Master Dawdler

(1st Day of Kindergarten!)

We have a “Master Dawdler” that lives in our house. He has 4 tasks to complete in 1 hour every morning. I’m amazed, day after day, by how this isn’t easily accomplished without changing the entire dynamics of our family’s morning. I developed this clothespins system in order to decrease nagging, increase independence, and give him visual and tactile cues to complete his tasks.

I can’t comprehend how the threatening, yelling, and taking away privileges doesn’t really seem to bother him at ALL!!! He just goes on about his morning kinda chilled out, moving on his own time clock, and bucking all our attempts at hurrying him on. 

We could take him out for a nice dinner and he would be finished eating in about 3 minutes and wanting to run around the restaurant, climb all over us, or get under the table. It takes him however, honestly 15 minutes to eat a bowl of instant oatmeal with at least 5 commands to “hurry up” or “just eat”. Even when I’m frustrated and angry it still cracks me up a little to see Rick, my hubby, just as frustrated and “saying loudly” nothing more than “EEEEEAAAATTTTTT!” We’ve offered rewards and gloated on him when he was doing “better” but nothing seems to consistently improve his behavior, keep him on task, or speed this little guy up. He still eats his oatmeal at approximately one bite per 2 minutes. I’ve truly considered dressing him for school following his evening bath and having him lie on top of his bed, with just a blanket so it stays made, decreasing his task list to only two things in one hour. 

We have discovered however, that moving his bedtime forward in 15 minutes intervals for each infraction seems to hit the hardest. Yesterday morning I thought I was going to have to send a note to his kindergarten teacher reading, “I will be picking Harrison up today at 2 o’clock so I can get him in bed on time”. 

After trying to zip his coat as he was galloping sideways down the driveway, my tension peaked and I “said” quite loudly, “STOP IT”, all staccato like, then looked around quickly to see what neighbors might have possibly heard me carrying on like this on such a new fresh morning. (Insert sarcastic smile here). I continued my ranting about his behavior as I entered the house. Rick, my usually extremely intelligent husband normally says nothing in situations like this or attempts to offer some gentle encouragement. But this morning, he walked out of the bathroom and said…”Susan, I’m going to tell you the truth whether you want to hear it or not”. Eyes big, and mouth probably open, I stood in silence, yes me silent. I had a flood of anxiety come over me unable to imagine what truths may come out of this quiet man. I braced myself and tried not to get mad before I even heard what he had to say. “The problem is…he is just like you. He doesn’t like to be told what to do and he is so stubborn he will wear you down until he gets his way!” That was it, he turned around and went back into the bathroom. For just a second I tried to get mad but then as I thought about what he had said I found myself with a sheepish grin and almost laughing at the truth I had been told. Additionally, I was slightly relieved that he didn’t say all the many things he could have. 

After school I broke the news to Harrison that he was going to have to miss AWANA at church tonight in order to get him in bed on time to fulfill his punishment. After a few minutes of him whining and fussing and begging me to change his punishment to something else, I realized this then meant that he would be home with me tonight on my “night off”!!! What had I done!?!?! When he realized I wasn’t budging, he went off to play but returned about 10 minutes later and told me, “You know Mom, I’ve been really tired and I think it’s a great decision that I stay home from church tonight and go to bed early”. So there you have it, what I live with. In his sweet little head he had somehow WON. 

(He picked out his clothes himself this day!)

Late that night as I went into his room to check on him and fix his blankets, I realized we had both kind of won. He had a long, leisurely, warm bath while we listen to each other and laughed and talked. He didn’t pause a moment when I asked him to forgive me for losing my patience and throwing fits sometimes. We ended the night reading books together, with him in my lap, and I got to listened to him thank God for his mommy in his prayers. 

“What a great kid”, I said to myself, “exactly like……. his mommy”.

Held Hostage

I had just finished compiling my completely “un-accomplishable” ‘To Do’ list for today but decided I should double checked my master calendar on the refrigerator to make sure I wasn’t missing something. There it was, “microwave repair between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. today”. I immediately felt a sense of being held hostage in my home and unable to complete the long list of errands I had scheduled. As I was looking for my “Things to accomplish at home” ‘To Do’ list I thought to myself, “you know, having a schedule like that would really lesson my stress. “Hey Mom, will you make me some lunch? Sure I’ll get to it between 8 & 5. “Hey Mom, are my favorite jeans clean?” “No, but I hope to get to it between 8 & 5. “Hi Sooz, what are we doing for dinner?” “I don’t know dear, but I’ll decide between 8 & 5 and get back to you”. I could respond feeling completely relaxed knowing I can always call at 4:45 and tell whoever it is that needed my services that it just wasn’t going to happen today between 8 & 5 and that I would see how it looked for my schedule tomorrow. As some of you know, our microwave has been dead for at least 3 months now. We waited about a month to have someone come to the house who wanted to charge us $99.00 to tell us that” yes” indeed our microwave was broken. So regardless of what my plans had been today and considering it has taken weeks to get on their 8 to 5 schedule, I will be at home today. Hostage.

Against my better judgement I gave into my addiction this morning and had two cups of coffee. In my anxiety about missing the repair guy I kept hearing knocking. I kept freaking out and thinking I was hearing someone at the door. One time it was the dishwasher. One time it was Haley running down the hall on hardwood to get something. By the way, can you imagine if we adults ran everywhere we were going like children do? “Hey Rick, you want another cup of coffee?” “Sure, Sooz.” I can’t imagine jumping up and running real quick to the coffee pot. What a sight.

The extra caffeine in my system, plus the fact that my doorbell is broken as well, had me a little maxed out. I snapped at Haley, “you have got to get off your stage (an upside down laundry basket) and learn another line to that song!” You would think the doorbell would be an easy fix and we would want to correct a quite irritating problem. Our doorbell however, is hardwired and original to our 1970 house. I attempted to fix it one time, so I have all the parts to replace it with a Lowe’s model, but I quit when I saw it required more than peeling stickers off double-sided tape or using a Phillips screwdriver to replace two screws. Far from nice and easy. Today was going to have to be the day. I couldn’t take it any longer. The intermittent, perceived  knocking was making me lose it.

