Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Miracle of a Hair Stylist

Have you ever been cocky enough to think, "I could never be more stressed than I am right now." Only to discover there were dozens of levels above your current state of chaos? I have been amazed at the heights I have been able to take stress to - particularly the last 4 weeks. If it were an Olympic sport I would be a contender for the gold medal.

As I have been hitting my maximum peak stress performance I decided I needed a break! What better pick me up than a visit to Suzanne, my fabulous friend and stylist. What is it about how our hair looks that changes how we feel about the world in general? I always like to pretend that I am not shallow enough to have my mood determined by my unruly locks...and yet...when they look good I feel good. I can't change my weight in a couple of hours - but Suzanne is able to make me look better and feel better all through the magic of scissors, words of wisdom and a good scalp massage. I am starting to wonder if the stylists chairs are made out of the same stuff as Wonder Woman's golden lasso. Once you sit in the chair - WHAM! - your world starts spilling out. As the split ends and faded color falls to the ground - so do my worries, concerns and stress. She is the "Anti-Olympic Stress trainer." (That made some sort of sense in my head.)

So, new hair style gives me the sense, even if it is only temporary, that I have a new lease on life. I am in charge of how my day...my life will go....at least until I try to make my hair do this by myself tomorrow.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sometimes you just need a good cry

Life has been rather hectic the last several months and apparently there is no reprieve on the horizon. Things are going to get more crazy. This morning I was feeling pretty discouraged. While sanding my living room ceiling I just started to cry. In fact, I started to sob. I sat down on the floor and had a good, long cry (something I don't allow myself to do very often.) And after that good, long cry I felt a little bit better. Nothing is solved, nothing will be easier....but a cry can be therapeutic, don't you think?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Story #39 Recurring themes or an encounter with Patsy

Not too long ago, on my way to a good-bye dinner for one of my employees, I met Patsy. Who is Patsy? She is the elderly woman I saw collapse on the sidewalk while I was driving down the street. When I saw her fall, I quickly turned around and parked along the sidewalk. She was slumped against a power pole, and although her eyes were open, she was unresponsive. A student from the U had also pulled over - we tried to get her to answer basic questions. "Are you okay?" "What's your name?" "Do you know where you are?" She just gazed at us...saying nothing. I dialed 911 and told the operator what had happened and where we were. She said paramedics were on the way.

As I hung up the phone, our patient began to come to - "Are you okay?" I asked. "I don't know." she answered, grumpily. "My name is Michelle, I saw you fall, what's your name?" "Patsy." "How are you feeling, Patsy?" I asked. "I need to go home." Patsy replied. "I would be happy to help you get home. Can you tell me where you live?" Patsy gazed at me for some time. I wasn't sure if she couldn't remember where she lived or if she was giving me the "once over." I do look very suspicious, after all. After a long pause, she said, "Just let me finish my walk!" "Well, I have called the paramedics. You fainted. I think your body is trying to tell you to rest. Let's wait until the paramedics arrive." "I'm old! I faint! That's what I do! You shouldn't have called the paramedics - it's none of your business." She stood up and took off down the street. What do you do at that point? Wrestle her to the ground? Yell, "Let me help you, damn it!" The student and I looked at each other. At this point the paramedics called trying to find us. I told them where we were going to be, hopped in my car and caught up to Patsy. She is surprisingly fast - for one who just regained consciousness. I scrambled after Patsy and checked on her again. She waved me away and again took off down the street. Never fear, the paramedics and I were determined to help her, whether she wanted it or not. When we located her a block away, I waved to the paramedics and took off. I chuckled, while driving to my dinner, thinking about her "I faint! That's what I do!" comment - I thought it tied in nicely to Story #39....Recurring themes.

Now, the nice thing about Patsy is she seems very accepting and comfortable with being a person who faints. It's what she does, after all. Most of us would find this a difficult way to live life....dropping to the ground unexpectedly, at any given moment - but at least she recognizes herself for who she is.

I don't seem to have reached that "This is who I am!" state of mind. In fact, I find I spend a large amount of time wondering, "What if?" "If only I had..." "Why didn't I..." instead of living in the moment - and enjoying myself. I spend all of this energy pondering variations on the past and planning for a future without doing anything in the right now.

