Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Funnies (Valley Hospital -- pilot)

In honor of Friday Funnies, I have requested the ladies from 2 Girls on a bench to visit. Lest I detract from their awesomeness, I will turn it over to them ....

The Two Girls on a Bench have decided to start branching out and writing pilot ideas.  We are so excited to be invited by Nurse's Notes to do a guest blog.

Since we're not anywhere close to being able to understand what it must be like to be a nurse or anything involving math or science (yes we are a sad female cliche only strong in the humanities) we have decided to pay homage to all nurses with the following sitcom pilot idea.  Please note that in this sitcom all the nurses look like regular woman and all the men look like GQ supermodels.

Yeah, I like that, it's like Grey's Anatomy, but different. 

Yeah, not really, but whatever you say.  What should we call our sitcom?

We should do like a play on words, like the show "House" but we can call it "Shack".

Wait, what?  Oh, I get it, a "shack", that's so dumb, I can't even tell you how dumb that is, I'm speechless.

Shut up and let's just call it Valley Hospital.

Ok, I like it, sound like General Hospital but with our own spin on it.


It's an ordinary day at the Van Nuys Valley Hospital.  The sounds of clinking carts and people pacing back and forth hurriedly saving lives clutters the hallway with activity.  JOANIE, a beautiful 30 something nurse with a true woman's body, sarcastic sense of humor and love of civil rights, walks down the hall with a premature baby in one hand, a box of donuts tucked under her arm and carries a cooler with a lifesaving kidney transplant donation.

Lila, get this baby into an incubator!  Susan, get this kidney to the surgeon!  Joe, get these donuts into the break room stat!

JOE, an unsuspecting strikingly good looking young man takes the donuts without delay.

I've got it covered, would you like some coffee?  I know you just worked a double shift.

Thanks sweetie.

One Splenda and a dash of cinnamon?

You got it, what would I do without an assistant like you?

Joe runs off to get Joanie's coffee.  Joanie heads to the nurses station to make sure the hospital is running in tip top shape.

SEAN, the handsome 40 something chief of surgery, stands at the nurses station waiting for Joanie.

So, are you going to accept the Nurse of the Year Award this year or are you going to turn it down like you do every year?

You know I don't have time for that silliness, I've got lives to save here Sean!

Just think about it Joanie, it would be good for the hospital.

Oh Sean, when are you going to learn that there's more to life than awards and prestige.

When you say you'll marry me?

Oh get back to work!

As Joanie and Sean laugh, a code red alert sounds and they rush down the hallway to revive an elderly man.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

How I moved towards becoming a WAHM

Today's guest post is from Aysha Iqbal.  She is a delightful lady I met on  She is one of my rescuers as we race to the wire in the stats class. Short Bio:
Aysha has been writing online at various websites like Squidoo. She also manages 2 blogs “Journey of an Online Writer Mum” and a gift blog called “Wonderful Gifts for Wonderful People”. She also has an online store featuring photographic gifts at AddMoreColor.

Having come from an extended family where we provided support to each other when it came to child care and to help everyone balance their career and family effectively, moving to the US and starting a family indeed threw me off balance in the beginning. I wanted to play a good role in the upbringing of my child and not send him to daycare too soon. (Plus they cost an arm and leg here...literarily!)
In the beginning, I felt it was impossible to be both, so I chose to stay home to look after the family and household. But eventually, I started becoming less productive & efficient and more importantly, I constantly felt like my brains were rusting away. There had to be a solution.
So I started searching and these were my criteria to determine what the best way I can work from home was:
  1. 1.       It had to be flexible hours. I mean I can’t say my son sleeps exactly at that precise moment every day. He is a boy not a robot. 
  2. 2.       I have to be able to give the job my best despite the fact that the home came first. In all, I need to be able to manage them all.
  3. 3.       In case of unforeseen circumstances, I should still be alright and not in massive trouble. I can't tell ahead of time when the kid would get sick.

So I searched around and landed on ONLINE WRITING AND BLOGGING. I am very glad to have found this avenue as now I feel like I am doing something with myself. Something more than mundane housework! I learn so much each day and through each blog I visit and each forum group I join. This mode of work at home option has been working out so well for me that I actually started another blog to describe my online writing journey.
Blogging has opened many options for me and I hope to be able to conquer them one by one someday. And also manage that with my family. I am not sure if I am a WAHM yet but I am certainly no longer just a SAHM.

