Rain, Rain, Go Away

For the past three weekends that the kids have been at our house, we have had
nothing but torrential rain. It has rained so much that I think i saw Edward and Bella Cullen from Seattle checking out the house for sale next door to use as a vacation home.

It’s bad. I need sunshine.

Since we are a very active family, we normally are outside throwing the
football, hiking a random mountain or kayaking down a river. This month though, the kids have been hanging out in their rooms, plastered to their computer screens, coming out only to eat and then return to their bat caves.

After 36 hours of nonstop rain, we decided to take the kids to the local
trampoline park so even if they couldn’t get vitamin D, they could at least get some exercise. (A trampoline park, by the way, is a huge building filled with side-by-side trampolines so hundreds of kids can be jumping in one area at the same time.)

As we walked into the building I am immediately overwhelmed by the stench of
dirty kid sweat mixed with stale popcorn, and the high pitched screams of excited children.

Did I remember to take my blood pressure medicine today?

We move slowly through the line to pick up shoes. Now I always thought bowling shoes were disgusting but then I was introduced to the petri dish family of trampoline shoes. With bowling shoes, the wearer walks up and throws a ball down a wooden lane. Not much sweat involved.

However.

With trampoline shoes, the wearer is jumping, running, etc. as sweat builds up inside so badly so that when the wearer attempts to remove his or her socks, they literally have to peel them off their foot.

The other option is for the jumper to go barefoot.photo

Yes. Barefoot.

No socks.

I feel the little hairs on my neck starting to stand on end.

I sit back and watch hundreds of kids jumping around, standing in line at the
concession stand, or walking into the bathroom either wearing their sweaty
sponge shoes or their bare feet.

It reminds me of those kid play areas at fast food restaurants. You know what I’m talking about…the microbiology study that is disguised as a fun looking ball-pit that the kids can jump in. Isn’t that what every parent wants? For their children to dive into a method of multiplying microbial organisms?

The bile starts to rise in my throat.

It appears that every child is either part of a birthday group or the birthday child herself. Kids are screaming; parents look confused. It’s like a hillbilly circus without the social graces of a hillbilly.

Older girls walking around in their short-shorts that put Daisy Dukes to shame, putting the “tramp” in “trampoline park”. It’s a little more than just shocking. I mean the place has a dress code for people’s feet but they don’t care if a person’s butt is hanging out?

I watch the clock like a hawk. Only 35 minutes to go. I look away for a second and look back. 37 minutes now? How did that happen?

Finally the whistle blows and the jumping session is over. The kids run over to us begging for water. They take off their trampoline shoes and I take them by the laces. I carefully walk as if I’m holding an unstable bomb and toss them up on the counter, careful not to let them touch me.

I ask for open hands and immediately squirt on a little extra-than-normal size glob of hand sanitizer. Me? I want to bathe in it.

We fall into the slow flow of people who are also leaving because their session is over. Endorphins run amuck throughout the children who have been bouncing non-stop for the past hour.

A group of little girls squeal right next to me piercing my eardrums. I think I may have hearing damage.

And as we get in the car to go home, I start to wonder why it doesn’t seem to bother the kids that they are now covered in millions of prokaryotic microorganisms.

Then I remember that a long time ago, I was also a kid, who was unaware of the dangers lurking in a ball pit.

Long before I became a mom.

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Wiring The Technical Generation Gap


Technology isn’t easy. We all know that. But technology is extra difficult for those who didn’t grow up with it. My parents are no different than anyone else in their age group. They don’t like change, and technological change is an even harder pill to swallow.

My parents have never had a passion for technology.

I remember in the 1980’s when my dad purchased a VCR. It was one of the most technological events in the history of the Gunn household. We could actually rent movies and WATCH THEM ANY TIME we wanted. We were late to the party, but at least we were taking baby steps into this new electronics world.

The next step was to get a microwave. Regardless of the fact that it weighed 300 pounds and you could fit a compact car in there, our family finally had one.

In the mid-1990s, my parents got their first computer. It was a 380 with a 5 ¼ inch floppy drive and offered a dial-up modem that connected to AOL. (My parents still have the same AOL account.) They had a dot-matrix printer that you could hear printing from the next house over and felt like a tiny earthquake every time it would print a line. Zzzzzzzzzzzz. Zzzzzzzzzz. Zzzzzzzzzz. Zzzzzzzzzz.

