Thankful for the normal.

Last week was a great week.  Monday I discovered that my little craft studio in our backyard, tried to catch itself on fire, resulting not in a day of making of Christmas presents as planned, but in three days of cleaning and packing things away, and another three days painting.

Following that, on Monday afternoon, the first big storm of the season rolled in.  Our children did some kind of strange dance willing the power to go out as we gathered flashlights, and listened to the gusting wind outside, and then we heard the unmistakable sound of a tree coming down.   One big tree, right over the top of the truck.  Broken window, very dented cab, may or may not be totaled.

Also on Monday?  Mike’s bi-annual appointment with his Neurologist.  The follow up appointment after his yearly MRI.  I’ve lost track of how many times we have sat in that office.  Enough times now that I notice the new framed pictures of grand kids on the doctor’s desk, and a couple new pieces of art.

Only two appointments a year now, but that first year?  Three?  Four?  The first appointment was a day after Mike was released from the hospital after a sudden and severe attack that started over Christmas of 2014, and subsequently led to an early diagnosis in January of 2015.  A half day in the local ER on a Wednesday, a three hour MRI, then holding Mike’s hand and trying to hold myself together when the ER doctor came back and said, “I don’t believe in beating around the bush with this kind of thing, you have Multiple Sclerosis.”

And then they sent us home.  A handful of paperwork and follow up appointments, our world turned upside down, trying to function, and still be at the bus stop by 3:00.

And to follow up a life changing diagnosis?  Mike put in two twelve hour, very difficult, work days, and we were back at the ER on Saturday, this time for a three day stay at the hospital.

Over and over we heard, “it will be a new normal”.  That pissed me off.  We liked our old normal.  And they tried to say that like it was comforting, while they were dropping off paperwork for how to apply for a handicap placard, and available vehicle adaptations.  My husband races cars, the only vehicle adaptations he was interested in were ones that would shave a couple seconds of his lap time.

“You’ll get used to your new normal” they said, as we went on our walk down the hospital corridor, and the 85 year old hip replacement patient from the room next door cheered us on as he shuffled past.

Then that first appointment in the specialists office, and that first feeling of hope, when I broke down, from fear and complete exhaustion, and the doctor said, “You’re scared because you’ve never been through this, I’ve been through this hundreds of times and I’m not scared for you.”.

Mike pushed himself through recovery, but we didn’t know what to expect.  Recovery came in pieces.  It was one night at home after watching a movie when Mike stood up, looked at me with a little bit of surprise, and said, “I can feel my foot.”  Recovery was being able to identify by touch, a small ball placed in his hand while his eyes were closed.  Danica was eight, and it became her favorite way to help Daddy.  She would gather small things, paperclips, pens, nuts and bolts, etc.  Without looking Mike could only tell if the object was hot or cold.  Sometimes she challenged him with identifying tiny princesses or little round, plastic animals, so we had to set some ground rules, “You have to pick something that Daddy is familiar with in the first place”.  Recovery was a Saturday in the shop putting together a tool bin, the success, and then the frustration that two months ago that would have been a quick job, done in a couple hours.

But normal did come around. By April we were visiting friends in Mexico and Mike was diving off the boat and swimming in the Sea of Cortez with the kids.  By May he was racing again.  He is amazing.  He pushes himself too hard.  Some days the reminders of that are harsh, but he won’t stop pushing.

Auto immune diseases are so often invisible.  My Mom was diagnosed with Addison’s Disease when I was fourteen.  I’m 43 now, and still, if I can’t reach her by phone or text once a day, I go into a panic that she is having a crisis and can’t get to the phone.  She knows when she’s over done it.  But she’s a farm girl.  She fishes, she hunts, she rides horses.  She was my first best example of not letting the bad days take over.

Here’s to all of you battling these invisible, and not so invisible, battles.  Here’s to being grateful for normal good days, and here’s to holding onto one another on the bad days, because those are normal too.

