Thursday, December 30, 2010

It's Over

Christmas is over.
Plates of goodies left on the porch by neighbors, over.
Running to Target for the 15th time for that "last thing I have to get", over.
Eating cookies by the dozen without guilt because it's Christmas, over.
Trying to wrap every time my kids leave the house, over.
Keeping a stash of dollar bills in my purse for the Salvation Army bucket, over.
Listening to Andre sing to the tune of Joy to the World, 'Joy to the world, Bawney's dead! We chopped off his head! Don't wowrry 'bout the body. We fwushed it down the poddy. And wound and wound it goes! And wound and wound it goes! And WOUND and WOUND and wound it goes!', over. Finally.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Best Laid Plans

I try to make my life easier by planning. Planning on when I will do things, how I will do things, if I want to do things. But things don't always work out how I think they will.

Last week Matt asked me to send him a new pillow. Apparently the pillows in the Middle East are sub-par. Who would have thought?  He asked would I be a dear and send him one? And could I also slip in some Propel drink mix? I got the pillow and the drink mix and got a box from the store and got everything all packed up for him. I get to post office and of course, it's Christmas time, so I wait for about 20 minutes in line. When I finally reach the clerk at the counter he informs me that it will be $35.00 to ship the package but if I split the contents up into two smaller boxes it will only be $20.00 total. I'll take it. He shows me the size of the boxes that I need to use to get this rockin' deal from the post office. They are about the size of a shoe box. The drink mix fits in no problem. The pillow is another story. I show the clerk the size of my pillow and he says, "Hmmm, it might not fit." To which I answer, "Ya think?" He hands me a roll of tape and directs me to a clear spot on the floor to attempt to stuff this pillow in this box and tape it up.

I spend the next ten minutes attempting to cram and shove this oversized, extra firm pillow in this teeny, tiny box which seems to be getting smaller by the minute. I can actually get the pillow in but I have to hold my weight on the box to keep it closed. This leaves me with no hands to tape it up. I ask my five year old, Andre, to put his hands on the box and hold it while I tape it up. It was like opening a can of springy worms. The pillow came popping out of the box. I could have just given up, but I would not be beat by this pillow. Did I mention that I'm still on the floor of the post office? There is still a line out the door. I'm in a T-shirt, a heavy sweat shirt, my heaviest winter coat and a knit hat. After wrestling with this pillow for going on 15 minutes, I'm working up quite a glow. And people are STARING at me on the floor while I try to manipulate the simplest of things, a pillow and a box, into joining and becoming one.

I start to mutter under my breath. "Go in! Go in! Go in pillow! It's your home! Are you to good for your home??" Yes. I am that crazy lady in the post office in a weird knit hat (it was a very bad hair day) talking to her packages. Finally, after much stuffing and cajoling, the pillow and box work out their differences and fit together. That and about half a roll of tape to keep this thing from popping open somewhere over the Atlantic. I should have just paid the extra fifteen bucks.

My second plan that didn't work out quite as I had thought was the situation of hiding the Christmas presents. I have actually had my chidren's presents for awhile and they have been stashed all over the house in various spots. Storage bins. Unused drawers. In the cat's litter box. Just kidding. But if I did hide something there, the kids would never, ever find it. 

I start wrapping but I don't want to go to the effort of re-hiding everything. I decide to leave all the wrapped presents in my room and just lock my door. I have a good lock on my door. It's very hard to open. In fact, you need a special tool that came with the doorknob to get it open. And I have the only one. Which turns out is actually a problem.

I locked myself out of my room. I could see the tool in my mind. Sitting on my dresser next to my jewelry box, completely out of reach behind the locked door. I spent 20 minutes taking off the doorknob to get the tool to unlock the door and and then putting the doorknob back on. It was a very productive day.

But that isn't the worst part. The worst part is I did it again two hours later. Or I thought I had. I actually left the tool in my car. But since I couldn't find it I assumed it was locked behind the door. Again. So out come the screwdrivers and off comes the doorknob. Andre walks by me and says "Really, Mom?" Thank you, Andre. I know. Of course I search my room. No tool to be found. Aidan comes in from the garage after I picked him up from school and says "Hey, Mom. Isn't this the tool to unlock your door? Did you know it was in the car?" No, Aidan. I didn't. But thank you.

Just goes to show you no matter how ahead of the game I think I am, I always end up two steps behind and it's usually my fault. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Having Dirt Or Really Really Bad Stuff

The other day I caught my son, Andre, systematically dismantling the photo albums and scrap books that took me years to compile. He was sitting there, completely content, just popping open the 3-ring, leather covered binders and sliding the shiny, protected pages out of order. "Andre!!!!" I screamed (of course), "what are you doing?!?!" He looked up at me, all nonchalant and said, "Mom, you started your mom's couch on fire and this isn't as bad as that."

I stood there. I was shocked because A- it was true. I had started my mom's couch on fire. And B- how in the world did he happen to come upon this information? He slowly started to place the pages in their correct albums (they're color coded) as I walked away. I was speechless. What do you say to that? I went in my room and thought awhile and what I decided was that first, my son shows remarkable promise for being a great lawyer. Who wouldn't win a case where you have dirt on the opposing counsel? And second, somebody in my family had been talking.

There was always a lot of teasing between me and my three younger brothers. Although I must say what I considered teasing, some of my younger brothers considered torture. It was at this point that I then realized that the wheel of pain had turned because now my brothers were filling my kids in on all the really bad stuff I did as a kid. Some things (other than setting the couch on fire, that cat is out of the bag) that I did that I would prefer my children to never know about include, but not limited to, are:
     1. Pushing my brother through the dining room wall (technically he didn't go through it, but he went pretty far into it).

     2. Taking my mom's car without permission and bottoming out in a ditch, punching a hole through the oil pan. I parked it in the driveway like nothing had happened and when she came out for work the next morning, guess what? Oil all over the drive way. Needless to say, it wouldn't start.

     3. Knocking over my mom's china cabinet. Breaking the glass doors to the front of it and all the crystal in it (I had help with this one).

     4. Locking up my brothers in various locations and feeding them Kool-Aid with a turkey baster.

     5. Coming home with a nose ring. Enough said.

Reading this you may or you may not be thinking, wow, Kelly was a real naughty girl. Or hell-raiser. Or delinquent. But get this. I was actually one of the good kids in my family. Good by comparison. Growing up we were all a little naughty. Or just really bored.  As I mentally scrolled through this list, I realized that if anymore of this information got out, I could be in even more trouble than I was as a kid.

"Oh, yeah. Mom, you know that new dent in your car? Well, you totally broke your mom's car and this isn't as bad as that."

"Mom, what do you think of my belly button ring? At least it's not on my face like yours was."

"Sorry I locked Andre out of the house. You locked your brothers up in the house and that is definitely worse."

I'm starting to feel sweaty and sick to my stomach. What am I going to do? I will tell you. Bribery. I will have to give my brothers something that means more to them than shocking my children with the highlight real of "The Worst Things Kelly Ever Did".

But then I sweat more because I realize that there is nothing in this world that is as great as seeing your sibling squirm. Nothing is better than getting back at someone after 25 years of holding injustice close to your heart. Now I will be the one locked up. I will be the one that will smile sweetly and be forced to say prettyprettypleasewithacherryontop 16 times because I am the one who is trapped behind a row of bar stools.

Please, my dear, sweet, kind, intelligent, and above all attractive brothers. Play nice.

PS Just a little note about setting the couch on fire. Much to my children's disappointment, I did not burn down the couch. Aidan asked me the other day where I got the oil to start the fire going. Oil? What oil? The tale was getting taller everyday. I had to set the story straight. What really happened was I was playing with a candle (fire was my friend) and decided to sit it upright on a cushion while I got a drink. Of course, it tipped over and burned a hole about the size of a small orange on the arm of the couch. It mostly burned the arm covering, which I hid in my brother's closet. I then artfully positioned the pillows to hide the damage. Very well, I might add. We were leaving for Yellowstone the next day and I was worried if my mom saw it, she would say we couldn't go. When we get back from vacation and I am surfing a geyser and hot spring high (geology was my friend too) and have completely forgotten about the burning-of-the-couch incident. She goes to put my brother's clothes away and guess what comes tumbling down off the top shelf. The evidence. I remember getting caught, but that's it. I really don't remember a punishment. Maybe I blocked it from my mind.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Really? I Mean, Really?