But they were opening up to change and I was very proud of that.
In the early 2000’s my dad decided he needed a new computer because his floppy drive went out. By this time, mind you, there weren’t any more floppy drives on computers. Everything had moved to CDs. My dad however, had to special order a floppy drive and had it installed on his new computer. In the father/daughter world, this is known as “pick your battles.”

The next step for the Gunn household was to upgrade their internet connectivity. The Bellsouth installer came out but had one little problem: My parents still had permanently installed rotary phones….and this was 2004. I might have the only kid under the age of 30 that has ever even SEEN a rotary phone, much less talked on one. Thank you Bellsouth for helping to guide my parents into the new and high tech world of push button telephones.

Recently, we got a phone call that went like this:

“Hey Dana! Can I talk to Dale? I’m having a computer problem.”

I handed the phone to my husband (the default technical support for our family) who said, “Hey! What’s up?”

“Well, I was opening my e-mail and I got a message from someone I thought I knew, so I opened it and now my computer won’t do anything”.

Nine hours and two trips to their house later, my husband has made sure that their computer is now 100% hardened against a potential criminal attack from China. (And he did the same for my computer too!) I don’t know how families without an in-house technical support person can keep their computers running these days, but God help you all.

Recently my mother was given an iPhone by my sister and brother-in-law. We have the most fun going through her photos seeing how many times she has taken a photo of the inside of her purse, or a picture of herself when the camera lens did the “flip” feature. But I am proud to say that she has mastered texting and is even using LOL and emoticons.

And my sweet daddy is perfectly happy with his featureless flip-phone, but it was extra nice when we finally convinced him that keeping it turned on all day wouldn’t ruin the battery life.

The moral of this story is to be patient with your parents and their resistance to change and technology.

Because OUR children are going to think that WE are technology challenged when we don’t understand how teleporting works.

(These are not my parents, but this video made me laugh so much that I had to include it!)

If Your Beard Is Real, You’re Too Old To Trick-or-Treat

Tonight is Halloween. It’s truly one of my favorite holidays. I don’t like all of the evil witchcraft and Satanic stuff that surrounds Halloween, but I love hearing the sweet little voices shout out “Trick or Treat” while they are wearing flowing Princess costumes or red and blue Spiderman costumes.

Each time the door rings, my dog goes utterly insane. She has on her Halloween “Security” costume but no one gets to see her because I have to put her in the bedroom and shut the door. She is only six pounds but she is scratching at the door like a caged tiger.

I drop handfuls of candy into pillowcases or orange plastic pumpkins, or even cute handmade Halloween bags that some overly-crafty supermom made and the children happily trod off across the lawn to the neighbor’s house to collect their next bounty.

As soon as I sit down, the doorbell rings 14 times. My dog goes crazy. I get up off the couch and go to the door thinking about what little crapheads the kids at the door must be.

I open the door and look down expecting to find three-foot tall goblins. Instead, I have to look up and find four teenagers (all taller than me) saying in deep tenor voices, “Trick or treat.”

Seriously?

For once in my life I am speechless.

Isn’t there an age limit on when you need to stop trick or treating?

I drop candy in each bag simply because I’m kinda scared of them and I just want to shut the door and lock it. I have pictures of CSI going through my head and headlines for tomorrow’s newspaper:

“Local Woman And Her Dog Murdered Over Twix and Kit-Kat Bars.”

I think that for next Halloween, I’m going to make a sign for my front door that reads “Don’t knock on my door if any of the following pertain to you.”

1. If you can grow a beard.
2. If your breasts are bigger than mine.
3. If you are driving yourself through the neighborhood.
4. If you have tattoos (because you have to be 18 to get a tattoo).
5. If you are a parent.
6. If you are smoking cigarettes.
7. If you understand what the word “pertain” means.
8. If you are walking around the neighborhood with a beer, and are of legal age to drink.
9. If you are old enough to vote in the Presidential election.
10. If you have your own apartment.
11. If that stripper costume you have on is one you use at work.

And for anyone ringing my doorbell next year that matches any of the above, please note that you won’t be getting any chocolate.

