Tuesday, November 25, 2008

True Meaning Tuesday

In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket.

Their father was gone.

The boys ranged from three months to seven years; their sister was two.

Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared.

Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway they would scramble to hide under their beds.

He did manage to leave $15 a week to buy groceries.

Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either.

If there was a welfare system in effect in southern Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it.

I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress, loaded them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job.

The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town.

No luck.

The kids stayed crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince who ever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything. I had to have a job.

Still no luck. The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town, was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop.

It was called the Big Wheel.

An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of
the window from time to time at all those kids.

She needed someone on the graveyard shift, 11 at night until seven in the morning.

She paid 65 cents an hour, and I could start that night.

I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people.

I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night.

She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep

This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal.

That night when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers, we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job. And so I started at the Big Wheel.

When I got home in the mornings I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money-- fully half of what I averaged every night.

As the weeks went by, heating bills added a strain to my meager wage.

The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak. I had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home.

One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat. New tires!

There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful brand new tires.

Had angels taken up residence in Indiana? I wondered.

I made a deal with the local service station.

In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office.

I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did for him to do the tires.

I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn't enough.

Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids .

I found a can of red paint and started repairing and painting some old toys. Then I hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning.

Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boys pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair.

On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. There were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe.

A few musicians were hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine.

The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up.

When it was time for me to go home at seven o'clock on Christmas morning, to my amazement, my old battered Chevy was filled full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes.

I quickly opened the driver's side door, crawled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat.

Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box.

Inside was whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10!

I looked inside another box: It was full of shirts to go with the jeans.

Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes. There was candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous ham for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes.
There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie filling and flour. There was whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items.

And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll.

As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude.

And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones that precious morning.

Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December. And they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop....

Thanks to a family friend who forwarded me this email.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I'm A Winner

Look what I won over on Tip Junkie. I never win anything. But I guess I can't say that anymore.

And when you read this, I will be en route to Utah to see my family! Which is way better than winning any contest. Unless it was a contest in which I would win a free trip to see my family. That would be the ultimate.

Stay tuned for "True Meaning Tuesday", and the maiden post tomorrow.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Things I Hate

I hate that I only have today and tomorrow left to get ready for next Saturday's craft show.

I hate that I have piles of laundry on the dryer that need to be put away.

I hate having kids on anitbiotics, and repeatedly forgetting to give it to them.

I hate waking up cold and headachy.

I hate that I have to leave Sugar Daddy alone for Thanksgiving.

I hate that my dog has a uterine infection and I hate that it will cost a fortune to treat her.

I hate it when my Voice Mail light is blinking, and then there isn't even a message.

I hate lying awake stewing about life.

I hate cancer.

I hate being in a bad mood first thing in the morning.

I hate that I still have 3 more days until I get to see my family.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Things That Blow

The other day, I got an email from my friend Dubya. She is always on the lookout for a great deal, and when one comes along, she doesn't hesitate to spread the word. In this email, it said that Target.com was having a sale on a Toro snow blower. It was regular priced at $299.00 and it was on sale for....Wait for it....


Yes, you read right. $15.00!!! So of course I immediately hop on the net, and check it out, and sure enough, right there in print was said snow blower priced at 95% off, coming in at $15.00. Add the $25 for shipping, and I had myself a new snow blower for $48.00 including tax. Suhweet. My mind was a swirl with thoughts of Christmas presents bought with the money I would make by selling it on Craigslist. Suddenly my burden was light.

But then, a day and a half later, I received an email from Target.com, stating that it was, in fact, an error on their part, and the snow blower was priced wrong. They had canceled my order, but offered the snow blower to me for the sale price of $219. Nope. No sirree.

That totally blows.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Yesterday I finally (finally!) went out and bought a new pair of jeans. I had received a catalog with a cute cute pair on sale, so I went on over to the store to check them out, and turns out the ones on sale were elastic waist. Okay, I'm all about comfort, and I understand the need for elastic waist in certain situations. Pregnancy, post-op, post-pregnancy, and, okay, I think that's about it. Unless you're 90 years old, then due to the fact that you've lived nearly a century, you can wear pretty much whatever you choose. I would choose a house coat. And slippers. Okay, I would choose that now, but I can't pull it off like an old gray haired granny.

So I give in and buy the regular priced jeans, and a shirt on sale for $9. Score! I'm not thrilled about paying full price, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. This whole time, both kids had been with me, and had been perfect angels. No, really. Gretta is still fighting a vomiting virus, so she was at an all time energy low, which translated into her sitting peacefully in a chair while Maggie entertained her with books and stuffed animals. It was Heavenly. I proceed to check out, at which point the cashier tells me she's a Montessori trained teacher who does babysitting on the side. Always a nice thing to know, just in case.