Short Bio
Aysha has been writing online at various websites like Squidoo. She also manages 2 blogs “Journey of an Online Writer Mum” and a gift blog called “Wonderful Gifts for Wonderful People”. She also has an online store featuring photographic gifts at AddMoreColor.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Great Campus Security Maxi-Pad Caper

I typically write introspective, thoughtful material. Spending as much time in hospitals and doctor's offices as I have, and burying a child, tends to have that effect on people. But I can't be serious all the time. Even in the Emergency Room and the ICU, we laughed and goofed off, just to stay sane. It's a survival skill I learned in college at a conservative Baptist school in the middle of a midwestern cornfield. It was strict: demerits, curfews, dress codes, mandatory daily chapel services, and single-sex dorms with no visits by members of the opposite sex. Without the trademark college diversions of drugs, sex, and alcohol, we had to improvise fun.
It was late May, steamy, restless, just a handful of days before final exams and graduation. Campus roiled with summer fever. Girls flirted, desperate to secure a boyfriend before summer. Boys... well, we girls never could figure out what happened in the dark of their man-cave dorms.
I wandered the rooms in my hall of the dorm on my nightly forage for food. (Every cent I earned went towards tuition, room, and board, so I went begging for essentials like microwave popcorn.) Screams of laughter and pounding footsteps broke the relative calm of our hall and we gaped as four girls raced by wearing only pantyhose over their faces and underwear. 
"That was bold," we smirked. "How many demerits you think they'll get?"
I had just secured a bag of popcorn when the fire alarm wailed. Our u-shaped dorm bled girls into the parking lot. The responsible ones, usually student teachers or nursing students who rose at dawn, had already gone to bed and emerged grumpy and bathrobe-clad.
Rumors flew as we waited for campus security officers to sweep the building and give the all-clear. Some claimed the Panty-hose Girls had pulled the fire alarm on purpose. Others said that someone’s hair dryer had exploded.
When the officers arrived, I recognized two of my favorites. I had gotten to know them working for the campus paper. We needed campus security officers to unlock our dorms for us when we worked past curfew.
In a flash of inspiration, I grabbed a few friends.
“Quick, we gotta run back in and grab maxi pads and tampons!” 
They stared at me. "Now? You're having a girl emergency NOW?"
“No, no, no. I’ll explain later. Come on!”
We snuck back in, threw supplies into a grocery bag, and raced back outside.
“OK, here's the plan. We're gonna stick pads all over the sides and front of the car, and then string the tampons on the antenna."
As three of us rapidly unwrapped packages, one girl who took the rules a little too seriously, crossed her arms and demanded, “Are you sure we aren’t going to get suspended?” 
“Positive. They'll gonna pee their pants laughing.”
She shook her head. “No. Way. You’re crazy.”
A crowd of amazed girls and stunned boys (girls didn't typically engage in such behavior) gathered as we covered the windshield with a blanket of pads, adorned the wipers with tampon charms, and wove a tampon rope up the antenna. 
As we finished, I caught a glimpse of a Resident Assistant watching, arms crossed. I prayed she'd decide to wait and let campus security deal with us.
When the fire alarm went quiet, so did the crowd.  We all held our breaths waiting for the officers to discover our masterpiece.
They walked out, then stopped at the top of the steps. The woman began laughing so hard she had to sit down. She finally managed to gasp out, "This one's all yours, boys." 
The two men turned 27 different shades of red as they rolled up their sleeves.  The crowd roared as they marched to their trunk and began fishing through a massive duffel bag. They both donned latex gloves, masks, and biohazard bags. One delicately pulled each pad off the car with two fingers while the other tried to slide the tampons off the antenna with no success. He resorted to surgical scissors to free the windshield wipers and antennas of their cotton decor. 
I confess my bravado wavered a bit when the biohazard bag came out. Just two years earlier, our school's theme was "Pursuing a Passion for Purity." I feared they might really think these were used products. Gross.
But, my bet paid off. To the wonder of the entire dormful of women, we emerged unscathed. I suspect the campus safety officers were secretly delighted to add "The Great Maxi-Pad Caper" to their arsenal of stupid college student pranks. 
And I managed to one-up the Panty-hose Girls without exposing any skin and without demerits.

OK all, this momentary lapse of judgment was brought to you by Joy Bennett (@writingjoy on Twitter About Joy: she is a writer, mother, wife, follower of Christ, lover of rich soil, music, & sunshine & nurse to her special needs kids, bereaved, learner. In no particular order. She is a delight, check out her blog or look her up on Twitter -- you won't be sorry!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Do or Die

Todays lovely guest is Kelsey Hansen,  the author of Polished Portrayl, a humor blog that portrays the thoughts and experiences of a worn out, sleep deprived, military wife and mother.   She finds the humor in everyday moments, despite having her husband, Rob, overseas in Afghanistan for his second tour of duty.  Her daughter Payton (two and a half) and her son Ryker (one and a half) are constant inspiration for stories of random ridiculousness, along with her American Staffordshire Terrior, Jewels, and Yorkshire Terrior, Abner.  Life within the Hansen home can only be described as a chaotic insane asylum that seconds as a veterinary psych ward.

We've finally reached the point of do or die with our daughter, Payton.  The time that I've been both anticipating and dreading.  A moment filled with hope for the future, and horror of the moment.  The potty years.

