have been VERY good lately and not doing anything I'm not supposed to do.

She did an internal exam, listened to Sophie's heartbeat, and measured whatever it is she measures. She asked me lots of questions about what I was feeling last night and what I had been doing leading up to that. It turns out I was having contractions! The real ones, too, not the fake Braxton Hicks whatevers that I don't think I've ever felt.

I was not expecting that at all.

Really, I was expecting a "You're fine, this is normal, go back to work and quit worrying" answer. Instead, I got detailed instructions on what to do if it happens again, when to call immediately, and what will be done to prevent early labour if it DOES happen again. The good news is everything inside is as it should be - closed up tight.
That was a big relief, since Sophie isn't done cooking yet! She still has quite a few more weeks to go!

I now also have doctor's orders to take it easier.... I thought I had been doing so well, but I have to do more. Or less, rather.... if I'm tired or achy at the end of the day, I'm to have Chris and Emma do the cooking and cleaning up. I have to cut back on other things, too. This is going to be a real challenge for me, I know.

But, I'll do it! I'll have to, to keep her in there as long as possible.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

To tell the truth (a Santa story)

So it's that time of year again. The time when parents hide stashes of "stuff" and secret wrapping paper, fake handwriting on tags, eat cookies and drink milk in the middle of the night, after deciphering budding penmanship on sweet, "I've-been-so-good-angels-look-bad" letters.

Except I thought that part would be over by now.

Emma is 11, will turn 12 in just a few too-short months. A few years ago, she found where the Santa paper was hidden. (What she was doing wayyyyyyyyyy under the couch along the wall, I have no idea.) I was on the phone when she found it, and she was VERY upset. Luckily my call gave me a few extra minutes to think, and the best I came up with was "Santa must shop at Target also! And I bought that paper for Christmas and lost it!" I didn't think she bought it, but like the tooth fairy, she seemed to realize that if she admitted she knew the truth the extra gifts would stop.

Last year, many months after Christmas she and I were talking about her Nintendo DS. Does anyone else have trouble keeping up with which gifts were from you and which were from Santa?? I said something about finding it, or something along those lines that made it obvious we bought it, and she said "That one was from Santa, Mom." But again, she was fine; she seemed to understand the arrangement perfectly.

Then this year. Oh boy, this year...

It started at Thanksgiving dinner. We were with my parents, and they had invited a friend over. The conversation turned to my dad's siblings (ten in all) and I asked how many were born in September (four of them). The men joked about what Santa got for Christmas that year... my mom pointed out that I was a Christmas "present" also... and the Santa getting lucky jokes continued. I looked at Emma, who doesn't miss anything (unfortunately) and she wasn't phased a bit. I quickly changed the subject (this was my GRANDMA, people!) and everything was fine. She never brought it up.

Then on Sunday, we were getting our Christmas tree and decorations out of our storage building. Way back when Emma was four, Santa brought her the giant wooden Barbie house from the JC Penney catalog. It's 5 feet high, 4 feet wide, and three stories. Now that she is 11, it's been moved to storage also. I had to slide it out of the way to get to the Christmas decorations, and made the comment that it wasn't as sturdy as it was when we bought it. (Yeah, I know, bad mom...but it just slipped!) She called me out on it, and I told her that I actually said "when Santa brought it" not "when we bought it" although she wasn't convinced. But even as she was pouting, she was hiding laughter. Seemed like she was faking her upset, right?

That's what I thought. Last night my mom came to visit, and as she and Emma were at the dinner table working on homework I was cooking dinner. Emma was telling Mom about the dollhouse incident, and she was VERY upset still! I chalked it up to extra drama; she was tired and it was way past dinner time and she was starving. That combination just breeds crankiness and drama. The pouting continued all night, though, and when she went to bed she told Chris she said she didn't like being lied to.

Wow. I had assumed for the past couple years that she had figured out the whole Santa thing. She no longer corrected when people on TV talked about "the truth" and didn't react to adult conversations she overheard about Santa. I really thought she knew but was just keeping up appearances! I don't even remember how old I was when I figured it all out, but there was no issue or drama with it; it was just part of growing up. It never occurred to me she might feel betrayed or be upset by the whole thing!