I gather up the goods, and the children, and head outside. As I'm crossing the road and scurrying through the 15 degree air, I see a car out of the corner of my eye. I realize about halfway across the road that it isn't stopping, and is, in fact, speeding up! Speeding up! The drives swerves around us, at which point I take it upon myself to give him the old Chicago Hello wave. This prompts him to slam on his brakes, which is just what I wanted. Now I can confront my attacker face to face.

He proceeds to get out of the car, and walk towards me. He is about 5 feet tall, no teeth, and no hair, and covered in tattoos. It is a perfect juxtaposition to the beat up POS Hyundai he's driving around. So we exchange words, which went like this,

Me: "Hey! What the heck? I'm a pedestrian (not pedestrain, Jill), you should be giving me the right of way!"

Jerk: "You need to use a *^&*ing crosswalk you *^&*(). "

Me: "Do you see any crosswalks around here?" Me motioning around and pointing out the fact that there are in fact, no crosswalks.

Jerk: "Well, you need to use a crosswalk! Stupid @#@$%"

Me: "I have 2 kids here, you could have killed us! You jerk, I'm calling the police."

Jerk: Ducks quickly into his Hyundai and "speeds" away.

At this point, I'm grateful for 2 things. The fact that Gretta was in my arms and not running alone by herself as she normally would be. And also the fact that I'm medicated with anti anxiety meds. Normally a confrontation like this would have sent me into a crying fit. I wasn't even shaking. I was calm. Calm, people! That $2 a pill is totally worth it after this.

But as I drove away, still reliving the incident in my mind, I realized that I'm especially grateful for my genes. Knowing in my heart that I was in the right, and knowing that had I been on the other side of this confrontation, I would have let that mother and her children cross the street and not even given it a second thought. There is something basic and instictual about it. Being a good person is more than just waving to a neighbor, or going to church every week. It's doing what we know is the right thing.

I could have turned out like that Jerk, who obviously has no respect for women, children, or people in general. I don't know his circumstances, but most people are taught right from wrong at an early age. And yet sometimes, it just doesn't take. They still do stupid things that are common for most of us.

But thankfully I didn't turn out like that Jerk. For some reason it took on me. And it stuck. Not that I don't ever make mistakes, but there is a place in me that wants to make others safe and comfortable.

And I blame it all on good genes.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

True Meaning Tuesday

It's time for me to make a confession. This is hard fought because it practically goes against my DNA code.


I know! How can it be! But it's true. I don't like feeling torn in so many directions, and I don't like "settling" for the perfect gift to give some one I may not know very well.

I do love the spirit of Christmas. I love the lights, and the snow, and the food, and the food, and the food. But I especially love the stories of Christmas. You know the ones, the ones when you hear it, you start to get all goose pimply, and your eyes well up (or in my case, sweat) just a little. The ones that make your heart feel good, and your faith in humanity is restored. These stories can come in many forms. Children's books, short stories, family history stories, or songs. (Christmas Shoes, anyone?) But if we're lucky, or very observant, we may be privy to one of these stories in the making.

So this year, I'm starting True Meaning Tuesday. The Tuesday part is insignificant, mostly it just sounds good with the True part. Feel free to participate on your own blog. I will be telling one of these stories each Tuesday. Some will come from me, some from other people you may or may not know, and some will come from other sources such as published stories and such. My hope is that through this act of seeing the True Meaning of the Christmas season each week, my eyes will be opened to the miracles of the season that are happening around me. Thus making the necessities of this Holiday more bearable.

So stay tuned for your first dose of True Meaning Tuesday. And enjoy the Holiday season.

Monday, November 17, 2008

En Francais

This just made me smile.
She reminds me of Gracie, only en francais. Tres magnifique!

Once upon a time... from Capucha on Vimeo.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Give Away Time

Go here for a great Macy's giveaway. 3 Kids And Us is a great site, found through Tip Junkie, just another reason to love that website, that does lots of giveaways and has a very cute template and button. Go here for the Macy's believe promise to donate $1 for each letter to Santa they receive at their stores. A good cause, and a great excuse to get your happy butt over to Macy's. I need a new pair of jeans in a bad, bad way, and Macy's is very um, size friendly for me. So I don't really need a better excuse than that.

