About Me

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This is my journey. This is what I see. I am a wife, a mother, an artist. I am on His path.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Rant - Spring Cleaning

It is that time.

I informed the Dear Ones living in my home that Spring Cleaning is upon us.
A list will be hung in each room and that list WILL BE COMPLETED.

Do not pass GO and do not collect $200.

I received some unhappy faces and questioning as to why this must happen again....
Didn't we just do this??

I explained how we need to :

Clean out
               Clean up
                             Remove the cat fur
                                                          Remove the dog fur

So after all the griping and trying to get this crazy, over scheduled day finished up, the Man Child announces ten minutes before needing to leave for a sport practice, "I know this is a bad time to tell you this, but I have no dress pants for the concert tonight..."

So WHERE would they be?  I even called the dry cleaner to see if I forgot to pick them up...nope.

He just wore them for a jazz concert.....they must be in......the room.....the pit.

And where were they, you might be asking yourself right now?

Crumpled up and shoved behind some wadded up sheets ("Those are folded!") in his closet.

And they are asking me WHY we do Spring Cleaning!

House Breaking

I think the bathroom is Puppy's favorite room in the house. 

 She reminds me of a three year old child who has to follow you into the bathroom just to see what you are doing.  

She loves the shower......she likes getting dried off more.

She sits on the toilet to watch make-up time and loves if she gets a swirl of a little blush on her fuzzy, puppy cheeks.

She thinks she is a person.  A member of our family.

So one afternoon, when no one would let her outside, no matter how many times she rang her door bell, she made a human decision.  Where do my people go when they have to go?

The bathroom.

I can picture Puppy staring at the toilet, 
wondering how to open the lid....oh, to have a thumb.
How to balance on the seat without falling into the water dish.  
Oops, back to that first thought...
how to open the lid.

The poor Puppy had to go sooo bad, that she went as close as she could, right in front of the toilet.
At least it wan't on top of the toilet.

She was so proud of herself. 
 I wonder how hard it would be to toilet train a dog?

Monday, February 27, 2012


train [treyn]
to develop or form the habits, thoughts, or behavior of 
(a child or other person) by discipline and instruction: 
to train an unruly boy. 

My parents would say it should read.....to train an unruly girl.  

Training can be difficult when it comes to our children.  It takes practice and repetition, and how often we forget that they have a mind of their own.

Many years ago, we moved from Georgia to Michigan.  Our darling dears could not get the concept of wearing a coat.  It was natural for them to just run outside and play.  We began to sound like a broken record, "PUT ON YOUR COAT!"

And just when you are patting yourself on the back for this accomplishment in the training, they are back in the door from playing and plop their coats in a heap on the floor.

This became the next task to train....
.....it was time to call in Tall Man.

Tall Man has military training.  He can bark out orders so fast your head will spin!  You know you should be doing something a certain way, but you just can't perform the task fast enough before more orders are barked.

Tall Man gave them an exercise to do every time they walked into the house.

Open the Door
Come inside.
Close the door.
Take off your coat.
Hang up your coat.
Take your coat off the hook.
Put your coat on.
Open the door.
Go outside.
(repeat 10 times)

Our three little soldier monkeys would repeat this exercise every morning, afternoon and evening.  It was like watching Larry, Moe and Curly in our entryway. And it worked!....for a while....

I am still training.....
I give constant reminders to the dear ones, but now......

 it is Puppy's turn.  

Thursday, February 23, 2012


My final job of my high school career was another connection made by my father.  He had a friend who owned a motel in my hometown.  I guess his thought was if I could learn how to clean motel rooms, it might inspire me to clean my own room....

I learned how to make beds and make beds and make beds.

I learned what clean looks like.

I am not sure if you personally ever really look at your hotel room.  Is it really clean?

No visible hair.
Edges of carpet.
No visible hair.
The entire toilet! That means the front and the back!
No visible hair.

We were taught to look under the bed.  We vacuumed edges of carpet using a crevice tool once a week.  We were taught to scrub the toilet.  All of the toilet.  Remove ANY trace of hair.

I dread staying in hotels and motels now.  I usually go through two rooms before I finally tell them what to re- clean.  I want ALL fresh linens.  That means blankets and quilts!  I am demanding.  I have seen gross stuff.  And if it is done right and well?  I tip.

My biggest shock is always the fanciest hotels.  You would think their staff would know what they are doing.  I think they are just lazy.  I have watched how people clean in institution settings. They swish a rag around so they don't have to touch anything.

Stick your hand in and get it done!

