Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Do I Ever Write Anything but Fragmented Thoughts Now?

  • BIG road trip begins later this week, so we are trying to figure out our stops and other items in the itinerary. So far, I've planned the first three days. Beyond that, things gets a little murky. I am concerned because my kids and I took a 7 hour trip on Sunday and by the seventh hour, I was ready for my kids to walk home. It makes no sense for me to be planning to drive thousands of miles for this trip.
  • In sad news, my Topsy Turvy squash plant did not survive the strong winds which came through here over the week-end. All that is left is a little stem. However, my tomato and zucchini continue to taunt me into believing they may actually produce something edible.
  • We have no school-aged children in our immediate neighborhood, and many friends have told me how lucky I am to have no children in doorbell-ringing distance. This week, though, is the next-door neighbors' grandchildren's annual visit. It is fun for a week to have kids nearby.
  • My goal tonight is to sort and put away the 17 loads of clean laundry now living on my bedroom floor. I really thought that if I moved it from the hallway to my room, I would put it away sooner. Not.
  • A while ago, I found an old fabric square that my grandfather had written on and signed about 40 years ago- just a couple of years from the end of his Earthly life. He wrote, "God's children never meet for the last time." What a beautiful thought! I was able have that fabric square framed for my mom's birthday, and though it's a bit faded and stained, the project turned out nicely.
  • We plan to spend the 4th of July in Dodge City, Kansas. My sister used to live in Kansas and remembers Dodge City as having a peculiar and off-putting odor. Let's hope that the Boot Hill Museum is enough to compensate for the odor.
  • Okay, time to get one child to scouts, one to karate, one to youth group, and one to help me with the laundry. Travel updates coming soon!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Fragments: The US 23 Edition

Yesterday I drove 350 miles to Kentucky to retrieve my two older children from their grandparents' gracious hospitality and their aunt's creative entertainment. The drive gave me some time to ponder some things. What a perfect time for Mrs. 4444's Friday Fragments!

  • I used to drive long distances by myself. No cell phone. No gps. No passenger. Just me and hundreds and hundreds of miles. Then my life changed and now I drive one square mile a day. Yesterday, when I arrived at my parents' house, I had a blister on the underside of my finger from gripping the steering wheel so tightly. I can't believe it.

  • Did you know that US 23 calls itself The Country Music Highway? There have been many big names in country music from a handful of counties here in Eastern Kentucky. Tom T. Hall. Loretta Lynn. Ricky Skaggs. Patty Loveless. And many, many more.

  • Last summer I thought I would take my kids to see the tourist attractions surrounding the area's bragging about their country music stars, but in pure East Kentucky style, there isn't much here to see. I think that innocence is pretty nice.

  • Steel roofs on houses are a big thing here. The colors are bold blues, reds, and greens. I think I'm starting to like the look. I'd have a white house with a green steel roof. There would be a front porch, of course.

  • I think the drive through Detroit is a bother. The drive through Toledo is okay. The drive through Columbus is a little fast. The drive south of Columbus is a frustration. There are a million small towns and each one has its own speed limit. So the travel goes from 55 to 35 to 50 to 60 to 40 to 45 to 35. And those towns? Each one has at least one stop light.

  • Why is it that when I make this trip and I look in the rearview mirror and see a car FLYING behind me and then ZOOMING around me, it is always from Michigan?

  • My kids always watch the movie, "Nacho Libre," every time we make this trip. I still think it's funny.
  • Tonight I will go to the funeral home visitation for my brother-in-law's mom. She was bright, talented, and strong, and she and her wonderful husband raised some mighty fine children.

  • Later today, a lady from my parents' church is going to cut my hair. I said I needed a cut. My 8 year old niece then asked about the white part of my hair. Maybe a color is in order, too.