I woke up Sunday morning to a dead car battery. Nothing in this world is less fun than getting in your car, turning the key, and hearing nothing. I sat in my car silently for a few seconds, and then I began ranting to myself, the steering wheel, and the mail on the passenger seat. "Stupid car! Stupid car! YOU STUPID CAR!"

I'm usually not prone to uncontrollable rages, but we had just gone through a whole phase of our car not starting. Something with the fuel gauge in the fuel tank. The car would have half a tank of gas, but the gauge would tell the car it was empty so the car would shut itself down.I never knew when it would start. I would go out every morning with my fingers, arms, and toes crossed hoping against all hope that today it would start. Over two thousand dollars later, (it needed a little more work than just a fuel gauge) it now starts. So you can see why I was so upset by this dead battery.

My dad swung by Sunday evening and he jumped the car. But guess what. On Monday morning I went out to start the car and again, dead battery. Now we have a problem. I know I wasn't leaving my headlights on or anything like that so the battery must be going bad. I have to jump it myself. I'm not a total moron, I know how to jump a car and have assisted many a neighbor in jumping theirs (I'm always home). But the thought of doing it myself leaves me in a cold sweat. Literally. I am DEATHLY afraid of electricity. I don't know why. I've never been shocked, never been struck by lightning (unlike my little brother). But I was sure that jumping the car by myself would surely lead to injury and/or death. I read through the owner's manual just to make sure I'm doing it right. I am physically shaking as I hook up the cables to the batteries. Red on positive. Okay. Black on negative. Oh good heavens don't let me end up a smoking pile of blonde flesh on my drive way. As you can guess I managed to successfully jump the car by myself. Mission accomplished. 

I drive to Auto-Zone and stand in line ready to inform the technician of my predicament (they will test your battery for free). I should tell you now that I hate cars. I hate everything to do with them. I hate fixing them. I hate buying parts for them. I hate washing them. I hate cleaning them out. So standing in line at Auto-Zone I'm not too happy. After testing my car the technician informs me that it is in fact not my battery that is the problem, but my alternator. Lovely. I put in a call to Rick. Rick is my car-mechanic god. I love him. I would kneel down before him and worship the ground he walks on, but since he's my step-brother, I don't. As soon as he sees it's me on the caller ID he's asks 'what now' because I am always calling him with problems on my car. As I tell him what is wrong he doesn't seem to think it's my alternator. We talk on the phone for another 5-10 minutes debating what-in-the-world could be wrong with my car. While I sit there with the car off, I hear a mysterious ticking noise coming from the passenger seat and since I don't believe in ticking ghosts, I check it out. I discover that the motorized control for the power seat adjust is stuck in the down position. Are you kidding me? I just subjected myself to the torture of jumping my car myself and then going to the place where all evil resides, a car parts store, all because my leg pushed the lever down Saturday night while I got something out of the car? Rick, the car-mechanic god, is laughing and assuring me that is what has been draining my battery. I guess I should just be happy that I don't have to shell out more of my husband's hard earned defending-the-country paycheck to fix the car. I fixed it myself. By pulling the lever up. You should be impressed. I was.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Single Life Of A Military Wife

Many of you know that my husband is in the Army. Many of you know he is deployed right now. What many of you don't know is that we have spent the last three years and three months living separate lives. Why? Let me tell you. 

June 17, 1995. I went on a first date with this cute guy named Matt. We really didn't know each other that well so we are telling our stories. Ten minutes into the date he says "Oh, did you know I joined the Utah Army National Guard last week? As an M-day soldier." "That's cool." I answer while in my head I'm thinking 'who cares'. Little did I know I would end up caring a lot. A whole lot for that matter.

I ended up marrying that really cute guy named Matt and for the first five years of our marriage the National Guard didn't really play that big a part in our lives. The M-day soldier is the one weekend a month, two weeks in the summer guy. It was peace time. Things were peachy-keen.

In 2001 we had some financial bumps. Lots of them. My health went down the tubes and we had to pay lots of money out-of-pocket for some surgeries and blah, blah, blah things. And we were expecting our third child in three years. Our need for money was outpacing how fast we were bringing it in. Turns out Matt could make more money in the National Guard than at his current job. He switched from being an M-day soldier to being a full time soldier. It was a regular desk job. Every Friday off. We made more money, free health insurance. We felt we were set.  

Fast forward to 2003. We got a late call on a Sunday night that Matt was being deployed to the Middle East on Wednesday. Um, hello? Some notice would have been nice. He was gone for 14 months.

When he gets back, we have another baby, buy a new house, get on with our lives. Turns out Matt, who was enlisted at the time, wasn't that happy at work. He was continuing to move up the chain and as he did there were fewer and fewer positions. Opportunities were becoming scarce, but not if he became an officer. There was a catch though. He could not become an officer while in the National Guard. He had to what? That's right. Join the Army.

Let me just say for the record I was not happy about this decision. We were in the middle of not one, but two wars. Who knew what the future held? He applied to go to OCS (Officer Candidate School), and he got accepted. 

Now the plan was for him to go to OCS, do a little additional training with the Army, get a new position somewhere out-of-state and once that was done, rent our house in Utah, and move us to wherever he was. Six, maybe seven months, tops. Yeah, right.

What ended up happening was that instead of just a little additional training with Army, he had 18 months of it, and then as soon as he was done with that he was placed in a unit that was already deployed in Iraq. Bam. Another seven months. When he got back from that little jaunt we had lived apart two years. Except for when he was deployed we did occasionally see each other during this time. He would fly home for 4-day weekends. It wasn't very fun. I don't recommend it.

After he got back he was placed in a position at Ft. Riley, Kansas. We were faced with a decision. Rent or sell our house here and move out there, or stay here and do the back and forth thing. The whole time I'm singing in my head "should I stay or should I go". We make preliminary plans to move out there, but it just never felt right. There was always some reason that staying here made more sense than moving out there. And honestly, Ft. Riley wasn't exactly my dream location. I'm a west kind of girl. I want my mountains. My dry air. My ocean a maximum of 700 miles away. So we stayed. He goed. The kids and I would make kamikaze trips (1,000 miles in 16 hours) out to see him for two to three weeks. He would take a week of vacation and come home. We went on like this for a year, and then the bottom fell out. He was getting deployed. Again. For thirteen months. Now I at least knew why it never felt right. There was no way I was going to be stuck somewhere like that without him.

So here we are. When he gets back in October of 2011 he will start another training class that will take until June, 2012. At that point, we will be able to be together again. Jealous much? I didn't think so. People hear that my husband is deployed and ask how long he's been gone. I answer two months, but in my mind I say three years. It's just too hard to explain to people. And it takes too long. And it's painful. And it makes me cry. Sobbing in the bread aisle at Wal-Mart isn't good for anybody. 

How do I do it? The same way you do things. One day at a time. When I think of the date June 2012, I break down. So I don't think about it. I have friends. I have family. And just in case this has been too sad, here are some benefits to leading the single life of a military wife.

1. I get the WHOLE bed to myself. I don't sleep in the middle, but his side is a convient storage place for clothes I don't want to hang up and books I'm reading. It's like having another night stand that is attached to your bed.

2. I pick what we eat for dinner every night. Mac-n-cheese it is kids!!

3. I don't ever have to watch sports. I loathe sports. I can tolerate actually going to the game, but then to watch the highlights after on TV? Kill me now please.

4. No motorcycle helmets or jackets on my kitchen table. 

5. I can watch Keeping up with the Kardashians as much as I want without worrying what anyone thinks of me. It's horrible, mindless, terrible reality TV, but I love it. 