So now what?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Learning lessons the hard way

I have a bit of a stubborn side. If you know me at all, this is not a surprise. So when I am told I can't do something, my first response is usually "Yes I can!"

Sometimes, though, like this weekend, it doesn't even occur to me that I shouldn't do something until long after it's already done. Something like.... oh let's just use moving furniture. Alone. Because I'd never move furniture by myself when I'm 24 weeks pregnant, right?

Yeah, we'll go with that.

I did have a nice day Saturday with Emma. My husband was out of town for the day, and early-ish that morning she came and crawled into bed with me and we had some nice cuddle and chat time. Then she informed me my baby was hungry (and was thrilled when I knew she was talking about herself and not her growing baby sister). We had breakfast, dressed, and went into town. The church sale we were going to help with was canceled, so we spent the next four hours going around town visiting all the stores we never have time to normally. We had lunch out (her restaurant choice) and eventually went home. We had ice cream and watched a movie. Then something so rare happened I wish I had a recorder then:

"Mom, I am tired of my room being messy. I'm going to clean it. Will you help me?"

Heck yes I'll help you! The previous weekend she got a new desk and bookcase, but there was still lots of work to be done. And we did it. We started around 7 pm and didn't stop until 11. We cleaned it all, even under her bed. During this time, we were trying to find a place to put her fold-up chair when she wasn't using it. Its former home now occupied her guitar, so we thought it would go nicely between the bookcase and dresser. Except it wouldn't quite fit. So I moved the dresser.

And her nightstand - twice. I had to move it to vacuum underneath it!

We finally wore ourselves out, and knew we had to stop or we'd never make it to church in the morning. She went to bed, and I went to fold and put away all the laundry I'd washed during the day.

A little after midnight my husband came home from his trip. Shortly after that, I had some bleeding. Not enough to be alarmed necessarily, but enough to concern me since it hasn't happened once with this pregnancy. My back and belly hurt, too. I figured I just overdid it a bit and decided to put myself on bed/couch rest for all of the next day.

No more bleeding, but I still was sore all day Sunday. And Monday, and Tuesday. At work, one of the case managers was concerned enough to convince me to call the doctor. I had decided not to call, since I already had an appointment for later this week. She was pretty worried, though, so I called the nurse line. The doctor wanted to see me right away.

Ok - now a little more concerned. He examined me, and luckily everything is fine with the baby. Heartbeat very strong, kicking like crazy (especially when she hears her big sister talking), and growing steadily. I, however, apparently pulled the muscles in my abdomen and ruptured a blood vessel where I didn't even know was possible. I am cleared for the Race for the Cure this weekend, but strictly no more heavy lifting!

Or moving furniture....

Monday, September 28, 2009

The big reveal

Last Thursday we had the 20 week ultrasound to see how the baby is doing... and find out what was cooking in there. My husband and I both had the day off from work (which also happened to be his birthday - what a gift, right?) and we picked Emma up from school early.

We headed to the doctor's office and luckily for them the ultrasound was done first thing. Technology sure has improved in the past eleven years! We could even make out the little face and fingers. We got some great pictures to bring home with us, too.

Then was the checkup. Emma informed me that she WAS going to that part, also, so I told her to bring Daddy back since he hasn't gotten to be at any previous checkup. The doctor did ask me if I was eating (again!) since I've lost five more pounds since my previous visit, bringing my total to a 15 lb loss since the first prenatal visit. I am eating, by the way, I just don't have much appetite.

If I had known this baby thing was such a good diet I might have tried it earlier...

We decided not to tell anyone the gender right away, and have a reveal party on the weekend for friends and family instead. My parents came, and my best friend and her adorable little boy came, and we had my mother-in-law on the phone for the cake-cutting. I had colored a white cake the proper color and frosted the whole thing white. I found pink and blue decorator gels at the store and covered the top in question marks.

Everyone was surprised when the inside of the cake was pink!

So, in four short months we will have two daughters. Emma is thrilled to be getting a little sister, and is already embroidering a bib for her that says "I love my big sis."

Now the quest for a name begins....

Monday, September 14, 2009

Something you should never say to a pregnant woman

For some reason, as soon as the rest of the world finds out a woman has conceived a child, the floodgates open wide for opinions, comments, and observations that would NEVER be said to a non-pregnant woman. All of a sudden, everyone wants to know about your sex life, your digestion, your bathroom habits, your plans for your breasts - why are those things suddenly ok to ask about? Especially strangers?