I stayed in a fancy  five star my last trip to DC....I shall not mention names.  I left notes. I spoke to staff outside my room. My loving Tall Man finally went to the Concierge.  He figured he could be polite when he asked that our bathroom be checked by Head of Housekeeping AND the Manager.

When we returned from dinner, the poor lady was still in the bathroom scrubbing and apologizing.  I hope no one lost their job.....I just hope they learned how to clean.  It comes down to one thing and one thing only.....PRIDE!

(By the way, I stayed in a small chain hotel in Des Moines the next week......spotless.)

I think this is why I can't hire a cleaning lady......they don't know how to clean.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Factory

My Dad, in his infinite wisdom and all of his connections, steered me in the direction of a job after my junior year in high school.  It was a hard job. It was a dirty job.  It was a rate job.  It was a factory job.  We made…….clothes hampers.  Glamorous, yes?

It was rate, which meant I was paid for producing a minimum number of pieces per hour.  If I was able to produce more than that minimum, I made bonus!!!  Extra money!! 

I started this grand excursion at hamper lids.  These are produced by placing a piece of vinyl on a heat table …did I mention it was summer in an old warehouse on the Mississippi River?......heat table.  Then you place a piece of foam for padding, a board and you begin stapling….with an awesome pneumatic stapler.  There was a trick to this.  You start in the centers of each side and work your way to the outside edges, that way there are no wrinkles on the top.  Did I mention this is all done on a heat table?  This keeps the vinyl soft and pliable to give a slight stretch to the material.  It creates a beautiful lid….as long as you don’t pull too hard.  I ripped that vinyl to shreds the first day.

It took me about a week to get the feel right and then I was off and running.  By the third week, I was making rate!!  I only took one staple through the knuckle of my thumb. 

But you guessed it.  I made rate…I got moved.

I worked the sewing machines that stitch the vinyl and hemp braiding that goes on the edges and seams.  That didn’t last long though.  I broke one machine and let another one run out of thread….oops.  No one explained it takes about 45 minutes to rethread one of those fancy machines.  Did you know, that to soften the braided material, it runs through oil.  It makes a mess and it stinks.  I also broke a million needles in the two hours I was on that job.  I was never allowed back into that department.

I ran the restock items from the warehouse….the elevator was scary, but really awesome!  I pounded the frames of the hampers together at the start of the line.  I boxed hampers at the end of the line.  I even loaded the truck on the platform.

The lessons I learned working in a factory:

I worked with a cross section of America.
From all walks of life.  Each with their own dreams and goals.
These were incredible people....

I loved the lunch truck!!

No one ate onions for breakfast…..
It is called body odor.

I did it!  
I accomplished every task set before me and I survived!

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Steak House

I was sixteen.  I wanted a job in the Mall…..THE MALL!  I wanted to work at Maurices or Outback Red.  I wanted cool clothes and, like, totally awesome music playing over the loudspeakers in the store.  Yeah, that was my goal……to be cool.

I can’t be positive on this, but I am sure Dad knew someone and got me hooked up with a job at the Mall.  I was hired to be a waitress in a steak house. Cool isn’t the word I would use for that polyester uniform in the most flattering color of mustard and brown, but I guess it hid the stains well.  I made $2.01 an hour plus tips, and the tips were terrible in the Mall. 

It wasn’t a terrible job looking back on it. I learned people skills, real people skills.  Real people eat in steak houses.  They expected good service and good food.  Abe did make good food……and it was real food……except for the salads.  They came in huge buckets that we scooped into salad bar containers.

I learned how to clean, and most important, what a clean restaurant should look like.  Every night the tables were pulled out.  The wall was washed, the benches were washed, and everything on the table was washed, wiped down and refilled.

I learned you could vacuum jello.  I know you shouldn’t, but we did.  It was amazing how that vacuum just sucked it right up off from that orange steakhouse carpet.  I wonder how often Abe had to buy new vacuums…..

So here are my life lessons I learned:  

Be nice to your server.  
You have entrusted them with your food.  If you treat them like dirt, you may get a little dirt….or worse.  I think this is why I laughed so hard at Minnie’s Chocolate Pie in the movie The Help.  In the words of Woody in Toy Story, “So play nice!”

You can tell how clean a restaurant is from the table space.  
Is the menu clean?  
What do the condiments look like?  Are they full?  
What does the wall look like behind your booth?  
These clues speak volumes about the Manager's cleaning policies.