  • Sending you all a smile and gentle wave. That is the way they roll here afterall.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Caution Ruminates About Cub Scout Camp

Today is the last day of Cub Scout day camp!!! The boys have fished, shot bb guns and bows and arrows, used tools to make stuff, had to work as teams to build walls, and so forth and so on. My role has been to carry my little camp chair around and engage in witty repartee with the other parents. It's been exhausting.
I've learned some things, though.
1. The tops of my calves (legs, not animals) sunburn ever so easily.
2. Why do so many people overlook quiet kids?
3. I need to lose 5 20 pounds.
4. I've invested too much time growing outward. Maybe I should try to grow upward another two inches. I'm tired of looking into people's nostrils when we talk.
5. Even when police officers are off-duty and at an event as a parent, they can pull rank.
6. People who have lost 100 pounds since the last camp are really happy.
7. Maybe it's not a good idea to have people park in a field where horse shows have recently been held.
8. Some dads take the fishing pole from their kids, hook a fish, and then think their sons will be excited about "catching" a fish.
9. Next year, if I set up a little business selling ice cold beverages just outside the park, I will be a millionaire the very first day.
10. An adult with serious ADHD is not necessarily the best person to teach boys how to use saws. "Whoa! Look at that! While I was walking around not paying any attention, you cut right through the miter box!"

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I Really Can Survive Through Wednesday

Goodness gracious, but it's a hot, dusty week for me to be at Cub Scout day camp.
I am quite proud, however, of the enthusiasm and cooperation I've been demonstrating.
One day down.
Two to go.
Happy news?
I got a free camp shirt for some work I did coordinating some enrollment paperwork.
The bad news?
If I put it on, people will think I'm working at the camp.
The happiest news?
The a/c in the van is now fixed.
Life is pretty good after all.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Quick Trip to Kentucky

Our quick trip to Kentucky was lovely although the drive was a bit warm with a broken a/c in the van. I take back anything I've said recently about enjoying a car ride when the windows are open. The drive away from the heavy humidity of the Ohio Valley was much easier on Sunday than the drive into it was on Friday.

The highlight of the trip (other than being with my mom and dad) was the fact that my sister who currently lives in Texas was in Kentucky. What a treat for everyone!

We got to watch the boys play football. The Ohio River looks deceptively pretty in this picture:

We ate at my favorite hometown, greasy pizza place:

Checkered bought a shirt for me from Giovanni's. I suspect that it looks better on the young girls who work there.We got to see some of the remodeling being done at the church where my dad is the pastor:

We enjoyed watching our youngest nephew ride a scooter:

And then his brave mom riding the same scooter:

When my older sister stopped by, I announced that I would like to have a quick family picture -- my parents with their daughters -- but that's a different post for a different day.

Now I'm off to spend the week at Cub Scout day camp.

Oh, lucky, lucky me.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

No Pre-Written Posts Left

Wanted: Muse
Must show undo fascination with the trivialities of family life,
and demonstrate a preference for a chaotic work environment.
At this point, just a hint of muse talent will be acceptable.
Little to no experience required.
Ability to strip wallpaper a plus.
Apply within.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Fragments

1. My Boy Scout continues his project of identifying eight different species of birds "in the field." We are stuck with the same seven:

Mourning Dove

Common Sparrow

White Crowned Sparrow

Common Grackle




Perhaps our trip to Grandpa and Grandma's house this week-end will produce that final #8.

2. Another merit badge he is working on requires him to peacefully co-exist with a group of five chores. I was delighted with that requirement until I realized he already does those chores. Maybe the difference will be that he will now do them without being prompted.

3. I signed my kids up to bowl for free this summer. Each child gets two free games every.single.day ALL SUMMER!


4. My daughter continues her planning for a trip with her youth group to NYC. The organized fund-raising has just begun and the trip is in one month. She is now looking to sell things she owns to finance the trip. I'm thrilled she will get to take the trip, but I am highly frustrated with some other aspects of the trip.

5. On a happy church note, we have marvelous new youth pastors! What a gift from the Lord :)

6. Checkered and I leave for Texas at some point in the very near future. A stop in Dallas to see his sister. A stop in El Paso to see mine. We plan to go via New Mexico to see the White Sands National Monument. What else do we need to see during our whirlwind trip? Please be my travel planner. Please? Please? Please?

7. The firewall at Checkered's work has changed and he is no longer able to comment on this blog. Graciously, I've offered to edit and post his comments. He has, thus far, declined my offer.

8. I love to wash clothing. I don't mind switching it to the dryer. I manage to get it out of the dryer and folded, but that's where it stops. My hallway is lined with about 17 baskets of clean laundry now.

9. Check out Wendy's sunglass and cell phone charms. Wendy is my IRL blogging friend and she's got some serious smarts and a whole lot of creativity to match the smarts.

