Dear Cinderella,

I just saw your newest movie and I had to write and tell you how much my children and I loved it! I of course knew how the ending would play out, but I loved experiencing it through mature eyes. You looked absolutely stunning in your blue, Fairy Godmother designed gown. How it spun around when you danced I will never forget! You couldn’t have looked a bit more in love as you twirled with your Prince Charming on the ballroom floor. I was so happy for you. As a mother, I was proud of the good and gentle spirit you had maintained despite your circumstances. What wise advice your beautiful mother left you with; “be courageous and be kind”. And how wise of you for listening and always remembering her words. I left the theater feeling all bubbly and silly and in love. Then…a little smirk came about my face as well and I was happy that your step-sisters and evil srep-mother, lets say “broke you in”. Cinderella, as your years with Prince Charming continue together, you must always do your best to remember and follow your mother’s advice; “be courageous and be kind”.

I hope you had a wonderful and relaxing honeymoon. I hope you went somewhere warm? I understand that when it’s “true love” time doesn’t matter, but if you had asked me I would have told you your courtship seemed a little short. I prayed you wouldn’t notice any odd or unusual hygiene rituals on your honeymoon that you weren’t expecting? I do keep forgetting that you’re in that stage where everything he does seem cute and sweet! What about the odd way he brushes and flosses his teeth?  Don’t worry, it will get to you. Remember Cinderella, “be kind”.

What are your plans after the honeymoon? What exactly does “Happily Ever After” look like? I’m sure you look forward to cooking delicious meals for him night after night and tidying up the house and doing his laundry so he can come home and relax in the evenings after a long day of being King. I think I’m a little too mouthy to be the wife of a King. I actually think I’m a little too mouthy to be a wife at all sometimes. Does he like to go away on “guys’ trips” yet? You know, to blow off steam? I’m sure he will soon, if not yet. Doesn’t he like hunting? Something’s in season all the time, you know. If it’s not elk or deer it might be football, basketball, or baseball. I know you’ll miss him…at first. It’s hard to believe this now, but at one point you’ll look forward to your own peace and quiet while he’s gone….until he leaves you alone with all your children that is. Then, you will feel a little mad or jealous or even for a split second not really care if he comes home at all! “Be kind”, Cinderella.

The King seems like a really structured, organized kind of guy. I bet that feels really nice and secure right now. Always knowing where he’ll be and precisely what and when you’re going to be doing “said” activity with him. That lack of spontaneity may kill you in a few years though. You think his jokes are cute and funny now don’t you? Wait till you hear them over, and over, and over again. “Be courageous and be kind.”

I can’t tell you how excited you will be one day when you find out you will be a mother! Talk about magic! Your waist will go from 28 inches to 44 in what seems like overnight! Your beautiful, milky white skin will stretch to its limit and before your eyes purple, iridescent, vertical stripes will appear! You will get those breasts you had hoped for in high school but will soon find out however, that they really just act as a counterweight for your butt so you don’t fall backward all day. Just a warning Cinderella,  you will also become very sensitive and irrational and convinced that songs such as ‘Baby’s Got Back’ were written about you. This is normal and remember; “be courageous”.


Ten years from now, after your third, precious baby is born, your beautiful hair will usually be found dirty and in a sloppy bun on the top of your head. You’ll wake up exhausted, having been up every 2 hours all night nursing the baby, and head towards your life blood, the coffee pot. Your middle child will see you and holler for a chocolate milk. Your oldest will want help finding her favorite jeans and ask why you wear purple eye-shadow under your eyes. That together with your husband’s complaining that his back is a little sore from sleeping all night long in one position will make you want to yell “if your nipples aren’t bleeding and your butt’s not flipped inside out, I’m really not in the mood to hear it right now”. You will only be refrained by remembering your mother’s sweet advice and head on to the coffee pot like you’re deaf and dumb, skills you’ve mastered over the years. There is a plus Cinderella, by the time you have your third child you can doze off in the rocking chair at night, barely slumped forward and still nurse the baby lying in your lap. I’m not joking, the equipment will reach. “Be courageous and be kind.” There is a woman named Victoria and she has a Secret.

I don’t want to sound like a ‘downer’ Cinderella, I just want you to be prepared and not misled by the Fairy-tale world you live in. However, before I end my letter I have to tell you about the “Fairy” parts!

I know you’ve seen pumpkins turn into stagecoaches and mice into horses but I can’t wait for you to see the “magic” that I’ve seen. You see, I’ve had center stage on the day each of my children were born. I was the first person to touch each one of their faces since being touched by the hands of God! Their skin is so soft Cinderella, you have to look with your eyes to make sure you’re even touching it. There will be nights when you’re up all alone with this child and you’ll be afraid that your heart might just burst with love. But “have courage”, it won’t.


Sophia Grace


Harrison Michael


Haley Kathryn

Over the years, you and your Prince Charming will suffer losses and celebrate joys. I pray that with every one, when you look around, he’ll be right there beside you like mine has been. There’s a good chance he will have his arm around you, telling you one of his stupid jokes trying to make you laugh and feel better, and guess what…you will. When you’re needing a rest but there is so much to do, I hope your Type A Prince lovingly says to you, “it’s done or scheduled to be completed this afternoon”, go lie down. When you can’t imagine him not being there when you look around during your next high or low, “be courageous”, I pray he will.

And lastly, when your Fairy Godmother shows up at your front door offering a post-baby, full-body makeover, I hope you gratefully decline. You will be tempted I promise, but if you accept Cinderella, your little boy inside playing will forget to ask to hear the story. You know, the one where you first think he’s teasing you when he asks you why you have stripes across your hips and belly? But then like every other time you remember; he just wants to hear the story about how you loved him even before you knew him. You’d miss his smiles when you told him he was practicing somersaults and jumping jacks inside there and that’s what striped your belly.

Cinderella, I pray you have a wonderful “Tale” to tell but I hope it’s not too “Fairy”. If you don’t have to work for it, you’ll have nothing to be proud of really. If you don’t run into your weakness, you won’t have something to improve. I’m even afraid that if you don’t have some “lows” you’ll take all your “highs” for granted and even miss out on the joy you can find when you are down there. So with all my love Cinderella, I’m praying that you have a beautiful “Tale”, with just the normal amount of “Fairy”, just like the rest of us. I would hate for you to miss out on a wonderful life just because the “normal” you are living isn’t the “Fairy-tale” you thought it was supposed to be!