# 3     
Don’t eat from a buffet line. 
I avoid buffet restaurants as often as possible.  Have you ever watched how many people will return to the line with the same nasty, drippy plate, with all their slimy germs dripping back into the fresh food?  Not so fresh anymore! 

There are good buffet restaurants out there.  Just watch how quick those awesome waitresses take your plate as soon as you swallow the last bite….no chance of returning with that slimy plate.

Let me know when you want to go catch a bite with me sometime soon!!  I will try most places once, but I have been known to walk out before they even bring me a water…….and yes, I do tip well.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

My First Job

So Dad, in all his infinite wisdom, gave me my first job. He hired my brother and me to walk beans on the family farm.  We do a little work and we make a little cash.  A little.  We made a whopping $3.00 an hour.

The idea was that we would wake up early and head out to the field with Grandpa, and while he did other things, my brother and I would walk up and down the rows of beans with a corn hook.  We were told to hook the corn and pull the velvet weed and the cockleburs. It was a pain in the butt.  I hated it.

We walked up and down rows, miles and miles, in the blistering sun.  We were swarmed by locust and chased by critters.  I even lost my flip flops in the mud.  They were just sucked off my feet! I know, I know.  Why was I wearing flip flops?  I was 12!  And I didn’t wasn’t sock tan too….jeez! 

This job was pure torture.  Not my idea of a summer vacation at all – for only $3.00 an hour?  You have got to be kidding.  I wanted to be home with my friends, talking on the phone, getting a tan…not a farmer’s tan. 

That job lasted approximately sixteen and a half hours, for me.  Long enough for me to make the money to buy my first pair of NIKE Tennis shoes….leather ones with the light blue swoosh.  I had calculated the time exactly, and when I hit the magic number?  I was done. 

And Dad let me get away with it.  I was a brat…a spoiled brat.  He tried to guilt me into getting my fanny back out in the field, but there was NO WAY I was going back out into that field.  I had my shoes, and that was that.  Period.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Rules of Life

I am the product of my parents.  My strange sense of the world comes from my father and I my good looks come from my mother.  My Dad has established the Rules of Life.  I am sure you are familiar with them. 

Rule # 1

Never, I repeat, never leave the house with the dryer running.  
It could start a fire and burn the house down.

Rule #2

Don’t leave lights on.  
They could overheat and……burn the house down.

Rule #3

Don’t leave the house with the dishwasher running.  
It might overflow, flood the house, short out and then…..burn the house down.

Rule #4

Unplug all appliances before leaving town. 
They could go willy nilly and……you guessed it…..
burn the house down.

I am sure you see the pattern here.  It is all about safety!  Care and concern for the family…..and the house.

I have been soul searching lately.  I am trying to figure out why I am the way I am.  As I write about experiences though, I have created  a small novella.  So this is going to be an installment piece.  I hope you return to share in some of my life.  And maybe, just maybe, you will understand why I am the way I am.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Coming Down Off the Sugar High

I am glad I have a day to recover. 

What are parents thinking?  Valentine’s Day.  I was witness to students receiving flowers, huge stuffed animals, balloons, and mountains of sugar during the day at school.  I even had a family member walk into my classroom to personally deliver flowers and candy to a student. 

This Valentine’s Day, I saw a veritable Molotov Cocktail of corn syrup, laced with fun dip and a fruit roll-up stuffed in the top of the cola bottle.  By the end of the day, there was one group of kids with their heads spinning in circles and chattering at a rate of a Lear jet.  The others were passed out on the floor from the sugar crash, waiting to be scooped up by parents.

What happened to the parties of yesteryear?  The cute card with the goofy saying on it.

Trying to secretly drop it into a decorated cereal box.  The anticipation of who sent you a card, maybe with a secret message of how they really feel about you!  They might REALLY want to BEE my Valentine!

I want to go back in time.  Keep it simple. A couple of games, maybe one special heart cookie…

This year, I received cards with the To: left blank and only the kids name on it - OR – just a piece of candy, tossed on my desk as if the kid was on a parade route through the school. “Throw some to me! Throw some to me!”  The kids don’t write names on Valentines anymore.  Can’t they find time in their hectic schedule of video games and soccer practice to write a name on a card?  Is there no thought of who you are giving a gift, a thought, an inspiration to?

My final vision of the day?  A boy with a skip in his record, squatting on a chair, head twitching side to side to side, uttering…….,”fart, fart, fart, fart, fart….”  His classroom teachers response?  “Debit, debit, debit, debit, debit.” 