I turned on my foyer light hoping the doorbell was on the same circuit and ran to the garage to the breaker box. Would you believe there wasn’t a neatly marked breaker switch that said doorbell? More like “washer, dryer, green room, brown room”. Apparently, I and others before me had failed to consult the breaker box before choosing our color schemes for the past 45 years. I found a breaker to turn off my Foyer light and got out my tools. After removing the doorbell face plate I froze up questioning my electrical skills and called my dad who didn’t answer. So in the interim I wrote a note and taped it on top of the exposed doorbell. “Warning! DO NOT touch! Live wires! Please push the doorbell, that is waiting to be installed, located on the doormat in front of you. Additionally, if I don’t come immediately please keep knocking and don’t leave. I am taking a quick shower because I have “Day 3 hair” and we have a church dinner tonight”.

While I was trying to hurry in the shower, I couldn’t help but think what in the world could I put together from my pantry and fridge for a dish tonight if the repairman did not get here before 4. I knew I had Ritz, cheese, and butter so I could put that on something, bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes and it would fit in beautifully with the other 20 casseroles that looked like mine. I would call it “Susan’s Surprise”. There was no way I was missing an opportunity to feed my family and only have to make one simple dish.

Back to the doorbell. My dad still wasn’t answering so I decided that my 30 plus year apprenticeship with him would have to suffice. Considering I’m still telling the story you can assume that I selected the correct breaker switch and disconnected the old doorbell. It was a grave sin in my house growing up to be lazy, triflin, or “half-ass” as my dad called it. So I decided to attempt removing the wires completely from the doorbell instead of simply shoving the loose wires back up into the hole. I just couldn’t live with the image of someone years from now ‘shockingly’ discovering my half-assed job. I thought I might be able to disconnect the wires by going through the light switch plate from inside the house. I immediately knew I was in over my head and replaced the plate cover and shoved my little secret up inside the hole to be covered. I had to drill one simple hole to install my Lowe’s model. I stepped back to inspect my work. It looked like a job that I would have been frustrated with if I had paid someone else to complete. I definitely won’t be chosen for the Lewisburg Home and Garden tour this year but the interviewees probably wouldn’t make it to my front door having to pass through my yard first. I could imagine my Dad, who is much like Holmes on Homes, critiquing my half-assed work.  In denial I said to myself,  “well this is just a short-term fix that I can live with until I have a real electrician come and replace my beautiful, old, brass one”.

While I was fixing the doorbell and taking my shower, so I would look slightly presentable for the repairman- I mean my husband that I always strive to look my best for, Haley painted. Yes she is 3 and was only intermittently supervised. I never could have done this was my first child. I’ve learned however if I strap her in her 5 point harness booster seat, so she can’t escape and touch a non-washable surface, she is happy as a lark. I give her paint and plenty of paper and she goes to town for at least as hour.  The hour of entertainment is totally worth the 7 minute clean up. She uses sponges, paint brushes, and rollers but always ends up rubbing and swirling and sliding the paint all over her papers with her hands. I always know she is done when she starts using the paint on her hands and slightly up her arms like lotion.  I’m learning to let go, you see. Just like her painting, it’s not about the final product but the process of life that we should enjoy.

The repairman ended up coming in time for me to get to the store so Susan’s Special will have to wait for another dinner. I watched him pull in and walk up my sidewalk but I stood by the door and waited for the doorbell chimes to sound. It had been so long! I opened the door almost immediately and said, “hello”, then felt awkward about my swiftness. Despite my new doorbell sounding slightly chintzy and more appropriate for college type housing, it was my doorbell and I was proud of her. My microwave was fixed and ready for some fabulous meal preparations. Best of all I have at least 6 masterpieces on my frig and a wee one who is ever so proud of her beautiful work that she made “all by myself”.

I personally find it more embarrassing to post selfies where you are obviously trying to look good.

Coleslaw Salad

(Crunchy, Sweet and Salty, and what I’m talkin’ bout)

In a large bowl combine:

1 package coleslaw mix but no dressing

2 bunches of green onion-sliced

1 cup slivered almonds

1 cup roasted sunflower seeds

2 packages of broken up chicken flavored Ramen noodles- set the seasoning aside (I put the noodles in a ZipLoc bag and bang them with Harrison’s small Lowe’s hammer)

In a good Tupperware, not one of those cheap, leaky ones, combine:

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 packages of Ramen chicken seasoning reserved from the above.

Shake the heck out of it and pour on the coleslaw ingredients before serving.  Stir.

Really yummy with grilled chicken in the summer!

Snow Day

I was excited to be off work today on the kids’ first snow today. I did have a little paperwork to wrap up so I snuck off hoping to get it done in peace and quiet and in half the time… but I was found. Haley wanted to play restaurant. She was extremely accommodating and her service was so attentive it made me thankful that I have fully acknowledged that I am intolerant of more than one cup of coffee in the morning when I am alone with the kids. I was trying to concentrate, type, and give Haley the impression that I was enjoying her presence. If I didn’t answer quickly enough she raised her voice at me, “Coffee? Sugar? Cream? Pizza? Donut?” I was on the verge of losing it! I couldn’t bare to pretend to eat one more plastic food item and as soon as I “drank” my cup of “coffee”, in a motion that more closely resembled taking a shot of whiskey, she had another one ready for me! Like Elsa, my nerves were threatening and overwhelming me. I needed my gloves to suppress my “powers” and to hold in my emotions.

Just as I was finishing up with my paperwork and “8 cups of coffee, 3 donuts, fries, Pizza, and cookies” the doorbell rang. It was the UPS man with my new rug! The packaging of my rug entertained the kids for at least the next hour until I had to stop a Quidditch game that was getting out of hand. With Sophia’s help, Harrison had his very own Nimbus 2001. She also helped him draw Harry Potter’s signature zig zag scar above his right eye. He later had writing of some sort all over his entire face and I’m not really sure what that was all about but I got used to seeing it the rest of the day. I was completely desensitize until Rick came home that evening and exclaimed, “what the heck’s all over your face and did you not get out of your pajamas all day?”