With love and sweet thoughts until I write again,                                                                           Susan

Essential Oils

After a long day at work, hurriedly feeding the kids at Subway, and dropping Sophia off at dance, we sat, waiting on Rick to get off work, in the Wendy’s parking, our designated kid pass off spot, so I could get to my next event. We were going to have to wait a while so I decided to let the kids get unbuckled and run around in the back of the car. This is an extremely fun activity for Harrison and Haley, who can no longer agree on the same DVD to watch. I knew they would be entertained, fairly safe, and at low risk for breaking something, thus allowing me a few moments to mentally check out. I applied my peppermint and lavender oils to my temples and inner wrists which helps me better pretend that I have a secret force field separating the two front seats from the rest of the SUV, and began to enter my daily transactions into my GoodBudget App on my phone so I can better monitor my overspending. I look up to see a very nice, put together, disciplined man from my church approaching my passenger side door. I hoped he just wanted to wave… but he stopped. It was complete chaos in my car to everyone else but me and my essential oils. The kids were having so much fun they were almost sweating and definitely revved up beyond a simple verbal command to be quiet and get in their seats. He stopped and I rolled down my window. He did the glance down! The front seat and floor board were covered with shoes, basketball jerseys, dance equipment, hair brushes, and enough empty water bottles to think I was a recycling center. My very back-end was filled with white trash bags to go to Goodwill from our pre-Christmas clean out. My two youngest children were flopping and rolling and jumping all over the bags and we could barely talk over their wild state. I attempted to reprimand them a couple of times but they also knew they had a secret force field around them in front of my company. All I could do was imagine that his car was perfectly vacuumed, and his center console was meticulously organized with pen and paper and his favorite gum, always there right where he needed them. I knew that all his CDs were alphabetized, after of course being sub cagetoriezed into gernra, and in his Sun Visor CD holder at a fingertips reach… and there I was… containing my children with only the locks on my doors and the ability to daydream.

Das Feid Baug

I am so excited to share with you all a new product I’m working on. I’m happy to report that the DisposAll-Vac, featured in Vacuum Therapy, will be on shelves in stores near you (with minor waivers to be signed at time of purchase) in early summer. My Sleep Erect standing frame, as discuss in Puffer, is unfortunately being held up in testing due to inability to find voluntary trial subjects. This new product is still in the brain storming phase but I just can’t wait to tell you about it! It’s called the…

How about I just tell you the story behind its development? By the way, I never learned German but it has never stopped me from “speaking it”.

I have recently really been stepping it up with my dinner prep and meal execution at the table through completion. I’ve sautéed, broiled, baked, and Crock-Potted. I’ve shredded, diced, and I think Julienned one time by mistake. I’ve beat, stirred, and folded more than just the laundry.

Thai Peanut Chicken Lettuce Wraps with cashews and green onions-just in case you though I might be lying!

However, like Haley, who is 3 and is suffering from a recent “Frozen” relapse, I have tendencies to backslide. I thought we had finally “Let It Go” but she just couldn’t “hold it back anymore”. Step 1: I am fully aware and finally admitting that I have a problem. I always underestimate how long it takes to get things accomplished and always try to do just one more thing before its time to get ready to leave the house. NOTE: If the next 11 steps of the recovery process are as challenging to complete as the first for this bull-headed Taurus, I’m doomed for a life of last-minute rushing.

Sophia had to be at dance at 5:30 and Rick doesn’t get off of work until 6:00. In his absence I was tempted to hit the drive-thru but I knew it would be the first step down the slippery slope into the grease pit of the fast-food world. I was aware that I had hit rock bottom one day when I found myself throwing away Burger King trash in the drive-thru at Wendy’s. I was convicted and I couldn’t handle the shame any longer. I was angry too, that I had been brainwashed into truly believing that alternating between oblong, round, and crown-shaped chicken nuggets was considered appropriate diet variation. With or without Rick, I was adamant that we were going to calmly eat our dinner together, at the table, and discuss our days, whether they liked it or not! Knowing Rick’s seat at the table would be empty I did alter my menu and made a double batch of Horizon Organic macaroni and cheese and served it on mismatched flatware. Like usual, I did set a napkin to the left of each of their bowls, knowing I would pick them up again following the meal untouched. The mac and cheese streaks, along with their snot, always washes off their sleeves on laundry day. By the way, my children prefer Horizon Organic over Kraft 2:1. Plus it’s often 10 for $10 at Kroger. I think Harrison votes for Kraft because he likes the way Red 40 makes him feel. How else could they get that unusually bright “cheddar” color? It has to be Red 40.

Anyway, while our mac and cheese was cooling I told the younger two to get their shoes and jackets on. I was trying to stay on top of things. As I was braiding Sophia’s hair I glanced up at the clock. It was 5:05! Who came into my house and turned my clocks forward! No time to eat “peacefully” at the table and “listen” intently about one another’s days now! “Harrison, Haley… get in the car.” I yelled as I finished my best braid. My stress was building when I saw no signs of Harrison or Haley. I ran to the back of the house and found them in Harrison’s room playing with Mickey, the hamster. “I told you to get your jews and shackets on! Don’t stare at me like that! I said move! Sophia is going to miss her dance cake! What is that stench in here? You’re going to clean that camster hage before you go to bed tonight! Now get in the car and get tucked in. I’ll bring you your dinner.” (My subconscious mind obviously knew that cake and bedtime would make me feel better.)

***Can just one person please tell me that motherhood has caused them to suffer from expressive aphasia? And that it happens so often your family can translate your jumble and they rarely make fun of you anymore because they already know you worry about being crazy?!!!

Anyway, Haley ran by me with the toes of her shoes pointing out. If I worry about any of my kids having a gambling problem, it is Haley. Even with 50/50 odds, she is usually on the wrong foot. When she was almost passed me I hooked her neck with her rubber Tommee Tippee bib. Rick and I unfortunately did not discover these until Haley, our last one. I remember shopping for some new bibs when I was pregnant with her. There was a young, sweet couple next to us gently fondling the bibs for comfort and examining their aesthetics. I asked Rick what he thought of the rubber Tommee Tippee ones that had caught my eye, but was worried that he may think they were too cold and stiff. He said, “I don’t know, give it a good jerk to see if she will be able to get it off.”

“Same page”, I said to myself!

It held tight to a good jerk so we threw two in the basket; 1 pink, 1 purple. We love them! When dinner is over you simply wash it just like a Tupperware. It also has this awesome trough. When you miss a bite, you can scoop it up again and go for round 2. They are the best, seriously. I’m not getting paid to say this.Tommee Tippee Bibs

Haley and Harrison were strapped into their seats. My co-pilot, Sophia, served Harrison his mac and cheese in the third row and put our bowls in the cockpit while I served Haley. I looked at my 3-year-old and said “you can do this right”? My words were accompanied by an encouraging head bob and raised eye brows. Time was ticking and Sophia’s cake was about to start. Haley looked at me with a face that said, “I’m going to try my best Mommy, to hold this bowl with one hand and eat with a spoon in the other; a task that I can find challenging at best while sitting still at the kitchen table. Not to mention the difficultly of leaning forward to take a bit while strapped in a 5-point harness and weight shifting left and right trying to counteract your erratic driving.”  I grabbed the bowl from her hand and before giving my inner voice “Common Sense” a chance to speak up, I listened to “Troublemaker” and dumped her mac and cheese in her trough. Before slamming the door I yelled, “try to keep a grip on that spoon Baby!” By the time we reached Sophia’s dance studio, Haley’s trough was empty, other than her spoon, which was neatly resting in the bottom. She was happy, full, and not a noodle on the floor!