6. I also get the WHOLE closet to myself. Matt's stuff has been shoved and pushed to the very back. Ahhh... the space!

7. I get the whole bathroom counter and BOTH sinks for myself. No shaving mess here.

8. I can lay around in pajamas all day (which I do sometimes) and not clean a single thing and nobody comes home and asks oh so casually "hey, what did you do today?" I will answer that now. Absolutely nothing.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I Am Dum (Or Stoopid)

I've become dumb. I say 'become' because I wasn't always dumb. It happened some time in my 20's. Interesting. I also had three children in my 20's. Hmmmm... Coincidence? I think not.

Specifically I have lost the ability to spell, and it sucks because English and spelling used to be 'My Thing'! I was in honors English classes all through middle and high school. I did pretty good on my ACT's and I was even published in college (yeah, it was only the community college little creative writing book, but it counts). So hopefully by giving you this little resume I have convinced you I wasn't always the idiot I appear to be now.

What happened? One word. Pregnancy. I felt my former correct-spelling self actually slip away as I delivered my first child. Who knew that spelling isn't controlled by an area of the brain? It's actually controlled by your uterus. It has to be, otherwise my spelling wouldn't have been so affected by having kids. I think I can actually remember the doctor telling me everything that was going on. "Baby. Afterbirth. Oh! And here is your ability to spell correctly. Don't need that anymore." I really don't know. Maybe the doctor didn't even see it when my baby was born. Maybe it accidentally fell out and got kicked under the bed and then Matt and I just left it at the hospital.

I have, every now and then, regained a little spelling ability. But of course, I get pregnant again so any growth that little spelling gland has done is completely undone by having the baby. And now that I have done this four times, I fear I have permanently damaged my spelling uterus.

Here is an example of a few of the words I ALWAYS misspell -
1. Guard  - I can never remember the order of the A and the U.
2. Priest - It just looks wrong. It seems like it should be one the those exceptions to the I before E rule.
3. Definitely - I always put an A where the second I is.
4. Medieval - Shouldn't it be mid-evil?
5. Across - is it one C or two?
6. Address - so if across is one C, shouldn't address just have one D?

I tell you all this, my dear friends, hoping that if you see some of my spelling errors, you will just smile and think of my beautiful children. And remember that once upon a time, I could write a paper without hitting spell check 37 times.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sexy Russian Spy

I underwent a transformation a couple of weeks ago. I took my limp, shoulder length, dishwater blonde hair and changed it into something new. Cut, color, everything. I was a new me. I went over to show my friends and got rave reviews. And one review that was strange.

"Yeah, I like it," my male neighbor said. "You look like a sexy, Russian spy."

Um... thanks? I think.

Me. A sexy. Russian. Spy. I've been called many things before in my life but sexy, Russian spy was definitely a first. I went to a close friend with this information. "Does my hair say sexy, Russian spy?"

"Yeah," she said. "I can see that."

"What about it says sexy, Russian spy?" I ask.

"The bangs. Definitely the bangs."

Funny. I thought bangs said things like I'm stuck in the 80's or I'm 36 going on 11. But never Eastern Block counterintelligence seductress.

I thought about this idea for awhile. And then I started to like the idea. I thought I would try it on.

Well? What do you think? Do I look remotely sexy? Forget about that. Do I look remotely Russian? After looking at the picture I decided I didn't look like either. All I saw was a girl looking like she was trying out for Charlie's Angels (that is supposed to be a fake gun in my hand, so realistic).

But if I was going to be a Russian spy (let's just drop the sexy, it's never going to happen, at least not while I've had four kids), I would have to come up with an alias. Something like Svetlana or Natasha. And I would talk like this "Heel-o, my nyame is Nyatasha."

What kind of spy would I be? Would I be like James Bond all martinis and seduction? Probably not because we already dropped the sexy part. Maybe Ethan Hunt? No, because he is part of a team. I work alone. How about Jason Bourne? Yeah, I could do that. I love the idea of secret safe deposit boxes full of money and different identities. I would kick butt first and ask questions later. I would speak six languages (one of course would be Russian). I would know how to jump off buildings into windows across alleys. I would have a gun on my hip and a secret knife strapped to my leg. I would be able to disarm a man with my pointer finger. You can tell I've thought about this. A lot.

Anyway. I'm not a spy. I'm not Russian. And with the amount of time I spend in mismatched pajamas I'm surely not sexy. It was fun to pretend for awhile. And if I ever get bored with my life I'll just go to the hairstylist and say "Geeve me zhe sexy, Russian spy look."

Friday, December 3, 2010

You Know Me Better Than I Do

I am going through a phase of really missing my husband right now, so I am going to tell you a favorite story of mine about him.

When I was pregnant with our first son, Alexander, I had a wicked sweet tooth. A wicked fat-frosting-glaze tooth. I was addicted to sugar, flour and deep-frying. My drug of choice was a double chocolate donut from 7-11.

The craving would really hit me about 8:30 at night. You know the feeling, when you have already had dinner so you're really not hungry but you need something. I'm telling you, a double chocolate donut is that thing. Matt would sweetly volunteer to run out and get us each one. When he got home baby and I were satisfied by a glass of skim milk (I was so health conscious while I was pregnant) and that wonderful double chocolate donut. Matt would also pick one up for himself but would leave it for the next day.

Turns out the next day Matt forgot about it before he left for work. I woke up and saw it there. Tempting me. Calling my name. It would say "Kelllllll-y... don't you want to eat me? You really should eat me. By the time Matt gets home I will be all dried out and tasteless. You would really be doing Matt a favor by eating me so I don't ruin his day. Okay, just eat half of me. Matt won't mind..."  Who here wouldn't listen to a talking donut.

So I ate it. The whole thing by the way. There is no way you can eat half of a chocolate donut. It would be like driving a Porsche on the freeway at 30 mph. You're just not getting the whole experience.

Matt gets home. He's really not that surprised it is gone. We had been married for two years at this point.

The next night, that old craving hits me. Matt asks me "Do you want me to get you two?" No-no-no-no. I answer. I'm getting too fat. He leaves and comes back with a little bag of happiness with a hole in it. I eat it. I'm happy. Matt does the smart thing and eats his also so there is no doubt he will get it.

The next morning I wake up and all I can think about are chocolate donuts (I told you I was addicted). I sat there wishing Matt hadn't eaten his the night before because I would shamelessly eat it again. I go out to the kitchen and guess what is sitting on a plate? A beautiful, pristine chocolate donut. He had actually bought three.

I call him on the way to work. As he answers his phone the first thing out of his mouth is "You ate it, didn't you? You wanted it, didn't you?" Yes, I answer, it was heavenly and sinful at the same time. I drove to work thinking the best way to start your day is a surprise donut on the counter.

I guess I'm just going to leave this little story with you. This happened almost 13 years ago. Whenever I think of it, it always brings a little smile to my face. It also explains why in my first pregnancy I gained 30 pounds in four months.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Things I've Learned

Here is a list of things that I have learned this past November.

1. In five degree weather, no matter HOW MUCH ice melt you put down, ain't nuthin' gonna melt.

2. That I was really smart when two years ago I invested in waterproof, salt resistant, radiant heating, knee high snow boots.

3. That as long as I live in my neighborhood, I will want, no strike that, need to have a 4-wheel drive to access my own driveway.

4. That we will not be driving Matt's Saab until Spring

5. Or using the deck and patio furniture for that matter either.

6. That when you've been outside shoveling snow in a 15 degree blizzard, it takes approximately four times as long to warm up as it did to get cold.

7. That my street is the nexus of the weather universe where every storm that hits Utah converges and dumps twelve inches. Per storm.

8. That I never tire of watching my neighbors rev their Honda Civic back and forth trying to get unstuck.

9. That the guy down the street with the four-wheeler and attached plow is getting surprisingly more and more attractive every time he plows my driveway.

10. You should have a snow shovel for every person who lives in your home. You want to eat? You shovel.

11. Even when it stops snowing, that doesn't mean you're done shoveling. Ever heard of wind drifting snow? I'm talking 3-4 foot drifts. Against my back door. We were trapped!

12. And last, but certainly not least, that no matter how many times I tell my kids to keep track of their new gloves and hats, they lose them. Hence, Andre in a 10 year old bright orange hunters hat.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Um, Sir, Can You Help Me?

I gave up a long time ago pretending that I had any sense of direction. Without 11,000 foot mountains to orient me in my home town, I'm totally lost.