But what really gets me is this comment: "Wow you are huge! Are you sure you're not having twins??"

Luckily this hasn't yet happened to me with this baby, but I got it ALL THE TIME when I was pregnant with Emma. Almost daily, whenever I left my home I'd hear some variation on that exclamation many times. Even from my own family! Granted, I was too-thin before I was pregnant. But you know what? She was a big baby - one ounce less than ten pounds. And I gained 40 pounds during the entire pregnancy. So do you know what those statements accomplished?

They ruined my self-image. I immediately went from being happy with my looks (I actually modeled for years before I got pregnant) to crying whenever I looked in the mirror. I couldn't stand to see myself naked, and of course our apartment at the time had a HUGE mirror in the bathroom, so I was faced with my huge belly every time I bathed. I didn't see myself as a beautiful pregnant woman, giving life to my child. I saw an ogre, a fat cow. Gone forever was the confidence and satisfaction with how I looked to myself.

And even though this time around I am still barely showing, I continuously catch myself holding in my stomach to look thinner, worrying about my clothes making me look fat, wondering what other people think about how I look. I can't even appreciate the growing bulge in my abdomen. And I hate that.

So please, never ever tell a pregnant woman about how huge she is. I guarantee she already knows for herself, and being reminded of that does not help matters. It just might be the final straw to destroy her confidence.

At the very least, it just might get you a black eye.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

To tell the truth?

On my way to work this morning, the morning show I listen to was discussing telling the truth. Should we filter what we say or be completely honest, no matter what? Their examples were telling a friend you love her designer purse she spent her entire savings on then calling other friends to discuss its ugliness, or a friend who was visiting and said "I hate your wallpaper in the bathroom."

Why would civilized people do either? Maybe I'm getting too old for this station (Cosmo radio if you must know) but I don't get it. I can't see doing either thing. Instead of being on the extreme side of the parameters, I'm more of the "if it is important, then speak up" line of thinking.

So what if we don't like our friend's new clothes/purse/flooring/car colour? What does it really matter in the long run? If our friend is happy, why ruin their day (and chip away at their confidence) by saying how ugly we might think it to be? I'd rather save my complete honesty for when it is really important, like if she was considering passing up her dream job, selling her house to live in a commune, marry someone abusive... something major. Something life-altering, something important.

Who cares if her wallpaper or purse are ugly?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Why are we unhappy?

I heard something very interesting on the radio this morning as I was driving to work. The morning show host had read a study recently that found women today are overall more unhappy than women of past generations. The host was surprised, because (more or less) "with the whole feminist movement and more options we have, how can we be unhappier? It must be divorce."

I am not surprised at the study, actually. And no, I don't agree with divorce being the cause. True, the divorce rate is higher now than in past generations, but how many women then were hopelessly stuck in unhappy marriages? There isn't a stigma attached to being a divorced woman any more. So no, I don't think that is the reason.

I love that the feminist movement has given women so many options for what to do with our lives! We can have successful careers, go to any college we want, raise a family (or not, it's our choice), and do basically whatever we choose! Heck, a woman could even be president and a few generations ago we weren't even allowed to vote.

But - I think this is the root of our unhappiness. Instead of feeling like we have a choice, too many women feel pressured to "do it all" and do it all perfectly. We must go to college, get regular promotions at work, marry, have children, raise those children to be perfect, maintain a spotless home, cook nutritious, organic meals, and look good doing it. We feel this pressure from television, magazines, our families, and ourselves. Out of these, I don't think our families are malicious with the pressure, but want "what is best" for us. But who knows what is best for us more than ourselves? Unfortunately, if other women are like me, we are our biggest critics. The outside influences, on the other hand, don't care about us as individuals and press their own agenda: Buy our product! You MUST breastfeed or you are a bad mother! You MUST NEVER make mistakes in raising your children or you are a bad mother! You MUST be skinny and have your hair done in salons! Do it OUR way! Your way isn't good enough!