10. While Wendy was starting a business, I have been reading Nevada Barr's latest Anna Pigeon novel. The plot twists are completely improbable, yet I can't stop reading. And Anna Pigeon? I love her.

11. Just finished the second book in Nancy Turner's "Sarah Agnes Prine" trilogy. Do I have enough tears left to read the last book?

12. I'm not sure what people have against Google, but I still prefer it to Bing.

13. I love small businesses. I admire entrepreneurship. But I do wish the owner of this truck would stop parking by the bakery door of the grocery store.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Topsy Turvy Gardeners We Are

The pickiest eaters in the universe live in this house. Horrible. Terrible. Finicky. Fussy. If something remotely healthy gets beyond their lips and into the mouth, well, the result is ugly.

We've bribed. We've threatened. We've punished. We've even lied to them about the food actually not being healthy. Nevertheless, the picky eaters continue to live here, and I worry about what will become of their health and bodies as they grow and life's stresses get more intense.

Our doctors have told me not to worry. They've also told me to worry. They've said to give the kids vitamins and other minerals, and they've said to not give them anything.

But last winter I read an article that said that when kids grow their own food, they eat it.

And that is the answer to the question several people have asked me. Why, after all these years, have I decided to attempt a garden?

We bought some topsy turvies and planted tomatoes, quickly dying cucumbers, and a mystery food. We think we might be growing yellow squash there. We also are trying to coax some strawberries out of hibernation. Into a small garden plot went a little corn and some surprise fruit. It's a garden without rhyme or reason, and that makes it perfect for us.

My thinking is that if none of the plants produce any food, my family will still be ahead. You see, my children will have at least touched a green plant with the potential to produce healthy food. And we shall take progress where ever it's available.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

An Image I Need to Uphold

I'm a spinner. Nervous habit, my spinning is. But my spinning has nothing to do with bikes or wool. My spinning involves wedding rings going around and around and around, and sometimes they come off and go back on, ad nauseum. It feels very good to constantly fidget with those rings. Sometimes while I teach, the rings get inadvertently dropped while I'm spinning them and they roll quickly under desks, and through the maze of backpacks and shoes and purses. The class stops. All eyes are on the rolling rings. It happens at least once per class every semester. When the rings get to a stop, two or three students go chasing them, no doubt in order to maintain favor with me. I accept my rings back demurely and we proceed. (Of course, there was one time last fall when the student brought my rings back to me and ON BENT KNEE presented them to me.)

For Easter this year, the Easter Bunny brought my daughter a spinner ring.

Too bad!! She hated it.

Too bad!! It didn't fit her.

Good luck!! I loved it.

Better luck!! It fit me.

So now I don't have to take the ring off to spin it.

Truth? I'm going to miss those students scrambling for my rolling rings.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Big Day

Happy birthday, Mom.
May I look as beautiful as you when I celebrate a similar birthday.
Of course, I didn't get your present ordered in time, but what a surprise it will be when it finally is ready :)
Can't wait to see you on Friday.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Week-End Update

  • Imagine my joy yesterday when I read that Detroit is the 8th worst skin city. Weather, health care, stress all contributed to the rankings.
  • Our television gave up the ghost in early May. Checkered and I independently declared that we would wait ALL summer and then some before we would consider buying another one. We meant it!
  • Our new t.v. came home Friday night.
  • I may just throw up if one of us says again, "Look at that beautiful picture."
  • My first son continues his Boy Scout merit badge requirement of spending 30 days recording which birds eat from our bird feeder. I've never been a bird-watcher, but this has been kind of fun.
  • The kids sorted through their left-over school supplies over the week-end. The oldest brought home NOTHING. She threw away everything while at school. The youngest brought home 5000 pounds of broken crayons. He said all his intact crayons had been stolen. The middle kids brought home full garbage bags of papers which we enjoyed sending to the recycling container.
  • I was always the student who brought home all those papers.
  • Wallpaper removal project resumes today after a brief hiatus imposed by the arrival of my children's summer break.
  • One of our many unemployed friends says the worst part of job searching is how many employers don't even acknowledge that he has applied to work for them or do not contact him at all after an interview. He says he would much prefer a rude, "No," to listening to the sound of nothing.
  • I haven' t seen my younger sister in two years. She and her kids will be in Kentucky this week-end visiting my parents.
  • Guess where I'm headed Friday? :)

Friday, June 12, 2009

HELP: A River Bed I Am

I have tried to be thrifty in certain areas of my life. Summer does not bring a paycheck for me and things are a bit dicey with Checkered's employer. I haven't minded scrimping, but ...