So hopefully by fall, I, in conjunction with Tommee Tippee will make life for the mother on the go a little easier with Das Feid Baug. No more stress induced expressive aphasia. You’ll simply yell, “Come on kids, let’s strap on the old feed bags. It’s time to go”! (I of course had to give it an awesome German sounding name so all the yuppie American parents will buy it.)

Das Feid Baug: on the way to AWANA at church!

Can’t live without Das Feid Baug accessories:

(sold separately of course)

1. Velcro utensil attachment to make dropping impossible

2. Splash guard rims for cereal for the morning commuters

3. Sectioned dividers for the pickiest of eaters to allow for ketchup and hot dog separation

Das Feid Baug: on the way to dance!

But wait! There’s more! To carry along with you in your Das Feid Baug bag:

1. Disposable sleeve protector slide on napkins, AND

2. The Original Das Fied Baug hand wipes, so your children don’t have to eat their mac and cheese with hamster hands

Great for adults too! Creates a hand free eating environment for utensil requiring food in the car! You really only need one hand to drive after all don’t you?

Das Feid Baug: for your hour alone on Wednesday nights!!!


I hate when our going to bed routine gets altered…and last night it did.

Ignoring any good marriage counselor’s advice, Rick and I usually go to bed at different times on purpose. I’m going to “man-up” for a moment and say it is basically my fault. Rick produces a very reasonable amount of noise while sleeping and has fulfilled his part in correcting our issues. I just have a difficult time getting to sleep with ANY noise. I can’t help it. Therefore, Rick let’s me know when he takes his Melatonin to induce sleepiness and I jump up and head to bed knowing I have about 20 minutes to get to sleep before he gets drowsy and comes in to join. By that time, I’m sound asleep and it works out just fine. Just in case you were wondering, we aren’t 70.

Last night Rick sweetly said it was my turn to decide what we were going to watch. He then went on to report that WVU had a basketball game the next night and he was calling dibs on the TV. He also informed me not to expect any social interaction or parenting from him during that time. Don’t get me wrong, he will still help with the kids, they may just have to eat dinner and get their baths by 4PM.

(My husband is such a fan, he didn’t consider this, on the back of my kid’s head, overdoing it! Thus, another reason I now cut his hair at home!)

(Heading off to a game! By the way, Rick wrote up a pre-nup that stated he was allowed to go to all home WVU football games. I obviously signed it.)

With this new bit of information, I chose a chick flick without any regards for him. I ended up watching it alone. Rick’s interest was lost when no one got killed in the first 20 minutes. When it was over, I headed to bed tired and sleepy knowing I’d drift off into a beautiful sleep almost instantaneously. I tip toed past my husband, who sleeps like he is in a coffin without a blanket or duvet cover disrupted and hopped into my side of the bed. I lay there for a moment in utter relaxation but then quickly became highly irritated and wide awake, with no possibility of going to sleep in the upcoming future.

You see, Rick doesn’t fall into the category of a traditional “snorer”. My dentist brother fit Rick with a snore guard as a wedding present. That was one heck of a gift from my brother for many reasons. My money conscious husband would say that the number one reason was that we only had to pay shipping costs for a marriage saving device that would usually run about $800. Knowing that % x W(whole)=P(part) you can perform some simple algebraic conversions to determine that shipping/$800= thank you best brother ever for the nominal percentage saved. While I told you that Rick is not a snorer, I didn’t say that he wasn’t, what I like to call, a “puffer”. I lay there listening to long, deep, relaxed inhales followed by a short pause. Then, after the pressure of the exhale builds up, it’s through heavy, relaxed lips, that it puffs out. That’s it, very mild rhythmic puffing. I however, absolutely can’t take it. I want to sit up and yell, “for all that is good and right in this world…JUST BREATH!!!” I resist, knowing he has lovingly gotten used to sleeping with his lower jaw attached to his upper for my benefit. There’s nothing like hearing “good night Sue” through clenched teeth. Its hot.

I dig through my top nightstand drawer to find my ear plugs. I could only find one. I believe I have discussed earlier about having my things regularly stolen and broken and even one time soaked with saliva undiscovered until I put it in my ear. Talk about a Wet Willie. I then began kicking myself for not getting up in the middle of the night last time this happened to write ‘ear plugs’ on the grocery list.

(Note: One would think you could find these in the Women’s Sleepwear department at WalMart but you can’t. Don’t waste your time, listen to me and head to the Hunting department.)

I lay there on my side with my top ear plugged, trying to tune it out and get to sleep but I couldn’t stop wondering how a man, who walks around all day, inoffensively breathing, so quickly becomes an irritant when lying supine. I consider this a universal problem for most marriages from what I understand. A couple of my friends’ husbands use CPAP machines at night. (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) I’ve seen them at the hospital in the ICU. I could imagine the machine’s humming being somewhat soothing. However, just one wrong head turn and the seal of the mask on the face is broken and a loud, flapping fart noise slips out.  I could just imagine myself jumping from the bed, awakened from a deep sleep in fight or flight mode thinking someone had replaced my husband with a 400 pound man passing gas.

I lay there, wide awake, thinking about Harrison in his full bed and Sophia and Haley in their own rooms in their queen sized beds. I then wonder why we, who both work hard to pay for our house, decide it’s reasonable to sleep in the equivalent of a twin bed beside each other sharing a room. Don’t get me wrong, if you read Cold Cuts you know that I’m happily married. It just seems regressive and I like to move forward. I also can’t stop thinking about how I could design a standing frame for people who suffer from snoring.  I imagine that standing while sleeping like you’re a horse and with the proper head position maintained by straps, the problem could be easily solved. With a few minor details in my design left to be resolved, I decide I should get up and find another sleeping partner.

Haley has the nicest bed but her internal compass, with pillow pointing North, is not yet properly functioning being only 3 years old. She has a tendency to sleep dew East which means her sweet little feet jab you in the ribs all night. She is quite however. I contemplate my other options. Harrison’s compass, being 6 years old, is correctly working so I headed across the hall and knew I quickly fall asleep with my quietly sleeping son.

I was reaching maximal relaxation and I knew sleep was right around the bend when I heard him. How could I have forgotten that Harrison had a new nocturnal roommate. You can meet Mickey in Warm Blooded Love. I laid there for a moment hoping Mickey simply needed a little drink and would soon return to his nest. He then however hopped on his squeaky wheel and began blazing a trail toward nowhere. I imagined his inner hamster voice repeating as he ran, “I’ve gotta get outta here, I’ve gotta get outta here”. The pitter patter of his feet and squeaking wheel were almost tolerable. It was the intermittent gnawing of hamster enamel on the metal cage bars that made my skin crawl. The gnawing was followed by what I believe sounded like hamster “hands” shaking at the door in an attempt to avoid playing with Harrison tomorrow. I listened to a couple cycles of: drink, run, gnaw, and shake before I moved on to my next sleeping partner Sophia.