If I see you at the store I’m probably going to talk about kids school stuff, or the tree on the truck, because I’m probably not going to say, “Well, last night was a bad night, symptoms were bad, sleep is a constant struggle.” I might post something silly on Facebook, but I won’t tell you that I woke up in a cold sweat scared to death about what happens if insurance stops covering the meds, or what we are going to do if health insurance premiums keep rising.  Because we all have stuff, we all have those moments, and I will be thankful for everyday that the good outweighs the bad.

And most of all?  I just wish that I could tell me three years ago, and anyone going through the same thing now, that you will find normal again, it can be your old normal with some changes.  Some days are hard.  But some days there is a feeling of such contentment, just making dinner, listening to school stories, just having a normal day.

We will work to keep making things better, we will travel, we will follow our dreams.  I will continue to have moments that I feel overwhelmingly happy with the little things; When Danica and I are working in the backyard and I know that Mike and Joe are busy working on one of many car projects in the shop.

We will not only deal with what we’ve been given, but we will take this life that we’ve been dealt and live it to the fullest.

Last week Mike’s specialist used the words, “no changes” when he looked at the MRI results.  He used words like “stable” and “no disease progression”

Last week some normal stuff happened, there was a small fire, and a tree fell on the truck, and last week was a FANTASTIC week.








Posted in Family | 3 Comments


It’s moving day.  A beat-up, faded, purple convertible is parked out by the pool, the backseat is overflowing with shoes, handbags, and tiaras.  Beside the house there’s a Rubbermaid stuffed with furniture, and inside the mansion, in the downstairs kitchen, three well loved horses stand in unison.  Ken and Barbie are parked out front in a hot pink jeep, while their not so favored friends, (most also named Barbie), prepare to make the trip in a paper grocery bag.

This eviction process started like most of the others, “Mom, do you think we could move the Barbie house out of my room?  I’m not really ready to get rid of it, but I’d like to have the space.  Maybe we could move them to the guest room?”

And so it begins; they’re not being kicked out completely, just moved to a not so desirable neighborhood.

I’m really not broken up about this transition, because Dani has never really played with her Barbie’s that much.  It is not, however, that I have an issue with Barbie dolls.

And yes, I’ve heard, at least once, “Oh?  You’re going to let her play with Barbies!? Don’t you think that will give her unrealistic body type expectations???”

Ummmm…No.  I had Barbie’s, I never thought I’d be one.

Frankly, as it turns out, a more realistic body type expectation for me was my Weeble Wooble, but at least I’ve always been able to go down the slide at the playground without toppling over, so there’s that.

Also? In the almost twelve years since she was born, D has been around a fair number of actual people.  She has personally known many, many real humans who are not six feet tall with feet so tiny that they can’t stand up.  I don’t think she expects to grow up and be like Barbie any more than she expects to grow up and feed her family out of her Easy Bake Oven.

I loved my Barbie’s when I was her age, I didn’t grow up with any preconceived notion of physical perfection, I just loved her clothes. I am one of only a couple girls among a whole lot of boy cousins, I spent most of my childhood wearing  hand me down Wrangler jeans and football t-shirts.  I was completely enamored with Barbie clothes, I knew that grown ups didn’t really run errands in evening gowns, but you can bet that my Barbie did.

So can we chill out on worrying about how every toy is going to effect our children as adults?  I’m going to assume that most of us spend enough time with our kids in real-life-land that they understand that toys are toys.  My kids also had a little bear that played music when you pulled it’s tail.  And yet, of all the concerns I have, them pulling the tail of a bear and being mauled while expecting to hear an acoustic version of Mary Had A Little Lamb, is not even remotely on my radar.

Turns out, D did decide to sell her Barbie house, now she is saving for more Legos.  (Yep, totally NOT how you build a real house).