You’ll be getting a box of stale raisins.

Do You Suffer From Mom Brain?


I’ve always said that our intelligence is highest when we are babies. We probably know all of the answers to the universe but we just can’t say anything or let anyone know what we are thinking.

As we get older, we start losing some of our brain power. It comes to a head with what I call “Mom Brain.” It’s very similar to what my cancer-survivor father calls “Chemo-brain”, but “Mom Brain” isn’t caused by cancer. It’s caused by children.

Mom Brain Sufferer

Mom Brain was diagnosed for me when my son was young, but really went active when he was about ten years old. I was divorced, working crazy hours to make ends meet, taking my son to his hockey practices and weekly games, and trying to have enough energy to cook dinner, (which was apparently very rare since the Domino’s delivery guy knew me by name.)

In other words, I was exhausted. ALL THE TIME.

“Hey Mom, Is this milk still good?”
“It should be. Smell it.”
“It smells like… milk. Should I drink it?”
“It’ll be fine.”
“Is it supposed to be thick?”

In a nutshell, Mom Brain means that you when have a baby, you lose a ton of brain cells along with the afterbirth. Unfortunately more kids could mean a more severe case of Mom Brain. I’m not a doctor so this isn’t medically proven. it’s just my excuse for why I am forgetful and frazzled for 99% of my day.

I’m naturally blonde, which is a strike against me in the first place, so I’m lucky I only gave birth to one child. Any more than that and I’d need to be institutionalized or at least heavily medicated.

The best (or should I say funniest?) case of Mom Brain comes from my dearest friend, who I will not name or else she will probably end our friendship. She is the mother of two beautiful young daughters, both under the age of two. To her horror, her oldest has finally started the terrible two phase, and it seems that she wants to stay there until she’s 10. Her youngest has been screaming with colic since coming out of the birth canal. This has now caused my friend to lose endless hours of sleep and put 147 extra miles each week on her car due to driving around the neighborhood at 3am to help put the baby to sleep.

We were discussing the effects of Mom Brain and she said she was certain she had it. She was telling me about a conversation she had with a girl she ran into at the gym a few months after her daughter was born.

“Hey! You had the baby! Was it a girl or a boy?”
My friend replied, “I had a little girl!”
“Oh that’s wonderful! What did you name her?”
“I named her Anna!” she said. (Long pause here as she thought to herself). “No, actually I didn’t name her Anna. I named her Abby.”

This conversation is absolute proof that Mom Brain exists. I think that maybe webMD should add Mom Brain to their list of diseases so we can self-diagnose ourselves. It kind of makes it a little better to deal with when you know what you have.

I can see it now. The list of symptoms is as follows:
Short term memory loss?
Difficulty performing familiar tasks?
Disorientation?
Increasing problems with planning and managing?
Trouble with language?
Rapid, unpredictable mood swings?
Lack of motivation?
Changes in sleep?

If you answered yes to any of these, then you either have Mom Brain, Dissociative Identity Disorder, Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Because the symptoms are EXACTLY THE SAME.

And like me, if you too suffer from Mom Brain then I’m not even sure why I wrote this blog entry, because by tomorrow you will probably have forgotten you even read this post.

An Unconventional Friendship

Two young girls are playing together upstairs at my house. Even from downstairs, I can hear them giggling and dancing around the bedroom. One is trying to teach the other how to dance “Gangnam Style”. The song plays over and over and over. I shake my head. I have no idea what that song means, but it really doesn’t matter.

They are best friends, but these two girls do not have what many would call a “typical” friendship.

One is my step-daughter.

The other is the daughter of my ex-husband.

Yes, you read that right.

How did this unusual friendship happen? Well, let me explain.

Being silly

My ex-husband and I divorced 12 years ago and believe me, it wasn’t cordial. Our divorce was finalized after two years of name calling of words that hadn’t even been invented yet, playing “This is Mine, You Can Keep That”, and paying barrels of money to our lawyers who loved us for basically covering their mortgages each month.

Fast forward another year when I was out visiting my then 85-year old grandmother in rural Mississippi. I had been griping about something my ex had done, when she looked at me and said “Why do you hate him so much? You were best friends until you divorced.”

“Well”, I began, “He did this, and this and this…” (of course, not taking any of the blame for myself!)