Let me give you an example: I started gaining weight in my late 20s. So, I have had just under 15 years to think about how I hate being overweight, how embarrassed I am by my weight, how it inhibits me from reconnecting with friends from the past and enjoying the energy that comes without cumbersome fat. See what an effective use of time this is? And with 15 years of regret and self-hatred comes.....more weight. Now, you sensible people are thinking, then why not just do something about it? This is a valid question. The problem is, I have learned to turn to food for comfort in all emotional arenas. If this is not your source of comfort, you may not understand. But for me, learning to comfort myself in other ways has proven to be a challenge. I am starting to make more changes and fewer excuses as I come to accept myself for who I am, because nothing triggers eating and reduces energy like spending your thinking time wondering how your life could be different. After all, we can't make changes until we know where we are. (I am really struggling with the grammar tonight. Please be patient.)

You see, this life is not a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Did you read those? I loved those books! You would come to the end of a chapter and get to choose... open the door turn to page 39, take the stairs, turn to page 53 - But the best part was...if you didn't like what lay in store on page 39 you could still turn to page 53. It was the perfect story....endless revisions. Our lives don't exactly work that way. We can continue to make revisions - but we never, ever, get to go back and start over. No matter the stretch of your imagination, or love of science fiction, you will never be able to turn back time. Never. Ever. Get it? (I'm trying to!)

BUT.....

You can get out of the recurring themes you despise in your life. I think Satan loves to make us feel hopeless and mired down by guilt and regret. He can get you thinking that there is no real chance or possibility of change - so just get comfortable in the mire of despair, you aren't going anywhere.

BUT...

He is wrong! We can change, but only when we are honest with ourselves. If something is TRULY important to you, you will make the time to make it happen - period. You won't say, work won't let me, the kids have so much going on, etc. You will just do it. Until then, any change you talk about making is really just an area that interests you and nothing more.

I find I only make progress with changing my mindset and accepting myself when I include prayer and thanksgiving as part of the process. Only with God's help can I begin to shake off my old habits and enjoy the life I am living. I have spent most of my 40 years - especially, the last 20, wondering who I could have been. I plan on spending the next 40 enjoying who I am. I am a fat business-owning Mom, but I don't like that, so, in honor of Patsy, "I change! That's what I do!" No more imaginary "what ifs, " the choices I have made created the person I have become....and that's not so bad - in fact, I'm starting to like me...just a little.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I'll be posting soon!

High stress level=no time or creative energy for posts.

Don't give up on me...more coming soon!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Story #38 Stories from Strangers

Since I was a child, people - people I don't know or barely know - have told me their stories. They have shared with me details of their lives that surprises me in its intimacy. I have often attributed this to my super power of invisibility...maybe they sense me there - but aren't sure...therefore their story is safe with me.

I usually don't say much of anything - just listen...frequently because I don't know what to say. One time at the store, when I asked the checker how her day was she responded by tearing up. "Are you okay?" I asked. "Today is my birthday," she replied, "and I miss my kids. I got 3 kids and I haven't seen 'em in a year. I tried to call 'em - but my parents won't let me talk to them. I don't understand why I can't just talk to them....I want 'em to know I am thinkin' about them. It's just especially hard because it's my birthday. I just wanted that as my birthday present." "I'm so sorry." I say. I wonder why she doesn't have her kids, why her parents won't let her talk to them. It must be fairly serious - since it seems as if she doesn't have visitation...but she was clearly distraught. As she continued to scan my groceries she started telling me about each one of her kids. She pulled a worn Christmas picture of the three children out of the pocket of her smock. She pointed to each one and told me their names - how old they were in the picture - how old they are now. She asked me if I had any kids. "I have 2 girls." I said. "Well, don't you ever do anything that would screw up living with them...never." "I won't." I said. I gathered up my groceries and told her good-bye....and left wondering what would happen to this woman, and more importantly, what would happen to her children.

