Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Two Little Monkeys

My two little monkeys are bouncing off the walls.  Really, the beds in the hotel room, but what's the difference?  They are so excited to be on their way to the big city of Sheboygan, Wisconsin to visit their cousin.  They cannot contain their excitement. 

The modern technology of iPads, laptops, iPods and built in DVD players make road trips a little more tolerable.  Your butt still gets numb from the vibration of the road, but the fighting and "don't cross this line" is reduced greatly by these distractions.  A point system that I created this morning has also been highly successful.  At least thus far. 

The way the "game" is played is both kids start with 10 points.  For each nice thing they do, they gain a point.  Be a brat, and you lose one.  If you end up with at least 10 points at the end of the trip then you get a reward at home.  If you have less than ten points when we pull in the driveway, then prepare to be on chore duty for a few days.  The real fun ones too...playroom clean up, bathroom sink cleaning, trash collecting.  Every kid's dream!

Gotta love a good impromptu game to keep the troops on the straight and narrow.  Stay tuned to see if Mom wins in the end.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

My Baby

Some of you may have already ejected from this post after seeing the title, "My Baby."  Yea, yea, you've heard me say it a thousand times..."my Baby."  Ashton is my baby.  He's the youngest, he's the baby.  But, how he's growing up.

This weekend marks the very first sleep-over "my Baby" had.  He went to his best friend, Anuj's house and had an absolutely incredible time.  Pizza.  Pop.  Cake.  Cookies.  Grand Slam.  Went to bed late.  Got up early.  A perfect time was had by all. 

I have to admit, I was a little teary after I dropped him off.

This four year old of mine is ready to go hang out with his friend without his Momma.  I barely got a "goodbye" at the door, and had to chase him down to get a hug and a kiss!  "Buddy, get back here and tell Mommy goodbye!"  ...did I really just have to say that???  Where did my Baby go?! 

He had a grand time.  In fact, he wasn't ready to leave this morning.  He told me all about his adventure start to finish.  But, what is funny about Ashton is he only tells a story once...if you aren't there to hear it while he's telling, don't expect to hear a first-hand account.  I took everything in.  All I could think to myself is, "He's getting to be so grown up." 

Later in the day, I went into his room to put some things away.  I just sat on the bed and looked around.  My kid lives in a time-warp of a room!  White shelves.  Pictures and memorabilia on the walls of Ashton as a baby.  A new born picture.  Baby dedication.  Ashton in one of his monogrammed onesies.  Yikes!  This poor kid probably just spent the night in a big boy room with super heroes and he came home to a baby picture room with a touch of Buzz Light Year for good measure.  

I guess it's time for me to let go of the baby and embrace the little boy.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


One phone call this afternoon and I am once again left to wonder what it is I am feeling.  The phone call was to the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery.  This is where Granddad was laid to rest on February 8th.

Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery

As with most burials, headstones are not typically on site the day that you say your final farewell to your loved one.  And, certainly not in a military cemetery.  We were told that it would be 30-60 days before his marker was set and that is rough timing.  I am very familiar with what rough timing means best case scenario.  You can imagine my surprise when I called to check "the status" of his headstone placement and they responded by saying, "It was set on March 4th, Ma'am.  You are free to come any time you would like during the cemetery hours.  Again, our deepest condolences." I didn't expect to hear that.  I was relatively speechless.  Those who know me well know that speechless is not a part of my vocabulary.  "Thank you."  That's all I could say. 

Quickly, I hopped online just to see if Granddad was now also listed in the registry of Veterans who were buried in this field of honor.  ...there it was.
William Willard Chipps
MoMM1 US Navy
World War II
Date of Birth:  April 6, 1920
Date of Death:  February 3, 2011

I called my mother.  I am certain this was the last thing she expected to hear today.  "Mom, Granddad's stone has been set.  Please let Grandie know."  ...silence...

It's no surprise that this day was coming.  In fact, nothing should have come as a surprise since November.  While it's not surprising, it's uncharted waters.  New territory.  This headstone placement gives Granddad's life and death the final closure.  It's the last item on the list that remained unchecked.  And now it's finished.  

Now what?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Aaron:  "Ashton, are you going to wear your new goggles in the bathtub?"
Ashton:  "No, I don't want them to get wet."

Sidney:  "My stomach hurts."
Me:  "You better not have any ice cream then."
Sidney:  "It's better now."

Me:  "Ashton, Daddy is going to suck you up in his shop-vac." 
Ashton:  "My head is too big.  It would never fit in there." 

Ashton on Sidney's eating habits:  "Sidney is a vacuum cleaner!"

Sidney:  "Can I sign up to get a Wheel of Fortune ID number?"
Me:  "No, you're not old enough.  You have to be 18."
Sidney:  "Is that in 11 months or 11 years?" 