Pitifully, she just shook her head and said “You’re divorced. You don’t love him. He doesn’t love you. But you have a small child together and you both need to stop acting so selfish and start acting like parents. Forgive each other and move on.”

Ok. Let me tell you that when your grandmother (who normally has you on a pedestal and thinks you can do absolutely nothing wrong) begins to notice that you’ve become nothing more than a griping whiner, you have to really look at yourself. What I saw wasn’t pretty. I had always been a cheery, happy, funny Mommy but somewhere I had turned into an extremely bitter person, and I didn’t like myself like that.

Upon returning home, I called my ex and told him what my grandmother said. We decided we needed to try to work out his – I mean our “communication” issues. Although we had never argued in front of our son, we realized that if we wanted to bring up a good, well rounded child, we would need to stop the constant complaining and arguing. The plan worked. Over time we actually were able to become friends again.

We realized the important thing was for our son to be able to see his parents as respectable friends who just couldn’t stay married. He didn’t have to choose sides: he could spend weekends or holidays with either one of us and it was okay.

My ex married a wonderful lady who has become a very good friend to me. I have said before that I would have been drawn to her as a friend if we had just met at an office or school. We really get along and I especially appreciate how much she loves my son.

My ex and his wife now have a ten year old daughter. I would babysit her when she was a baby and I’ve watched her grow over the years into an amazing young girl. I have been to her birthday parties and I have cheered her on at her soccer games. I adore her.

I remarried three years ago, and as unconventional as it sounds, I invited them to my wedding. We introduced their little girl to my new little step-daughter. At first they were shy around each other, but soon they began running around the reception like old friends. They danced out on the dance floor and giggled over slices of wedding cake.

Making Monster Wreaths (idea by @babyrabies)

They truly hit it off. They now spend the night at each others houses as many times as possible. They do arts and crafts together. They build tents on the catwalk overlooking our living room.

Although they have both voiced that they would love to have more siblings, (sorry, but this baby factory is CLOSED) neither of the girls has a sister. One afternoon when I was putting away freshly laundered clothes, I overheard them trying to figure out how they could possibly be sisters because they sort of share the same brother….my son.

And now as I sit at my desk writing this post, I hear them upstairs laughing and playing, and my heart giggles along with them. It is so amazing to me that out of a sad and hurtful past, a beautiful new friendship was born. And what could be sweeter than that?

But I still don’t get what “Gangnam Style” means.

Are You A Baby Book Slacker?


How many times has your child done or said something funny and you think “I’ll always remember when he did that”? And then the following month you are wracking your brain trying to remember what exactly it was? My son is now 18 years old and I still think of funny events but can’t remember all of the details.
After my son was born I was determined to fill in his baby book with memories, sayings, firsts, etc. I think I got to month three before I became a slacker on the job. The only reason I remember what day he took his first steps is because it was my sister’s birthday. But which birthday? I don’t know because I didn’t write it down.

But that all changed, thanks to my mom.

Years ago when my son was just a toddler, my mother would often babysit him while I went to work. She was able to spend the first three years with him, often telling me some of the funny things he said or did while he was at her house.

That following Christmas I opened a present from my mother. It was a standard black notebook – the kind with the paper that has to be punched with three holes. Nothing fancy. But what was inside was utterly priceless.

My mother had written down almost every funny conversation they had, typed it all up, and gave it to us. She said that she kept paper in all of the rooms of the house and when Matthew said something funny, or something happened that she thought would be good in the book, she would write it down. At the end of the year she took all of her little sheets of paper and typed them up. (As a side note – my mom is Ninny.)

Here are some of my favorite “Matthew Funnies”, as the book is so appropriate titled:
Age 3 – Your Dad was teaching you the sign language alphabet. When he got to the letter “p”, you said “we don’t pee in the tub.”

Age 3 – The pest control man, Tucker, came to the house today and you followed him around.
Tucker: How old are you?
Matthew: (silence)
Ninny: You know how old you are. You can tell him.
Matthew: (silence)
Tucker: When is your birthday?
Matthew: When I turn four!!!

Age 3 – Your Mom: I’ve got to go to the bathroom.
Matthew: I’ve got to go to the bathroom, too.
Your Mom: Well, you’ll have to wait a minute – I’m about to pop.
Matthew: Well, I’m about to poop.