We need to stop listening to all the critics! Including our own inner critics. We are human, not superhuman. One woman cannot possibly do it all and do it all perfectly. Something has to give! If we keep trying, it is our health and our own happiness that gets lost in the shuffle. So stop, take a step back, and relax. And breathe.

My new mantra? I am good enough, just the way I am.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Breaking news!

I have breaking news. I'm just going to come right out and say it.



Ok so I still can't type the word.

Let me try this way - Emma is going to no longer be an only child.


Just went to the doctor today, and she confirmed. Next February sometime we will have another child.

Things will be so much different this time around, too. For starters, it's on purpose (although I still can't quite believe it!). We are both 11 years older and wiser. I know a bit more about babies now (although when you start with zero knowledge, there is no where else to go but up, right?). Some things I know to pay attention to now, some things I know to ignore now as misinformation. I want to find out gender this time. I already have things picked out for the room; thank goodness we kept Emma's baby furniture.

Holy crap I'm going to have a teenager and a toddler at the same time.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Who is to blame?

There has been a story in the news here for several months, progressively developing.  To catch you up, several completely healthy dogs had died suddenly after visiting a dog grooming facility in town.  First it was one, then another one, then a third.  All dogs were in excellent health before their visit.  The owner of the business was finally charged with animal cruelty.  Then yesterday, this happened:

I'll give you a few minutes to read the story.


A tragedy, right?  Those poor children!  I can't see how they could ever recover from such a horror.  But what really gets me is the father of the indictee.  Did you catch this?  "Webb's father, veterinarian Carlos Webb, said Tuesday that he blamed the News Sentinel and a $750,000 lawsuit filed against Happy Tails by the owners of Moxie, the deceased beagle, for the tragedy."

Your son treats dogs so badly they die after a visit to his facility.  He then decides to murder his wife in front of their young children.  Then he has the presence of mind to call a taxi to take him to the "pet spa" where he takes the time to write a suicide note and then shoots himself in the head. And you blame the newspaper for reporting the charges??  And the owners of the third dog that died for suing your son for killing thier family pet?  What kind of human are you?

It seems the son was taught by example to have no personal responsiblity.  If you get caught in a crime, it is the fault of who found out, not your own.  It is the victim's fault they are your victim.  Are you freaking kidding me, sir??  The father was upset because the family's lawyer said he was going to put the pet spa out of business.  As well it should be!  This man caused the death of four family pets by horrendous, cruel, inhumane treatment that caused them to suffer and die.  He should not have been allowed to remain in business!
I am sorry he has to suffer through the death of his son and daughter-in-law, really, and the fact that his son is a monster.  But I have to wonder how the son got that way...

Who is to blame?

There has been a story in the news here for several months, progressively developing. To catch you up, several completely healthy dogs had died suddenly after visiting a dog grooming facility in town. First it was one, then another one, then a third. All dogs were in excellent health before their visit. The owner of the business was finally charged with animal cruelty. Then yesterday, this happened:

I'll give you a few minutes to read the story.




A tragedy, right? Those poor children! I can't see how they could ever recover from such a horror. But what really gets me is the father of the indictee. Did you catch this? "Webb's father, veterinarian Carlos Webb, said Tuesday that he blamed the News Sentinel and a $750,000 lawsuit filed against Happy Tails by the owners of Moxie, the deceased beagle, for the tragedy."

Your son treats dogs so badly they die after a visit to his facility. He then decides to murder his wife in front of their young children. Then he has the presence of mind to call a taxi to take him to the "pet spa" where he takes the time to write a suicide note and then shoots himself in the head. And you blame the newspaper for reporting the charges?? And the owners of the third dog that died for suing your son for killing their family pet? What kind of human are you?

It seems the son was taught by example to have no personal responsibility. If you get caught in a crime, it is the fault of who found out, not your own. It is the victim's fault they are your victim. Are you freaking kidding me, sir?? The father was upset because the family's lawyer said he was going to put the pet spa out of business. As well it should be! This man caused the death of four family pets by horrendous, cruel, inhumane treatment that caused them to suffer and die. He should not have been allowed to remain in business!

I am sorry he has to suffer through the death of his son and daughter-in-law, really, and the fact that his son is a monster. But I have to wonder how the son got that way...