For years the same man would come to my business to re-certify every one's cpr and first aid certifications. I will call him John. John taught through stories - okay, not stories, but real first aid and even life and death situations where he had been on hand to issue aid. One day, after finishing our staff training he started to chat with me. He had a great sense of humor, and some pretty funny stories to tell. Somehow, our conversation moved to his time in Special Ops for the army. He served as a member of a medical team. Their "Special Operation" was actually helping the citizens of Afghanistan - treating a variety of ailments, from toothaches to more serious problems. Their mission was to build a relationship and trust with the community to improve feelings about the American troops being there. One day they had spent some time treating a teen aged boy who was wary at first. They won him over and soon he felt at ease and was laughing with John and the other medic. Apparently, this boy was thought to have some knowledge about the whereabouts of key Taliban members. A young soldier came and began interrogating the boy....roughly, physically....John teared up as he told me this. "We had worked so hard, so hard at getting him to trust us. So hard, working on healing ALL of his wounds...and then this young punk comes and un-does EVERYTHING. I couldn't take it anymore." He seemed to suddenly come to an awareness of his surroundings, "I'm sorry," he said. "I don't know why I went in to all of that. Tell me about you...tell me about your life." Trust me - there is pretty much nothing you can say about your own life after hearing a harrowing story like his.

If you have read my blog for awhile, you'll know I have shared a few more recent instances.
I have stories like this that go all the way back to elementary school. Some of the stories are sad, some funny and some down right inappropriate - but there are many. I feel honored, but puzzled, about why people tell me their stories. I am not sure if Heavenly Father has placed me their because that person needs to share their thoughts, or because I need to hear them for my own life learning. Maybe it's both. What I think it really means is that in this age of fear, paranoia over privacy, people are desperately looking for support - or understanding - even from a stranger. I think being there to listen is something I can do.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Story #37 Bob

It is night time. Bob and I are in bed reading. I look over at him and realize we are both lying in exactly the same position. Left hand holding the book, right hand under head. I think, "Which of us started in this position? How often do we both end up doing the same thing?" We looked like synchronized readers. My mind begins to wander...once again wondering what to put in Story #37. How do you sum up marriage? How do you paint a real picture - the good, the bad and the ugly. I often think Alicia Keys had it right - we spend our whole lives falling in and out of love with our significant other. Hear that newly engaged/married? In AND out...but then back in again. A never ending teeter-totter. When the out begins for the first time you panic...think..."Oh, no! What is happening?!" But you both shove and squirm and then somehow tip back into love.


I adjust my position - try to refocus on my book. I glance over at Bob again. Somehow we are once again in the same position - Right leg bent, both hands holding book. Weird. I glance sideways across my pillow at him. I think... the first thing I noticed about Bob, when I finally really LOOKED, was that he was strong. Not like...hey, nice body (although, he did have a nice body)....but - he could keep me safe. I felt safe when I was with him. I needed to feel safe. I felt safe being just me. I guess because I was not initially head over heels I wasn't worried about what kind of impression I was making...I wasn't trying to be someone I thought he wanted me to be...I was just being me. You can't back track from that, you know? Once you put yourself out there...that's it...they know who you are. This time, though it was okay. This time it felt comfortable because we were both comfortable - he wasn't trying to be someone other than himself. He wasn't playing any games with me. No yawn and stretch to put his arm around me - no dorky pick up lines. It felt...nice.


I remember the first time he held my hand. There was no awkward moment, no hesitation - he just reached out and held my hand. We were in his old Jimmy, returning from an evening of water skiing. I was looking out the window, when I felt his warm hand reach over and grab my hand. My stomach flipped. I glanced over at him. He was chatting with his buddies in the back seat...and just kept holding my hand. Isn't that silly...how romantic something like that can be? Madeline L'Engel once said that her favorite thing about marriage was the idea of knowing that even if you are half a world away from each other, there is someone out there for you. Someone waiting for you, thinking about you, missing you. What a wonderful feeling....that sense of relationship security - kind of like the first feeling of my hand in his.


There have been many traditional romantic holidays and gift giving occasions that Bob has missed...and some angry feelings about the red convertible mid-life crisis in the garage - but, also some unexpected expressions of love. One night I woke up feeling so sick. I stumbled upstairs, so I wouldn't wake anyone up and started to vomit. (Lovely, I know.) Amidst this awful literal gut wrenching experience I suddenly felt my hair being pulled back and a hand rubbing my back. Even in this wretched state I was touched. Bob, who can sleep through screaming children, annoying alarms, thunderstorms and probably bombs - somehow noticed me gone and came up to check on me. That is romance.