Age 4 – You gave me a kiss on the cheek and then I felt something stuck on my cheek.
Ninny: Gross, Matthew! It’s a fingernail!
Matthew: No it’s not! It’s a footnail!

Age 4 – Ninny was working on the porch when you came outside.
Matthew: I have a new wallet. Want to see it?
Ninnny: Of course I want to see your wallet!
(And you showed me a rock that was about two-inches long.)
Oh my. Where did you get that nice wallet?
Matthew: I got it in the Army ‘bout four years ago.

She did the same thing for my sister with my two nephews. This is one of my favorites:

Zachary was sitting in his dad’s lap and was running his little hand over the hair on his dad’s arm.
Zachary: Hey Dad!!! Look! When I do this to your arm, your fur lays flat.

And now that my son is an adult, reading these precious stories helps me exactly remember these events that would have been lost long ago. Those yearly “chapters” continue to give me endless belly laughs remembering “funnies” that I have already forgotten.

To do this for your family, consider just keeping a little notebook in your purse and jot down simple memories as they happen. If you wait too long, you will more than likely forget certain details. As time allows type up your notes and then you can print and give numerous members of your family your child’s “Funnies” book. It is such a personal holiday present for grandparents, parents & friends.

Remember to write down the amusing stories but don’t forget the heartfelt ones too…

Age 4: You were gazing out the window and you were lost in deep thought.
Matthew: You know what, Ninny?
Ninny: No, what, Matthew?
Matthew: I love you.

I Met My Husband Online And You Can Too

Many of you have followed up with that post by asking me about online dating.  Well, here’s my advice and two-cents, which really isn’t much.  After all, it’s only two cents worth so don’t sue me.

If you have read my previous posts, you will know that I was a long time resident of Loserville.  A ten year resident, to be exact and after a friend convinced me to try Match.com where I met the love of my life, I packed up my things and moved out of town for good.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t think that I am calling anyone else a Loser for not being married or in a relationship.  I call myself that simply because I was so ready to meet someone that I easily would have settled for Mr. Close-But-Not-Exactly-Mr-Right, or at some points, even just a human, breathing male.  But I got lucky this time.  Or it was divine intervention.  Either way…

Trust me.  If there’s FourSquare in Loserville, I’m pretty sure I’m still the Mayor.

  1. Use your brain.  When deciding to find a date on line, safety is first and foremost.  There are a lot of wackos out there but on the flip side, there are a lot of good people that are serious about wanting to meet someone.  Use your common sense at all times.  Most on-line sites won’t allow you to post contact information.  You must go through their site to contact a person.  Don’t give out ANY personal information until you are sure you are ready to talk in person.
  2. “How YOU doin?”– Introduce yourself . For me, I sent Dale a “wink”, which is Match.com’s way of saying “Hey you’re a cutie and I am interested.”  So yes, since I sent Dale a wink first, I take full credit  for this relationship.  If they are interested, they will respond.

    Dale’s Match.com profile picture

  3. Cyber stalk him.  After we e-mailed each other back and forth I had enough information to Google him and had already checked out his Facebook page and his LinkedIn profile within the first few days.  I saw pictures of his parents before I even knew their names.  I found his ex-wife’s Facebook and Twitter pages.   I found articles on awards that he had received on software he had written.  My point is, do some simple research.  Thank God Al Gore invented the internet so that we could do cyber-research on someone without them even knowing!! You might want to run a background check on them or even find their divorce information on line – it’s all public information.  Now I didn’t do those things, but I’m pretty sure my Dad did.
  4. Talk to each other.  We talked on the phone like silly teenagers – up until 2-3am talking about the most random stuff.  You can learn a lot about someone just over the phone.  Use your intuition – if something seems off then it just might be.  (I didn’t give him my home number – just my cell number.  I knew my home number could be traced to my home address, and I wasn’t ready to let anyone know where I lived.
  5. Don’t be a victim….meet in public.  We decided to meet at a very public park, where it would be more difficult to kidnap me and make a skin suit out of me if that was his intention.  Let someone know where you are going and give them a link to the page of the person you are meeting.  Sounds a bit overcautious but just think about the skin suit and you won’t feel like you’re overreacting.
  6. Go the 20 questions route – talk about everything.   We talked about everything from politics, religion, kids, reasons why we were divorced, reasons why we turned to on-line dating, what our parents do, etc.
  7. Meet his friends and let him meet yours.  If he doesn’t have friends or “isn’t ready” for you to meet his friends within a few weeks of dating then watch out for that red flag…it’s going to be waving at you.  Dale met six of my closest friends on our SECOND DATE.  I was scheduled to do a triathlon with three of my girlfriends and we all met up for dinner to fill up on carbs.  Poor Dale – he was answering questions right and left, but got the thumbs up from my girlfriends before dessert was even served.  Trust me, you may be blind to any red flags, but your friends will openly tell you if your potential date is a raging psychopath.