When we bought Payton her pink potty, six months ago, she was completely disappointed that we would buy her such a lame gift, when she's totally happy with her diapies (diapers).  What a waste of an opportunity that could have been filled with a stuffed animal, princess doll, or pretty much, anything else.  It was some kind of cruel joke, really.

Then came the potty books, dolls, movies, family enthusiasm, her Pappie pretending to poop on his toilet everytime they walked past the bathroom.  All this managed to induce, was the perception that everyone in Payton's life is completely off their rocker.  And I can't really argue that one.

One magical day, about three months ago, Payton came up to me and stated, "I pee on potty."

You have no idea the thrill I felt from these four little words, I was euphoric that she was even willing to TRY!  She sat on the potty, closed the door, I heard her pee, and she called, "All done Momma."

I walked in to catch her using toilet paper like a big girl, with the hugest, proudest grin spread across her face.

An hour later, "I pee Momma."

And off she went.  I was in heaven.  How easy was this?  The world was shining down on me, seeing my struggle with my husband overseas, and finally helping me out with something.  High five world!  And I'm not a high five kind of person, it makes me feel all kinds of cheesy. But, when a high five is deserved, it's deserved.  Who am I to argue with that?

A few hours later, "I pee Momma."

I'm doing cart wheels and shots of tequila in my head as I hold my daughter's hand, lift up my one year old son Ryker, and walk up the stairs to her potty.  "Ry too Momma."

"Ryker's not big enough to use the potty yet Payton, he's still a baby.  This pink potty is just for you, just for big girls!  It's so special."

Then came the look.  The one that I see far too often.  The mouth curls down, eyes narrow, hands clench and her body stiffens as Payton screams in rage, "NO POTTY!  NOOOOOO!"

She then proceeds to pick it up and throw it in our linen closet, slamming the door.  "NO POTTY MOMMA!"

To demonstrate her point, she pees. Sigh.

I wait a month.  Another.  Six months go by, and we're at the Disney Store together.  Rob's on his two week leave from Afghanistan, and is leaving again tonight with plans to come home in December.  He bought a Build a Bear for her, with his voice in a sound button, when he left last time, and we wanted to find her something special before he left for this trip too.  She picks out a package of 5 princess lip glosses in a little purse, but there are also Ariel panties, her favorite princess.  So we buy these too.

The next morning, Payton wakes up and asks, "Where Ariel go?"

Yes!  Interest in the formally dreaded panties.  There's a set of five, three purple, two white with purple accents.  She holds up the two white pairs, "These Ry's, Ry wear Ariel too."

Rob and I look at each other and shrug.  Why not?  We take Ryker's diapers off and put some Arial panties on our little boy.  As Rob watches his little man climb the stairs in his frilly, little panties, he says, "I can't believe I'm doing this to my son."

But Payton is happy to put hers on too, and keeps pointing to Ryker and exclaiming with enthusiasm, "Arial, Arial, Momma, there're the same!"

Things that are the same?  They're all kinds of exciting for Payton.

Ryker is toddling around, making his personal fashion statement, and proceeds to crouch down and pee and poop, making a huge puddle under his bum, and causing little poop nuggets to fall from his panties as we pick him up.  That might be enough pantie practice for him for a year or two.

But Payton seems undeterred, sitting on her potty, having a few accidents throughout the house, which are horrifying for her, but she's trying!  She peed in the potty two whole times yesterday, which is so awesome that she's even willing to accept it.  After a day, she's already decided that the potty sucks and she misses her diapies, but there's no way that we're turning back now.  It's a marathon of biological training, and we've only reached the first mile mark.  With Rob back overseas, it's going to be a ton of work, but I'm already so proud of her progress.

It's do or die.  Between all of the messes I have to clean up from Abner, I'm only going to be able to take so much before I lose my mind.  I figure she has about a one month learning window to reach success, or someone will have to die.  And odds are, it will be me that dies from the combination of frustration and exhaustion.  So let's get those pee pees in the potty and have some ice cream for doing SUCH big girl work.  I'm hoping that I might be able to make it through the summer.

As I write, Payton is singing one of her favorite songs, "Twinkle Twinkle"

"Up above the world so high,
Like a diapie in the sky."

It might take just a little more time to get her to forget about her beloved diapies.  I hope she doesn't really value them as much as a diamond, but nothing surprises me anymore.  Nothing.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Living in the Storms

Today's guest is Julie from or you can also check her out on Twitter @ . I stole copied this from her Blogger profile; she doesn't toot her own horn. "30-something. Daughter. Sister. Auntie-to-be. Friend. Traveler. Music lover. Blogger. Health Addict. Shopper. Outspoken but Shy. Workaholic. Reader. Athlete. Christian." She is also addicted to Diet Coke & afraid of car washes (shhh).  Her original topic wasn't storms, but due to some nasty weather in her neck of the woods, her thoughts turned that way.  Her are thoughts on living in the storms ...

Living in the Storms…
It always seems like the storms of life take us off guard. So much so that we become tense, or maybe
even afraid, when things get loud, distracting and keep us from the familiar quiet that we long for.