Last night I ventured into the compound to do a little Christmas shopping. Otherwise known as Hill Air Force Base. I get nervous going through the check point. I don't know why. It's not like I have anything to hide. I have the proper military stickers on my car. I have my current military ID, except for the last time that Matt and I went up to the base. I had forgotten my wallet and they wouldn't let me on the base. I had to sit in one of the checkpoint buildings while he went in. I was deemed unworthy to set foot on the hallowed ground.

I'm on the base. Driving around in the dark. I have a vague memory of where the BX is (base exchange for you lay folk). I drive up to it and it's no longer there. It's some building that I don't even recognize. I drive past it 4, maybe 5 times to really make sure it's not the BX. I need help. I drive back to the checkpoint to ask for directions. The heavily armed guard gives me an address followed by a ma'am. I tell him that I have no idea where that would be in the daylight, let alone in the dark. He then precedes to tell me directions. This is an approximation of what he told me.

"Ma'am. First-you-take-Hill-Field-Road-directly-north. You'll-see-an-intersection. Don't-turn-there. Turn-left-at-the-IPC-building. Take-your-second-right-at-the-CPC-unit-and-then-turn-left-on-F-street. Go-over-the-river-and-through-the-woods. Past-the-big-airplane. Not-the-really-big-airplane-but-just-the-big-airplane. There-will-be-a-formation-of-tanks. Turn-at-the-tanks. You'll-see-the-FMYSE-square. You-have-to-turn-left-before-you-get-there. Drive-through-the-Med-Tac-tunnel. If-you-find-yourself-at-the-commissary-you've-gone-too-far. Turn-around-and-just-follow-the-directions-in-reverse. Ma'am"

There very big on the ma'am in the military. And acronyms.

I have no idea what he is talking about so of course I pretend to totally understand everything he has said and I take off on the only direction I remember. Head north on Hill Field Road. Why you ask? Because being on the Air Force base I always feel a little intimidated. We aren't Air Force. We are only Army. We're like the Air Force's backwoods cousin they are afraid is going to embarrass them at a family get together.

I drive around for another 10 minutes. Past the old BX to make sure it's still not there and then I find myself at the Shoppette. What's a Shoppette? It's the equivalent of a gas station/convenience store on a base. I ask a very nice airman (they aren't soldiers, they are airman in the Air Force) if he can tell me where the BX is. He tells me that it's across the street from the old BX.

Why couldn't the guard have told me that? I guess he figured if I wanted to go to the BX I had to work for it. I head back over to the old BX and sure enough, across the street, hidden by some trailers, is the new BX. I found it. It only took being told three times! Not bad.

The thing about bases, at least to me, is there is no rhyme or reason to them. The street names, if there are even names, are totally confusing. Sometimes the streets are named after the buildings on them. Or the units that are headquartered on that street. All the buildings look the same. Brick, tan, square. Maybe this is to confuse the enemy if they ever make it on base. I can tell you it does a good job of confusing me.

I shop. I stand in long lines. I save. Mostly stand in long lines though. It was a very exciting trip. What should have taken me 45 minutes takes me almost two hours. I hope on Christmas morning my kids appreciate what Santa went through for them.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Drunk Strippers And Other Road Hazards, Part 3 - PG13

I told you about the actual accident. Told you about the injuries. Now to the "other" stuff. After the Highway Patrol Officer informed me that the person who hit me was drunk, my parents insisted I get a lawyer. A good one. Enter Sam. My mom drove me to a big law firm that is on the back of all the phone books and I met with Lawyer Sam. The first time I met with Lawyer Sam it was very somber. "I'm very sorry for your pain, I'm sorry this happened to you. Blah, blah, blah." He said all the things you would expect him too. I signed releases for him to get the police report and my medical report. And then I told him that the person who hit me had been drunk. He immediately perked up. "Oh, really! Well, that changes everything!"

The next day I got a phone call from Sam. I was injured and hurt, but I've never heard such pure joy in someones voice before.

Sam - "Guess what?"
Me - "What?"
Sam - "I know something you don't know..."
Me - "Again, what?"
Sam -"Well! It turns out she was drunk. Very drunk. Blood alcohol .26!"
Me - "This I know."
Sam - "But this part you don't know. She got drunk where she worked."
Me - "Who gets drunk at work? Where did she work?"
Sam - "The Blankety Blank Blank (bar name hidden for legal reasons)."
Me - "Was she a waitress? Bar tender?"
Here is where Sam sounds really giddy.
Sam - "Nope. She was a stripper! Apparently she got tanked before she went on stage to perform and then she drove herself home. You know the rest."
Me - "So what does this mean?"
Sam is practically laughing.
Sam - "It means the bar is liable. It means that she got drunk as an employee and anything she did while being their employee they are responsible for. Especially if they knew she was drunk when she left."

This information changed everything because now we were dealing with cooperate insurance. Sam realized how big this case was going to be and got another lawyer (his best friend by the way) to help with the case. Enter Lawyer Darren.

I have never really had much interaction with the field of law. The prosecution, the trying of cases. I don't even watch Law and Order on TV. But what I figured out about injury law, it is a three-ring circus.

First, Lawyer Darren didn't even try to act sad that I was hurt. He just kept saying how great this whole case was turning out to be. I couldn't have asked for a better set of facts. Second, the ENTIRE division of law in greater Salt Lake was run by a bunch of potty mouths.The following is an actually conversation that I heard over the speaker phone with the District Attorney of Salt Lake and my lawyer.

D.A. - "So we got a real f***in' ball buster on our hands here, huh?"
Lawyer - "Oh yeah. That bar, they are going to pay f***in' big time. And it was a f***in' stripper! It doesn't get better than that!"
D.A. - "So tell me about your client. Please tell me she's a crack whore. Please. If a stripper hits a crack whore nobody cares. This will all go away."
Lawyer - "Nope. She's actually a 29 year old cute, blonde, stay-at-home mom with three kids who happened to be in the car with her."
D.A. - "Sh**."
Lawyer - "Guess where her husband was at the time? Serving our country in the Middle East. That is going to sound great on the stand."
D.A. - "Double sh**."

It was a little surreal to know that all these people knew about my life. The D.A. knew my name, had a file on his desk about me. Then when the case about the bar came up, their lawyers really did some digging on me. When I went for the deposition, they asked me everything from where I went to elementary school to what kind of car I had when I was 18. They knew EVERYTHING about me, I saw the file. They only asked me things to see if they could catch me in a lie about things in my past. Of course, living all my life in suburban Utah I didn't really have much of a past for them to dig up. They were looking for something I had done so that it didn't look so glaringly horrible that this woman crashed into me.

And that woman. I only saw her a few times at her criminal hearing. When Lawyer Sam and I went to the first one we were both really anxious to see what she looked like. When she stood up to have the charges read against her, Lawyer Sam said and I quote - "Looks like bars are picking out their strippers at the local K-Mart." I burst out laughing in the court room. The judge told me to keep it down or they would have to remove me. Oops.

Another thing about Lawyer Sam and Lawyer Darren. They quoted movies all the time. Especially Raising Arizona. Having worked at a video store, I was quite familiar with this movie. They would call me and tell me to come down to the office to sign a document and I would end up staying there for three hours hanging out and quoting this movie. "Daddy, daddy, Mr. McDunough wet himself!" 

The civil trial (the trial for monetary damages) never went to court. We went right up to the day before the trial when the bar countered with an offer we just couldn't refuse. And thus, my professional relationship with Lawyer Sam and Lawyer Darren was over. Now we're just friends. These two men were a big part of my life for almost three years and I'm lucky to now count them as such. I have even referred several cases their way. They were funny and some of my best friends when I felt lost and alone. We still talk every couple of months. And they still have potty mouths.