    2nd date – meeting my friends

  8. Talk about everything.  Dale and I were really comfortable talking on the phone so when we met, the conversation transitioned very easily from introductions to life stories.  Within the first hour of meeting in person, I knew about a near fatal car wreck he had when he was 17.  There are going to be times when you can’t stay up until 2am on the phone.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a long conversation or text messages, or emails, just get to know each other every single day.
  9. Meet each other’s kids, and let the kids meet each other.  We were lucky that our kids were 15, 10 and 8 when they first met.  The oldest worked at an ice-cream shop at the time so it was a perfect place to bring the younger kids.  Make the kids comfortable when they are meeting potential step-siblings.  Things are changing for them so you need to pay extra attention to their thoughts and feelings.
  10. Meet each other’s families – who better to give you input than your families?  My father is retired military, and a judge….and my maiden name was Gunn…so he’s Judge Gunn.  He is extremely conservative, so when I told him that I met the man of my dreams and we were getting married after only knowing each other for four weeks, my parents were more than a bit skeptical…as were Dale’s parents.  We decided to get everyone together to meet.  After dinner, my father pulled me aside and said “Ok.  I get it.  He’s your perfect match.”  (Then I think he ordered a full background check on my new fiancé. LOL!)
  11. Be realistic.  You may meet the love of your life immediately or it may take a few tries.  Don’t try to make something work if it doesn’t feel right and don’t rush it if you aren’t ready.  Don’t settle!
  12. Finally, Have FUN!  Dating isn’t brain surgery.  It’s about meeting new people and seeing if there is a connection.  Look at it this way – even if there isn’t chemistry, you got out of the house and did something out of your comfort zone…and you may have gotten a free dinner out of the deal!  Score!

Home Really Is Where Your Mom Is

Is this really happening?

I found myself standing in my son’s room today. Not in a creepy watching-him-as-he’s-sleeping kind of way. Just standing there, looking around at all of his posters tacked to the walls. I see the “Captain” stripes on his letter jacket gently strewn across the chair. Prom pictures of him and his girlfriend are stapled to the wall by his bed.

But something is different: He is leaving for college.

His Pink Floyd, Dave Matthews & Beatles posters are rolled up neatly with a rubber band keeping them safe. His guitar stand is sitting by the door and his guitar is nestled comfortably in it’s hard case. Two big brown boxes sit by the door filled with his lava lamp, some clothes, his x-box, favorite pillows and his Mac. There are no dirty boxer shorts or t-shirts tossed on the floor. There aren’t any empty Dr. Pepper cans on the bedside table. The TV is off.

And the lump that has been growing in my throat for the past three months is suddenly about to burst. He looks over at me and I realize that I’m about to lose it. I exclaim that I need to go stir the spaghetti sauce that has been simmering on the stove for the past three hours. I race down the stairs, bypassing the kitchen altogether, hoping that I can make it to my bedroom before the tears start to flow. Once the sniffles start, it’s a dead giveaway.

Where did the time go? Wasn’t it just yesterday that he couldn’t wait to ride the bus to school for his first day of kindergarten? Wasn’t it just last week that he found a hair under his armpit –( yes that was meant to be singular)? Didn’t he just grow out of the kid’s department at Abercrombie & Fitch?