We only had one major fight today. Harrison was adamant that he was truly a Jaguar and Sophia became highly irritated with this untruth. It was making her so mad that he wasn’t making the correct sounds that a Jaguar makes. She would say, “look mom, Jaguars don’t even do that”! Haley thought his behavior was awesome until he bit her new baby from Santa in the arm and shook her around like he was trying to snap her neck like a scene from National Geographic. It was pretty intense for a while. Sophia started yelling “Harrison help me find her gloves, mom needs her gloves! Can’t you tell she’s having a hard time controlling her “powers”!

After sitting for dinner, Rick said, “what’s this sticky note doing stuck to the side of the table?” While that wasn’t my Official To Do list, it was a note to myself that I wrote last night and stuck by the coffee pot, where it would be seen for sure. The note was to remind me that Harrison had snack duty today as well as the names of two people I needed to call. 0 for 3, but luck was on our side! Snow day save.
Later this week, after I actually buy a snack to send, I will put Harrison on the bus, managing 2 full Walmart bags, (in addition to his backpack, bulky coat, hat and gloves) filled with healthy snacks to keep on hand for any poor mother, excluding myself of course, who may possibly forget that their child was on duty. We totally had it covered the whole time. After some questioning I found out that it was Haley who was “helping” me and moved the note.

We had a great day. Actually a lot was accomplished. Not by me of course, we all know that Harrison and Sophia “do all the work around here!” It was time for bed and I contemplated the proper protocol for getting ready for bed when you’re still in pajamas from the night before. Do you get into clean pajamas? Surely you don’t wear your “clothes” to bed? Unable to decide what to do, I did what being indecisive does. I passively made a choice to do nothing, and therefore went to bed in my days’ “clothes” but not before leaving a note for Rick beside the coffee pot.
Rick: If you are up before me, please do NOT give Haley any more Fiber One bars. She has been eating too many and her broom sounded like a motor boat on its last leg during their Quidditch game today.
Love, your favorite wife.

Pot Bath

I just finished the most refreshing “Pot Bath”. I initially had concerns that I would be able to completed it successfully. I kept trying to remember the techniques my Grandma Betty had taught me while camping out of their Air-stream trailer. My grandmother was an amazing woman. I could devote an entire post to her, maybe a book. She taught me so many things during her visits to West Virginia in the summer from hot Florida. One, being how to take a bath using only 7 – 3 ounce Dixie Cups.

You see, some poor fella wrecked his oil tanker carrying diesel fuel I believe.  It eventually spilled into the Greenbrier River which is where we get our water supply. If you need truly accurate information or wish to be entertained by local going on’s you can tune into 59 NEWS. We were told to conserve water beginning Saturday evening and our final drip landed sometime early afternoon Sunday. I have thought about that guy a few times since hearing the news. I imagine him going home Friday evening and his wife greeting him at the door. “Hi honey, how was your day?” “Well dear, I wrecked my truck and it leaked toxic liquid into the sole water source of thousands of people and closed down most small businesses and schools for what could be days.”  I could be going out on a limb here but I would say that he chalked that day up as a pretty bad one. So in comparison, my little family, in our little world, had a pretty dag gone good day!

The kids wanted oatmeal. I told them we should eat cereal because then I wouldn’t have a pot to clean up with limited water. They begged and promised they would eat every bite so I caved, knowing sometimes my children may consume only a lick and call it a meal. I had to cook the instant oatmeal on the stove because our microwave is broken. That’s a long, frustrating story that I won’t get in to. However, cooking instant oatmeal on a stove is like rubbing salt on the subject. Harrison(6) ate his oatmeal with a gravy ladle because of course our dishwasher was packed to the brim, ready to run, when we were supposed to be conserving water. I didn’t think it was fair to use the conservation excuse not to bathe my children and then run my dishwasher. Haley(3) was using a large soup spoon that caused overflow on both sides of her mouth with each bite. That didn’t matter in the end because I was funneling it down her little throat helping her keep her 3 year old’s promise to me.

After breakfast, I heated up about a gallon of water on the stove to give the kids their pot baths since they hadn’t had one since Friday night. I had the heat on in the bathroom and everyone was cozy and enjoying the funny bath until I realized I was starting to sweat. I was trying to conserve my gallon of bathing water until the evening since I had to work the next day.

Breakfast. Check. Baths. Check. Bathroom education. Next. We have 4 toilets in our house but two of them had already been flushed and the tanks were dry. I denoted which toilets were to be used for each procedure and taught them the rhyming rule they were to follow. Regardless of how many times I have had to send my children back to the bathroom to flush the toilet, I wasn’t going to play my odds. I put clear packaging tape on the 2 toilet handles with tanks that were locked and loaded. I had initially decided to line a little trash can with a Kroger bag and top it off with Haley’s little potty seat, that fit perfectly, for them to use. I then remembered my Eagle Scout brother telling me that any human debris must be buried 6 inches deep. Since I wasn’t in the mood for digging holes in my backyard today I decided to act like a normal person and hope we could come up with some water to fill the tanks to flush at least once a day.

I called my dad and asked him to round up some jugs and buckets for me. I had a few and wanted to go to the fairgrounds to get some water where it was being distributed by Homeland Security. The kids had a blast filling all those jugs with the long hoses and turning on and off the shut off valves connecting to the huge water tanks. I called my husband on the way home and told him to cancel our plans to go to Disney. We could just volunteer at the next water shortage crisis and our kids would be just as happy.

I drove extremely slow on our way home considering some of our water reservoirs were of questionable nature. We also had to stop by Walmart for a few necessities. Walmart was eerily quiet this evening. The kids asked me if they could spend their $10 gift certificates that they had gotten from their babysitter for Christmas. We had almost 2 hours before Rick would be home from work, so I agreed, as long as they fulfilled my long list of unrealistic expectations for their behavior, such as no screaming, no fighting, and keep up!