I may take a personal holiday on the next “holiday.” 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Monday, February 13, 2012

A College Tour

Frog has been looking at one college for a long time.  She has her dreams and her goals.  One great goal that she has is how to lower her debt impact from increasing college prices.

My Frog has been checking out ROTC.  Their scholarship program is great!  We should know.  Tall Man used an ROTC Scholarship for his education.  It has been an awesome career and lifestyle.  I have always looked at it on the scholarship side of it ----- yes, that is right, the money.

We went for her formal interview portion last week.  We skipped off to my alma mater of Western Illinois University.  They have great new facilities for the Military Science Department….gorgeous….and yes, I think her interview went great!

She loved the campus and the ROTC facilities so much, she voiced out loud that she might apply to Western!  Well, if you want to apply to WIU, let’s look at the other department you will be spending lots of time in.  The Art Department. 

What awesome memories hit me as the first waft of chemicals from the Printmaking classrooms overtook me.  Ahhhh, to be home.  We saw the light on in the litho room and I got a bonus surprise!  Don Crouch was checking out some fresh prints his student assistants just pulled off the press.

I introduced Frog and explained I was showing her the department after her interview over at ROTC.  We continued to discuss the current program and current professors, but Don kept turning and commenting to Frog, “You wanna be a soldier?”

I threw in what a great scholarship program they have and what a great advantage to go to school through that program.  Frog stood silent and just watched the interaction.  Later she mentioned, in passing, how many students only apply for the money, however, even if she doesn’t get the scholarship, this program really interests her and she plans to pursue this path.

Thinking on this comment for a couple of days, and watching her prepare for her next adventure at the high school, I have a new view of my daughter.  The next time I hear the comment, “You wanna be a soldier?”  I now have a different response, a new enlightenment, a change of perspective given to me by my daughter……

“No. She wants to be a leader.”

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Oh Cheese, This is Good!

It has been a slow motion day.  Just can’t get motivated to do anything.  We have watched movies, and napped, and just been comfortable.  So that called for comfort food.  And what is more comfortable than….macaroni n’cheese.

My favorite recipe is from a box of elbow noodles back when I was married 21+ years ago.  I don’t even remember the brand.  And yes, I have made it so much over the years, that I have it memorized. Now, I just have to add in here that I am a cheese snob.  I love good cheese.  My yellow cheese of choice right now?  Cady Creek Farms Gold’n Jack.  It is a semi soft Colby Jack cheese that is heavenly.  

 Are you ready for comfort?

Mac N’ Cheese
2 cups elbow macaroni, cooked al dente, about 7 minutes
2 cups milk (I use skim)
2 TBS corn starch
Pinch of salt and some pepper
1 pound Colby cheese, cubed

Bring water to a boil and salt the water. Add elbow macaroni and cook 7 minutes. While macaroni is boiling, make the cheese sauce.  Pour milk in medium saucepan with cornstarch and salt and pepper. Cook on medium heat and stir constantly.  When milk begins to bubble, turn heat off and add cheese (except a handful of cubes to put on top for extra yumminess).  Stir in cheese until the sauce becomes smooth. Drain macaroni, pour into a greased casserole dish.  Pour cheese sauce over and stir in.  Place the extra yummy cheese cubes on top, if desired.
Bake at 375 F for 30 minutes, or until browned on top.

I hope you enjoy this comfort food as much as we do.  Now I am off to watch Downton Abbey on PBS and prepare to be unprepared for another week.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

When you can't say anything nice....

When you can't say anything nice, don't write anything at all.

I have started five different blog posts this week, but it always comes back to that first sentence.

So this is all of the posts together...they all have the same theme.

I am grumpy. I am sad. I ache. I am grumpy.
I think it is the season. Lack of sunshine, taxes, lack of husband, lack of help, lack of inspiration.  It is all connected.

I don't want to be a grown up some days.  I am tired of the grown up responsibilities.
I come home to find only one child's dishes done....yes, that means there are still dirty dishes in the sink.  Why should I wash her dishes? She made the mess!

But it doesn't stop there.  I find my laundry wadded up in the laundry room.  I try to set the example and fold their laundry as I pull it out of the dryer.  Has it made an impression? Obviously not.

We used to have chores written out for each of the kids.  It is funny though, when the list came down, the chores stopped.  Nothing changed except for the piece of paper on the refrigerator.

I need a polish grandma! Someone who can get ring-a-round-the-collar stains out and the coffee stain on my tablecloth.  Someone to follow through with the folding of the laundry.  Someone to really clean my bathroom once a week.  And....I am confident my windows would be squeaky clean to let that sunshine in and then I will feel all better!