Sophia’s room was warm and cozy and most importantly QUIET. I drifted off to a beautiful sleep but what seemed like minutes later, I heard Haley, in a cheery voice state, “it’s time to get up time”!

So instead of taking a nap on this beautiful Sunday afternoon, I enjoyed telling you a story. Sitting in the sunlight and watching birds at my feeder, my heart can’t help but sing a childhood song. “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Warm Blooded Love

It is funny when something happens that makes you realize you have changed.

About 2 weeks ago, I went to bat for the kids and convinced Rick that our children would grow up to be weird adults if they didn’t have a warm-blooded pet to love and nurture. We go through cycles of fish, as you have read in Little Lou, and recently purchased some Sea Monkeys in an attempt to quench their thirst. The Sea Monkeys surprisingly hatched just like they were supposed to after adding Pouch 1 and Pouch 2 to tap water and waiting 4-5 days. The time required for the hatching to occur increased the anticipation of their arrival. After watching them for a few days we discovered that they are almost as exciting to watch as dust particles floating in the sunlight. Today however, Harrison noticed one of them giving another one a piggyback ride and explained that they must be good friends. Sophia chimed in quickly but got cut off short by her mother who wasn’t in the mood to give a sex-ed talk induced by Sea Monkey behavior. So after Rick explained to me that he was against the idea and would have nothing to do with them, he reluctantly agreed.

Last week we made it a snow day activity to buy some hamsters at the local pet store. It was an awesome day.  1 point for Mom! The three kids and I drove over to my Mom and Dad’s house in questionable road conditions with a great need to treat our cabin fever and to pick up my and my brother’s old hamster cages. Rick and I had decided that we were going to make the kids use their own money to buy the hamsters and all their supplies in addition to caring for and cleaning up after them. The total came to $30 each. Sophia offered to clean up the playroom if I knocked her payback price down to $20. I agreed. I offered Harrison some chores to lessen his cost as well but he replied, “No, I’m just going to play on the iPad and pay you”. I knew this would be his answer before I asked anyway, I’ve heard him offer his sister a dollar to make is bed. I wont be surprised at all one day if he somehow figures out how to pay his friend to cut his grass and remove his snow.

(Meet Mickey)

We adopted Mickey and Daisy on a Wednesday. On Friday morning, Rick calmly yelled for me and Harrison to come to Harrison’s room where he was waiting on us. We walked quickly down the hall together. Harrison looked up at me with an anxious look on his face. I could have offered him a look of reassurance but I’m pretty sure my face yelled “get in the game son”! We walked in the room and Mickey, who was tired from wheel running all night, was luckily curled up sleeping with his hamster cage door wide open. I repeat wide open!

As a little girl I grew up loving anything my mom would let me keep in a shoe-box. In addition to a baby bird, a mole, and turtles, I regularly had hamsters. One of them, Heidi, was my favorite. She loved me. I really know she did. I could put my hand inside her cage and she would run right up my arm and sit on my shoulder. In the summer, I’d tie a piece of yarn around her neck and take her for “walks” in the yard, pausing to let her eat clover. I used to take one of my dads perfectly ironed handkerchiefs and tie it to the underside of my Rose Thunder bike’s banana seat. I’d drive Heidi all over the neighborhood in her little hammock over potholes and mole burrowed grass. As an adult, I now know that when she spread her arms and strangely human like fingers out wide as I was trying to put her in her hammock, that this wasn’t a sign of overwhelming excitement but more of an attempt to save her already rodently short life span of two years.

(Don’t worry. One day I will blog about all my bad hair-dos growing up. Sure to be a favorite of many!)

A couple days later than we should have, I showed the kids the cage cleaning technique that I expected them to follow for the next time and every time after that when they did it on their OWN. They were to…

1. Carry their cage into the kids’ bathroom and place their hamsters, one at a time, in the bathtub where they couldn’t get away. (I stressed the importance of only one hamster in the bathtub at a time due to the chance that Mickey and Daisy might become good friends just like the Sea Monkeys, who may be suffering from an over population situation soon due to their “friendliness”.

They were to then…

2. Simply dump the old bedding into a kitchen size trash bag,

3. Wipe the cage out with a paper towel and non-toxic cleaner, then

4. Return the hamster to the cage and lastly to their room.

About a week later, which was also a few days later than recommended, I told the kids to go clean their  hamster cages as I previously instructed. I was determined not to get involved, as Rick and I had planned, in order to build our children’s responsibility. I won’t say that I didn’t listen intently however, and imagined what was going on. I could hear that Sophia’s hamster, Daisy, was put in the bathtub first. Within about 10 minutes, I heard Sophia carrying Daisy upstairs to her room. I waited for a while but never heard her come back down to help Harrison like she had promised me she would do if I let her buy a hamster. I waited for a few minutes, listening to Harrison and his 3-year-old assistant, before I couldn’t take it any longer and went in to check on their progress.

(Harrison’s “helper”)

Haley was in the bathtub with Mickey, who was impatiently waiting on his room and check in time to arrive. He would climb up the side of the porcelain bathtub, trying to escape, but would then slide back down the wall to Haley who would proclaim, “yuk Mommy, he yikes me.” Harrison had apparently missed the tall kitchen size trash bag when dumping the dirty cage. I know he was trying hard to sweep it up with a dust broom and pan but he was rolling on the floor and sliding on his knees, like his name had been drawn to “Dash for Cash”.


When she arrived I said, “just what is going on in here?”, insinuating her absence in the bathroom and thus the complete disarray. In that moment I saw that Harrison was no longer using a dust broom and pan to clean up but was using a pincer grip to pick up what I was pretending to be grains of black rice in order to maintain my sanity.

“What mom?” “Haley is helping him”, said with a head bob and an understood duuuhhhh.

So I ended up helping… but the entire time swearing that I would never help again or I would take their hamsters back to the pet store. Yes, it did get ugly for a few minutes. If you would have asked me at that moment, I would have agreed with Rick. However, knowing that he reads my blog, I didn’t admit it and I still won’t. I think the hamsters were a fair (+) to good (-) idea.

I supervised Harrison’s hand washing to a very slow, mournful happy birthday tempo knowing he likes to sing quickly and move on to the cake or whatever activity might be more exciting than proper hygiene. I then handed him a Clorox wipe, to remove any “rice” that the soap had missed. I purposely didn’t read the “Safe Usage” instructions on the Clorox wipes because I did not want to read “not safe to use on children”.

I occasionally look at Mickey or Daisy and begin to get a slight warm and fuzzy feeling, but most of the time I wonder why I invited 2 rodents to live with us and basically take over one of our bathrooms.  I haven’t Google’d, “do hamsters carry diseases?”, I know it won’t help me desensitize to their presence. I wish I didn’t see their mess, or smell the stink that peaks at about day 8, or thought about germs…..but I do. I’ve changed. I tolerate them because I remember what I learned from Heidi and other animals I loved.