They somehow convinced me to push one of those 8 ft. long carts that have those plastic, double seats attached to its end. “At least I could strap them in”, I said to myself. No such luck. The straps were broken. We weren’t down the first aisle before Harrison had popped out of his seat. “That’s 1 Harrison”, I said. He of course had “forgotten” that he wasn’t supposed to run all over the place and act like a fool. He then began to entertained himself by minimally picking on his sister. While it was annoying, it wasn’t enough that I couldn’t ignore it. I really wanted my little guy to get to blow his $10. When we drove past the Seasonal aisle he couldn’t contain himself. He jumped up again. “That’s 2 Harrison!”. “In the buggy!”. I had really wish he could behave well enough to walk beside the cart. His and Haley’s weight difference was causing my 8 ft. boat to veer right. It was quite the core workout trying to keep it from scraping into merchandise and other important things like people. This workout had caused me to get a little hot so I took off my coat placed it behind Harrison and Haley on the buggy. I told them not to touch it or it would fall in the floor and I had almost cleared my 48 hour risk period.  You see, I bought this coat a couple of months ago and decided it needed to be washed on Saturday. Like any new garment receiving its first wash at my house, I read the label and precisely followed the directions and washed it in cold water, on delicate, and tumble dried low. Then, like everything else on its NEXT wash it will be in warm water, permanent press, and with “un”like colors. Done. It always seems like you’re doomed anytime you put any significant effort into cleaning something. You know what I mean, after washing a bedspread or the carpet, you might as well yell for someone to come and throw up on it! If you make it past 48 hours your golden.

Anyway, I was picking up my last item and we were going to shop for the kids! “Mom!”, Sophia shouted, “your coat”. I turned around thinking it had just fallen off the cart but didn’t see it. I looked around and saw that my coat was balled up under the buggy and had been dragged for who knows how long! After some interrogation, I discovered that my son had placed my coat at his feet, yes his FEET, because he didn’t like how it was pushing on his back! I had a sales associate asked me if I was “OK, and if I needed any  assistance”? I responded, “unless you sell patience in bulk I don’t think so”. Needless to say Harrison left Walmart with a fully loaded gift card to be used at a later date.

Haley wanted some paint with her gift card. I hesitated but was too tired to try and make some other, less messy item, sound as exciting. I can’t tolerate bubbles but I can handle painting here and there. Sophia picked out some markers that she wanted to keep up in her room where her siblings couldn’t get to them and leave the lids off. She said they were going to be “mine, mine, mine”. I don’t know where she has heard that but it sounds a little ugly.

Our groceries were making their way down the checkout belt when I realized I had forgotten the bread! When you are in a crisis you always need bread and milk correct? I was going to send Sophia but thought that might not be safe or illegal or something like that. Instead, I decided to leave all three of them together with the check out lady while I ran for the bread. “There is safety in numbers”, I thought to myself. I also remembered that I can barely get all three of my kids out of the store without a loud commotion. They would be fine for a minute. I took off running. I grabbed the bread, tucked it like a football, and started sprinting to my lane cutting in and out of Walmart shoppers trying to beat my last item on the belt………… I did it!

Rumor has it, the water should be back on in 24 to 48 hours. I did so well conserving water today that I thought I deserved a 2 gallon Pot Bath. I really needed to wash my hair since I was going to work in the morning. We had bought some dry shampoo at the store but considering Haley’s final results I was determined to truly wash mine. With my grandmother in mind I began my personal pep talk. I looked at my 1 gallon wash bucket and my 1 gallon rinse bucket and said to myself: 4 quarts in a gallon, 4 cups in a quart, 8 ounces in a cup = 12 Dixie Cup baths for one amazing woman. Surely I could do it! While I’m used to having my entire family in and out of the bathroom anytime I’m in there, for some reason tonight, as I bent down and squatted over my buckets, I felt the need for a little privacy.

I thought about that diesel tanker driver one more time before I went to bed. I said some prayers for several people I know who are heavy on my heart right now and thought to myself, “PERSPECTIVE”. I was squeaky clean, warm, and full. Safe in my home, filled with my loves. If you have that, you have it all!

Well Visit

It was happening! It was actually happening! I was showered, my hair was fixed, and I had makeup on. The kids were all strapped in their seats and we had 20 minutes to go a mile and a half to Sophia’s 11-year-old well visit. We were going to be on time and everyone was happy, except Sophia who was nervous. The stars were in line. No more cancelling and rescheduling like I had been doing since October when she actually turned 11. It was going to happen today!

I hopped into the car feeling Grrrrrrreat! I turned the key to start the engine and nothing. Nothing! Sophia looked at me and said, “not again mom”! I couldn’t believe it, the car was dead AGAIN! I know I can be dramatic but I am NOT exaggerating when I say my car has died at least 10 times in the past 3 months. Yes, I took it to a mechanic and he said my battery was fine. I told him we had been going through a bad spell of leaving a light on or a door left wide open overnight. He said “that’ll do it”. It took one good fit growing and exclaiming that all the lights in the car were “mine, mine, mine” and no one was to touch them under any circumstance. The light problem was fixed but for whatever reason people around our house don’t shut doors unless it is 6 o’clock in the morning on a Saturday and then they do it repetitively.

Rick has jumped me a couple times, so has my dad. I’ve also called 3 different neighbors who have come over, and squeeeeeeezed into the garage with me for a jump. Two of them have come twice. After climbing up and down out of the hood of my SUV to attach leads, I then have to crawl through the passenger side, over the console and slip into my seat, since there is no room between the two cars for me to get into the driver door like a normal person does. Rick and I have learned that connecting the leads isn’t enough. The person jumping me has to sit in their car and rev the engine for several minutes before my car will even begin to flicker signs of life. I find it terribly embarrassing to tell my neighbors that they have to rev their engine. They will get in their car and just pump it a little bit. I have to shake my head and yell through the closed window “no you gotta rev it”. “I mean really let her have it for a few minutes”. It’s just very awkward. I can’t explain it any more. My kids start getting scared, especially Sophia who is my worrier. I send them inside because I can see and smell fumes and assume that carbon monoxide is present as well despite it being a colorless and odorless killer. My engine finally turns over. I disconnect from my neighbor and help him back out of the tight garage. I thanked him for his time and tell him I hope it doesn’t have to happen again. I think about writing, “thank you note to Mr. Persinger” on my To Do list but know it probably won’t get done. So I run back outside and wave a little harder as he backs down my driveway. “Hopefully that will suffice”, I say to myself.