Posted in Kids, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Adventures of Henry the Dragon

It’s really not a big stretch to say that we don’t have complete control of our zoo around here, but I actually thought this morning was running pretty smoothly.  I was up on time, kids were (pretty much) up on time.  Breakfast done, lunches done, etc.  I was in such a good mood that when I went back to J’s room to give Henry the Dragon some carrots I just decided to scoop him up and let him hang out for a bit.  This never happens.  Not in the morning, mornings are crazy.  His social time is at night.  There’s a reason.

Mike had already started working for the day and was busy checking e-mails so I plopped Henry down on his shoulder, and I went about my morning.

Kids off to school, Mike off to work, I marched myself upstairs to my little office, and proceeded to be fairly productive for the next four and a half hours.  About lunch time I wandered downstairs and, it being a nice sunny day, I figured that I should open the shades in J’s room so Henry could get some sunlight. Which I did.  But then I turned around to talk to the little lizard breath and he wasn’t there.  So I looked again.  He’s got a nice enough house, but it’s not huge.  If he’s not in his cave, or under his log there’s really no other place to be.

So I did the only logical thing.  I texted Mike, “Call me ASAP, I can’t find Henry”.  Because clearly, someone who has not been home all day, and who is not currently at home, will certainly be able to help.

In the meantime I’d enlisted the help of the dog: “Koko, where’s Henry? Go find Henry”, and I promptly found myself standing among about forty five tennis balls, because she thinks that “where is” and “go find” only means ball.  Really, why would anyone ever need to find anything else?  Like your son’s flipping lizard!

It is worth adding that the fish tank is right next to Henry’s cage and those three seemed very interested in the extra activity.  However, they were also zero help finding their lost roommate.

And then, lo and behold, Mike text back, “I left him on the bench in the living room, with his carrots”.  What the ….  ?  Why on the bench?  Did he promise to put himself back in his cage?  Have we ever just let him hang out on furniture?  (Okay, yes, he has been forgotten a time or two on the couch, but for like minutes, not for half the day).

So Koko and I went into full search mode, she thought it was great fun and together we looked under all the chairs, and the table, and the bookcases.  We found nothing (except that I need a house cleaner).  And finally, huddled against the wall, in the corner, covered in dog hair and dust bunnies, we found one really pissed off Bearded Dragon.

Koko must have clued in to what we were really doing, because she pounced, and barked and yelled, “MOM!  He’s Here!  Here He Is!!!!”  And our easy going Henry puffed up to about three times his size and hissed a string of profanity that I am certain he did NOT learn from my fourteen year old.

And that was pretty much that.  He’s been under his heat lamp ever since.  Also? he got extra kale.

Posted in Pets | 3 Comments

School. Week #2

Well hello new school year, here’s to your love of making parents decipher random information:

“We are doing a poster on the Mayans.  They lived in Mexico, before there were horses, and they would shake their babies.”


“They would shake them, it would make their heads longer.”

“Shape.  They would shape their skulls to elongate them.  Not shake.  I don’t think history shows that shaken baby syndrome was an issue a couple thousand years ago.”

“Oh.  Well, also, they were the first ones to invent hot chocolate.”





Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Almost Father’s Day

On Friday, a friend asked me what we were going to do on Sunday, for Father’s Day.

“No, that’s next week.” I said

“No”, she said, “Sunday, the day after tomorrow.”

Oh.  I thought I had a week.  Maybe, subconsciously, I did that on purpose.  I love, don’t love, Father’s Day.

My kids have the BEST Daddy. Tomorrow, they will give him homemade cards, they will help me make special meals.  It will be the perfect day.

There will be fart jokes.  I will roll my eyes.   The three of them will giggle.

But at some point, on Father’s Day, I will look at my husband, our eyes will meet, both of us will fight tears.  We’ll take a deep breath, and we will carry on. Because that’s what you do.

What we both want to do is call our Dads.

I would say “Hello”, and he would say “Hey, chickey!”.  I would say “You know your grandson is EXACTLY like you!”.  The projects, the pranks, all of it.  He would get a knowing, and slightly devious chuckle;  And then I would say (accusingly, because he is named after you!), “So now what do I do?!”.