As I write this my area is going through some pretty heavy storms. Strong winds, heavy rains and even
hail and tornados in places. We don’t see these kinds of storms here that often. And this year it seems
- outside of a couple heavy doses of rain - it’s been kind of quiet on the storm front.

It’s the calm of life that really distracts us from being ready for the storms. These are the times that we
relax, we let our guard down and we become a little more carefree. Maybe these are times of
abundance, togetherness, or maybe even just being free from pain.

And we all know that the times of calm in our lives cannot last forever. The rains will come… and
sometimes they bring a pretty severe storm. Storms like losing a job, a diagnosis of cancer or maybe
the death of a loved one.

But when the severe stuff comes, we rally together. Not only with our families, but with the
community around us – the close friends and neighbors, and depending on the city you live in, maybe
everyone in the town. We gather and support each other.

My family felt this directly when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. Family and friends
prayed for us, brought meals and were there to lend a listening ear. Because the storms of life aren’t
meant to be gone through alone. We were designed to be together, to care for each other when the
storms get too hard to handle.

And when the storm passed, my family showed our gratefulness and celebrated the end of the storm
with the community. We threw a party. It was fun being able to thank everyone that had been there
for us, people from every side of the family as well as friends that we had known for years.

Since that storm, many others have come within that group of people… and we’ve all been there to
help each other, to pray for one another and to listen when times get rough. But the rough times pass,
the calm comes back to allow us rest and maybe even give us the energy to battle the next storm that
may come our way.

Isn’t it amazing what a storm that rages outside can make you think about?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Leaping the Wall

Joining us today is Cassandra Frear.  I "met" her on Twitter, then found her blog  She is a lovely lady & a gifted writer.  Her profile states she is a "wife, mother, gardener, hiker, writer... walking the path ... and finding the joy poured out .... It's a good life." Today, she's sharing a post about obstacles and how we can respond to them. 

I' ve been turning this idea around in my mind for weeks. I'm at a crossroads in my life.

What if I just leaped the next wall and started? What if I just started writing what was on my heart? What if I stopped thinking about what someone else might expect? What if I stopped worrying about what publishers might be looking for? What if I just wrote the book that I must write -- you know, the one that if I don't write, I will regret it when I lay dying?

I've looked back and seen where I took great risks and did "okay." I leaped a wall, I fought a hard fight, I'm still standing at the end -- but I didn't actually gain the things I really wanted from it. Somehow, I missed what was required to be fully successful. I'm clueless about what else I could have done or should have been.

When I turn and look at my future, what do I see? More risks. More uncertainty. Another series of challenges. This is not the best time for leaping over any walls. Best to hunker down and wait for better conditions.

Yes, I can see how the landscape is on the other side. I can see beauty and adventure and mystery waiting there. But there's danger, too. I need to be strong to travel, and I'm not.

Besides, I haven't had the heart for leaping a wall again.

I can't decide which is worse: to try with all my might and fall short, or to decide to let the opportunity pass me by. I can't determine, by looking from this spot, whether trying with all my might, facing fears, and leaping walls make my life any better. I know enough to figure that the cost will be higher than my estimate and the rewards will be less satisfying than I hope.

You see, I've been here before. I've taken the leap, made the plunge, took the chance. And yes, it was good. But not great. I lost things on the way, things I'll never get back. We can't go leaping walls and think we're always going to land in a bed of roses. It doesn't work that way. Not in a fallen world. Leaping isn't a path to paradise. More often it's a path to battle.

This is the challenge for those of us who have already leaped walls and fought good fights: how to go on. How to do it again as though we're doing it for the first time. We weigh the cost. We consider what we know. We've already discovered it won't always make our lives better.

But I know this. It makes me better. Not more successful. Not stronger or braver or more competent in any way. No. Instead, it changes my heart. It humbles me. It makes me more compassionate and more aware of others. It makes me better at loving.

Why this is, I cannot say. But the person God wants me to become is on the other side of this wall. I could leap over, or not. He leaves the choice to me. It isn't success He's after. It's my character. I remember his words to me, returning from years ago to refresh my soul. They pour over me like a song.

For it is you who light my lamp;
the Lord my God lightens my darkness.
For by you I can run against a troop,
and by my God I can leap over a wall.
This God—his way is perfect;
the word of the Lord proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

For who is God, but the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?—
the God who equipped me with strength
and made my way blameless.
He made my feet like the feet of a deer
and set me secure on the heights.
He trains my hands for war,
so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

You have given me the shield of your salvation,
and your right hand supported me,
and your gentleness made me great. (Psalm 18 ESV)

In the end, it is God's gentleness that makes me great -- makes me more like him. But I must do my part. We are partners, God and I. He looks to me to do what only I can do. I must leap the wall, run the path, fight the good fight in front of me. And there, I'll find my true reward, the one that can't be taken away.

How do you get yourself over a wall?