Of course, there are no guarantees. Marital life is not endless bliss. We have definitely had "the ugly" as well as "the good." So much so that we almost dove off the marital cliff of divorce. (How many random metaphors will I get going in this story?) I reached that moment of truly asking myself...do I want to stay married to this man? After much prayer, contemplation and inner turmoil we both decided, "Yes." We want to stay married and I find that incredibly romantic. To have been through hell together, to know each other's annoying traits, wonderful qualities and petty grievances and choose that person anyway - that is romance.


And so, days from our 19th anniversary I am glad that I am married to this man. I know that he loves me....and I love him. I glance over at him again....he doesn't look my way, but reaches over with his right hand and signals me to come closer. We both prop our books on his chest and continue reading. Ahhh, romance.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

In Nicole's defense...

Of the 4 family members Nicole is the least guilty of surface dwelling. Not immune to it - but the least guilty.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The most glorious sound...

You may not know this - but the most glorious sound is that of a toilet flushing. Yea! We now have two functioning toilets and two functioning sinks upstairs. You are free to use them as long as you don't mind the fact that there are no doors. Sadly, I don't think Bob will mind that at all...we will have to teach him some self-control. (And speedily paint the doors.)

On a Bob note - whatever relationship havoc the remodel had done to our marriage, the painting has repaired. For some unknown reason, Bob finds the fact that I am spending countless hours painting, very attractive. Go figure. Maybe it's the baggy, paint riddled jeans - or perhaps the paint in my hair. I don't know why I can't paint without getting it in my hair. I pull it back, put on one of Bob's baseball caps - but still, at the end of the day - paint in the hair. Someone asked me the other day what colors I chose. "Look right here." I said as I pulled forward a lock of hair, "This is the bathroom color. What do you think?" She thought I was strange.

At a bridal shower I attended last night, several neighbors said they wanted to come see the progress - to which I responded "Anytime!" But inside cringed...since the rest of the house is complete and total chaos. You see, I live with 3 surface dwellers. All of their belongings must be on some highly visible, horizontal surface. Did I mention I have an 11 foot bar in my kitchen? That's a lot of surface to cover people - but never fear - my family comes through. Alright - I confess it's not all them - sadly, (sigh) some of it is me. If I leave one magazine or the mail on the counter it seems to be the permission everyone was waiting for to start the stacks. Stacks and stacks of randomness (trying to avoid saying crap.) It drives me nuts - but it gets so bad that it seems overwhelming. Bob has all of these items (papers) that he apparently is going to need at any given moment and therefore cannot move or put away said papers.

As I attempted to clear up the other day I discovered (please enjoy the irony) a book I had purchased on organizing. The book talked about how some people need to see everything, others need it hidden away. Therefore, if you want to see everything, your desk should have stacking trays instead of filing cabinets. Anyway, in spite of the way my home is looking these days, I am definitely a "hidden away" kind of gal - and thought Bob must be a "visual" organizer. (His desk at work has approximately 200 stacking trays, give or take). When I asked him, I was stunned to hear him say "hidden away." What?! have you seen you? You are a hoarder in the making! But - nevertheless, I went with what he told me. I took this gorgeous, large filing basket, placed it on the desk in the kitchen and made folders for all of his vital papers. I lovingly showed him where everything was - and YET each time he would look for something he would come to me, panic in his voice, unable to find said papers. They are right here....on the desk, in the basket, in the folder, in the house that jack built. (sorry) This is what the basket looks like now: The surface dwellers have taken the basket captive. I would move the stack to show you the cute files, but I simply lack the courage.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A few observations on painting...

1. How can my muscles be so sore from painting?

2. I know I must be gaining "contractor" skills because my pants keep slipping down as I work.

3. My Sister-in-Law's mother can paint in stilettos and look amazing. I look like I have been finger painting with a wild group of small children. More like full body painting...

4. It is 7:30 on Saturday night...we have only prepped (takes FOREVER to fill all those little nail holes and caulk) and primed the two bathrooms since yesterday. I am now terrified of the living room. It has never seemed so large.

5. When I go to people's houses I'm going to start complimenting their walls. Not the color, just the mere fact that they have paint on them.

6. Now I know why my brother paints his walls and ceilings the same color. Was 3 tone such a great idea?

7. Who wants to have a paint party?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Story #36 Testimony

My testimony of Jesus Christ and his gospel has always been and will always be the guiding force in my life. I have been blessed with a faith, that even during difficult times I know that the Lord know me personally and loves me. I wrote the following story many years ago. Although it may be slightly high on the cheesiness scale - it represents how I feel about the Love Heavenly Father and Christ give to me.

Little One

Once upon a time there was a small family of sparrows living in a large oak tree at the edge of a meadow. The oak tree was the best place to live because on the other side of the tree was a glorious mountain reaching up into the sky. Gazing at the mountain tops filled a young birds’ heart with excitement over the idea of someday soaring up into the clouds.

In this family of sparrows was a bird much smaller than his brothers and sisters and so his mother called him “my Little One.” Because of his small size, Little One was always the last to learn a new skill, and frequently left behind in the nest as his mother attended to the needs of his siblings.

Little One did not mind being left alone. He would sneak out of his nest and hop along the branches to the other side of the oak tree to gaze up at the mountain. On the mountain lived a large and powerful eagle. Little One loved to watch the eagle spread his massive wings and seemingly float up into the clouds. How he longed to feel that kind of power and wished that his undersized wings could move with the strength of that eagle. Watching the eagle would inspire Little One to practice flying amongst the branches of the great oak desperately flapping to get up to a higher and higher branch.

One day while waiting for his family to return a large storm moved into the meadow. Winds blew and torrents of rain began beating down against the leaves of the great oak. Mother bird returned to the nest and tucked her small family in against the cold air. Little One peaked above his mothers head just in time to watch the eagle mount up his wings and force his way into the storm. Filled with concern over the safety of his hero he asked his mother what the eagle was doing. His mother explained that eagles were so powerful they could fly to the eye of the storm and let the winds push them up to the blue sky above. There they would soar until the storm had passed.

As time went on, Little One’s practice amongst the branches paid off and he was finally strong enough to join his family in the meadow searching for worms, insects and other tasty treats. Little One loved to pretend he was the eagle and flap about amongst the flowers of the meadow.

Time passed and Little One continued to grow, although never as quickly as his brothers and sisters. One day after hours of play Little One snuggled into some tall grasses to rest. Quite unexpectedly a large storm roared across the meadow.

Sheets of rain pounded through the grass, pushing the blades into the ground. Little One quickly awoke and flapped his wings toward the great oak to join his family. But the power of the storm was too great and each time Little One would take flight the rains and winds pushed him back down. Again and again he tried, but to no avail.

Tears filled his eyes as he cried out for help getting weaker with each try. He lay helpless in the muddied grass thinking that this was the end - until he thought of the eagle, forcing his way to the eye of the storm where the winds would push him up into the blue sky above. He knew that this was his only hope for survival.

In one last great attempt, he closed his eyes against the rain and wind and began flapping wildly against the storm. The wind tore at his feathers and pierced through to his skin. The heavy drops of rain tried to force him back down to the muddy meadow below. But with the image of the eagle in his mind, Little One kept working. Eyes closed against the cold winds he continued to push until his muscles burned with pain and his feathers became heavy with water.

Suddenly he seemed to feel a push from below as the winds began to lift him up. The rain was no longer pounding on his frail body and when he finally dared to open his eyes, he gazed upon endless blue sky above, while the grey clouds brewed below. The triumph of the moment filled Little One with gratitude for the times he had been forced to stay behind and watch the eagle. The eagle, whose image had inspired him to get through this trial of his life.

As the Little One looked around he could see the eagle off in the distance. But what Little One did not see was that the eagle had flown with him taking the brunt of the storm upon himself until they pushed through the storm together to the serenity of the blue sky.

Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young shall utterly fall; But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:30-31

Copyright 2004 Michelle Denney

Monday, April 26, 2010

Release the Kraken! aka Remodeling with Bob and Michelle


Frightening, isn't it? This is what Bob and I both turn into when we have to discuss the remodel. It's not pretty. Try as I might, anytime we talk about the house it gets ugly...fast. We always end up with something nice, but I feel like I have to fight....for....every.....little....decision. (Say the words slowly - make them sound painful - as if you are desperately clinging to a cliff, by your fingertips and you will start to get an idea of how I feel.)