...after looking at some pix of myself, I am quite horrified that the small crow's feet next to my eyes have grown into something resembling a dry riverbed. Additionally, there is a #1 which has engraved itself on my forehead right between my eyes. [FYI: the preferred pronunciation of forehead omits the /h/ sound . See what 4 degrees in English can get you?]

Back to my woes. Obviously, my magical concoctions and impulse buys aren't working in the anti-aging/anti-wrinkle department.

What products do I need to buy so that I can evolve from my current and luscious look?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Happy Ending

It is a gift from the Lord himself when a teacher uses humor, compassion, and creativity to show that he or she cares not only about academics, but about the quality of students' lives. How precious to know that this year my children were shown that they are of great worth and tremendous potential.

Thank-you, Mr. Andrews, Mrs. Sonntag, Mrs. Saverino, and Mrs. Locklear.
Add Image

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Just When I Think I'm Bored with Facebook

Sometime between Washington crossing the Delaware and Grant and Lee meeting at Appomattox, I worked at a college. It was small and had potential for greatness, and there were some wonderful faculty members and students. It had great location and community contacts, but things there were a little dicey. Crazy, really. There were undercurrents and overcurrents and swirling currents of unrestrained toxins which tainted most of the good things coming out of those hallowed halls of higher learning. *The writer can't decide if she should gag at the memory or gag at the trite expressions which have taken this post hostage.*

I did a mighty good job there in spite of the circumstances, but sometimes enough is enough and the day I walked out of there having tendered my resignation was joyful. I went home, gathered up my baby girl and was free of that terrible work environment and anything associated with it.

Somehow, the next 14 years moved quickly and when any thought of that yucky school arose, I just put my fingers in my ears and ignored it.

Then one night last winter, a friend request on Facebook forced me to think about that college. The request was from a co-worker from that horrible school. I've thought about her sometimes. I even referenced her here. It took me 3.7 seconds to accept that request (and that included the 3.6 seconds it took for the grumpy computer to wake-up and respond.)

That former co-worker and I met up last night. We commiserated about our former employer. We laughed. We shared pictures of our families. And we marvelled that if it hadn't been for Facebook, we would never have known that we both now teach at the same community college :)

Here's to regenerating old friendships.

Monday, June 8, 2009

What Became of the Week-End?

A picnic with friends :

Transitioned two boys out of one big bed:

into two boys in their very own beds:

Welcomed home and dried off a scout and his gear after his third very rainy campout:

Gave in to blog peer pressure and started to strip the bathroom wallpaper:

Spent time admiring these Knock Out roses. Last year, Rechelle told me to plant some because I wouldn't be able to quickly kill them. She was right.
And more of this:

Now, bring on the last week of school!

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Language of Marriage

I was washing dishes and saw a spider web strung from the side of my faucet to outer space somewhere. Deftly, I swung my finger through the web and continued to wash the dishes. But, oddly enough, the web was still there. "Good night," I thought, "my depth perception has gotten terrible." And I more slowly and carefully used my finger to swipe the web - only the web didn't break.

It was a tough strand, so I used two hands to tear the web, but the problem was that it wasn't a web. It was a leak. A leak shooting a fine spray of refreshing water right out the side of the faucet thingie.

Later, Checkered assured me he would stop and get a new faucet, and I cheerily replied, "Thanks, Sweetheart. Just be sure that it's pretty." And like a good husband should, those words stopped him in his tracks.

My man-friend and I got to discussing the faucet and the fact that Checkered was picking out a new one. My friend said, "Oh no. What that really means is that he is going to pick you up and you are going to pick-out the faucet."

"Ha! No, no, no. We have a wonderfully symbiotic marriage. What he picks out will be exactly what I would have picked out."

"You'll be at the store tonight," the friend said.

Checkered tried. He really did. Two pictures later and two thumbs down from me, he came home to retrieve me and off we went to Lowes.

The new faucet is chrome and really doesn't belong on the well-worn stainless sink, but we both like it and that's that.