I think love needs to be taught just like manners, through words and by example. Children need to hear and see it, over and over again, for it to become a natural part of their everyday thoughts and actions. So while Mickey and Daisy will help our kids learn about financial responsibility as well as being independent with chores, I hope they will be a tool for them to learn about LOVE, COMPASSION, and to be a GIVER to those who need them.

While I know that time and life changes me, hopefully most of the time for the better, I find comfort in knowing that my God is “the same yesterday, today, and forever”. (Hebrews 13:8) I pray that I can be an example to my children to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31) even if they never learn to chew with their mouths closed.

Every Drop

Depending on where or when you grew up, what you may refer to as your purse, your neighbor next door may lovingly call her pocketbook or hand bag. From the utilitarian, functional look, to the status symbol, fashion statement, this item, carried around with us everywhere we go, contains our everyday personal items.

My first memories of carrying a purse was when I was a little girl on Easter morning. In addition to my frilly dress, gloves, white hat, and patent leather white shoes…I carried a purse. I remember thinking it was an awesome way to smuggle my Easter candy to church. In addition, I would meticulously fill it with my red, cherry Chapstick and of course a pack of tissues.

We definitely didn’t live in the “Forget the Frock” age.

I remember being dropped off in middle school at Seneca Showcase, our local, two feature movie theater.  I would run in and find my friends who were also carrying their little purses around their neck and across their chest. It was a sign of growing up and learning to take care of yourself, even if it was only carrying enough cash to pay for your ticket, popcorn, and a drink. Unlike girls today, I didn’t have a phone in my purse. However, in its place I had at a quarter, given to me by my dad, along with a quick “call me and I’ll be there”. I kept it safe right beside my pack of tissue.

When Sophia, my oldest and now 11 yr. old, was a wee little girl, I would regularly hand her my purse and let her dig through it to keep her quiet when necessary. She would find random papers to write on or an old snack to enjoy from days before. Her favorite however, was lining up her tiny Polly Pockets then putting each one of them to “bed” using my tissues to cover each one of them with a “blanket”.

One day in church, Harrison, my only son and now 6 yr. old, was having a difficult time holding still and behaving.  Since it had always worked with Sophia, I handed him my purse to explore. He quieted down and I began to enjoy the message…UNTIL…the woman sitting behind me gently tapped me on the shoulder and nodded her head in the direction of my son. I turned his way and immediately felt my face flush with embarrassment. He was swinging, above his head, an unwrapped tampon, by the string. He looked as if he was doing a Mexican Hat dance and my tampon was his festive dancing prop. I jump up to grab it just a moment AFTER he released his pinching grip on the string. It went catapulting through the air directly toward the back of a bald man’s head. Due to my cat-like reflexes, that I have developed since raising an active boy, I caught that SUPER sized torpedo! I gave a small curtsy to my audience behind and sat down, having learned a lesson.

My purse still manages the role of pantry, filled with a variety of snacks, as well as my family’s trash can on the go. It isn’t however, used any more as a babysitter. For this reason, I often tell my little Haley, who is 3, to pack a bag or purse before we leave so she will have something to quietly entertain herself. There have been times I have been tempted to question her packing and the need for a plate or one random sock but I then remember the universal rule.  Don’t question what I consider an everyday personal item and I won’t question you. A girl just needs her stuff. Like my mother did, I do remind her, “don’t forget your tissues”!

There is the quite frequent occasion that I asked my sweet husband, Rick, to hold my purse for a moment. He’s not the kind of man who holds it out away from himself with one finger, so anyone wondering, would know that it wasn’t his. He is also not the type that swings it onto his shoulder and wears it like it is his own. He just carries it by his side only one time questioning the reason it was so heavy. He is now educated on the universal rule that I follow with Haley.

You see, we all need a little help sometimes. It may be holding our purse so we can shop a little more effectively, but other times it may be something significantly more. Where there are women, there will be purses.  And with our help through the United Way’s Power of the Purse, more women will be digging through their purses looking for tissues to soak up tears induced by success, relief, laughter, gratefulness,  joy, and hope for their children’s and their futures.

So come on March 18th to Harmony Ridge Gallery…and bring your purse…filled with plans to carry it home lighter. I guarantee that the money you leave will give you something it never could have bought.

“We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.” Mother Teresa


It’s that stressful time of day between 5 and 6:30 PM when everyone is hungry, Rick, my hubby, will be home from work at anytime, the house is a mess despite working all day, and the kids are laying on the couch watching some absurd, brain rotting show on Nickelodeon. I’m however am in the kitchen, kickin’ it in high gear, trying my best to keep it together. I reach into my junk drawer to get my scissors and…..THEY’RE GONE!!!

That’s it, the last straw fell…”WHERE ARE MY SCISSORS!!!!” The kids look this way. I repeat the same phrase, this time banging both fists on the counter for more emphasis. “GET UP, GET UP, GET UP, FIND MY SCISSORS NOW!” My 3 precious offspring jump up in fear and begin scurrying. I grip the counter and try to “breath it down” like I learned in child birthing classes. It was too late for my essential oils. I could tell my breathing techniques were going to fail me today as they did in the labor room each time. There was no epidural for this pain however! Beyond my control I needed release. It needed out. I tried to hold back but it was going to win. I grabbed the underside of my chin and tore back my “sweet gentle mother” mask. I rolled my head around backwards and side to side morphing into this creature I’ve yet to tame. ” I….. NEED…… MY……SCISSOOOOOOORS!” said in an echoing low voice. Then the rant began…

“How am I supposed to make you all a healthy dinner without scissors? The Dinner Creations package clearly states that I am supposed to cut the package open with a tiny pair of scissors. I am not to tear it, or cut it with a knife, and unlike other people around here I try to follow the rules. Do you see me taking your important things and breaking or hiding them? Of course not! You leave all your stuff everywhere for me to pick up and put away. All I do all day is carry your junk from one end of the house to the other like a rented mule. I can’t take it anymore. ( that’s one of my favorites) I can’t believe Santa brought you all anything this year. I’m going to get that elf on the shelf some glasses for his birthday, then maybe he’ll tell Santa the truth. You know you’re supposed to keep your grubby hooks off those scissors. They are MINE, MINE, MINE!!!! ( I stomp my feet sometimes too for added effect). I think I could buy scissors at Walmart every week and I still don’t think you could find a pair around this pig sty. Actually, right now I’m going to go and write “scissors” on the top line of every page of the grocery list. So help me (another one of my favorites) when I find those scissors I’m going to… ( thinking about what I’m going to do) I’m going to…(still thinking) I’m going to cut that package open then do something so bad you’re going to hate it. Then I, unlike YOU, am going to put the scissors back in the drawer. Yeah, that’s what I’m going to do.” (I use hand motions too).”