Every time our oldest builds something, takes something apart and makes it run again, or I trip over tools and engine parts in his bedroom, and yet I still can’t get him to study;  I want to call my Dad and say, “So, this is YOU, how should I handle this?!?”.

He would laugh again.  He would love every minute of this.

I want to tell him that his grand daughter is exactly like another little girl he used to know.  Her room is covered in horse posters.  She doesn’t get why we can’t have a horse in the backyard.  She wants to catch the wild bunnies in the woods (they’d be the perfect pets).  She doesn’t understand why kids are mean on the bus, but she will gladly step in and give them her opinion, and then she will come home in tears because they just won’t pay attention!  He would listen, I would hear him smile, and he would tell me “OH, she is going to be just fine!” And everything would be okay.

The little things would be in perspective. I want to hear that voice.  To feel that hug.  To make that call.

Make that call.  Talk.  Say “let’s go do something”.

Have a cup of coffee, have a beer, have a soda. Go for a bike ride, go flying, go camping, go fishing, take a drive.  Sit on the deck, get on a boat, on a motorcycle, in a canoe.  Call him.

Look at the stars, the rain, the sun, the mountains.  Have a glass of wine at the museum, a beer at the lake, a cup of coffee on the porch.

Shake your head at “those” comments and “those” jokes, and respect the way he wants to save the world.  There is wisdom in there, look and see that his heart would reach out to anyone.

Share stuff.  It doesn’t matter what stuff.

If only the world was made up of Dads just like our Dads.






Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

The dragon and the other four leggeds.

The first pet Mike and I had together was a hamster named Nixon.  Unfortunately, not only do I have no inkling why we named him Nixon, I also don’t remember anything about his acquisition or his departure.  Poor unremarkable creature.

Then there was our old Basset Hound, Clyde.  He was ten years old when we adopted him and they gave us a  50% discount on the adoption fee, because, in addition to his geriatric state, he had also bit the only other people that came to meet him. Yes, he would try to bite, but he was so slow that there was a ten minute delay between the warning yelp and the time his teeth, (well, just slobbery gums really), made contact with his intended target. Along with that initial warning yelp came a  wave of nauseating dog breath so terrible it sent anybody scrambling for fresh air anyway, so all of our visitors remained bite free.

Then along came the cat.  PITA, Pain In The Ass, she was cute, and we had a mutual agreement that I would feed her and give her a comfortable place to live, and in turn, she would hate me. That worked okay until human baby number one came along and she started peeing in the car seat, so she moved to Montana.

While PITA was still with us, but after Clyde had departed, we got Oscar.  The cutest Whippet puppy ever.  Also the most destructive canine I’ve ever known of in my entire life.  That dog ate cabinet doors, window trim, furniture, shoes, eye glasses… Oscar was getting into the garbage until he was fourteen years old, the amount of inorganic material I have scooped up from the backyard has convinced me that pretty much anything will make it through a dog’s digestive system. He is the reason I roll my eyes when anybody freaks out that their dog accidentally ate a chocolate chip.

Katie, our rescued racing greyhound, came along shortly after Oscar, partly because we thought that maybe if Oscar had a friend he would stop getting on top of the hot water heater and chewing on the door trim (true story).  Katie was pretty much the most perfect princess ever, unless we stayed up past bedtime watching TV, and then she would stand in the middle of the living room and bark until we went to bed.  You get to be bossy when you’re a princess.

After the passing of our old, spoiled, sight hounds, our human kids began begging for a puppy.  Thus, Koko.  Koko is a black lab mix mutt that has never so much as chewed up a stuffed animal, therefore she has ruined the chances of the kids ever talking me into another puppy because there is no way on the face of the Earth that we could ever be that lucky again.

Short of joining us at the dining room table for meals, Koko doesn’t appear to know the difference between herself and the rest of the family.  Although she does seem to wonder why she is the only one that is worried about the squirrel infestation in the backyard.