Saturday, March 19, 2011


When I arrived home on Thursday evening, I was surprised to see a package sitting on my counter.  I had not ordered anything.  And this package was for me. 

I opened it with childlike anticipation ripping the box apart to uncover its contents.  It was a box of about 5 books sent from Renee--my Dad's wife.  Renee and I usually discuss what books we've read and have passed some back and forth over the past year.  One of the books in this shipment really caught my attention.  90 Minutes in Heaven.  I could only assume by the initial look at the cover that it was a fictional book similar to those written by Mitch Albom.  I was wrong. 

When I flipped the book over to get the brief synopsis of the story, I was intrigued to see that this was a non-fiction piece.  This was, in fact, a person's first hand account of his experience in Heaven due to a near-death experience.  What started as general curiosity turned into me becoming completely enveloped in this absolutely amazing story.  I reluctantly went to bed at 12:30am.  I cannot tell you the last time I stayed up this late.  Maybe New Years Eve.

Immediately after I grabbed my coffee this morning, I hunkered down in the chair to finish the story.  Yep, that's right...finishing the book in less than 2 days.  And, it was not Dr. Seuss or Junie B. Jones or Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  It was a real, live, grown-up book!

What an amazing story it was. was something that I needed to read.  But, I didn't know I needed it until after I finished the book. 

As I have stated before, there have been a couple of events that have profoundly effected my outlook on life.  One of them being the sickness and eventual death of my Granddad.  This story that Renee sent me, that she knew I needed to read, really reinforced that for me. 

It's great to be the recipient of unexpected packages.  Especially when the contents have such a great impact.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Slumber Party Madness

Yesterday Sidney came home with an invitation to a slumber party.  While I am generally more than thrilled to pawn my kids off to someone else, it was not the case this time. 

I don't know the child, although she is in Sidney's class.  Nor do I know the parents.  And, while I am sure that everything is on the "up and up" I can't be certain.  And, since I'm not, she's not going.  The fallout from breaking the news was dramatic to say the least. 

Sidney doesn't understand all of the "what if's" that go along with releasing your child into someone else's care who Mom & Dad don't know. 

I am sure that my parents never went through this scenario with me...back in the good old days (or the 80s as Sidney refers to the "old days") there didn't seem to be as many concerns as there are today.  Maybe because there weren't as many disturbed people out there in the mainstream.  Maybe because there weren't as many news reports and media outlets as there are today.  Maybe because my parents knew all of my friends and their parents because our circles were smaller.  Whatever the reason, life is different now.  Perspective is different.  People are different.

Perhaps one day Sidney will look back on this and think that her parents were crazy for not letting her go to a slumber party.  Or, maybe she'll think her parents cared a lot for her and that while their reasons didn't make sense to her it was peace of mind for them. 

Either way, I'm sure we haven't heard the end of it!

Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil

Sunday, March 13, 2011

3 1/2 Musketeers

The more time that I spend with my mother and Grandie, the more I think back to when I was younger and how our relationship has evolved throughout the years. day I hope Sidney will look back on the four generations and embrace the value of the sisterhood. 

I have enjoyed the privilege of four generations and Sidney has also been blessed with the depth of a four generation family. 

Many years ago, we would travel to the Monongahela Forest in West Virginia where my Great Grandmother Miller lived.  Often, she, my mother, and Grandie would have "girl time" while cooking, taking a walk, or wading in the Williams River.  There were also times when we would go to the family cabin in Piedmont and as a pint sized little girl, I was never quite able to make it through the walk from the lake up the steep hill that led back to the cabin.  My mom and Grandie would cross their arms and join hands forming what looked like  a basket.  I was carried to the top.  I'm sure they were winded and exhausted by adding a pile of dead weight to an already difficult task.  But, they did it.  Time & time again. 

Life has definitely changed.  We have found ourselves joining hands to carry a number of loads, burdens together.  It's amazing to me as I reminisce about the good old days and how as a little girl I never dreamed that we would come together as such a strong, united front to take on so much.  To cry together.  To laugh so much together.  For now, Sidney serves as a connection to youth.  Seeing life through the eyes innocence and simplicity.  Focusing on the brighter side of things. 

This relationship that spans four generations of women is an amazing one. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


We all know I'm a music junkie.  We've established that.

This day was no different than any other day.  I was "plugged in" to Pandora while I was working away on projects.  Usually when I am working, music serves as white noise.  Although, depending on the station, it can be great motivation.  Today, I was stopped dead in my tracks and was brought to tears.

I'm not a fan of country music.  Nor have I created a station that has any country music in it.  But, one popped into my Third Day station today.  "When I Get Where I'm Going" by Brad Paisley featuring Dolly Parton.  The lyrics are below.  Read slowly.  I'm sure you can relate it to some loved one.  I know I could.

When I get where I'm going
on the far side of the sky.
The first thing that I'm gonna do
Is spread my wings and fly.