Text , copyright 2010 by Cassandra Frear.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Becoming a housewife

Sara Roberts is visiting today.  We met on & she graciously agreed to provide a guest post about her transition to a SAHM.  You should visit her site; she has great money saving ideas.  So, drum roll please ... here's Sara!

My name is Sara Roberts and I am a SAHM of three.  My blog is The Millennial Housewife.  It was created because I was looking for ways to cut our budget down and give us some breathing room.  I started researching grocery store deals, and stumbled upon all of the great deals that you can find online.  Now, I like to do product reviews and share tips with my readers, along with still finding the best deal.  

 I often read posts from other SAHMs who claim that they’ve always dreamed about being a SAHM, and there was no other choice.  Part of me believes that.   For me, becoming a SAHM was not that easy or such a simple decision. 

First of all, when I met my husband I was working and going to college.    I was also only 19 when we met, so the thought that I would ever be a SAHM never occurred to me.  We got married when I was 21, so again, it seemed perfectly natural that I continue to work, as I had no reason not to.    Our first child came along when I was 22.   During my 6 weeks of maternity leave, I did start dreaming of being home with him but, at that time, it did not make financial sense for our family.   Like everyone else, we had bills to pay and it just wasn’t an option. 

Baby number two came along a few years later, after my husband had been laid off and working at a new place.  We were not in good financial shape, and me staying at home was more of a dream, but definitely not an option.   I had a good sitter, and really trusted her with my kids.  I just didn’t think I was the SAHM type. 

All of a sudden, our sitter quit.  We changed sitters again and, this time, I was not as satisfied.  But, we kept trucking on.  Around my birthday,  we found out that Baby number three was on the way - and this time we were NOT planning for another one!   I kept working and the idea of staying at home crossed my mind, but I didn’t think that it would even be possible.  Right before our third child was born, our sitter started flaking out on us - big time.  For the last month before I went on maternity leave, I had to use a backup sitter.   That really started turning the wheels.  The final kicker was when she quoted me what she would charge me to watch my three children - it was outrageous!  We couldn’t afford for me TO go to work.  Not to mention the fact that this woman was charging me this amount and I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why she thought she was worth that much!  We sat down and put the numbers on paper, and it became clear - I could stay home and we would still be able to pay the bills. 

Even after seeing it on paper, there was so much more to consider.  All of these questions started flashing around my head:  By me staying at home, all of the financial responsibility would now be placed on my husband.  Was he ready to shoulder all of it?  I would now be in complete control of the household, was I ready to shoulder all of it?  What if we couldn’t make ends meet - would it be my fault?  Will my husband resent my new role?  Would I be doing the best thing for our family?  Will I be able to go back to work one day and still have a career?  Would I even want to?    The thought that I was about to leave the “adult” world terrified me.  What was I going to do at home?

I’ve been at home for 2-½ years now.  I made the absolute RIGHT decision for our family.  Things have been tight at times and it has not always been picture perfect.  We have made lifestyle changes and had to cut back.  But knowing that my kids will remember having Mom as their “sitter” and not someone else is priceless to me.   I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

The important thing to remember is this:  Do what is right for you.  Quit worrying about what other people think or say.  Everyone thinks that the way they live is the right way, and it is FOR THEM.  Live how it is right for you.  

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Notes from the Senior Bench

Hello all! Today's guest post is courtesy of Rhiannon Paine.  She can be found on Twitter as @calbion or on her site: She is a delightful witty lady, who it has been my pleasure to tweet with.  Rhiannon loves to travel, both physically & figuratively (through books) & write.  For her bio, please visit .  Without further fanfare, here is Rhiannon ...

The Senior Bench is a prominent feature at my old high school in northern California. It sits in glorious isolation at the top of a long, narrow campus, looking down a flight of steps towards the boys’ gym, and only seniors are allowed to sit there.

Not much of a privilege, maybe. But the Senior Bench was something to aspire to when my friends and I went to high school, before sex and drugs were discovered. (Fortunately, we did have rock & roll, like that promising new band called the Beatles.)

That was in the 60s. Today, we’re in our 60s, and “senior” has a different meaning, yet my friends continue to lead lives that surpass anything we might have predicted on the Senior Bench.

Take Mia. Now living an on-again, off-again expatriate’s life in Europe, she recently paid me a visit. Over breakfast, I asked her if she’d once slept in a tent in a war zone. I recalled her telling me so during a previous visit, but it seemed so unlikely.

“The bullets weren’t flying,” Mia said, “but when I was in Zaire during the Rwanda refugee crisis, I showered with the French Foreign Legion.”

Mia and her husband are raising two orphans, aged 10 and 12, and she routinely hosts dinner parties for 20-plus foreign visitors (“I just put a salmon in the microwave”). She was also on board the U.S.S. Roosevelt (“the Big Stick”) while the U.S. was bombing targets in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

None of the other classmates I keep up with has ever landed on an aircraft carrier. Still, our lives haven’t been devoid of incident. Maeve (these are not real names) started her adult life as a stewardess for Air France, only to morph, through hard work and self-education, into a management consultant in Silicon Valley.