Moments later I saw a shadow toss the scissors on the counter and runoff. Since I don’t live in a convenience store and don’t have a tape measure extending vertically from floor to ceiling at my back door, I couldn’t be positive but I believe the image stood at the approximate height of my middle child. I found them all cowering in the playroom, huddled together gently pushing Haley, my youngest, forward. We are all aware that she gets off a little easy with my tendency to blame her acts of blatant defiance on mere childhood innocence. After-all, she is my third and final. I tell them “I am going to buy my own pair of scissors and keep them hidden and so help me ( see, there again) if you even ask to use them, you’ll wish you hadn’t”. “I don’t even care if it is for a school project.” “I’ll even deny that I own my own, secretly hidden scissors to cut your gauze during a major emergency.” (I head-bob too for added effect) “Are you picking up what I’m puttin’ down?”

As you see, I did get some new scissors…

They are so sweet I almost wish they came with a holster so I could wear them around, always prepared and ready to cut. They are designed with a comfort grip and a razor edge so sharp it needs a protective sheath. Kudos to the iridescent packaging marketing strategy that grabbed my eye that day. The scissors will be hidden but were clearly marked first. Hopefully, they will be reminded of what went down and how they barely made it out alive, on that cold December day.

Moments after a scenario like the actually benign one described above, my kids seem fine and back to their normal business. It is me however, who stands at the pantry door eating Little Debbie’s, filled with guilt and disappointed in my inability to control my anger. After a while, I tell them I’m sorry and remorsefully ask for forgiveness, which they always happily give me. Their unasked for hugs and smiles for me let me know they’ve moved on.

You AGAIN have compassion on me(us); you will tread my(our) sins underfoot and will hurl all my(our) iniquities into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:19  Just like my children, who also know my heart’s desire, You let me start over again, like a new fresh day, even if it is 8 PM. I hesitantly reached out to take the gift I undeservingly came seeking. A fresh slate, a gift, knowing that otherwise I’ll be stuck in my shame, unable to move on….to be better for them….where I’m the worst….in the walls we surround ourselves with….called home.

Sign Language- What Nice Girls Don’t Say!

Despite the fact that I have been monthly practicing for years with managing my intermittent, temporary psychosis, I struggle. I could feel that this morning was going to be a challenge, to say the least. I have found that my most effective strategies have been:

1. Interact minimally

2. Say as little as possible and

3. Use sign language

These techniques decreases the chance that my family will have to call 1-800-x-or-cism later in the day.

I walked out into the family room, forced to leave my warm bed due to adult responsibilities, and remarked obnoxiously, “gosh it’s freezing out here, why isn’t the fire on”? Settle down, breathe deep, just get your coffee and you’ll be fine.

I turned on the fire, myself!, as I walked to the coffee pot. I then sat down in my spot on the chaise, covered up with my faux throw, and grabbed my “Breath” Bible study. I needed to soak something in quickly before I started a load of laundry and got in the shower. Haley was adamant about being right in the middle of my lap and under my throw.  I would have welcomed her with loving arms but I was questioning her motives. I’m not sure that she particularly wanted in my lap as much as she could see that I was enjoying holding my book and coffee, like one of her siblings, and wanted them out of my arms and her in their place.

Do you know how it feels when someone is purposefully hanging out approximately 1 inch from your face and won’t move because they think its funny? Or, could you imagine having someone follow you around all day tapping, at a high tempo, on your upper trap? How about trying to help your 5th grader show five different Common Core ways to solve 2+2 while kids are fighting in the background about whose turn it is on the Ipad? All of these scenarios described above, going on simultaneously, plus being hooked up to a wide open IV of caffeine, is how hormones can make you feel.  I wish my husband could experience it just one month. Then he may be more willing to “let ‘er roll” for just a couple days knowing I am struggling with all my might to keep myself from becoming “one hot mess”.

With only frustration found from my coffee, book, and cuddling, I got up to start a load of laundry. One of my children, not Sophia she would want you to know, wet the bed last night. Accidents happen though don’t they? I wonder who didn’t make him/her pee before getting in bed last night? And if he/she would sleep straight in his/her bed like a normal person, I wouldn’t be having to wash a pillow as well as the sheets, blanket, and mattress protector. That will take a whole extra load! Who pees on a pillow when they wet the bed!

Hey Rick, I’m going to take a quick shower since I have to do some laundry before work this morning. I want to make sure you have hot water. I’d probably gouge my eyes out with a fork if I have to listen to you complain about getting a cold shower.

I go through my morning routine trying to avoid contact or interaction with anyone, following strategies #1 and #2.  The bus would be here any minute and I had told Harrison about 10 minutes ago to start getting his high-tops on. These are a controversial new pair of high-tops. Rick and I both swore we would never buy another pair. However one day, a couple weeks ago, Rick and Harrison came home from Hibbetts with them. Rick walked in the door cautiously, bringing with him a thorough explanation as to why he found it a good idea to buy him another pair. His argument included: they were exactly like his basketball shoes, they were on sale, and my favorite, Harrison had promised him he wouldn’t cause us a bit of trouble over them ever again. Are you kidding me! That kid couldn’t keep a promise to breath! You see, in order to get his high-tops on he has to loosen the laces completely. Then, even though instructed otherwise, he still grabs the laces by their ends and gives them a big pull. He then throws a fit when he can’t get the laces below to tighten up and lay down flat. I don’t remember Rick promising ME he would help Harrison get those shoes on every morning before he left for work. He also didn’t buy 2 locks that would require a key to get them off again at bedtime. I applied some lavender oil to my wrists and temples before leaving the bathroom to check on his progress.  Hopefully, the fragrance would help me refrain from getting out my electric knife and cutting those family destroying, high-tops off at ankle level.

I went into the family room, where last-minute scurrying was going on. “It is SO hot in here! Why is the fire still on! I’m going to die!” I started digging through my purse for some lip gloss. That always makes me feel better. Dig-dig-dig, empty M&M tube, dig-dig, glue stick, dig, old used tissue, something sticky, and a 6 pack of Nabs that someone had eaten one of and put the other five back into my purse to crumble and sit in the bottom! “This is MY purse! Mine, mine, mine, not your trash can!” I continued sarcastically, “How about I just dumped this left over oatmeal sitting on the table in my purse and maybe this banana peel on the counter.” “This sock in the floor would fit in nicely too.” “I have an idea. Why don’t we just get rid of all the trash cans in the house and use my purse instead!” “Maybe I’ll invent purse liners for easy cleanup.” “Wait!” “You don’t replace or pull up trash can liners.” “Why would a purse liner be any different!” “By the way, who thinks we need the sub-woofer on full volume to watch Tom and Jerry?” “Not me!!!!” “And whoever is tapping better cut it out or I’ll cut it off!”

I’m still struggling with strategy #2.