I back my car out of the garage and into the driveway to idle so I can get some fresh air. I find my phone and call my daughter’s doctor to tell them we are going to be the about 10 minutes late. “Can we still come?”, I ask. They tell me her doctor has no more available appointments today but they would be happy to help me reschedule. I tell them that they have been happy every time I have had to reschedule but the feeling was not mutually shared despite it not being their fault- this time! I asked them if I could at least come by and get her flu shot. They said they were sorry about that as well, but they did not give flu shots past 4 o’clock.  As you could imagine I was experiencing some irritation, and even more than usual considering I was clean, dressed, and hair and makeup were done for absolutely no reason at all. I had even packed activities to entertain the two younger kids so they didn’t have to fight or dig around in my purse for entertainment.

I ran into the house and yelled for the kids. “Come on, we have to go charge the battery”! My kids unfortunately know what this means. We all have to get in the car and run it up and down the interstate for about 20 minutes, at least 50 miles per hour. My dad who is a dentist, not a mechanic, told me this is what I’m supposed to do. I’m used to doing what he tells me and I know he wouldn’t come back up and jump me if it died again if I answered “NO” to the following question: “Did ya run ‘er up and down the road like I’ve told you?” We were almost done with our 20 minutes of worthless backtracking on the interstate when my children finally quit arguing over which video they were going to watch and who got to choose the video the last time we had to charge the car battery. While the car seemed to be doing fine, my internal temperature gauge had tipped toward “H” as we pulled into the car garage. I hunted down the mechanic who had told me my battery was “just fine” and nicely told him that I would like to trade batteries with the one in his car since my was so “fine”. I scheduled the transplant for the next morning as well as fluids. I told them I wasn’t interested in a lecture tomorrow about the importance of regular oil changes. I am aware and sensitive about the subject so please write that down on my ticket.

Unlike all of Sophia’s others appointments that had been scheduled for after school, I took their first available ,which was the next day at 8:45 AM. It was a plus that the other two didn’t have to go with us but a negative having to listen to Sophia worry about missing school and having makeup work.

The receptionist at the window gave Sophia and me both a packet of papers to fill out. This was unusual I though to myself? In addition to general information, we both had to fill out questionnaires that were identical. Sophia of course said, “this is ridiculous” and “so annoying”. When we got back to the exam room and Sophia and I had run out of things to talk about, I started to look over her questionnaire. I probably wasn’t supposed to but no one told me not to. The first thing that I read that I found humorous was her response to the question, “Do you visit a dentist twice a year?” She circled “yes” and wrote “probably weekly”.  You see, her uncle and Pawpaw, both who live in town, are dentists. She also circled “Sometimes” to the question “Do you eat fast food more than 1 time per week?” For my benefit I told her she might want to write that we often choose Subway. We all know that deli meat preservatives are better than deep-frying. I was then surprised to see that she had circled “NO” to the following question. “Do you have someone in your life who talks to you about sex?” I questioningly said, “I answer any questions you ever have?” “I know that Mom, Mimi talks to me too, but I wouldn’t want someone else knowing that I talk about that disgusting stuff!” I went on to explain to her that there are some little girls that don’t have people in their lives that will talk to them about important things like that. I told her that if she marked “NO”  then they would probably talk to her about sex. She jumped up and started yelling “mark it Mom, mark it!” I knew she was anxious about being here when her blood pressure was slightly elevated as well as her pulse. She began, “this is ridiculous, why are we even here?  I am SOOOOO healthy Mom, just look at me. I think I’m going to die. Right here Mom. I’m serious, right here, right now I’m going to die. Let’s just leave!” When she realized we weren’t leaving she sat down and quietly said, “I wish I could just stay a little girl”.  “Sophia, you are going to be fine. I know you are healthy.” I said encouragingly. They are going to check you out really quick and you need a flu shot. Also, I need your official height and weight measurements so I can put it on your growth chart. You see I’ve failed miserably at keeping up with your baby book I want to at least make sure you have a growth chart that is accurate. “I know you don’t understand this now, but you will”.

Despite having an emotional breakdown and crying midway through the visit, Sophia had rallied and was doing fine until the doctor told her she was old enough to begin her Gardasil injections as well as two other vaccinations that were due. This totaled 4 shots for a little girl who had been freaked out knowing she was getting one. “Its going to hurt mom. It’s going to be terrible, I know I’m going to die. Lets just leave. Please, Mom?!” I was also a little freaked out that my daughter was going to be getting a shot to prevent a sexually transmitted disease. This was my baby. My little girl. What was happening?

I couldn’t help but remember her well visit several years ago. She was perfectly happy running around, playing in the room in her panties. Completely comfortable with who she was. She was happy and care free. I remembered looking down to see that she had her Thursday panties on and it was in deed Thursday. I asked her if she always chose the correct day of the week when she was getting dress and she said “yes, except sometimes I wear my Friday panties on Mondays”. “It just makes me feel better” and kept smiling and jumping around.

It’s hard when that little child you’ve always known starts changing. They start getting a little moody and emotional, and kind of self-centered. This is especially hard for me with Sophia. She has always been such a gentle, caring, loving, and happy child. I try to remember how hard it was growing up so I can be patient. How awkward and insecure I felt at times. I remember not understanding myself and why I felt the way I did. I felt sad and angry at the same time but didn’t know why. She is still her happy and kind self most of the time, I just hate to see her struggle like I can so easily remember doing. I wish she already knew all that I have figured out, but I know it doesn’t work that way.

You see, Sophia and I go way back. It seems like a lot longer than 11 years ago. She was just a baby but she kind of saved me. During what was the hardest time in my life to date, her dependency on me made me feel needed and important. She always wanted me, more than anyone else and holding her warm body reminded me that I was alive. She helped me get through until I found value and worth in myself again outside of her need for me. She is such a beautiful spirited child.