Monday, June 1, 2009


I finally was able to remove my splint today from last week's surgery!  I can type normally again!! It doesn't hurt very much, but I am very bruised around the area.  My wrist looks a bit like Frankenstein, though, so I keep it covered with gauze.  I have a couple more weeks before it's totally healed.

It was so hard to get up early and go back to work after laying around for so many days but I made it!  Had a pretty good day, too.

I'll have more to blog about by the weekend (heehee) but wanted to stop in and say Hi. 


Monday, May 25, 2009

It's almost time!

Happy Memorial Day!

My husband and I are spending the three day weekend working like crazy to get things done around the house.  We had two plumbing projects, and also I'm trying to make sure everything possible is done in the house to keep me from overdoing things this week.

Tomorrow I am having surgery on my wrist.  Since I won't be able to write, start my car, and other things necessary for work, I am taking the whole week off.  I will be in an immobilizing brace for a week, then it should be two more weeks for complete healing..  I'm afraid I won't be able to text or use a computer mouse either, so if I'm absent from Skirt and Twitter for a while, that is why.

I'm already trying to figure out how I will fill my time.  I plan on visiting the library in the morning to stock up on books. My surgery isn't until 2, don't have to be at the hospital until 1, so I will have time thank goodness.  I forgot to go Saturday morning.  My mother is coming over to take me to the hospital tomorrow and will spend the night here and take Emma to her doctor's appointment Wednesday morning.  It is her last visit for her broken arm.  She is no longer BrokenBaby!  This visit will clear her for regular activity.

I hope this surgery is worth it.  I had so much pain in the beginning, but it's not a constant now.  Like right now, it doesn't hurt THAT bad. Last night I even did pilates and yoga with no pain (in my hand anyway) but when I made the bed, pulling the blanket straight sent shooting pain down my arm.  Then I remember trying to take notes in class this spring - I just couldn't do it.  I will be so disappointed if I still have the same pain after the healing time.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Write like a child

First, I have to open with a Mom brag.  I already posted this on Facebook, but so what?  I'm a mom, this is what we do!  Last week we found out that Emma is having a poem published in a national collection.  I can't even finish a story, yet my eleven year old is getting published.  But she did it!  She wrote the poem for school, all on her own, with no help from anyone.  And it was chosen to go in this book that will come out in the fall.  

I was thinking about all this earlier, how she is only in fifth grade and doesn't even really put any effort into writing.  If she wants to do it, she does, but she never stresses over it.  And this happens for her! I am thrilled with it, probably more than she is, but a nagging little voice in the far corner of my mind says "Look at that, your child is a better writer than you.  You haven't had anything published since the high school newspaper."  Then I realized why she is so good (aside from intelligence, wit, and pure talent).

It has never occured to her that someone might not like what she has written.

She's never faced criticism, or rejection, or even been unsure about what she has written (or unsure about anything, really, now that I think about it.  She's quite opinionated).  So it has never occured to her to hold back and not put herself out there.  

I want to be as brave as she is!  I write and hide it.  The only password-protected files on my computer are stories I've written.  I am too afraid to hear "This is no good" that I don't even put it out there to be read.

I think I want to write like a child again.

P.S.  She's also been placed in Advanced Math for next school year and selected for a Leadership Team in her school!  Ok I'm done now =)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday adventure

This morning started as almost every weekday morning does - arguing with the alarm clock, not wanting to wake up.  Chris got up first, as usual, and after several reminders I was just about to drag myself out of bed when he went across the hall to wake up Emma.  This is what I heard:

"Oh you're up already!  Good!"
"I've been up since 2"
"You're burning up! Take your temperature."

Yep, she was sick.  Her temperature was 99.9.  Ibuprofen and back to bed for her, phone call to work for me.  One problem, though - I had an appointment at 10:30 for some kind of nerve test on my right hand. And we have used all the five parent notes for excused absences she gets for the school year.  Ok that's two problems.

Problem one was not so hard to solve; she spent a couple hours with Daddy at his office. I dropped her off with a book, and went on for my test.  After a bit of waiting (quite a bit) I was taken back for the test.  First my hand and arm were poked a few times with something that gave off an electric shock.  It didn't hurt, but made my fingers and hand move around involuntarily.  Kind of neat, really.  Then the doctor put little needles in various places around my hand and arm, all the way up to my neck.  Sometimes those hurt, but not as much as I anticipated.  Then it was over.