1 & 2 are on the bus and I run into the house knowing that 3 just needs her teeth brushed. “Mommy, you don’t do it bery good, I want Daddy.”  “Daddy’s not available right now and I’m going to brush your teeth this morning- whether you like it or not.” “You always get tooth paste on my face.” “See wook”, as she turns to the mirror and points at her face accusingly at me. “Maybe if I wasn’t freezing cold from waiting on the bus in Arctic temperatures my hand wouldn’t be clawing up with poor dexterity.” “It’s so dumb that I have to stand out there with them anyway.” “They play outside, poorly supervised, all the time.” “I simply do my chores occasionally peering out the windows, pecking and give a reprimanding look when needed, and THEY’RE ARE FINE!” “Haley, it is not healthy or effective to use such definitive verbiage in a heated argument- like your father does to absolutely shoot me through the roof “ “Yes, this morning I did get toothpaste on your face but I do not ALWAYS get toothpaste on your face. However, you, absolutely NEVER sit still while I’m trying to avoid the wrath of my dentist father who haunts me with the reminder that none of his kids ever had a cavity!

It was time for me to leave. I was feeling happy that I didn’t have on black pants. They were gray. Things were looking up. I had finally gotten to the cleaners yesterday and had a mini Christmas experience forgetting what I had left there. I don’t use the dry cleaner as much as I should because my husband’s, lets say thriftiness, has rubbed off on me. I do try and run by at least every 60 days because they have a sign reading: ‘Any garment left more than 60 days will be given to Goodwill’. I just run in and holler like I work for myself, “do ya’ have anything for Leatherman”? Most of the time they come back reporting nothing, but on occasion they do! I pretend other people do this as well and consider it a normal practice.

I grabbed my cell phone and was heading out the door but couldn’t slip it into my front pocket like I always do. I bet this is one of the factory workers favorite jokes. “Hey, let’s give her some pockets then sew them up!” Hahaha!!!! The crowd goes wild over that one ever time I’m sure. As I was leaving the house Rick asked me “are you okay”? “You’ve been quiet this morning.” I honestly replied, “I wish you could understand and not cook such absolutely stinky breakfasts.” “I am simply trying to protect the family.” By the way, “you didn’t pack the kids the last of those Debbie Cakes did you? I might need them later?”

By the time I was in my car I was even irritating myself. If only a solicitor would call me now. That would help me let off some steam. Especially one I CAN”T understand. The inability to comprehend what they were saying would remind me of the rest of my morning. I lacked any ability to focus more than 5 seconds and was unable to follow through with even the simplest request. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to have a slow speaking, redneck solicitor just one time? I might just listen to what they have to say.

While I continue using strategy #1 & #2 at work, #3, Sign Language, comes in very handy when you’re in the public. I’m usually very sensitive and loving with my patients. However, on mornings like this, when I’m struggling to tame my dragon, it helps me if I hold up imaginary signs. I think about what they say and it helps me deal. For example, ‘PLEASE SHUT YOUR FACE!’ said like Chris Farley, is a favorite. Or, The SOUND of your VOICE is making my ears SIZZLE with PAIN! I just sit there smiling, holding my sign and I feel the sun shining.  Sign language is also effective when you’re driving and all your young, innocent children are in the car. “OPEN your EYES, DRIVER’S ED. DROP OUT!” I have other signs that I hold up but my mother wouldn’t approve of me reading them to you.

Halfway through my busy morning, I discover that my new, bright-red, $3.99 clock is 20 minutes behind and slowing. I’m swamped today and can’t run late. I feel apologetic about what I’ve put my pants button through over the past few months. I am now experiencing the pressure and responsibility that I had been placing on it to “hang in there”. I couldn’t wait to go to Walmart on my lunch break. I knew I could leave there with a new, better clock and a free pack of AAs for my inconvenience. However, maybe by the time noon hits, a baseball bat, me, and the clock, in the parking lot might provide ample satisfaction for the $3.99 loss.

As the irritation and anger dissipates, an irrational urge to cry sets in. Commercials aren’t even safe. I won’t go into this because it isn’t nearly as funny as irrational anger and irritation. I guess it will continue on like this, a couple days each month until menopause set in. I hear that can make you a nut case with hair on your face real quick. The future looks bright.

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. James 1:19-20.  I am so thankful Lord, that you know my heart’s desire and are patient with me day after day while I grow and learn!

Perfectly Placed

I was going to tell you a funny little story this morning but I wanted to share with you something I remembered. I hope there is a reader out there today that needed reminded as well.

This morning out at the bus stop it was different. I wasn’t cold in my robe and rubber barn boots but I would get the occasional tiny raindrop on my glasses. The kids weren’t hunkering down in their winter coats and burying their hands in their pockets waiting uncomfortably for the bus. It’s like this every year about this time. I start to get hopeful and excited for Spring. However, I know in the back of my mind that we have inches of snow to receive and single digit numbers yet to be had. Beautiful days like yesterday and mornings like this however, can help you make it through the winter season.

I was telling the kids it wouldn’t be long until we stood out here in the mornings and we would see all the perennials that we have planted over the years, starting to make their way to the surface. Just to the right of where we stand on the end of our driveway is an area that used to be a flower bed, planted by someone else years ago. In the past couple years we have covered it with grass trying to tame our yard in the manner that we see fit and beautiful. I said to Sophia, “it won’t be long before that dag-gone hyacinth pops up in the middle of my grass”!. She’d laughed, knowing my frustration with this but the humor I find in it as well. It just won’t go away! Harrison stood there holding his Kroger bags full of snacks for his class and looking excited to be the leader for the day. He was a little more precious to me this morning as well in this Spring moment.

Moments later I was in the house resuming my mundane tasks including folding laundry, that was stacked up on the couch. I stood there looking out the window at my barren, lifeless yard. I could picture what it was going to look like months from now and wanted to see it today. NOW.

I love working in my yard. I plant what I want here and kill what I don’t want there and wrestle my yard all summer long for control. At the same time, I LOVE IT! I’m one of those people who walked around in my yard in the spring, every day and look for new growth and change that happens even as hours pass. I’m always especially anxious to see if my new bulbs made it through their first winter. I feel hopeful but also battle a sense of dreariness until I remember…… what is happening in the ground right now is important. Those beautiful plants and flowers can’t be what they are in the spring without a winter, a hibernation, a rest, growth, and storing up energy so they can be bigger and stronger and more resilient in the future.

I continued on with my folding with a sense of patience and appreciation for time and found some humor in my desire to control when and where everything in my life comes up. I couldn’t see it clearly at the time but I look back now at some of the winters of my life with appreciation. I learned things about myself, good and bad, and had a chance to grow and improve. I learned to find rest and deeper intimacy with friends and family in a way I never let myself become vulnerable enough before to enjoy. I had an overwhelming presence of my Creator, who gently held me and gave me strength in ways I can’t comprehend. I felt loved and guarded by Him like a prized jewel. Those gifts were my Spring like days that got me through winter. To everything there is a season and to rush one, hoping for the next, is not the plan. We must give and take and welcome change in every season so we can become who we are supposed to be.