She came home in second grade one time and asked me if I “ever get t hat ‘choke-y’ feeling in your throat like you need to cry because you know God is asking you to do something but you are afraid”? I told her I knew exactly what she meant. She went on to tell me that there was a little girl, Kelly, in her class who didn’t really have many friends and she cried a lot. “It was my turn today to take the attendance list to the office. We are allowed to pick someone to go with us. I knew I was supposed to pick Kelly but I didn’t because I was afraid of what people would think of me.” She said, “Mommy, I want to pick her the next time it is my turn. Will you pray for me?” I did, but I also slipped in my gratefulness that she was mine.

Several weeks later she came home elated, telling me about a trip to the office with Kelly. She told me it felt so good to make her happy. I could go on and on with beautiful little stories like that about my sweet little girl but won’t. I know you haven’t had your turn for me to listen and smile and be thankful that your children too have someone who thinks they are the greatest.

As much as I hate seeing her grow up and watching her struggle through it, I’m so excited to see what she will be like as a woman. A woman who doesn’t only hear the Spirit of God, but wants to respond and knows the blessing she will receive from being faithful. A woman who also knows that she can ask for strength, from the same One asking, for help to fulfill the task.

Little Lou

A couple of nights ago, Sophia(11) ran downstairs from her room to declare that Haley(3) had been in her room while she was at school and had spread fish food all over the place. She said I had to come and see the mess “RIGHT NOW!”. I told her to, “find the To Do list in my purse, rate this problem as 7 out of 10 of importance and I will get to it”.  I went on to say, “I am making dinner, grading your homework, and I need to go to the bathroom, but I’m holding it”.

“I knew things had been too quiet for too long earlier today”, I said to myself. 

Well, Rick(my hubby) got to her aid before me and helped transfer Little Lou to a holding tank until we could clean out his little home. You see, Little Lou was not just an ordinary fish in many ways. He and two others, were a reward to Sophia at the end of the summer for completing her dreaded Summer Bridge material that I make them work on whether they like it or not! 

Harrison(6) also chose a fish. One of those weird goldfish that have the jelly like bubbles on the top of their head. We drove home with me listening to their hopes and dreams for their new pets; with Sophia including how she knew that her’s were going to the be the best of friends. We walked in the door and Rick said all excited like , “Hey, I guess we’re killing fish again?”! 

We set up their aquariums and discussed pet responsibility like any good parent does. Harrison’s poor fish was down for the count after just a couple of days. His interpretation of a pinch of fish food varied slightly from the pet store lady’s I think. Instead of a dusting of a few flakes, he provided more of a scooping type pinch that he felt his fish enjoyed. 

I tucked Sophia into bed that first night, watching her peacefully enjoy her aquarium like a night-light on her bedside table. It really was quite beautiful, with hot pink and purple gravels and plants for the fish to swim around in. The next morning however, we found out that she experienced more of a Hunger Games type scenario. She described how Little Lou took all the food and kept attacking his 2 aquarium mates. This went on for a couple of nights until Little Lou was the victorious tribute. 

After this, we all had some attachment issues with Little Lou for a while but then we grew to enjoy his presence and the fighter and survivor in him. It served him well. His tank conditions were quite treacherous by the time of his passing. We usually take respite between our fish killing but we have been unable to convince our pre-pubescent, dramatic, daughter that Haley did not kill her fish in cold blood and his one gluttonous meal was more of “the straw that broke the camel’s back” type scenario vs. a direct cause and effect outcome considering her aquarium maintenance. She also wasn’t satisfied with the explanation that Haley was simply trying to help her out by relieving her of her fish feeding task for at least the next year and she deserved the far lesser conviction of “unintentional fish slaughter”. In addition, Rick was unaware that the aquarium heater, that they had also transferred with Little Lou in to my wide mouth flower vase, was appropriate for a 2-5 gallon tank and they were just a WEEEEE bit short on water volume. There was no autopsy but I feel the final cause of death was multi-factorial and we found him the next morning. 

Haley told Sophia that she was really sorry that she ” died her Yiddle You”. Against our better judgement, the aquarium is ready for our next victim… I mean furless friend. Fingers crossed I thoroughly rinsed the Dawn dish detergent from those pretty little gravels. I will never again put flowers in that vase without remembering Little Lou’s final Green Mile. R.I.P. Little Lou

Naked At The Bus Stop

To all the working mom’s I know who “rock it” everyday and to all my stay at home friends who “bring it” one day after the next without a break, and to mommies like me who work part time who can feel guilty around the first group and feel as if we fall short compared to the second…we must laugh and laugh hard! It is just life and your best won’t be enough unless you decide it is.
I was later than my usual late getting into the shower this morning when Sophia, my 11 yr old, came in reporting that it was 7:19 and they were going to head out to the bus without me since the bus comes about 7:23. I jumped out of the shower and was truly out the door in less than two minutes with robe, flip flops, and wet hair in the middle of winter. Harrison, who recently turned 6, was still in the garage because he had decided he was going to extremely slowly shuffle his way to the bus stop probably 75 feet away…and it was raining. Surprisingly, it took less than the normal argument to get him to change his mind and pick up the speed a bit.
When Sophia saw me she said “Mom! Are you naked under there?!?!” I told her I wasn’t telling but the truth was all I had on was a thin coat of deodorant. I waved at the bus driver and told my male neighbor, who was waiting with his daughter, to have a good day and ran inside to finish hair and makeup. I had a patient who would be waiting on me at 8 o’clock.
Rick, my husband, was inside playing loud, spastic jazz music on his iPad while leisurely moving through his morning hygiene ritual. I love good jazz music but the kind I was hearing definitely didn’t fall into my “GOOD” category. It was the kind where all the musician sound like they’re playing a different song at the same time and having intermittent seizures. This helped raise my anxiety about getting to work on time but I bit my tongue not wanting to prove I can be difficult to live with. Hair and makeup done. I then dug through the laundry basket of clean clothes, I still hadn’t put away, to find one of the two pair of pants that I own that still seem to fit me. You see, I am a physical therapist who rarely works out and the protein shake I drink every morning doesn’t seem to be counteracting the Halloween candy and other goodies that bring me so much life satisfaction.
My 3 yr old Haley was still being nursed by the “boob tube” but was happy so I left her alone. I threw her clothes in a bag to take to the sitter’s house and told Rick to just throw some shoes on her and she would be fine! A morning here and there without getting her teeth or hair brushed wouldn’t kill her. Rick told me my pants looked nice on me as I left. This made me further question whether these pants too should be placed in the “too small for my butt” pile.
I made it to work by 8:59 on time! (yes, I haven’t changed the clock in my car) I put a little tape on the inside hem of my right pants leg that had gotten torn lose at some point in the morning and began performing vestibular rehabilitation and faking the lie that I have it all together.
This all could have been avoided if I had denied Haley her request to snuggle her a bit longer in bed or skipped my cherished coffee.  I’m learning however, it is just life and everyday we are given is truly a gift from God to be enjoyed.