And then, twenty some years after our first forgettable hamster, along came two more, two, plural, because they’re small, so take two.  Except they don’t get along, so that also means two cages.  Also, one loves (well, tolerates is probably a better word) being packed around by his girl child keeper, the other one bites, and unlike our old dog from so many years ago, Zipper the hamster is pretty good at landing a rather painful, sharp toothed bite.  So he just hangs out in his rodent mansion accepting treats.

Somewhere in there we ended up with three gold fish, which I thought were supposed to live for about three weeks, ours however, are going on three years. I talk to them, they swim around and ignore me.  I really don’t think they have a purpose.  They cost 0.15 each and we are at least a few hundred dollars in when you consider the tank, food and filters, so while the fish don’t seem that smart, the pet store is apparently somewhat brilliant.

And then, just a few days ago, Henry.  Henry is a baby bearded dragon.  Henry seems to have kind of a funny personality so he will probably fit in just fine around here.  But did I mention baby?  Baby dragons need fed three to five times a day.  Which means, beings I’m the only one in the house all day, I am on feeding duty at least once a day.  Baby dragons eat crickets and worms.  Crickets stink, THIS I did not know, by the second day of opening the plastic bin for cricket retrieval I was informing Henry that he best grow fast and move onto this veggie diet that I’ve been told he will transition to “as soon as he is big enough, Mom”.

Also?  Baby dragons, like all other living things, need to poop.  However, baby dragons tend to have some digestive issues when they move to a new environment, and everybody knows that when ANY living creature in the house has digestive issues, it becomes Mom’s issue.

So, for two days, while his keeper was at school,  not only did I check the lizard cage every half hour for signs of poo, but twice a day Henry the dragon got belly rubs and warm baths (because that helps them stay hydrated, which helps them go potty, OH the things I’m learning…).  Baby lizard baths are pretty uneventful, I put him in a 1/2 an inch of warm water we stare at each other for twenty minutes, because, one more thing?  Baby dragons can drown if you leave them unattended.  This is a lot of work for something that isn’t even soft and cuddly, and that requires live food (that food better not escape, I will yell, and then I will squish the food).

Finally!  Along with cricket legs in his cage, lizard poop!

Seriously though, enough pets already.







Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Skip Day

It’s been one of those weeks around here that we’ve had a couple “eventually this is going to be funny” moments. Which makes me even more thankful that let me do a little guest writing on their site. So, while I patiently wait for the pit at the bottom of my stomach to turn into funny prose, hop over there and read this:

Skip Day

I am forever thankful for what my family teaches me!



Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments


Communication. That’s a long word.  That’s a hard word.

Take this morning for example, I asked, what I thought was, an easy question:

“Do you want a poached egg?”

“No thanks.  Wait!  What?”

“A poached egg.”


“Yes! Do you want a poached egg?”

“OH! Yes please.”

Well that seemed hard. And just to be clear, we have poached eggs at least twice a week, it’s not new, it’s not like she has had only scrambled eggs for ten years and now all of a sudden I’m throwing out this strange new boiling thing.  They are a very familiar breakfast menu item.

However, many, many times, when I talk to my family they look at me like I’m speaking a different language.  That’s a lie, they don’t look at me.

They just hear a noise and respond, “Huh?” “What?” If they could save that confusion for the times that I really don’t make sense, that would be nice.  There are plenty of those times.

In the interest of being perfectly clear we tend to keep it simple around here.  Spaghetti and meatballs, grilled cheese, imagine the mass confusion if I had said, “Hey, do you want saffron tomato seafood stew with a grilled portobello salad?” We’d all starve by the time we had it figured out. “Do we get bowls or plates? I don’t get it.”

Now, with my boys, I’ve all but given up on the spoken language and have gone directly to actions to try and communicate my wishes.

For the man child: If I leave a broom and a dust pan in the middle of your room it means, please sweep so I can see the floor.  It does NOT mean:  Hey, if you carve the end of the broom to a sharp point, and then light the bristles on fire you’d have one kick ass flaming sword.