Dr. Greg was the man who physically put me back together. And he was a great guy too. Every appointment I had to go and see him he told me the same joke.
"There was this lady who was watching the news and she saw that they were doing a special report that someone was driving down the freeway the wrong way. She realized that this was the way that her husband took to work so she frantically called him on his cell phone. Honey, honey! Watch out! Someone is going the wrong way on the freeway you are on! The husband answers, Babe, there isn't just one, they're all going the wrong way!!" I heard this every appointment and he always told it the same way, like I had never heard it before and that it was the funniest thing he had ever said. This doctor was like none I had ever had. He hugged me every time. He gave me his personal cell phone number to call him if I couldn't get through his receptionist. He had his wife bring in lunch as a surprise to one of my appointments and the three of us sat and talked. As bad as my foot got, I had complete faith he would be able fix me. And fix me he did.

Another group of people who played a major part in this were my physical therapists. They were Damon and someone I will call S. I'll only call him S because he started to get a little "friendly" with me and it made me a more than uncomfortable. So friendly that he said he would leave his wife for me if I left my husband. What?!?!? Let's just say that after I told the director of the physical therapy office about that, S didn't treat me anymore. I was left to the capable hands of Damon. Damon really became a good friend during that time. I spent two hours a day, three times a week with him for a year and a half. We got to be pretty good friends. We talked about our kids and our spouses and told jokes. If a treatment had been especially painful or difficult he would call me later in the day to see how I was doing. When he handed me my diploma and my T-shirt at the very last appointment, we hugged and we both had tears in our eyes. He had been a witness to one of the worst times of my life and he was a constant source of reassurance that everything would be okay. We recently just saw each other at another medical office and we sat and talked for two hours. It was like old times.

Those are the people who healed me. I met them all through this challenging ordeal. At first meeting, they were just part of the background, part of the circumstances of the accident. But as time went on, they all became friends. I don't know if it was because I gave off this feeling of needing something or because Matt was gone for a lot of the aftermath of the accident, but they were all very protective of me. They were kind. And above all, they were funny. They added humor to a situation that I felt was drowning me. About a year after the surgery (almost four years after the accident), I went and saw all of them in person and thanked them for what they did for me. I thanked them for being them.

So there you have it. That is the story of the infamous accident. There are some things that I didn't really talk about. Like how Channel 2 news came and interviewed me two days after the accident and it was on TV. Like how the National Guard made a video about the accident and how important it is to wear your seat belt. Like how the drunk driver at first was charged with a felony and then begged my lawyer to plea bargain it down to a misdemeanor and in exchange she would testify against the bar at the civil trial. She ended up not doing that. She said, and under oath I might add, that she never said she would do any such thing. Funny, you would think that strippers who drive drunk the wrong way on the freeway would have a higher sense of morals.



Thursday, November 18, 2010

Drunk Strippers And Other Road Hazards, Part 2

So where were we? Oh yeah, car accident, sprained ankle, Matt deployed.

One of the first things I did was contact the American Red Cross. They are the ones responsible for locating and sending home deployed soldiers when there is an emergency at home. We had been apart for 10 months at this point, the longest time we've ever spent apart. My mom went and picked him up at the airport because I no longer had a car. When he walked through the door our son Aidan, who was barely two at the time, was scared to death of him. Alexander and Ashlenne remembered him, but Aidan wouldn't go near him for three days.
After watching Alexander and Ashlenne climb all over Matt, he cautiously approached him. It took almost a full week before he would run to him or call out for him.

During this time my "sprained ankle" is getting worse, and something is obviously wrong with my foot. It just hangs there. I am unable to flex it up towards my shin. My big toe won't move either, and it is hurting more and more. I went to see my doctor, Dr. Sue. She took one look at my foot and ankle and sent me to a specialist, Dr. Greg. Dr. Greg x-rayed me right away. Yes, my ankle was severely sprained, but it was also severely broken. I also I had multiple fractures in my foot. I had been walking around on this mess for two weeks. Enter the walking boot. The walking boot was a big part of my life for the next five months. It was awesome.

Also around the time my lower extremity injuries are making themselves known, a nasty neck injury also presented itself. I had compressed all the vertebrae on the right side of my neck. Enter physical therapy. I went to physical therapy three times a week for over a year. I was hung by my head in a traction device to try and get those vertebrae to realign themselves. I had a headache for about four months. Again, awesome.

Matt only had two weeks of emergency leave at home. During this time he deals with the insurance and buys a new car. Shortly after Thanksgiving we take him to the airport and watch him walk away and get on a plane back to Qatar. A fog thick and dark as a black, inky night settled on me. I thought I had known depression before, but baby, I was wrong. This was depression. I slept around 13 hours a day. It's hard to describe, but I literally had to force myself to push air in and out of my lungs. The effort was enormous. Any light I had in my life went out. Now the accident wasn't the only thing going on in my life at this moment, but with the injuries and Matt leaving and some personal family issues, a perfect storm was created that spun me down so low I didn't think I would crawl back out. And I didn't want too. I was hopeless. No matter how much pain medication I took my leg hurt. Unknown to me or the doctor, there was damage spread all the way up to my knee. One night after the kids were in bed I stood at the medicine cabinet and thought. I looked at the pills. And I looked some more. Thoughts that I don't talk about very often filled my head. I just don't want to be in pain anymore.  And those pills offered a way out. The next day I went in for an emergency appointment with Dr. Sue. Her husband was also deployed at the time. And when I told her what I had thought the night before she held me and we cried together. It took a full two years, therapy and some very strong selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (anti-depressants) to climb out of that hole.

Matt came home in March 2004. I was still hobbling around on a broken foot and ankle. They hadn't healed at all. I would go in for new x-rays every three weeks and there was never any new bone growth. Matt's little sister was married in June. I was on my foot for a lot of the night. The next morning I woke up and my foot was the size of a football. Matt took me up to Dr. Greg and he x-rayed it. Not only was it still severely broken, it was broken more than right after the accident. Enter walking boot number two. The doctors are really starting to worry. I go in for tests on my bone density. I go in for a full body scan. Blood work, nerve tests. It was never ending. Why won't this foot heal?

It turns out the magic bullet was getting pregnant and having all those wonderful hormones circulating through my blood causing all that bone to grow back together. Thanks Andre! It could also be that the 7 1/2 months I was pregnant with Andre (he was early), I was so sick I didn't get off the couch at all.

Fast forward to September 2005. The x-rays show the bones have finally healed. But I am still in considerable pain. A MRI shows that scar tissue tumors have grown along the nerves in my foot where it was broken. They are called neuromas. There are two ways to treat neuromas. Cut them out or inject 100 percent alcohol into the nerve hoping to dissolve the fatty covering of the nerve so it can't fire anymore. Sclerosing the nerve is what Dr. Greg called it. Enter six weeks of living hell. You know how much alcohol stings when it's poured on an open cut? Imagine 10cc's of it being injected into an area of your body that is already in pain. Twice a week for six weeks. I had bruises the sizes of oranges. After the twelth injection Dr. Greg says this obviously isn't working. It's time for surgery. In addition to the neuromas, a MRI showed that my tendons and ligaments had been torn in my ankle and that's why it still hurt.

January 29, 2006. Dr. Greg puts me out and goes about cutting nerves and scar tissue out of my foot and reconstructing my ankle by literally cutting and pasting my tendons and securing them to the ankle bone with some very long screws. I have five weeks of no weight on my foot. When I'm finally able to put weight on it again I go back to my new best friend, Damon, at physical therapy. Four months later I graduate. They actually give me a diploma and a T-shirt. I walk out of there feeling better than I have in almost two and half years.

Where does all of this leave me now? I was disabled from all of this. I permanently lost 25 percent of my muscle mass in my calf. I lost feeling feeling in about a third of my foot from the nerves being cut out. And that nasty neck injury never really resolved itself. Scar tissue had grown in between the vertebrae. I can no longer turn my head to right very far. And some days, for no apparent reason, my foot and ankle will throb with a vengeance.

But I'm alive. And if you can believe it my kids got away without a scratch on them. They walked away from this whole mess completely unscathed.

Part 3 next!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Drunk Strippers And Other Road Hazards, Part 1

Last Wednesday marked the seventh anniversary of the car accident my children and I were in.
This event is to huge to be just one post, so stay tuned for parts 2 & 3.