P.S. Last night Checkered suggested that we put stainless sinks in the newly painted bathroom vanity. I think he was kidding, but it's quirky enough that I like the idea. What do you think?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

HELP: My DIY Project Has Stalled

My house has certain elements which scream, "1980 rocks!!!" No offense, 1980, I really did like you. Graduated from high school then. Very nice memories, but I am sick and tired of you, 1980, staring at me from my bathroom vanity and from my kitchen cabinets.
So, in an illogical sequence, I decided to get all new cabinets. But then I realized it would cost $$$$$$. SO how about refacing them? GREAT!! Then someone told me that would cost $$. Then I decided to restain them...until many someones told me how yucky it would look.

My final decision was paint. After promising Checkered that I would practice on the bathroom vanity before disassembling and destroying the kitchen, I proceeded. I decided on BM (Benjamin Moore) Bittersweet Chocolate.

Checkered said, "There's something so wrong about using a paint called BM Bittersweet Chocolate in the bathroom."

Thus, I bought a gallon of Bear Rug by Behr and painted away.

BEFORE: Faded walnut stainAFTER: It really does look better in person - and just wait until the doors are back on!!

The problem is that I must now replace the vanity top. At first, we were going to use sheet laminate in white and simply resurface, but the dated shape of the top bothers me. I long for a waterfall edge and a white marble look, but that is surely beyond my $50 budget. Additionally, the counter top is big: 72 " and a shallow 19 or 20", and has two bowls - all of which preclude me from simply buying a ready-made top from Home Depot or Lowes.


I know you're thinking the wallpaper has to go, but concentrate on COUNTER TOPS.

Stop looking at the floor and its odd color. We're talking COUNTER TOPS here!

Get your mind out of the clutter and focus.

What should I do about the COUNTER TOP?
And I thank you.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Some people have a lucky number. Sometimes I think I do, too, but then I can't remember it next time I need it.

What is lucky for me, however, is the middle.

I am the middle of three girls, and I love this placement. If I were to be born into my family a second time, I would choose to stay in the middle.

The Middle-West is my chosen home, and unless we get better job offers, we will stay here.

I am well into my middle years, and am quite comfortable with that.

The older I get, the more middle of the road I get politically and philosophically.

I have a middle finger (two, actually) which I will never flash in anger, and a middle girth which defies my adamant orders to shrink.

The middle of the night is when I tend to awaken, and I have learned to use that time to pray for anyone whose name comes to mind.

There is a down-side to the middle sometimes. Well, okay, maybe not for me but for those around me.

I love the middle of the drive-way, and that predilection has been known to preclude Mr. Checkered from parking in the driveway, too.


I have fallen in love with the middle of the bed, and as much as that might mislead someone else, I'm really not trying to get closer to the person on the other side. It's just that I am tired of the ruts we've each created to the left and the right.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


A few weeks ago, I posted a link to Mrs. 4444's Friday Fragments. I love FF because it's perfectly okay to be completely ADD there. Random thoughts. Brief touch points. It's the perfect way to defrag the brain. But something pretty cool happened that week when another blogger commented on my post and thought maybe we lived in the same state. We did. In fact, we discovered that we live in the same county, the same school district, and just a handful of miles off the same main road.
Reading her blog, I began to think, "What an interesting person to get to know better."
Many of you have posted about how you have met fellow bloggers in person, and I've always wondered if I really would like to bridge that gap from cyber friend to real friend. Would I really like to befriend any person I happen to cross blogs with? Doubtful. My name really is Caution, you know.
But there was something so compelling about WON's story and the depth of her thoughts. So, yesterday, with the silly restaurant hostess "introducing" us, we met IN REAL LIFE.
What I learned is that WON is every bit as articulate in person as she is as a writer. I learned that she really does have a great mind and wonderful laugh. I learned that she has the loveliest of manners and graciously allowed me to talk beyond all logical time frames. And on top of all that, she's great at figuring out the tip!
Hey, WON, I 'm glad we live in the same state, county, school district, and off the same road. I'm thrilled that our blogs crossed paths. I'm relieved that you're not an axe murderer. But mostly, I'm just so delighted to think I have a new IRL friend.

Monday, June 1, 2009

She'll Need Sunglasses to Sleep

Remember this post? Remember I promised it would be done before school gets out? Remember how many years I've made the same promise?

Well, I'm proud to announce that I kept my word.

Old room:

New room: