Christmas in July

As I wrote in this post, I’ve been needing to shed some pounds and to start eating better and more low carb. My hubby has been really supportive of me, stressing that he loves me just the way I am, but if I want to lose weight to feel better and be healthier that he’s going to support me in that, too. Today he bought me this: 


 Now I’ve really got my work cut out for me! I’m so excited—I can’t wait to get home and put it all together and take a walk!

Thanks honey!! And thanks for hauling this beast up the stairs for me! I owe you a massage!


Married People Have Their Own Language

My husband and I have things that we say to each other that no one else would be able to decipher (which in some instances is REALLY a good thing). In fact, some of the things we say would probably make the guy  behind us in line at WalMart scratch his head and go, “HUH?”.

I think it’s cool when married people have that kind of connection. If you’re married or have been in a relationship with your SO for a long time you know what I’m talking about. You have ways of communicating with your spouse/SO that make sense only to you. A glance, a smirk, a wink or a nod…something almost imperceptible to an outsider, but oh-so-meaningful to you. You point and he knows exactly what you’re pointing at and why you’re laughing so hard!

Here are some of the phrases my hubby and I say to each other that might make you scratch YOUR head. 

  1. “See how it feels, Otis!”
  2. “Bullshit yeah!” 
  3. “Now do you know where Hitler was coming from?” (This TOTALLY DOES NOT MEAN WHAT YOU THINK!)
  4. “Piehole”
  5. “Oh my eye!”
  6. “My shoe!”
  7. “Give me kisses, hurry up!” or just “Hurry up!”
  8. “Why don’t you go look at oil!”
  9. “We don’t have that kind of capacity!”
  10. “AGAIN?”
  11. “I’m going to spend some quality time with Meter.”
  12. “I need an Al.”
  13. “Ala ala hoo hoo”
  14. “Poor kid, it’s so sad that he’s all washed up!”
  15. “Yeah, but what’s HE doing playing hockey?”
  16. “Still spading?”
  17. “Still training?”
  18. “HUD!!”
  19. “Nutty’s nest is ready”
  20. “That’s what I neeeeeeeeed!”

These phrases may not mean a thing to you.  If they do mean something to you, they probably don’t mean the same thing as they do to us. That is the beauty of living with someone for a long time. You know each other so intimately that what is jibberish or ridiculous to others is a meaningful conversation to us. One word can say so much.

I love that I have this kind of relationship with my husband…and that he knows exactly what I mean when I say, “Why don’t you just go…look at oil!”


Happy Birthday to my Lovely Daughter

It seems like only yesterday you were a tiny newborn. Everyone in the hospital said you looked just like me, and I thought, “No, she’s beautiful!”  

 You have grown more lovely, inside and out, as the years have passed. You are thoughtful, caring, intelligent and wise beyond your years. You have more courage than I could have ever mustered at your age, and I’m so proud of who you have become. You work hard and you play hard! You love deeply and permanently. Your dedication to those who you call friends and family is untiring.

 They say that parents give their children roots and wings, and I hope that is true. I know that on the days when I long to draw you close under MY wing I have to take a small step back and realize what an independent, loving adult you are. You don’t need me to be your “mommy” anymore and that’s a good thing. That is something you and I accomplished together. I’m blessed to know that I’ll always be your Mom and your Friend.

I hope you have the happiest birthday today! No one deserves it more than you do Baby Girl. I love you with all my heart! I’ll see you soon!!  

 Love, Mom

 My daughter and son-in-law

Laurie and Cody on their wedding day.

Happy Birthday!

At the end of 7th grade, when I was 13 years old, my mom picked me up from school and told me we were leaving my dad. A few months later they were divorced. Though my mom was always careful to accept her role in the breakup of their marriage, their divorce was due mostly to my father’s alcoholism and the effect it was having on us kids, and we all knew it. Though I do love him, I can honestly tell you that I have never missed living with my dad since that day.

I remember many times going to AA meetings with my parents and hearing people talk about their drinking and what a struggle it was to get sober. I also recall my father saying time and time again that he wasn’t going to drink anymore…but he always did.

There is no more helpless feeling on earth than listening to your parents fight because your dad is drunk again and knowing that you can’t do anything to help your mom…or your dad.

Eventually my dad did get sober, but by then he had already caused irreparable damage to his family and his own life.

 So what does this have to do with the title of this post – “Happy Birthday!”? Keep reading…

T., my stepsons’ mom, and my friend, celebrated 6 years of sobriety tonight! Being the weirdest divorced family we know of, she invited my hubby and me to join her tonight as she celebrated this milestone at her AA “Birthday Meeting”.  We gladly accepted the invitation. 🙂 My stepsons were there tonight also and I think it is so good that they have been going to meetings with their mom since she started down this path to sobriety. Several people mentioned what a joy the boys have been to them over the years. I could tell that the boys feel the same way about those folks.