On November 11, 2003 at 7:05 pm I was travelling north on I-215 west in the far left lane, or the 'fast lane'. I had all three of my small children in the back seat of my 1997 GMC Yukon. Alexander was 5, Ashlenne was 3, and Aidan was barely 2. I was just getting ready to change lanes as my exit was a mile away when I looked up and through the windshield of the car in front of me, I saw headlights. Now the events I will describe next happened in literally two seconds. The car in front of me swerved so hard to the right it almost rolled over. I began to try and get out of the way, but there wasn't enough time. I was travelling 65 miles an hour and the person who struck me was travelling 60 miles per hour. So for those of you out there who can't add that is a combined impact speed of 125 miles per hour. 

When we struck each other, our driver's side headlights matched up perfectly. It wasn't a head-on collision, but pretty close. The impact immediately deployed my airbags. My side window shattered and glass sprayed throughout the cabin of the car. If you have been in an accident where the air bags have deployed, you know how much smoke comes out with them. And honestly, one of the first things I thought was how beautiful it all was. The headlights of all the cars made the glass flying through the air light up like twinkling stars and the smoke made it all seem so ethereal. As soon as the impact occurred time slowed down to a crawl. It was almost like watching a movie in slow motion. I didn't feel connected to the events that were happening.

When we collided I actually drove up and over her car. She was driving a small 4-door sedan. The impact also pushed me into the other lanes of traffic where there were what? Yep, more cars. We were immediately hit again on the back fender, drivers side. This impact forced my car to spin around 450 degrees. That is a total of one and 1/4 times around. The force of the spin actually ripped the tires off of the car.

The force of the collision ripped the door off it's hinges so it was hanging open. When we were struck the second time and spun around I could feel the centrifugal force pulling me out of the car. The only thing that kept me in that car was a thin piece of material, my seat belt. When they towed it they had to tie the door to the car to keep it from flopping open.

After all that spinning, we finally came to rest on the right hand shoulder of the freeway. We had spun across all four lanes of traffic. I can't remember if my children made any sound during the actual accident, but I know they sure started screaming when we came to a stop. I don't remember feeling any pain at that moment. All I could think about was getting my kids out of the smoking car. I shoved my door open wide enough to climb out and as soon as my feet hit the ground I collapsed. I wouldn't know it for awhile, but my left foot and ankle were broken. I staggered back up and began to try and pry open the back doors. At this time strangers who saw the accident came to my aid. The kids climbed out and I checked them over. One of the women who ran over was a registered nurse and she started helping us out. I never saw myself, but I must have looked quite the sight because I hit that airbag pretty hard and had a gusher of a bloody nose and my lips were split in about four places. If you look close enough you can actually see my makeup print from my face hitting the airbag.

My car and the car of the person who hit me ended up several hundred feet apart. As people started gathering around me and the kids sitting on the side of the freeway I asked them "Did you see that car going the wrong way?!" All of them said "No. All we saw were a bunch of sparks and you spinning around."

Nobody could remember seeing a car coming the other direction. The nurse was busy checking and re-checking the kids. They seemed perfect so far. Not a scratch on them. The EMT's worked their way over to me. The Highway Patrol shut down the freeway. They had to use the jaws of life to cut the person who hit me out of her car. Life Flight landed 25 feet from where I was sitting. I managed to get a hold of my mom on a cell phone and she made it to the accident sight right as they were putting me in an ambulance.

This is when the pain set in. The adrenaline was wearing off and I hurt. I hurt everywhere. I don't remember it, but when the airbag blew my hands of the steering wheel, it blew my left hand right into the window as it shattered and it was now peppered with cuts and pieces of teeny-tiny glass embedded in it. Yes, it is as painful as you think. In this ambulance is where my ankle REALLY starts hurting. When we get to the hospital a Highway Patrol Officer is the first person to inform me that yes, there was a car going the wrong way. I didn't imagine it. Oh, and something else. The woman driving the car had a blood alcohol level something to the tune of .26. That is over three times the legal limit. In the emergency room the doctors ask me "Where do you hurt?" I told them my ankle so they x-rayed it and came back and said that it wasn't broken. It's just a sprain so give it a couple of days to relax and then start walking on it again so it doesn't tighten up. Then they patted me on the back and sent me home.

We spent the night at my mom's so she could keep an eye on us. I think we were all in shock. This was during Matt's first deployment so he wasn't home. It's funny, but I don't remember much of that first night, but I can remember with absolute clarity the two hours before the car accident. I remember what I was wearing. I remember what I ate. I remember the songs we listened to all the way from our home to where the accident happened. Those hours are forever etched in my mind.

This one event affected my adult life more than anything else, save for getting married and having children. It was a defining moment for me and my family. Some has actually been good, some definitely not good. Stay tuned for Drunk Strippers And Other Road Hazards, Part 2.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What The Heck Is In North Platte, Nebraska? Me.*

*Any sarcasm in this post is completely intentional by the writer and should be read with the knowledge that she traveled over 2,200 miles in less than 36 hours to really ugly places.

I spent a night in North Platte, Nebraska on Thursday. It was so fun. How did I happen to be in such an exotic place as North Platte, Nebraska? Funny you should ask because I'm going to tell you.

My dear, sweet, kind husband is always on the lookout for a new car for his mom. And he happened to find a rockin' deal for her from one of his soldiers in Missouri. Missouri. Not here in Salt Lake. But Missouri. "Hey, it's so no problem!" he said. "I can just drive the car back to Salt Lake on one of my trips home". Problem solved. Or so I thought.

Then this little hiccup occurred. Call the hiccup deployment.

Last week Matt informed me that it was time to pick up the car and honestly, I laughed. "How you going to manage that?" I asked. And I bet you can guess what he said. "I'm not. You are."

"Yeah, right." I laughed.

"Yeah, right. You are."

"Um, no. I'm not."

Then Matt got me. He said "Well, I would do it. BUT, I'm in Iraq."

Crap! He played his card! And on me! What was there to do? And honestly, Matt's mom is so cute. Picture a five foot little German lady with a silver bob and round glasses and the cutest German accent you've ever heard. And she never calls me just Kelly. I'm always "Dear Kelly." Who could say no to a husband in Iraq and little German mother-in-law. Not me.

I found myself booking a one-way flight to Kansas City, Missouri. Yay. I then got to buy a car in the airport parking lot. Super classy. I then got in the car and turned right around and started driving back. Drove through Missouri. Drove through Iowa. Then there was Nebraska.

Kansas City is eleven hundred miles away. That is far. There is no way that even I can drive that in one day and I can drive pretty far let me tell you. I spent a night in, you guessed it, North Platte, Nebraska.

It's a real destination. There is this here.

And oh yeah, there is this over here.

Oh! And don't let me forget the best part. The fact that I-80 runs through the center of "town" and is used for millions of semi-trucks that transport all the crap we buy at Wal-Mart and Target everyday. Here is that.

As you can see I had a great time. The car made it. Matt was happy. My mother-in-law was happy. And I was tired. All I can say is the next time I travel 2,200 miles for a car, it better be something sporty for me.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Yoga And All That Other Crap

Since we're friends I'm going to let you in on a little secret. I do yoga. That's me whispering. It's not something I brag about or advertise to the world and I will tell you why. Not long ago I was out to dinner with some, hmm, for lack of a better word friends when one of them said and I quote "all those other new age freaks who do yoga and chant and drink their green tea infusions. I hate that crap."

Um, hello? Excuse me? I put my head down and said "I do yoga". Again, me whispering. She didn't hear me but it was then that I knew to do yoga was to know shame. Since that moment I have never breathed a word to anybody about it. I don't even know if Matt knows I do it. I know my family doesn't know. Most of my friends don't know. I'm a closet yoga do-er.

I guess there could be worse things in my closet. Alcoholism, multiple felony convictions. But probably people would understand these things. Most people don't understand yoga. It's not a religion, at least it's not to me. But I love it. I love how the slow movements and the timed breathing force my body and mind to slow down. It's Kelly time. It's one of the only things that I do that is really for me. I could tell my yoga-knocking friend that at least I'm not engaging in Miller Time. And honestly with Matt gone that seems sometimes like a more tempting option.