Your Mother would never, ever suggest this.

And for the older man child:  After almost twenty years of marriage:  Car parts and tools delivered to the shop door make me smile, and that smile means, “Honey, I’m so glad you are taking the time to enjoy a hobby that you truly love”.

Car parts and tools left on the kitchen counter? “Hey, could you take these outside next time you go?” They are a little in the way of my making mushroom filet mignon with lobster macaroni and cheese (or just macaroni and cheese, whichever).

Car parts and tools left tightly tucked up against the front door, creating a fire hazard because it’s impossible to open the door to the outside without having them physically in your hand and moving them?


Hypothetical, of course.




Posted in random conversations | 3 Comments

“over butts”

“Did anybody feed the dog!?”

“Yes.  She’s been fed.”

“Then why is she standing in the kitchen staring at me?”

“I promise I fed her.”

“She’s just trying to get fed again,” I butted in on the conversation going on between father and son, “She’s lying. She does that you know.” And then I looked down at our goofy black dog,  “Liar liar, pants on fire!”

“Mom, don’t call the dog a liar!”

“She doesn’t care, as long as I say it in a happy tone,  then she thinks it’s just as great as when I tell her she’s the smartest dog in the world.”

Which is also a lie.  We think she’s the best dog in the world, but she thinks squirrels are the most evil thing on the planet and last week she ate a broken crayon that was on the floor next to her food dish. So I think its safe to say, that maybe, in the grand scheme of things, she might not be the most intelligent creature ever.

“Well still, Mom…she doesn’t wear pants.”

“Maybe that’s why she always has such a funny look on her face, she feels goofy that she’s wandering around without pants on.”

“She must feel really embarrassed, she doesn’t even wear underpants!”

“Underpants is a weird word, they are like the garment that doesn’t even get it’s own name, they’re just described by their location.”

Which is true, we don’t call socks “under shoes”, or bras “under shirts”, but there are already under shirts, so would bras be “under under shirts”?.  Of course you could go the other direction and call socks “over feet”, but then the bra and underwear descriptions get awkward.

So we’ve determined that our dog is a liar who doesn’t wear over-butts.

Also?  It’s definitely  time for us all to go back to work and school…


Posted in Pets | 10 Comments

Budget cuts

It’s not that I can’t hear, or that I don’t pay attention.

Okay, maybe it’s a little bit of both, but mostly I misunderstand words because more often than not I have three people talking to me all at once, about completely random things that are unrelated to anything I’m doing, so my poor frazzled brain just tries to piece things together.

For example, last Saturday evening we had just arrived back home after a quick overnight getaway.  I was in the kitchen trying to make dinner.  The dog was underfoot reminding me that not only had we abandoned her at the doggie hotel, but she hadn’t been fed in like three hours, which is like 85 hours in doggie time.

Our oldest was outside on the front deck, starting some kind of motor that sounded like it was about to make it’s way through the wall.  The youngest was in the family room, happily flipping through TV channels, and she shouted:

“Mom, what are Jurassic Butter Cuts?”

“I dunno, like huge, ancient slabs of butter.”

“No”, she giggles, “Drastic butter cuts.”

“What? That doesn’t even make sense…like something that is severely lacking in greasy salty goodness…”

And then from somewhere down the hallway…”Hey, where’s my briefcase?”

“Why do you need your briefcase?”

“I can’t find my briefcase.”

“Wait.  You’re missing your briefcase?  It’s Saturday night, why do you even need it?”


“Oh, well that’s probably still in the overnight bag.”

“You packed the toothpaste?  The whole big tube?”

“Uh, yes.  Why the hell would someone not pack the whole tube?  How would you even pack part of a tube…?”

…and then back from the family room…

“No, MOM! Drastic BUDGET cuts! What is that!?”

“Oh honey, that’s like what would happen if Mommy had to start buying wine from the bottom shelf.”

Posted in random conversations | 9 Comments