Because it was her birthday, T. was the speaker at tonight’s meeting and my eyes filled up as I heard her talk about her struggle with alcohol and how not even her kids, whom she loves with all her heart, were enough to enable her to quit drinking. The tears flowed down my face as she described how, 6 years ago, she “hit bottom” and realized that she needed to do something about her alcoholism, not just for her kids, but for herself. She walked into her first AA meeting that afternoon and she has been sober since then, one day at a time.  I suspect that  some days it was more like one minute at a time.

The rest of this post is my letter to T.

 Dear T.,

Thank you so much for including us in your celebration tonight. I can’t tell you what it meant to me to be there to support you and to celebrate this milestone with you. I am so proud of you! I know that getting sober hasn’t always been easy, and staying sober was even harder at times. But then nothing worth while ever really comes easily. You totally rocked this one!!

I want you to know from the bottom of my heart, and as an adult child of an alcoholic, what a precious gift you’ve given your sons in getting sober and staying sober while they are still young. They are so blessed to have you for their mom. They are loved, content and secure with you. They know exactly how much they mean to you, and that is priceless.

I am also immensely grateful for the relationship that my hubby and I have with you. I know of so many who have an almost daily struggle with their exes, fighting tooth and nail to be allowed to give their children the love and care that they deserve. Our relationship with you has always been one of mutual respect and appreciation. What a blessing that is for the boys! What a blessing that is for all of us! Thank you for what you said about us tonight, I will cherish it always.

I also want to  thank you for saying what you said tonight about how you couldn’t get sober just for the boys. I always thought that if my dad just loved us kids enough, or if we could just be good enough, that he could quit drinking…but I have come realize that we weren’t enough, and it wasn’t our fault. I am not sure I was ever able to grasp that until tonight. Again, thank you.

Happy  6th Birthday T! May you have many, many more years of sobriety and may we have many more years of friendship, even beyond watching the boys grow up. We may be the weirdest divorced/blended family we know of; but weird is good sometimes!



Please Pass the Celery

Many years ago, it seems like a different lifetime actually, my best friend’s family and my family would often spend weekends at each other’s homes. It was a nice time to catch up, play games and talk about whatever was on our hearts, as we lived 100 miles apart and didn’t have the day to day interaction that we would havePick-A-Deli loved. But more than just a time to catch up it was a time where we could truly be ourselves, without reproach from anyone who did not understand our special kind of insanity! We had a blast…always.

One weekend they were at our house and my friend and I had cooked a nice family dinner, to be eaten around the table. It was probably something like deer steak, mashed potatoes and gravy (yes, I did learn to make good gravy!) and some kind of cooked vegetables. This particular dinner also included celery and carrot sticks. I had recently had a Tupperware party and was delighted to be able to use my new Pick-A Deli, affectionately known to our kids as “the Pickle Dilly” (see photo) for the freshly washed and cut up carrot and celery sticks. Unlike the photo above, mine was a solid olive green color, like the lid shown.

So the 8 of us sit down to dinner and began the ritual of passing the food. There was the usual banter back and forth, “Please pass the salt.”, “Please pass the gravy (indeed, they were asking for MY gravy).”, etc. Most everything had been passed and we’d all settled into our eating and visiting when L. asked M. to “Please pass the celery.” M. grabbed the Pickle Dilly by the handle and lifted. The celery and carrots took flight as the lift up strainer indeed lifted up, leaving behind the actual container with water but bringing with it at least a half pound of cut up veggies, which were now all over the table and all over M. The kids, of course, thought it was hilarious! They were rolling! L. ,  B. and I were laughing so hard our faces ached! M. , covered in carrots and celery sticks, did not appear to be amused at that particular moment but he quickly saw the humor in the situation and joined the uproarious laughter.  

We picked up the mess and finished our meal, and a good time was had by all.

Somehow, every time we used the Pick-A-Deli  it managed to get set in front of M. But now he was a wiser M. He was a more cautious M. M.  was never again going to be fooled by the request to “Please pass the celery” .

The First Supper

The spring before I graduated from high school I got engaged to a nice guy (L.) who I married six short months later. During the months between meeting him and marrying him I tried to learn some “wifely” things like cooking. His mom was an excellent cook, having mastered meal preparation for a family of seven children and a husband, not to mention numerous ranch hands over the past several decades. I knew I had a lot of learning to do if I was going to ever be able to produce even one meal like hers.

Feeling like there was no time like the present to start learning,  I decided that I would go to my fiancé’s house and fix him a nice dinner.

I decided on a menu of round steak, mashed potatoes and gravy and peas. That didn’t sound too difficult to this 18 year old whose previous specialty was Hamburger Helper. Best of all, L.already had the steak in the freezer.