At Least It's Clean

Yesterday started out like most days. Up and at em bright and early. Emma off to school, Maggie awake and dressed in her standard outfit consisting of a Hannah Montana shirt, jeans, and the puffy pink skirt over the top of the jeans, all of this topped off with sparkly pink shoes. She is all girl. And Gretta being her silly self carrying around 13 binkies and her milk. We headed over to the local Starbucks to meet up with some friends and get "coffee", which is code for Hazelnut Hot Cocoa. Mmm. I chatted up the ladies while the kids sufficiently destroyed the table and chairs with donut pieces and spilled milk. Eh, we'll just leave a tip, no biggie. After I had my fill of funny stories and gross sex talk, it was time to head off to Maggie's dance class. She danced her little butt off. Gretta got her white-girl groove on, too, and it was hilarious.

So we head home. I've decided that on the way, a trip to Linens N Things is in order, to take advantage of their misfortune of going out of business and scoring an electric blanket for cheap. Sounds good, right? Yeah. So I'm heading along, minding my business and listening to Cathy and Judy's Sex Thursday talk show, when I approach the turn off for my street. Should I continue to LNT, or should I head home and put Gretta to bed? Hmm. If only there was a way for this decision to be made for me. If only.

Then suddenly, "Waaahh, baaarrrfff." Gretta has spewed all over in her car seat. Decision made. I turn up the street and head home as fast as I can. She continues barfing in her seat, not really crying, mostly just saying "Eeewww", and looking at her slime covered hands. We whip into the driveway, I pull her out of the van, and strip her down naked on the grass. Mind you, it's 30 degrees outside. But I'm not taking any chances of having my van smell like rotten milk, as I was doomed to drive around a Jeep that smelled that way all summer. My bad. But I digress.

I pop G in the tub, and start the mind numbing task of disassembling the damn car seat. Does that remind you of the movie Short Circuit? "No disassemble, no disassemble! Number 5, alive!" That movie reminds me of Meg for some reason. And again, I digress.

What the heck is with those car seats? I mean really. I understand the need for safety and all that good stuff, but who hasn't had their kid puke in the car seat, and needed to rip it apart STAT? You'd think they would make them a little easier to get apart for washing and sanitizing and such. This is the second time in 5 months I've had this kid puke in her car seat. I should be a pro at this by now. I'm not. So now I have a clean, sanitized, taken apart car seat in my dryer. Sugar Daddy is out of town, and this time I don't have an identical model to copy like I did last time. What's a girl to do? I guess I'll stay home and take care of business here. Or I could attempt to put it back together. But at least it's clean.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Say What?

What do you think it says? I have my own suspicions.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hey Y'All

Check out the Mom-preneur Shop-a-thon giveaway extravaganza going on over at Tip Junkie. Love the Tip Junkie. A prime spot for inspiration for an Activity Days leader such as myself. But seriously, tons of good stuff going on over there. It's definitely worth a look.


Some of you may or may not know that I hosted my In-Laws for a couple of weeks. And being the good hostess that I am, I never took one stinkin picture of any of the stuff we did. Yeah, I'm just cool like that. We did have a good time, though. We did lots of cool stuff. We did a "double dutch bus" tour of the City. Very interesting. We made pajama pants, and the poodle skirt. Charlie did laundry. Mountains of laundry. He even cleaned under my kids' beds. Seriously, that alone put me a good week ahead in the housework department.

But Mom, being the sweetheart she is, knows the two things I love the most. Cookies and Roosters. So she gave us a "thank-you" rooster cookie jar. And she filled it up with home made chocolate chip cookies. Yummy! They lasted about 3 days, and my kids were begging for more. So I spent all day yesterday (okay, like an hour, but it seemed like all day) making more chocolate chip cookies. And refilling the jar. And I suspect they will last another 3 days.

So thanks, Mom. That jar will be put to very good use.

Monday, November 10, 2008

What I'm Doing Today

Mondays. Ugh. I don't especially look forward to Mondays. Don't get me wrong, I would look forward to them less if I had to go "off" to work, but dealing with what is left behind from a weekend of slakerness is no picnic either.

My kitchen in all its glory. The weekend tornado has definitely left its mark.

The laundry. Okay, it's been sitting here since Friday, so sue me. Part of me was hoping that Sugar Daddy would take it upon himself to put it away. Or at least carry it upstairs. I should have known better.

Bebe. I had to make a PetsMart run the other night for some necessities. Look at that cute new sweater. Don't judge me, it was 19 this morning, and I'm pretty sure I'd want a sweater on when I went outside to pee and poop and then eat my poop. Oh, and the diaper. Yeah, it's her time of the month. About the only thing I hate about a female dog that isn't fixed. I think it's time to get that taken care of. She hates the diaper, and I hate cleaning up the mess if there isn't a diaper.

And here's a shot of Maggie. I just love this kid. She was trying so hard to finish off the Lucky Charms so she could start cutting out the mask on the back. That's Mags, for you. Always the crafter. Cutting, pasting, taping, whatever.