Yoga is not easy. It, like anything else, takes practice and much concentration. I can do a crane, a plow, a downward dog. A needle, a swan, a monkey. None of these poses look remotely like what they are called. Except corpse. You lay there like you're dead. If they were called what they really looked like, third eye where you squat down and put your hands to your forehead would be called I dropped a contact and now I'm going to pray about it because I feel really sick. Chest lift where you reach as high over your head as you can and then lean back would be called I'm trying to reach something on the highest shelf and I lost my balance and I'm falling backwards. It's really fun. You should try it!

But what to do about the yoga-haters though? I could do the yoga thing which would be acceptance and peace and love and forgiveness. I choose the other road. The next time this person decides to give me a yoga put-down, I'll just whip out a can of Warrior 2 and Pow! Take that! How about an extended triangle right in your eye! Wham! And when I was done kicking her butt, I would put my hands together and bow. Namaste.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Where Did The Day Go?

Do you ever have those days where at 5 pm you are still in pajamas wondering where your day went? I have those days almost every day.

Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't describe myself as lazy. I get up at 6:20 am to get my oldest, Alexander, off to middle school. He leaves at 7:30, the exact time my other three kids get up to get ready for elementary school. The middle two, Ashlenne and Aidan, leave at about 8:45. That just leaves me with my 5 year old, Andre, who is in afternoon kindergarten.

Now at this time I am full of grandiose plans to clean my whole house in two hours. I will work out. I will shower and make my hair look like a shampoo commercial. I will pick out a well coordinated outfit with matching shoes and purse. I will get all bills paid, groceries bought and put away. When my kids get home from school, homework will be finished quickly. Violins will be practiced. Dinner will be simmering on the stove.

It starts out pretty good. I am full steam ahead on the breakfast dishes. I mop and scrub the kitchen down. But then.... At about 11:00 I am starting to get a little bored with cleaning the same counter, the same floor, picking up the same toys. So I switch on the TV to just "listen to" while I clean up. That dang Stacy London. If What Not To Wear is on, it's a lost cause. I will without fail get distracted and all of sudden, gasp! One hour has gone by and I haven't done anything but learn to dress age appropriate!

It's now noon. The kitchen is moderately clean. But I haven't worked out or showered or shopped. And Andre needs lunch and to get ready for school. So that takes up the next hour.

Now it's 1:00 pm. Still where I was two hours ago. I debate. Should I take this uninterrupted opportunity to really put in some time cleaning? Or should I go work out. Cleaning usually wins. I spend the next two hours attempting to clean bathrooms or tackle the never ending laundry.

It's now 3. Alexander is home. I realize I only have one hour now to work out before I have to pick up the kids. So I run to the basement and put in a good 50 minutes with weights and aerobics.

4:00. Time to pick up kids from school. They come home with the never ending deluge of paperwork and notes needing to be signed and returned. This usually takes up the next hour.

And here we are. It's 5:00. I'm in workout clothes (or pajamas, and in my house they are basically the same thing). I'm sweaty. I haven't showered. My hair is a mess. I have on no makeup. I haven't gone to the store. So if we need something for dinner, which we usually do because I didn't go earlier, I run there now looking like a disaster.

At this point there is no reason to get ready because hey, it's not like I have anyone to really impress around here.

We do dinner. Something quick. Homework attempts to get finished. Violins are hastily practiced. And then they tumble into bed around 9.

And that's my day. That's everyday.

The reason I tell you this is because tonight I am full of resolutions. Tomorrow! Tomorrow I will conquer all! I will clean my house! I will work out early! I will be ready at a reasonable hour so that when people knock on my door I won't have to hide behind it when I answer because I'm a mess! I sing in my mind. Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love ya' tomorrow! Because tonight, anything is possible tomorrow.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Playing My Card

I have super powers. Okay, maybe not powers, but a superpower. It is the fact that my husband is deployed in the Middle East.

This power keeps RC Willey salesmen from overcharging me for delivery. This power helps a furniture salesman give me the sales price on a table when I ordered it only six hours before the sale started (I wasn't told of the sale when I bought it, I definitely would have waited). This power stops my kids dentist from chewing me out because I should have brought them in a month earlier. It also lets me in before hours at a movie theater to look for my military ID (which I found) when the manager has repeatedly told me not very nicely that it is not in the lost and found. This power helps me get bank tellers to cash gift cards in my husband's name when he is obviously not here to do it.  And it is the most powerful against police officers when they pull me over for going 58 mph in a clearly marked 50 mph. I also call this power, playing the Iraq card.

You see, I don't just blurt out that hey, my husband is deployed so you should just give me what I want. But if someone is being exceptionally difficult and I can naturally work the fact that Matt is gone into the conversation, I'm golden.

Some people (just a few) have accused me of using this power for my gain. To that I say you get no comment until your husband has been deployed for his third time.

Here in Salt Lake, we are very patriotic. But there are no Army bases around. People don't have a lot of experience with the comings and goings of military personnel. People are usually shocked when I tell them how long Matt has been gone. When I mention I'm a military spouse they bend over backward to help me out.

But in Junction City, Kansas, the town outside the base where Matt was stationed, it was a different story. Picture this: It's late. I'm at a store trying to get instructions from an ornery clerk who is getting ornerier because I don't understand what she is telling me. I decide to play my card. I tell her that I'm here for my husband's homecoming from Iraq and could she just explain it to me one more time how to get to a certain building on base. I get nothing. No ahhh, no how long has he been gone, no how neat. Then I realize it. Here, almost everybody's spouse-mother-father is coming or going from Iraq. There is nothing special about me here. I have no power here. It's like I'm Superman and Junction City is my planet Krypton. Everybody is special so now nobody is. I take a deep breath and take my map and try to find my way to the base without ending up on a firing range.

I guess my point is, is that you really have no idea what the people you meet in everyday life are dealing with. They could have a loved one fighting on foreign soil. They could have a friend that is sick. They could be losing their house. You really would never know unless they played their card. You would never know that they are thinking hey, be nice to me right now, it's been a hard day.

I guess you could say that if I'm like Superman, Matt is my yellow sun. He is the source of my power. And not just because he is deployed. But because he loves me. And I love him. Through thick and thin (obviously, I mean come on! Three times!)

My Yellow Sun

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Virus Among Us

It's been awhile since I posted. I hope you didn't think I was breaking up with you right when we are getting to know each other. I didn't forget you. I got sick. A cold. A virus to be exact. The virus made itself known on a Tuesday with a sore throat and runny nose. I countered with pretending I wasn't sick. On Thursday it came at me with a hacking cough and phlegm (even the word phlegm looks gross). I had nothing I could fight back with so I agreed with the virus that I was indeed sick.

Those two days of pretending did me no good. In fact, I think it made me sicker than I would have been if I had taken it easy. On Friday I did what any good employee does when they don't feel like working. I called in sick. Now I am a stay-at-home mom so this means getting up from bed, and going right back down on the couch. From the couch I could point to cereal boxes when the kids asked what was for breakfast. From the couch I could tell them to find their own shoes. But of course, like any job, just because I called in sick it doesn't mean the work stops. I called in a temp. My mom. She showed up with chicken soup, rolls, and a funny movie about babies. She fed the kids and tried to control the mess and then we watched the movie and did a lot of oohing and ah-hing.

I recovered, of course, slowly. And eventually felt better and tried to reenter my life. But. Yes, there is a but. Another virus was making itself known. Forty-nine to be exact.

I went up to my computer and it wouldn't let me access the internet. I know!! No internet! How can life as we know it go on! I coudn't check my account balances. I couldn't check my email. And worse, I couldn't blog!!! Ahhhhhhh! The agony!

I called up my new best friend, Kris, and told him to come and help me. Kris is a magical wizard who understand words like pdf file and safe mode and malware. He did a scan to check for a virus and of course I had not one, but like I said, 49. Thanks kids.

I totally blamed them for all their silly websites they go to. There is no way that I could have had anything to do with there being anything wrong with the computer.

Now it works. The computer and me are now virus free. Now that we are up and running again I shall be blogging a little more often than every two weeks. I hope you didn't miss me. But I missed you. See you again soon!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

That's My Boy.