To give you an example, 3 years ago we remodeled our kitchen. It's a kitchen, sitting area, desk, dining area all in one. I wouldn't call it a 'great room,' such as newer homes boast, but it dreams of being a 'great room' when it grows up. Anyway, I had in mind the color I wanted to paint this new room, Sherwin Williams Burlap (fabulous color). I purchased a test quart and painted a 2 foot square on the wall. Bob came home and said the color was awful. Over a couple of weeks I painted so many squares of test paint colors that local taggers were coming to admire my work. Although our checkered wall was artistic, I was frustrated! None of the colors seemed to please Bob and I still had my heart set on burlap. One day Bob walked over to our wall quilt, studied all the colors and said, "You know what? I really like this one here." He was pointing at Burlap...my very first choice. I wanted to dump all the other test quarts over his head. I said, as calmly as I could muster, "THAT is the very FIRST color I showed you!" "Oh - well, why didn't you just go with that to start with - instead of wasting money on all these other colors?" "Because you said you thought it was AWFUL!!!!" "Hm." he said and walked away. I proceeded to pull out another chunk of my hair.
The tricky part is that Bob tells me he doesn't care about the colors, carpet, tile, etc. Then when I show him what I have selected he will say something along the lines of, "That's what you chose?" Now I know you are thinking - don't ask his opinion if he says he doesn't care. But there are a few problems with that line of thinking: First, he shares his opinion whether I ask or not; Second, since it's his house, too, I want him to like it; and Third, I happen to be an obsessive people pleaser. It's a terribly annoying trait....one of the things I ALMOST learned in therapy is that not everyone will like me. It's a work in progress. Don't get me wrong - I am not a complete push over - I happen to be just as stubborn as he is - depending on the circumstance. Unfortunately, we haven't seemed to embrace the concept of compromise. I either cave, or no decision gets made, or I give up.....wait, is that the same as caving? It's only been 19 years - we're still learning how to get along.
I tend to pick small areas that I decide he will have absolutely no say in. For this project the area is light fixtures. I greedily relish every lighting choice. In my mind I think, "Hah! Look at this sparkly chandelier I chose. It will dangle over our bed FOREVER and there is nothing you can do about it!! Bwa-ha-ha!" Of course, he will most likely be oblivious to these triumphant moments - or I will endure snide little comments for 2 -3 years....but I don't care...I actually struck out on my own and made....A DECISION! (Isn't remarkable to think I run a business?)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

You forgot to turn off the light

Yesterday I was feeling STRESSED. Between the economy still taking pot shots at my business and the remodeling, I have had a hard time focusing. Last night was no exception.

Kristen and I still read stories together before she goes to bed. I told my girls that I will read with them at night as long as they are interested. It has been a great excuse to read some fun young adult and children's novels. After reading together and saying family prayers I tucked her in bed. We had our traditional hug, kiss and "Sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite" moment and I left her room. I forgot to turn off the light.

I had slipped into the bathroom only to hear her call out, "You forgot to turn off the light." "Sorry, sweets, I will turn off the light when I come out." As I was washing my hands, my mind became inundated with questions: how much time it would take to run back to work to get time cards, how could I improve summer camp enrollment, will the contractor remember to move that light?, I need to go pick out my carpet color, will we have to paint ourselves or be able to pay someone, Oh - shoot I never worked out today and it's almost 10! I have a busy day tomorrow I need to get out of here....and on and on. This and more took place in the brief amount of time it took me to wash my hands. I left the bathroom, slipped on my shoes and headed out to my car. As I was pulling out of the driveway, Kristen came running out of the house and said, "You forgot to turn off my light." I apologized, told her I had a lot on my mind...she said it was okay and went back into the house.

I thought, "Why would she get out of bed, come up the stairs and stop me from leaving to remind me that I forgot to turn off her light?" Am I seeming so consumed with my own problems that she is feeling like her needs are being ignored? There is more to this than remembering to turn out the light.