I'm gonna land beside a lion,

and run my fingers through his mane.
Or I might find out what it's like
To ride a drop of rain
Yeah when I get where I'm going,
there'll be only happy tears.
I will shed the sins and struggles,
I have carried all these years.
And I'll leave my heart wide open,
I will love and have no fear.
Yeah when I get where I'm going,
Don't cry for me down here.

I'm gonna walk with my Grandaddy,
and he'll match me step for step,
and I'll tell him how I missed him,
every minute since he left.
Then I'll hug his neck.

Yeah when I get where I'm going,
there'll be only happy tears.
I will shed the sins and struggles,
I have carried all these years.
And I'll leave my heart wide open,
I will love and have no fear.
Yeah when I get where I'm going,
Don't cry for me down here.

So much pain and so much darkness,
in this world we stumble through.
All these questions, I can't answer,
so much work to do.

But when I get where I'm going,

and I see my Maker's face.
I'll stand forever in the light,
of His amazing grace.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Frog

A very good friend of mine, Terry, who passed away three years ago always used to say, "Don't stare at the frog too long before you swallow it.".

I had never heard that phrase until I met her. I haven't heard it since she passed. Its such a interesting analogy and priceless piece of advice all rolled into one powerful punch.

There have been a few "frogs" that I have been staring down for a while. I finally have come to the realization, or maybe I have accepted that if these things are not positively impacting me or my family, it's time to swallow them. Deal with them and move on.

Terry was always a no-nonsense type of person. That is what made her successful in her career, and invaluable as a friend.

Terry, it's time for some frog legs!

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Through the month of November in observation of Thanksgiving, I exercised what I was thankful for through daily facebook posts. This experience left its mark on me.

I grow very weary of hearing my kids constantly tell me what they want. What they don't have. It gets old. My children, unlike many are very fortunate for all that they have. First and foremost their family who loves them, having all of their needs meant, and most of their wants within reason. Today Sidney said, "I'm sick of walking...I don't want to walk.". ...this all because she wanted her dad to carry her. The 7 year old girl who comes up to her Great Grandie's chin. My response was, "Sidney, be thankful you CAN walk...there are some people who can't.". I know my words did not fall on deaf ears. Typically when I challenge her to think outside of herself she surprises me by doing something benevolent for someone else.

My challenge to Sidney also extends to myself.

It's been so hard lately to acknowledge all of the things to be thankful for when I have been so caught up in my own grief. My sadness. I'm not in any way saying that I should not be grieving...I've suffered a great loss. But, my focus needs to extend past that loss to the many people and things that I have to be thankful for.

Tonight I will go to the Haven. I will see many men and women who will come through the doors with all that they own secured to their back. They are coming for a meal which they could not get through their own resources. They have nothing. Maybe an addiction. Likely a lot of baggage. And probably very little hope.

I will think of that the next time I complain about the weather. My mediocre lunch. Or, what I don't have.

I have a lot. For that I am thankful.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Folding Clothes

Typically folding laundry is a chore that I loathe.  It's not necessarily a bad thing if it means that I'm parked on the couch with several baskets of clothes to fold and I can reclaim control of the DVR.  It is a bit daunting when you know you have to fold it and then put it all away.  Quite honestly, it's just easier if it sits in the baskets and you can get what you need when you need it.  Easier doesn't mean better.  Especially if you battle with OCD.

Sunday I did a different type of clothes folding.  These clothes were not being folded and put into baskets, they were being folded and put into bags to donate to folks who need them.

These clothes were Granddad's.

There were carefully sorted stacks of clothing across the guest room bed.  Shirts.  Sweaters.  Pants.  Suits.  Coats.  Ties.  Hats.  Gloves.  These items took up residence here about two weeks ago.  They were placed on the bed and then the door was shut.

My mother and I walked in together, looked at the bed realizing these were the last of the clothes to go, and cried.  Yes, they are clothes.  But, they were his clothes and bagging them up seemed to signify that we were ready to part with them.  With him.  I assure you, we're not.  But, what good are they doing sitting on the bed?

I started on the first stack.  Unfolded a piece, studied it just a bit and then refolded it with care.  I racked my brain over and over again trying to recall a memory associated with each piece.  With many pieces I envisioned Granddad wearing that sweater to a birthday or some other function.  It was hard to part with that memory.  With a physical piece of the memory.

What should have taken 10 minutes took a hour.  Every piece was unfolded, refolded and placed in the bag.  I took a couple pieces for myself...just a few I couldn't part with. ...and that was it.  Granddad's clothes wound up in black trash bags and put in a trunk.

I am sure they will find an owner who appreciates them for an entirely different reason than we do.  Because they need them.  They have nothing else.

I find comfort in that...and I wonder if I will ever see one of the homeless at The Haven wearing a coat or sweater of Granddad's.