To solve problem 2, I had to take Emma to the doctor.  She was able to be worked in at 3:15.  She had been coughing a bit this week, and had a sore throat off and on since Sunday.  Turns out she has strep throat!  I guess it's a good thing she had to go so her absence would be excused (lots of tests for end of school, she has to be able to make them up!) because I didn't think she was sick enough to go to the doctor.  Oops.

So now we're at home, waiting for Chris to get home so I can go to the store and pick up my troop's cookie incentives from the area cookie manager.  Thank goodness it's the weekend.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mother's Day storegasm

The commercials are out in full force.  Mother’s Day is this weekend and everywhere there are ads for stuff –  diamonds, perfume, flowers, iPods, cameras, clothes, anything at all you can think of to buy for your mother.  The ads are louder, brighter, flashier, catchier (is that a word even?) and coming more and more frequently in such a frenzy until the climax on Saturday – buy now before it’s too late or Mom will think you don’t love her any more!  If you care enough you will spend four times the price of your gift for overnight shipping so she can show all her friends how much you love her!!

It doesn’t help at all – I don’t think my mother would want any of the things advertised.  I know I don’t.  (Well, ok, I would like a really good camera, and a new copy of Rent on DVD and the new James Patterson book... but those can be bought anytime and are not “special.”)  Our culture is so materialistic, we feel pressure to quantify our love with monetary spending. 

But who asks moms what they REALLY want for Mothers’ Day?

Here’s what I want:  sleep.  All three meals cooked and cleaned up (and chosen!) by someone other than me.  The house tidied up.  A day without tv, video games, or computers – just us and time together.  The park, board games, whatever.  Just together time without electronic distractions. No pressure, no guilt, no being bashed over the head with ads saying my family doesn’t love me unless they buy me more stuff.  I don’t WANT more stuff!

But, who ever asks moms what they want for their day?   

Monday, May 4, 2009

Education fascination

Today on my way to work I was behind a Head Start school bus for a few minutes.  The driver stopped at one house, and the little boy that came out with his mother was literally dragging her behind him across the yard, running as much as possible while still attached to his mom’s hand, so eager to get on that bus and go to “school.” 

Young children almost without fail have such an excitement for school and for learning itself.  Then, by the time they are a few years in, so many of them profess to hate school.  Why is that?  Is it peer pressure – kids are not “supposed” to like school?  I know from experience that kids who actually LIKE being at school are ridiculed for that feeling.  Is it the teachers, making learning boring and tedious instead of interesting?  Is it other kids being mean, bullies, cliques, lunchroom rules? 

My daughter was thrilled to be starting kindergarten when she was five.  In our school system, the kids come to school and register, meet their teachers, bring the purchased school supplies, see their classroom, and have a small test (repeated at the end of the year to measure progress) two weeks before school actually starts for them.  When she found out there was another two week wait for “real” school to start, Emma actually cried.  She loved her homework and was proud to show it to me every week. 

Now, in fifth grade and middle school, I can’t keep up with which teacher matches which subject, what she has first, second, third period, even exactly how many classes in the day she actually has.  I know she has the early lunch, but not what exact time.  I see her homework after it’s been turned in and graded, things she could have done much better on if she had only brought it to us and asked for help instead of saying “I didn’t understand” a week later in her Friday folder.  Luckily she is still a good student overall, but she did have two Cs on her report card this year that she could easily have avoided if she had only been more open with us.
Some of the fault lies with us, her parents.  By the time we pick her up after work and get home it is a rush to make dinner, feed the animals, and make sure she gets showered and ready for bed on time.  She does her homework at the babysitter’s house, and over the years we’ve come to rely on her to make sure Emma has everything done. But, she is not Emma’s parent, we are.

But where did the EXCITEMENT go?  I know she loves learning; just yesterday she was performing virtual brain surgery and analyzing an accident scene on a website her science teacher introduced to the class.  But put any of that in the school setting, and she loses interest.

How do we get all of our kids excited about education again?  These are our future congressmen, senators, presidents, teachers, scientists, doctors, nurses.  If they don’t care about learning now, what will happen when they are in charge?