She also fought like a bear – our high school mascot – on behalf of a sister who had a brain tumor, making sure that she got the care and treatment she needed. Maeve is not a woman who needs assertiveness training. “I don’t think so!” is one of her favorite phrases.

Our friend Fiona raised two daughters, organized a big city festival for 20 years, and worked as a church secretary, coping with well-intentioned volunteers who messed up her files, lost important documents, etc. She has also kept track of our classmates and organized our reunions. It’s almost scary what Fiona knows about us. I’m sure she remembers the time that I – well, no. I don’t think I should write about that here.

Morgen became a librarian, moved to Alaska, was widowed much too young, and then met a second wonderful man to marry. She’s now the senior librarian for a major government agency in Washington D.C., where her husband just went through his first earthquake. “That’s nothing,” we’ve told him helpfully. “Just wait til you retire to California.”

Finally, there’s Carly, who emigrated to Australia to be a teacher. Carly was almost as adventurous as Mia until she contracted multiple sclerosis. In 1998, another school friend and I flew to Oz and traveled for a fortnight with Carly and two nurses in a van equipped with a hydraulic lift for Carly’s wheelchair. We found that illness hadn’t dimmed our friend’s passion to experience life, to learn, to connect with people, and above all, to laugh.

I admire the grace and strength with which these friends have negotiated their way through rich, complicated, sometimes difficult lives. Our Alma Mater contained the immortal line, “With your faithful hand to guide us, we’ll preserve Democracy.” I don’t know that we’ve preserved Democracy, but we have preserved our sanity. 

As Mia jets back to Europe, possibly to shower with some other Foreign Legion, the rest of us will stay in California. But are the adventures over? I don’t think so!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Today's guest post is courtesy of Andrea @ You can also catch her on twitter.  Without, further ado, here's Andrea ....

About Me: I think my twitter bio sums it up best: I am a Working Mom of 2, Wife, Sister, Daughter, Aunt, American, College Graduate, Jayhawk, Blogger, Movie Quoter, Shower Singer, Road Rager, DVR-a-holic

When I was a kid, I went through phases like most kids do. There was a time that I clung to my mom and wanted to be with her instead of playing outside or hanging out with friends. Then there was a time where I wanted to do anything except for be with my mom including preferring homework over having to listen to her. I think it was just one of those "anti-parent" stages I was going through. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't wild or crazy, I just got so annoyed by the things she would say. Giving her a hug was like second nature to me at first and then I became more distant and giving her a hug was like a job instead of like a reward. It is sad to think I went through that, but of course it only lasted a short while and I came to my senses, but it didn't happen overnight. All I wanted to do was get away, not runaway, just get away from everyone at home. I wanted to be like some of my other friends who barely had rules. I always asked permission to do things, but I didn't always like the response. I would ask why I couldn't do something and my mom would say, "because I said so." I would say that so-and-so's parents said it was okay and she would say, "I'm not so-and-so's mom." Whatever. I'd move on and ask if I could stay the night at a friend's house and she'd sometimes say no and I'd ask why and she'd say, "I would just feel better if you were here." Ugh! I thought she was out to get me, punish me. What did I do? I wasn't a bad kid. I got good grades, was on honor roll, played sports, wrote for the newspaper. What is the issue? I wasn't out "raising hell" on the back of some guy's motorcycle wearing a leather mini and a tube top. I was going to be at a friend's painting my nails for goodness sake. Why did she insist on punishing me? Right then and there, in those moments, I made myself a promise. I told myself IF I have kids, I will NEVER use those lines. I will give my kids answers instead of supplying these over-used one-liners that instinctively make fire burn inside of them with anger. I wouldn't have excuses, I would have facts. Every time I heard lines like the ones my mom used, I'd roll my eyes, call her a name under my breath and behind her back, turn up my music and call my friends telling them I'd be over when my mom got a grip. Before I move on, let me be very clear...I respected my mom (in front of her), I loved her (even if she drove me nuts), but I didn't understand her. I couldn't. We were on different levels, we were different ages, but happened.
My life took a turn down mom lane and there I was holding a beautiful 6 lb. 14 oz. baby who would eventually call me mommy. And it happened...I understood. I understood that at that moment I would do everything in my power to protect something so innocent and precious. If I had to be the uncool mom to do so, I would. If I could have paid my mom in dollar bills that day for how sorry I was for being...a teenager, she'd be a rich woman.
As the years have passed and our little baby grew up, now almost 5, I find myself answering his millions of questions mostly with answers as I promised myself many years ago, I would do, but when I get to my breaking point, it slips, "Jaxson, you can't jump off the stairs because I said so!" Immediately a shrieking noise came to mind the first time that slipped and ever since...those momisms come out like raccoons in the night. I can't even stop myself and to be honest, I don't want to. You try answering question after question and not get frustrated when no answer is good enough. I still remember Jaxson's first sleepover. I didn't want to let it happen as I knew it would open up a new can of worms. I was a worrier. Still am. Will always be. (That's a different post in itself.) I didn't want my 'baby' to sleep anywhere but in the comfort of our own home. When George asked me why I didn't want him to have a sleepover, another one of those one-liners flooded out, "I would just feel better if he was at home." Why was this happening to me? He was just going to sleep at his grandma and grandpa's house who lived just down the street. It wasn't that big of a deal. I know I was a young mom, but man, I just aged 20 years saying that! Regardless, it was true. Again, my mother's face came to mind as that second momism made its way into the air.
As Jaxson entered Pre-school last school year, I knew there would be things he came home saying that would make me so proud and others that would make me cringe. I think I asked him at least twice per day where he heard something from. He'd tell me one of his friends from school told him and I'd we go with having to worry about what other kids are saying and not just my own. We'd talk about how certain words like "ugly, fat and kill" were not nice words (imagine the context I heard those words in) and I would tell Jaxson that he was NOT allowed to use those words and inevitably he'd say, "Well, so-and-so can say it." (quite the famous person so-and-so is today) to which I replied faster than ever before, "Well I'm not so-and-so's mom so I can't control what they say." Yep, there it was. Strike 3 Momism at its finest. By now, I can't deny it. I am doing things I said I would never do and there is no stopping me now. I know over the years, my kids won't always agree with what I say or do and I know just like them, I will fall down and sometimes not so gracefully, but they'll know when they're my age or when they become parents that I did everything FOR them and not TO them. Sometimes there is just no escaping it...sometimes you have to give into the momisms to get all the perks of being a mommy. It truly is the best, hardest job I've ever done and I'm so glad that I get to do it forever.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Growing Up Early