Vacuum Therapy

Do you ever suck something up with your vacuum cleaner just because you don’t feel like bending down to pick it up? You know what I mean, Lego’s, hair barrettes,…..small dolls. Well I do. Today I was vacuuming and there before me in the floor was one of Haley’s plastic, magnetic alphabet letters. It was an “H”. “She knows that one”, I said to myself. “Aren’t there 25 more anyway?”, and ran right over the thing. I couldn’t wait. I knew it would happen just like every other time. Click, click, click, click, click up the vacuum hose, making noise, and shaking the handle as it passed by my hand. There is no other cleaning experience that is more rewarding to me than this noisy little one. “1 down, 25 more to go”, I thought to myself.

One day I came home to greet Rick, my husband, who was smiling proudly and looking accomplished from his day off.  He said, “Look Susan, I vacuumed!” “I had noticed it was getting really bad.” I looked at him blankly. He said, “What’s the matter?” “You look disappointed?” After a moment of silence I said, “You won’t understand, so I’m not going to say anything”, but then I did of course because I’m a woman who talks a lot. “You see, I’ve been saving that”. “I was waiting until I was really needing it”. He looked at me like I was the craziest person he had ever seen. The crumbs under the table and the debris on the carpet had been building for days. I had walked past these piles like I do the Christmas tree every year waiting for that bad boy to come down so I can vacuum. Just me and the needles, knowing they will provide the release I seek. The victory. The overwhelming feeling of accomplishment….and it wasn’t going to happen.

I’m working on a product called The DisposAll-Vac. I still have some kinks to work out but hope to have it on the market Fall 2015. It’s like your normal vacuum cleaner but has a wider mouthed hose opening for attachments. Just past the entrance of the hose is an extremely powerful dis-integrator, much like what you find in your kitchen sink disposal. It works great on those more challenging toys and items that your tired old vac just can’t handle. No more shouting and getting frustrated, just get out your DisposAll-Vac.  When he won’t work, because she’s not working, and when she won’t work, because none of it’s hers, the DisposAll-Vac can do the job. Don’t wait. Act now.  For just 4 easy payments of $79.99. Guaranteed to handle even the most spoiled child’s playroom.

But wait, I’m not done. Order now and receive not one but 2 DisposAll-Vacs and give one to a friend who is struggling with unwanted toys and shoes on the floor.

WARNING: The DisposAll-vac is not safe, I repeat NOT safe to use as an attention seeking tool, including sucking at your childrens’ clothing or whacking the side of the couch, due to its destructive nature. But don’t worry, the DisposAll-Vac comes equipped with a loud siren and flashing lights, activated easily by a switch located conveniently on the handle near your thumb, capable of overpowering even the most obnoxious TV volumes.

My precious “H”aley.

In the presence of my Father,

I find the peace I seek.

A safe place of renewal,

I go to……………………

often last.

Walkin’ On Sunshine

I like living in a house that is neat and tidy. A house where everything has its place. Despite having moved a few times, I have yet to find this kind of house for myself. This weekend I went through our kitchen’s catch all corner. I dread doing this but the pile was starting to slide despite my regular bulldozing. This pile originally starts outs as a couple of neatly stacked papers that need attention or filed but slowly becomes a catch all for junk mail, Happy Meal toys, single socks searching for their ‘sole’ mate, art work from school that I’m not allowed to throw away, and many broken things I mean to fix. Right before a mandatory cleaning, the standards of the pile keeping is extremely low. I often find myself stepping one foot into the kitchen and pitching the item 10 ft. across the kitchen floor then watching to see if it is going to catch hold or slide. I then either yell “score” and pump my elbow or quickly start running toward the pile like a lineman with arms outstretched, head tucked, and eyes opened just enough to see and shove all the collectibles back into a pile before they hit the floor.

In the heap of junk I found a blank permission form for Harrison to go to Lost World Caverns. I anxiously found Harrison’s planner and quickly wrote a note to his teacher. ‘Dear Mrs. Smith, I found that permission slip that I had told you we never received. Please excuse any hint of accusation that could have been insinuated from my note 2 weeks ago. You are the best teacher ever and I thank God everyday that he has not called me to home school.’

Also in that pile I found one of my old To Do lists. You see I write To Do lists on anything and everything. I then sit down every once in a while and combined, categorize, and prioritize them all. I began to look over the old list.

1. Done
2. Done. “I rock”
3. Crap. “put on active list”
4. Too late now
5. Clean up kitchen pile. “In process”.
…and then I came to it
6. That task that is perpetually moved from one list to the next plaguing your life. While this task for me is usually “return noun to proper noun“, for months it has been “get 4 pair of pants hemmed”. As many of you know, I’m down to two pair of work pants that still fit me, both black and one whose right pant leg hem is torn loose.  The idea that I don’t hem my own pants is quite ironic. I’ve made lined curtains and I’ve re-upholstered a couch. I know I’m capable.  The truth is, I just get tired of doing things I don’t want to do.  So today, I didn’t look at my “would like to get done” To Do list or my “should get done” To Do list but went straight to my “must complete” To Do list and ranked getting pants hemmed #2 priority for the day just below #1: Determine source of unidentified stench somewhere between foyer and Harrison’s room.