I started with the meat, thawing it in the microwave until I could pry the semi-frozen pieces apart with a table knife. Then I got out a scraped up, formerly Teflon© frying pan from underneath the stove and turned the gas burner up, on high of course. I splashed in a good amount of cooking oil and let it heat until there was a little smoke coming out of the pan. I plopped the two steaks into the boiling oil, getting popped and splashed by fiery droplets of oil. Finally, I managed to get close enough to turn the burner down, just a little.

I proceeded to set the table. Nice new dishes that my grandmother bought me for my high school graduation gift adorned the little laminated table, along with some silverware that I scrounged from the drawer in this bachelor’s kitchen, positioned on a couple of paper towels for napkins. Candles that I brought from my room at my mom’s house completed the table decoration. Overall the effect was nice.  

I smell smoke…THE STEAKS!!!

I rush to the stove and turned them over, once again getting spattered with hot oil. Relieved that they don’t look TOO burned (just VERY dark brown), I start peeling the potatoes.

I chopped the potatoes into a Dutch oven, covered them with water and set them on the stove’s back burner to cook…on high.

By now the other side of the steak was a matching VERY dark brown and I reasoned that it was probably done. I moved the steaks from the skillet into a cake pan and put it in the oven on low to keep warm until dinner.

Prior to coming over to L’s house I had purchased a 5 lb. bag of flour and a gallon of milk, knowing that I would need these ingredients to make the gravy. I had watched my mom, grandmother, and future mother-in-law make gravy, so I didn’t think it would be too difficult. I turned the burner down a little bit and tossed about 1/3 of the bag (yes, 1/3 of the bag!) of flour into the pan. I stirred and stirred thinking that it should be absorbing the oil left from frying the steak…and then it dawned on me that I didn’t have enough oil in the pan so I added some more. I scraped and tossed and stirred until I finally had most of the flour and oil combined.

Then I added milk. And I stirred…and stirred…and stirred. The concoction formed into this thicker-than-kindergarten–paste ball, so I added more milk. I was rewarded with an even bigger gluey ball of goo so I added more milk, hoping that this mess would start to resemble gravy pretty soon. I was running out of room in my skillet.

I kept adding milk and stirring but this stuff had taken on a life of its own! I had created the BLOB!! I grabbed a pot holder and carried the pan to the sink and proceeded to take out more than half of the creature that was supposed to be my gravy and washed it down the drain.

I carried the pan back to the burner and poured more milk into the mess and kept on stirring. MY GOSH! This stuff is taking over the kitchen! The pan is full again and I can stand a spoon up in the middle and it will not budge! I’ve used ¾ of the gallon of milk and I still have clay!

I do the sink routine again and then poured the remaining ¼ gallon of milk into the pan and continued to stir. I scoop some up in the spoon, turn it upside down and it will not drop! My arm is aching and this stuff is still thicker than Hunts Tomato Paste!

Uh oh, what’s that smell? Oh no, my potatoes have boiled dry! ARGHH!

I turned all the burners off and scraped the scorched potatoes into a bowl and proceed to mash them (without milk as I used it all in the “gravy”).

I opened the can of peas and placed them on the stove just as L. came in the door.

He seemed pleased with my effort, looking at the nicely set, candle lit table. And despite the scorched potatoes and overdone meat, it didn’t smell too bad.

I got the peas off the stove and into a bowl. Then I placed the rest of the food on the table and sat down with my husband-to-be.

I was completely distraught as L. tried valiantly to stab a piece of the leathery meat with his fork but ended up picking it up with his fingers and placing it on his plate. I started to get tears in my eyes.

He looked suspiciously at the potatoes but spooned some onto his plate and made a little lake in the middle for the gravy. Then he took the bowl of paste-like glop and scooped up a rather large dollop and shook it out into the cavern in the potatoes. It didn’t even conform to the shape of that little pond…it just sat there defiantly, like a ball of play dough. More tears.

He spooned up a serving of peas and then picked up his steak knife to cut a bite of meat. It wasn’t budging. He sawed and sawed at that little brick and just couldn’t cut through! He picked up the steak and tried to just bite it off by yanking at it with his hands and couldn’t get more than a few charred flakes of meat.

He starts to chuckle, then to laugh. I’m crying my eyes out and he’s about to fall off his chair belly laughing so hard that if I had any milk left for him to drink it would be spurting out his nose by now!

Seeing that I am sobbing, he finally gains control of himself and tried to console me saying, “That’s okay, you really tried. It could be worse.”

“How could it be worse?” I bawled. “The meat is like an old boot, the potatoes are scorched and you could shape cowboys and horses out of the gravy!! How could it possibly be worse??”

“Well,” he offered, “you could have scorched the peas. I HATE scorched peas.”