When I was 12, my father passed away. From that point on things really changed. My dreams shifted, my hopes went askew, and my aspirations were truly challenged.

I had a wonderful family who loved me, and all the support I could ever need. There was one thing I had – that I really wish I hadn’t… I had way too much freedom.

I think that my mom really tried hard to compensate for my dad being gone, by pretty much letting me do what I wanted. It was easier for her, with me being ADHD, to let me do my thing. I took my meds, so I was fairly well behaved, but I did what I wanted most of the time. From swimming for hours, then running across the house without a towel to go to the the bathroom to plopping down in my wet suit on the couch, I did it. And got away with it.

While I was young, this was just little stuff; not to mention we were in church all the time; so the trouble I got into was pretty innocent… that is until I turned about 15… and hooked up with my older brothers and their friends.

Then… well then I went a little crazy. It was then that I started experimenting with alcohol… and pot… It was then that I had a steady boyfriend that my mother couldn’t stand… and I ran around with a pretty fast crowd. I was pretty sure then that my mom had no idea what I was doing…

There were nights at the drive in with friends… drinking Boone’s Farm “Tickle Pink” and Miller Lite… There were many hours spent in the river swimming, cutting up, and making out with guys too old for me. There were bikers, smoking, and sex.

I remember going to my mom, about a month after my 16th birthday and asked her to take me to the doctor for birth control. She refused… told me I was too young to be thinking about that. I wasn’t ready.

What she said was true… I wasn’t ready – but that wasn’t going to stop me. By the middle of that year I was pregnant.

My daughter was born three weeks before my 18th birthday… I was a single teenage mother. I had to leave my high school, and go to a “special school” for pregnant teenagers. The school was awesome… it was called L.A.M.P. for Lee Adolescent Mother’s Program. It’s still going strong today, and has helped thousands of young ladies through teen pregnancy and graduation.

By the time my daughter was born, I had already gotten my GED and was enrolled in college for the Fall semester, which started on August 25th that year. I was supposed to have my daughter on July 4th… then July 18th… In reality, my daughter was not born until August 18. So… just a week after my baby was born, I was in school again. Now, I have not shared my oldest daughter’s birth story. Let’s just say it’s a long one – and was really difficult. I had 37 stitches. I sat on a donut… it was ugly.

But I went to school every day. My grandparents watched my daughter. My mom was in school in the 3rd year of a 4 year nursing program, so she was gone either all day or all night, depending on her rotation.

By the time my daughter was 4 or 5 months old I went to work in a grocery store full-time. Again, my grandparents, and mom when she was home, cared for my baby.

A week after my 18th birthday, I got married, against everyone’s wishes. He was a first class loser, cocaine addict, and thief. I spent my daughter’s second Christmas dying on our couch because he refused to take me to the doctor. When my mom finally got me there, I had to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. I had double pneumonia, and was breathing on about 1-2 inches of pleural space in one lung. The doctor said another 4 or 5 hours and I’d have drowned.

We divorced, and my mom and I resumed our life of parenting my daughter together. She was my support and my rock. She helped me through so much. And she never complained. I learned a lot about being a mom.