Later that day I found myself at New World Alterations. My sense of accomplishment and relief grew with each pair of pants I tried on to be altered. I asked the seamstress to pin them all a little long, “I like to be prepared” I said. She responded, “that’s a great idea, these pants would look nice with boots”. I agreed with her but went on to state, “if my current growth trends continue, I figure I could wear them a little higher on my waist if it thickens or if my butt widens and lifts my pant legs up and out I’d still be able to wear them for a couple of years if we hem them a little long now. She looked at me and smiled and continued on with pinning.

These pants did not fit into the category “could use some hemming to look a little nicer but still functional with small heels”.  I had had these pants forever and was unable to wear them at all. Everyday I would open my closet and see them there, haunting me. I remember trying on these pants in the store and wondering when in the world it had become fashionable to wear trains on your pant legs. “This is ridiculous” I said to myself. At one point I walked out of the dressing room, dragging residual tubular fabric at my feet and trying not to fall, to make sure I hadn’t accidentally been shopping in the hyper pituitary gland department. I shuffled past the dressing room assistant remarking, “yes, I’m aware they’re a hint too long”. As I walked into the fitting room to continue trying on my clothes that weren’t fitting I thought to myself,  “I could add some elastic to the cut edge of all this left over fabric and Haley’s dolls could have 8 new skirts. You see, in addition to eating kale I’m trying to focus on re-purposing as well. I hear this is another thing hip people are doing.

I was getting dressed to leave New World Alterations when my right heel grazed against the tape on the inside of my pant leg. “You have got to be kidding me!” Yes I did. I wore the pants whose hem needed repaired. “Susan, you have to leave those pants here today. Who knows when you will get around to coming back here.” I looked around. There was no one in sight. “Susan, don’t worry about it. You know how to do a simple whip stitch. You will get it done tonight.” Still no one in sight. I then realized it was my voices that I was hearing and was no longer scared. “Who do you think you are kidding? You won’t get those sewn tonight. You need to go out to your car, take them off, put on your sunglasses and your hood and drop them off at the drive thru telling them they just need repaired.” “Are you crazy? You can’t drive home in your panties. Your already questionable driving skills don’t need the added stress. You will lock up and wreck for sure. Then how would you explain yourself? Give me a break, their underpants! PANTS. You only live 2 miles away. You could turn on your seat warmer and you would be fine. Didn’t you drive around in your bathing suit last summer? How is it different? Well today, I chose to listen to Common Sense as I call her and walked out with my wounded pants on with plans to wear them all the way home, but not before writing “hem right pant leg” on my To Do list.

I walked out of New World Alterations with a huge weight off my back and the sun seeming to be shining just a little bit brighter. DONE!!!!!!        …..well almost.

Baby Steps


Well, this is how they said it was going to be. You can’t seem to hear me but I wanted to make sure. They said I’m to write in this little box and you will go to my blogspot and read. Now, from what I understand I don’t own this spot, Google does. Which is fine by me I really am not looking for another place or thing to take care of, this is why we don’t have a dog. They described this spot, where we both go but never see each other, like my house. Weeeiiirrrrd. The bank owns it but it is mine. I told them that was good because I wasn’t interested in a second mortgage. They said it was free and I like free stuff so I took it. I went on to tell them that I don’t feel comfortable when people are following me and they said that would be ok too. So right now I’m feeling pretty safe, so I’m going to continue.You see, until I started sharing some of my stories on FaceBook and people started telling me I should write a blog I had NEVER read one. I didn’t know if YOU were the blogger because you read blogs or if I was the blogger because I write them. I now know that I am the blogger and no one is going to blog on me or with me and I’m cool with that. Now as far as you being my followers, that could be considered blasphemy, so I will refer to you as my blogees. When you get to know me a little better you will better understand why I am unable to keep up with all the hip things going on around me. I did recently start eating kale however, because I heard that anybody who is anybody is eating the stuff.

I am the mother of three and wife of one. All of whom you will get to know well or better than you already do now.  This fact really scares my husband Rick I think but he is pleased that others are willing to listening to me go on and on and on. It takes some of the heat off of him and I guess he thinks that’s worth the risk. My given name is Susan Fay but I am most commonly referred to as “Mom”, “Mommy”, or “MOOOOOOOMMMMM”! I am however, most likely to quickly and consistently respond to “Susan”,”Good Lookin'”, or “Best Mom Ever”. My husband likes to call me SOOZ.

I was born and raised and still live in Lewisburg, WV, ranked #1 Coolest Small Town in America 2011  While a small town can’t offer all the things a larger city can, all the money and resources in the world couldn’t recreate the life I’ve had here. By reading my stories you soon will find out, my imagination fills in when my mind is run out. I make up words and my own punctuation but that’s how I roll and that’s how I like it. Parenting advice you take from me, is at your own risk so don’t cry to me. (I think I’m done rhyming for now)

I help Rick “pull the wagon” by working part-time as a Physical Therapist. There is not a full time housewife position available at our house at this time and if that position is ever available, I’m not sure I’d be hired or if I’d apply in the first place. I like my work and my kids love their sitter and ask to go to her house to play, especially when I am making them work.

Considering the average woman is 5’4″, 160#, and wears a size 14, I’d say I’m almost average other than being 5’6″. I love coffee, (but not decaf- that makes me angry), chocolate, cooking, naps, and Spring!!! I’m a terrible “getter upper” in the mornings and while I don’t really run late, I’m regularly, perfectly on time, without a minute to spare and complete many beauty rituals in the car. I struggles with impatience and anger at times but a person can only take so much breaking and taking of her personal belongings.  My house keeping is less than perfect but I’ve found that scheduling company or hosting a party improves my motivation.  I love spending time with my family, playing outside, doing arts and crafts, or just snuggling while watching a movie. Unless however, I’m just so sick of all of them that I feel like locking myself in the car and listening to the radio loudly-we all know the bathroom isn’t safe. Time spent with girlfriends reminds me of oil changes. They never happen often enough but I don’t need a sticker in the top left of my windshield to remind me I’m overdue.

I am blessed beyond measure … what I am. Gratefully walking in grace……. I am.