So, that's pretty much my day. I'll be making a stop at the library for a new book. I've started the Janet Evanovich books "One for the Money", and so far I've read through One, part of Fourteen, some of Four, and just finished Three last night. In that order. Good thing I'm SMRT, or I'd get confused. Who knows what else today will bring, there's always a surprise in store.

Friday, November 7, 2008

In Case You Haven't Had Enough

I understand how boring it can be to browse the various blogs on your Google reader and see only images of mediocre children dressed up as mediocre characters. But I bring you Emma. A most beautiful child, in a most beautiful home made costume. I had a few people tell me they needed to see all of my kids in their costumes, so here you go.

Yes, she's in a poodle skirt, made by yours truly. Even the little doggie and leash. Yes, because I'm that talented. And yes, she's wearing her pajamas underneath. We took this picture on Wednesday afternoon because I forgot to get a picture of her on Halloween. She was home "sick" that day, cough cough. But what can I say, I'm a big softie about stuff like that. But seriously, she is sick. She has an ear infection. Her first ever. So I thought she deserved a day off for that.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Special Month

I am so disappointed with myself. I had a post all written out, and thought I had scheduled it to publish today. And yet, I cannot find it anywhere. Apparently I need to rehash the pain that is cancer. November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month. Don't you love having a month dedicated to every cause? I think December should be Cash Depletion Awareness month. January should be Sanity Losing Awareness month. But lets just focus on this here month. November. There is a certain symbolism involved here.

My mom loved the Holidays. She would set up the Christmas tree at the office on the day after Halloween. She would cut out the Christmas show schedule from the newspaper and tape it to the fridge. Her embellished sweaters and watches and bracelets and pins and socks would be out in full force. And November was her jumping off point for all of this craziness. It is no small irony that the very cancer that took her life has it's scheduled awareness month at the very time of year she lived for.

I hate that I need to be aware of cancer in general. I especially hate that I have to be aware of pancreatic cancer specifically. I hate all that the awareness means. It means so many people are losing the battle. It means so many families are torn apart. But specifically for me, it means I have to remember all the feelings that come along with losing my mother. Every June I will remember that day of the diagnosis. Every July I will remember the dying and the funeral. Every August I will remember that drive across the plains to my home, knowing on return it would never be the same. September and October will bring thoughts of her birthday and conference weekend. And now November will bring the awareness. Only to usher in December and the Holidays. This seems to be some sort of sick monthly countdown. I wonder if every month will be special?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Again I Say

You might remember a little while ago I posted about a booger being stuck to my mouse. And it wasn't mine. I swear.

Well, it has happened again. Only this time it wasn't on my mouse. It was suck on the closet doors in my entry way. Nice.

I guess this is what happens when 2 kids have runny/stuffy noses, and the other one just has a special affinity for picking hers. And 1 of the 2 kids has croup, and the other one of the 2 kids has an ear infection. How lucky are we? Just in time to pass it all through the family for our trip to Utah. Yippee.

And today, after hearing of a friends passing from cancer, I miss my mom. I hate knowing what they are in store for over the next few months. It makes my heart hurt.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Bonus Post

I'd just like to thank all my sibs out there for being the first to put my new button on their blogs.

What? You don't see it on their blogs when you click the links? There is obviously something terribly wrong with their blogs, because I know in my heart of hearts that they would never, ever go more than a blog check or two without copying and pasting that simple HTML code over there. See? It's right over there on the left. See? It really is.

Apparently my hard-earned button has not taken blogdom by storm as I had anticipated. Shocking, really, I know. So far my button has made it to one, and only one, blog. But I mean, come on. Some of us are blood, so they are obligated to adhere this here button to their blog, are they not? I thought so.

So get on with it already. This is my subtle cry for approval.



This was quite the Halloween around these parts. After arriving back home on Friday afternoon from a nice getaway to the city, we scurried around getting things ready for our party that evening. What started out as as small, intimate affair, blossomed into a full on fest. It was great. I think after final count we ended up with a total of 55 people. Just what Halloween should be.

Here's Maggie in her Princess dress. This isn't her costume. This is her daily attire. But at least she got candy for wearing it this time.

And here's Maggie and Gretta. Notice Gretta's costume. It is so cute. You'll never guess what she is. And I mean that because she absolutely would not let me put her costume on her. So she went around in her overalls. But she still looked cute.

And here's a taste of what part of our group looked like. We all tried to Trick or Treat together, but between burning corn bread, and runaway dogs, we ended up split up most of the way. That's okay, because we arrived back home, and had the most fun. White chicken chili, red bean chili, cornbread, and good company. The recipe for awesomeness.