Matthew’s First Day of Kindergarten

I watched him grow from a funny and animated little boy into a kind and independent man. He took care of his “mama” after his dad and I divorced, and ultimately became the “man of the house”. Over the next ten years, it was just me and him. I went to every school event – talent shows, teacher conferences, and just about every single hockey game, and of course I was always the loudest mom there. I even took him and his friends on a very memorable camping trip (they didn’t realize that I could hear them talking about Pamela Anderson’s boobs through the paper thin tent walls).

State Hockey Champs 2011

When I finally met my husband, my son carefully “gave me away” at the wedding, knowing that he would eventually be leaving for college and that I had found a wonderful husband to love and share my life with.

Why does this hurt so much? I remember being his exact same age and heading off to college. I was so excited – just as he is. I know what’s in store for him and I am filled with joy knowing he is going to have such an amazing experience. I’ve given him all of the advice about studying hard, and have even given him the speech that “I’m too young to be a grandma.” I know that this is just the beginning of the rest of his life. But as a mom it’s still a bitter pill to swallow.

So as I stand here looking around his room, the lump in my throat comes back and my eyes start to tear up again. I realize that all of his memories from his younger years are either being left behind or packed away in boxes to take with him. I hope that he knows he will take something else with him that’s even more fragile than his beloved Beatle’s Blue Album…

He’ll take his mother’s heart with him.

Should I Pack The Kitchen Sink Too?

It’s Saturday morning and I wake up and realize that OMG – I promised the kids we would go to the pool today. I had come up with a gazillion great excuses during the week but today it is warm and sunny…and no rain in sight. Thanks a lot weather.com.

Drats. I’m stuck.

Kids don’t realize that you just don’t hop in the car and head on over to the pool or water park. Those clean towels and drinks and snacks and sunscreen and toys and floats and chairs don’t just magically appear in the car.  Someone had to get everything together and put it there.

Then once you get to your destination, be it a beach, a pool or the lake, someone has to set everything up. There are bodies to be sprayed and noses to be covered with sunscreen, floaties to be blown up, pool toys and sand buckets and goggles to be found and handed out.

Finally, when all is complete then I sit down and open my book to page four…the exact place where I left off the last time we were here.

Ahhh. I can finally relax. I settle down into the lounge chair, close my eyes for a brief moment and feel the sun beating down on me when I suddenly realize that I forgot to put sunscreen on myself.  About that same time I hear the sound of the lifeguard’s shrill whistle and him call out “adult swim!”   Suddenly the kids climb out of the pool and state that they are starving, all the while dripping all over my nice dry towel and book.  Never mind that we just ate lunch moments before we left the house, everyone is acting like they haven’t eaten in a week.

I hand out crackers and cheese and Capri Suns and water and right before they’re finished the lifeguards blow their whistles again and state that adult swim is over. The kids drop everything and start to head out like a stampede of buffalo until I yell for everyone come back and take their trash to the can. They slowly come back each one not wanting to claim the trash that ended up on the ground. The rule is – no one goes in the pool until the trash is gone so it finally disappears.

Ahhhh. Back to relaxation. I start back on page two because I’ve now forgotten what the book was about. I get to page four again when I hear someone crying. Uh oh. I look up from my book.  It’s the dreaded water-up-the-nose scream. I do my best to calm the victim and after a while she slowly heads back to the water and I turn back to my book, about which time I see a tiny drop of water soaking into the tender paper and spreading out like a virus. Then another. Tiny little sprinkles. No big deal. I can handle some sprinkles.  I read another page. Did I just hear thunder or am I just imagining it? I look towards the lifeguard stand and see that the lifeguard hasn’t seemed to notice. I begin to relax a little.  Then I hear it again and this time the life guard does too because his whistle is in his mouth already.  “Thunder. Everybody out of the pool.” I look towards the sky. It looks like Storm from X-Men has been here. The sky is getting darker and darker.   Where did this come from?

The kids stagger up and I distribute towels and flip flops.  I collect goggles, ear plugs, & toys.  I let the air out of the floaties and start to pack up.  Hopefully we can get to the car before the bottom falls out.

When I get home I’ve got to empty the cooler, put away snacks, wash and dry towels and bathing suits, and then I can finally take a shower.

And as I’m soaping up my hair I realize that dang it….I never even got to chapter two.

I used www.storymarklife.com to create the photo above.  Download for free in the iPhone app store or Android Marketplace.

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