That little hyacinth pops up in the middle of my yard, Perfectly Placed, as a reminder that I’m not the one in control but the one who gets to choose how I respond to where I am, right now, whether winter, spring, summer, or fall in my life. I think I will have Sophia help me in the Spring, when that hyacinth shows its first signs of coming up. We will spread a little mulch around its base and it be our favorite for sure.  I will make sure she understands the story of that hyacinth sooner than I did.

This print is a gift from my parents. This photograph doesn’t do it justice. The tiny details hidden throughout are truly beautiful. It is by our local artist, Judith Polan. The scripture reference is Ecclesiastes 3:1. It goes on to say “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” and “I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.”

Cold Cuts

A couple of weeks ago Rick asked me if I would mind celebrating Valentine’s Day on February 7th. I didn’t really mind at all, it actually sounded like a great idea. I might be getting old and crotchety but I actually find the crowds of compliant Valentine’s Day participants annoying.  Not that Rick and I shouldn’t go out on dates more frequently but I hate feeling like you have to or there is something wrong with your relationship if you don’t. It’s all such a hoopla if you ask me and maybe even a little embarrassing. I might sound a little complicated but I’m a woman after all.  Every morning however when I walk into the kitchen and see my coffee mug, lovingly placed, sitting under the spout of the Senseo coffee machine with the red, ready light on, waiting for me, I feel loved. Truly. Or this morning when Rick came into the kitchen proudly reporting, “I left some tunes spinnin’ in the bathroom for you to enjoy while you are in the shower”. “Let me know what you think.” He thinks of me and wants to make me happy. That’s what those gestures mean. Little things, just little, everyday things, make me feel consistently loved. Could you imagine that he makes me smile as well?

I couldn’t help but wonder why he was asking this however. Honestly, the first thing that came to mind was that the West Virginia Mountaineers probably had a basketball game on the 14th. I wouldn’t want celebrating our love to interfere with other priorities. He then went on to tell me that he was on call and he would hate to run out in the middle of our meal and miss out on our complementary dessert that came with our Valentine’s Day Special.

A few times we have talked about where we might want to go out to eat or how we may want to celebrate but for several reasons we have never been able to finalize a decision. At one point I suggested we should maybe just go to a movie and split a combo with a large tub of popcorn, with butter halfway through, two drinks and two candies. I would choose M&Ms for me of course but I’m not sure what I would choose for Rick to share with me yet. Even though I can’t remember the last time I have been to the movies with Rick alone, watching something that wasn’t animated, we felt it was inappropriate to enjoy not talking to each other on our evening out celebrating Valentine’s Day. This would solidify the fact that sometimes our marriage is on the back burner set on simmer. Don’t get me wrong, we are both pretty happy I think, and despite the fact that we have been married for 7 years, I’m proud that we aren’t looking for creams or ointments to calm an itch.

We started talking again tonight about where and what we wanted to do on February 7, Valentines Day. I told Rick not to buy me any chocolate that I had been buying Valentine’s candy since some time after Christmas when WalMart started stocking the Seasonal aisle with Valentine delights.  It only took 1 cold haircut in the garage tonight to help me make my decision.

You see, I wear several hats in the Leatherman household. Per Rick’s request tonight, I put on my hair cutter hat, that I don every 4 to 6 weeks, and cut his hair after work. Do you know what is worse than giving a haircut in your heavy robe and winter coat in the garage in 17 degree weather? Not much I tell ya! The decision to buy some hair clippers for me to use on the boys was a mutual one. For Rick it might have been saving $20 every 4 to 6 weeks, plus the convenience of not having to make and keep a hair appointment at the beauty shop. My primary motivating factor was that Rick walked in the door several times from the barbershop looking as if he had decided to quit the pharmacy business and join the army. There were times I wanted to ignore that fact that he had experienced an altercation with some clippers but it was so obvious that he had had his hair cut, it would be more awkward not make some bit of comment. I would struggle for the best words. “Would you kids just look at Daddy?!” “His flat top is so flat you could balance a tray on it!” Or maybe, “you sure can’t get bangs that straight without a bowl on your head”! I would have such a difficult time at dinner, staring across the table at him, trying to hold in a chuckle and wondering what look the barber thought Rick might be going for. I then found it annoying that Rick’s appointments at the beauty shop always seemed to fall on an evening when we had absolutely nothing else to do and it screwed up dinner plans. I do miss Rick coming home with his “did you know so and so did this or that to so and so”?

So about 6 years ago we invested in a pair of $26.00 hair clippers from WalMart. I read the directions and practiced on Harrison. When he looked presentable Rick let me cut his hair and I’ve been doing it in the garage ever since then. Rick likes the final product of my haircuts but doesn’t enjoy the process. He told me that before my haircuts he had never had a painful one. Occasionally I catch one of his ears with the guard during an up stoke. He complains that I’m not very remorseful but what part of “suck it up, it’s free” doesn’t sound remorseful to you?

When the haircuts are over we simply sweep the hair out of the garage into the driveway and into the yard. A couple days later it is all gone? I imagine that all the bird nests in a 1 mile radius of our house are lined with Rick’s beautifully soft, fine brown hair. It makes me feel happy inside knowing that we have helped hundreds of little baby birds keep warm on cool spring mornings.

Anyway, I did a few simple calculations as follows: 52 weeks/year divided by 1 haircut every 5 weeks on average= 10.4 haircuts/year. That, times the 6 years that I have been cutting hair = 62.4 haircuts. If each haircut cost $11 including tip – the $26 clipper investment, we have saved a Net Total of $686.40 by me wearing the hair cutter hat! That isn’t even counting Harrison’s inconsistent, always over due do’s. Therefore, I see no reason why we won’t be at the Livery Tavern on Washington Street in Lewisburg, West Virginia on Feb 7th, Valentine’s Day of course.

I need to tell you real quick why simmering is my favorite cooking technique. While I love to cut into a beautifully seared scallop or piece of delicate fish that has been superficially browned on the outside, showing off its dramatic exterior, a rich, hearty sauce, that has simmered on low, gentle heat, for me couldn’t be more delectable. Unlike searing that requires hot, intense heat, and constant attention and even some stress knowing there is no room for error to achieve perfection in a perfectly timed moment, simmering can be accomplished by anyone who is willing to be patient. Gentle simmering slowly coaxes each individual spice to relinquish itself from its inner-most part. Each spice then accentuates and improves the taste of one other. The longer the better and waiting, thinking about what the future holds, makes it even more desirable. If needed, you can add a little more of this or that if the sauce is lacking in some way but there is no rush. It is also important to use a little (or a lot) of cayenne here and there. Who doesn’t enjoy a spicy sauce once in awhile ;)! With attention, it is possible to pick out specific attributes of each ingredient in the rich sauce but ultimately all the parts have become so completely integrated they are one and can never be separated again.

That is why I never mind that Rick and I simmer steadily on the back burner. We are only getting more and more delectable with a beautiful future.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Here’s to simmering!