Friends who taught her the first “real” word she spoke… Gucci. (Thanks Aunt Pat). Friends who would load us up in an old International Scout and take us “mudding” for hours… Friends that I could call on day or night to cry, laugh, or just talk.

I had it pretty easy compared to a lot of the girls I had gone to school with… some of them didn’t even have their parents to count on… I knew at least three girls at my school that were living in the Catholic Home for Wayward Girls… thrown out by their parents because they got pregnant out of wedlock… an embarrassment

I was never treated that way. I know my mom was disappointed. But her love for me never changed or lessened because I made a simple mistake. She gave me options, and let me decide what to do about my baby. And when I made the choice to keep her, she stood up for me to the doctors – and told them to shut up when the suggested I was too young and maybe needed to “get rid of it”.

We spent hours shopping and preparing for her arrival. And days on end walking the beach, the mall, and beyond trying to encourage her to make the appearance.

For years, my mom would be my strongest ally and my best resource. And when things in my life took a trip off the beaten path, she stoically accepted my actions, and helped me choose the best thing. She adopted my daughter when she was 4, and with my step-dad raised her as their own. She knew who her mamma was… but I was totally in no position to care for her. When all was said and done, I did what needed to be done for my daughter. No matter what the cost… and I realized that even though I felt guilty about doing what I did… I had done the right thing.

 In the end – that’s all any parent can do – what’s best for their child.

I’m glad I made the choices I did… especially now when I look at my daughter… Who, at 26 still doesn’t have any children, because she’s not ready. She learned from my mistakes…

Knowing that – I wouldn’t change a thing.

This guest post is courtesy of Elizabeth @  (Name change: Set in my ways)

 Top 10 things she thinks people would be most interested to know:

  1. I have three natural and four step-children.
  2. I have two grandchildren a boy and a girl.
  3. I have five dogs, and three cats. Yes, we DO think we have enough animals…
  4. My youngest son is severely emotionally disabled, and is currently being treated in the hospital.
  5. I trained as a paramedic in college – then decided not to follow through.
  6. My oldest son is currently in college studying to be a network administrator. He still sleeps on my couch.
  7. My step-daughter has been dating the same boy for a year, and it is making me nervous.
  8. My father passed away when I was young, and I was raised by a very strong woman.
  9. I don’t need a man, I have one because I want him here.
  10. I am however, looking forward to the day when I don’t hear “Mom, what’s for dinner?” EVERY single day of my life!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

My new quote in life…mommyinLDN

Bridgette Shima (aka mommyinLDN) is a first time mom who lives in Southwest London with her one year old son and husband.  She writes about London with kids and shares just how easy it is to get around in the big city.  As an American expat, originally from New York, she shares her experiences regarding living abroad and its challenges and is also very passionate about sports.  You can visit her at

"Let us be grateful to people who makes us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." ~ Marcel Proust

I love this. It brings a smile to my face every time I read it. It shines a light through the darkest of moments when things may seem overwhelming or when a day seems too long to handle. We’ve been told time and time again that “life is short so live as if it’s your last day”. But how many of us really take the time to reflect on this? How consumed are we by our daily routines? I remember those days when I worked long hours and dealt with a very hectic schedule, my mind was always on the “go”. Work was stressful and the pressure was constantly on, however, back then I was young and free so the responsibilities I have now weren’t there. I’d get off work and think about who I’d I meet for a drink or race to get a mani/pedi before the nail salon closed. I shopped til I dropped and took full advantage of New York City’s happening life. Spending money made me happy, very happy indeed. I’d spend it like it was going out of style, living the single, crazy life. Happiness was all on the surface. It wasn’t until I met my husband and became a Mom that I learned one of the biggest lessons in life: it is no longer about the want but the need and it was then that I realized motherhood changed me forever. My husband taught me this, taught me the real value of money. I’m a SAHM so my husband’s money is my money. I really can’t spend it like I used to spend mine as it can only stretch so far when feeding a family of three. So those days of going out to the ritzy, chic bars aren’t in sight. I’d much rather cook a meal and spend the day in the park watching our lil guy have the time of his life. This is what I live for now. I can count on both hands those people that make me happy; and I can tell you that my list has definitely shortened in the last two years. Without them I wouldn’t have my sanity nor would I have anyone to set me straight! We can joke around or talk about the serious things in life, its hardships and challenges. We tell stories and our relationships grow fonder. They’re all gardeners, planting their own seeds in my memory bank. When I feel like I need a quick pick-me-up, I think of a funny email between my brother and I or a time when our lil guy has a giggle attack (there have been loads lately!). Other times I think about the future such as our upcoming wedding anniversary next month and spending Christmas with my mother and sister here in London. All these things make me happy and are wonderful to look forward to. So, who are those that make you happy? I challenge you to take five minutes every day and think about a happy moment in your life. When you feel as if your day has gotten the best of you, think of a special someone. I guarantee it’ll put a smile on your face too!