Aidan turned nine years old yesterday. I am in utter shock. Where did the last nine years go? While I think about it, here are some things you should know about Aidan:

He is the most even tempered of all my children. Nothing can get him down. Well, almost nothing.

His eyes are so brown (he did not get this from my side of the family) that you can't see his pupils. They are like dark Hershey kisses.

He looks a lot like his dad.

He loves music and dancing and can really shake it.

He throws a mean football pass and can tear it up on the soccer field.

He loves math and is really good at it. English and Reading, eh, take it or leave it.

He wants to be an astronaut.

He has a wicked sense of humor.

I am so protective of that little guy and love him so fiercely that it literally leaves me breathless.

He got a watch, an iPod, new jeans, Lego's and books for his birthday. He chose double chocolate cake for dessert.

Just to prove to you how funny and quick he is, I will tell you a little story. Two years ago we were having a Christmas program about the Nativity at our church. Children from the neighborhood were dressed up as animals in the manger. Aidan was a sheep. He had on a fluffy white sweatshirt and we had fashioned him a headpiece with puffy ears out of cotton balls. He was adorable. Now picture the program. Mary and Joseph had just started the long walk down the gym to the stage where the manger was set up. The audience was sighing quietly and some had tears in their eyes as Mary climbs the stairs with the baby (a doll) in her arms. Aidan takes this quiet, reverent opportunity to say, and this is a direct quote, "I'm a ba-aa-aa-aa-d boy." 

Yep. My son had just disrupted the most sacred event in our whole religion, the birth of Baby Jesus, by announcing he was a naughty sheep-boy. Very loudly I might add. Do I even need to tell you that everyone, including Mary and Joseph, cracked up. The night never regained the previous sanctity it had.

That's MY boy.

I wouldn't trade him for anything.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Signs of Love, or How To Set Yourself Up For Teasing

Welcome to my blog, Maybe Too Blonde. After much prodding by people who shall remain nameless, I have decided to start a blog. It may be funny, it may not. It may be sad, it may not. But it will always be here. Let me introduce myself with a story.

Those of you out there that know me in person will know how much I love to tease people. I love to make little jokes at other's expense. Like when my brother clogged our toilet. I love to tease him about that. Which brother was it? I'm not at liberty to say.

My husband and I were once on the freeway when a dump truck flew by us at well over 90 mph. We were both shocked by the blatant disregard for safety when my husband said, "There should be a law against trucks going that fast." I looked at him, and I'm afraid, burst out laughing. "There is!", I laughed. "It's called a speed limit!" He then turned bright red and sat silent. I have never let him forget this. I break out this little story, along with a few other gems, at parties and get togethers. And people crack up. Matt takes this all in stride. He is great. But I on the other hand have on many occasions been described as a person who can dish it out, but not take it. When people make jokes at my expense, I tend to pout, get defensive, and leave. Usually all three. My family or friends, sometimes both, have to come and get me from the other room and tell me to lighten up. So it is with this following story that I am prepared to tell that I knew my husband really loved me. Or understood me. Or wanted to make me happy. Or probably all three.

About four years ago we were driving as a family from Disneyland in California to my dad's house in Phoenix. Any of you that have ever driven this stretch of highway know how desolate and barren it can be. Picture me driving. We depart a little town called Kingman where you leave the interstate and take a little two lane highway all the way into Phoenix. We had about a half a tank of gas at this point. I thought it was enough. I was almost, almost, wrong. About two thirds of the way to Wickenburg, the first sign of civilization in the desert outside of Phoenix, I started noticing the needle on our gas gauge dropping much more quickly than I thought it should. With 45 miles to go still to get to Wickenburg, our gas light came on. Crap. Matt started to say in that I-told-you-so voice that I should have filled up in Kingman. This is not the point in the story where I messed up. I slowed our speed from a clippy 65 to a turtle's pace of 40 hoping the reduction in speed would help us consume less gas. Ten miles out of town, the car started chugging. I'm really sweating now. It's 110 degrees out and Matt has just informed me that he will not be the one walking into Wickenburg with the gas can. Another crap. I silently start the bargaining with the Almighty. If you will please just help us get to the gas station, I will never swear again. I will volunteer at the homeless shelter. I will donate all my shoes to charity. Just pleasepleaseplease let us get to the gas station. Miracle of all miracles, we make it. We are still not to the teasing point of the story. Hang on.

Have you ever been scared to death that something terrible was going to happen, like running out of gas in the middle of the freaking desert and then it didn't happen? You were alright? You know that relief that floods over you and you almost can't believe your good luck? That was where I was. The first gas station we come upon on the highway is one of these really old stations. It only has two pumps and they are not the digital kind. They have the rolling numbers that click away as you fill your pump. Matt stays in the car to entertain the kids, who are hot and tired, and I get out and start to fill the car. I prepay and I watch the numbers click away and start to scrub the suicidal bugs off our huge windshield. I scrub and scrub some more. Noticing that the pump is done, I dump the squeegee in the bucket of water, climb in my car, and drive off. Hmm, what's missing? I will tell you what is missing. I drove off with the nozzle of the gas pump still in my car. Yes. It is true. I did this. As we drive off, slowly I might add because I am all about safety, we hear a terrible crashing-tearing-ripping sound. And this is how smart I am because at first, I don't know what it is. But Matt does. He starts screaming "You are still hooked to the pump!" I slam on my breaks expecting gas to be pouring from the pump but it has one of those safe guards that stops gas from going everywhere when people do exactly what I have just done. How did this happen? I'm not sure. Maybe I was just so happy we made it I was in a fog. At this point I look at Matt and say "what should I do?" I thought I was scared when I thought we were going to run out of gas. But now I'm really scared because I think I'm facing a very expensive gas pump repair. We sit there for about five minutes half expecting the attendant to come running out. But nothing happens.

Here is the part of the story where I am not proud of myself. I ask Matt if I should just leave. I know, I know. Not very upstanding, am I? Matt sits there, speechless, letting me figure this out. I then decide to go in and explain what happened, because hey, my kids are watching and for all I know, they guy inside is probably writing my license plate down right this second and calling the cops. I remove the nozzle, which is still in my car, and carry it, hose and all into the gas station. At the counter of the very old gas station which on a side note I think was called Billy-Bob's (no lie) was a girl all of 14. She doesn't even look up at me when I walk in carrying the amputated hose and nozzle. She is chewing gum and reading a magazine. I slowly approach her and when she finally acknowledges me, I carefully, oh so carefully, place the mess on the counter. Now here is where I don't really understand what came out of my mouth but it sounded kind of like this:
"I-was-putting-gas-in-my-car-and-somehow-I-don't-really-know-how-this-nozzle-fell-off-all-by-it-self-when-I-drove-off-with-it-still-stuck-to-my-car-and-I-don't-know-how-I-did-that." She looks at me apologetically and says, just leave it here. I'll let the owner know tomorrow. Okay. You don't have to tell me twice. I looked at her and said "Gotta go!" and ran to the car. Matt was very anxious to know what had happened. Were they calling the police? Was I being chased? I started the car, made sure it wasn't attached to anything, and got the heck out of Dodge.

Now where in this story does the teasing take place you ask. But that is the point. It never does. As we drive the remaining 30 miles to my dad's I am mentally playing out all the things, ammo if you will, that Matt has against me now. Know how blonde my wife is? Let me tell you. She can't even pump gas. I am waiting, just waiting with a big target on my face for the verbal ribbing that I am sure is coming. But it never comes. He has never mentioned it again. I have told the story a few times. It gets a lot of laughs, but Matt never elaborates or makes fun of me. Don't get me wrong, Matt has done his fair share of teasing, but about this, never. I must say, that this one event in my life did cause me to question my intelligence. Was I not as smart as I thought I was? How could I be so stupid! This takes the cake for all the dumb blonde things anyone could do. All I can say is that maybe Matt knew how I was silently lashing myself and figured he had nothing to add. But after about six months of no teasing, I quietly decided that he really did love me and was choosing love over a good tease.

Would I have done the same? I really don't know. I'd like to think I would, but honestly, I'm not sure. I guess at some things, he is better than me. Not teasing some you love would be one of them.

What little things made you realize that you were loved?

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