I spend all day teaching parent's about child development - but fall into the trap of not practicing what I preach. When all is said and done, no matter what happens at work, in my marriage, in my mind, I want my children to feel important. I want them to feel and believe that they are truly great individuals.

This week I am teaching parents about the importance of affection. That instinct to cuddle and cradle our little ones actually turns on a "switch", if you will, in an infant's brain. It triggers the neuron development that builds self-esteem and social development. Without that affection, an infant will not thrive.

In the 1920s the popular parenting trend was to be a "hands off" parent....literally. If your child did something that made you feel proud you could kiss their forehead or pat them on the head, but hugging, snuggling, being overly demonstrative would be detrimental to the child in the long run. In 1928 a physician named Dr. J. Brenneman, decided something drastic needed to be done to lower the infant mortality rate at his hospital. He insisted each infant and child be hugged, rocked, cuddled and carried throughout the day, or "mothered." The mortality rate dropped from 35% to under 10% in one year. The only change was the "mothering."

Unsolicited parenting advice: Learn all you can about child development...then trust your heart.

As my children grow and we all get busier and I have to think, "How many times have I hugged her today?" Virginia Satir says we need 4 hugs a day for survival, 8 hugs a day for maintenance and 12 hugs a day for growth. Had I been fitting in 4 or 8 hugs?

When I got home from work Kristen was still awake. I gave her another hug and told her that I shouldn't have forgotten to turn off her light. She said she was kind of embarrassed that she had made a big deal over it. I told her that no matter what was going on in my world....nothing would ever be more important to me than what was going on in hers. I gave her one more hug and then turned off the light.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Randomness....

The pressure to finish the stories is mounting. I want to finish them, but I will be honest - I know that certain people are expecting a story about them....but it may not all be a bed of roses - you know? The whole point of the stories was to be 100% me - but I don't want to offend...any thoughts?

After the earthquake in China, Kristen turned to me and said, "We're next." There was an earth quake in Utah yesterday....hmmm. Psychic?

I really don't think Prince Charming in Cinderella was all that charming. I mean he danced with her all night and never found out her name? Hello!

The checker at 7-11 spent a full 5 minutes telling me I shouldn't drink diet coke, after I purchased a big gulp. Do you think her boss knows?

On Wednesday, on my way to pick up Kristen from dance, I went through Wendy's drive through to get her something to eat - since she goes straight from dance to church. This was my ordering experience.

Me: May I please have a jr. bacon cheeseburger?

Wendy's woman: The bacon will be 80 cents extra.

Me: confused pause.....umm....it's on your $1 menu.

Wendy's woman: Right (annoyed) but if you want it in your kids meal it will be 80 cents extra.

Me: I don't want a kids meal.

Wendy's woman: So you just want the sour cream and chives potato?

Me: (very, very confused) I think you're looking at someone else's order. I just want a jr bacon cheeseburger and a value french fry.

Wendy's woman: (super annoyed) Do you want that in addition to the kids meal and the potato?

Me: Nope. Could I just have the burger and fries?

Wendy's woman: long pause....so now you don't want the kids meal?

Me: I never ordered a kids meal - just the burger and fries.

Wendy's woman: Fine! pull around for your total.

It was a strange experience - especially when I ended up with 2 jr. bacon cheeseburgers and the fry...

How's your week?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Story #35 Nicole


When Bob and I decided we were ready for a baby the doctor and fertility drugs quickly came into the scene. Taking temperatures and expensive pills all to see those 2 blue lines on the pregnancy test. When I finally got that result (at 4:00am) I couldn't contain myself....I was THRILLED!

Nicole was born 3 weeks early and was a tiny 6 pound 17 inch little one. I remember when it was time to leave the hospital. Bob had gone to retrieve the car and the nurse went to get the discharge papers. I was left with this beautiful tiny creature that I was supposed to dress. It didn't go well. I thought, "Why did you leave me alone with her? I don't know what I'm doing!" Somehow it worked out.

When Nicole was 6 months old, Bob was working full-time and attending graduate school in the evenings. He was pretty much gone form 7 - 10 every day. Most everyone on my street worked full time...so it was me and Nicole...without a lot of socializing options.

Having read far too many parenting books, I was always concerned that I did things just right. I knew it was important to narrate the day for Nicole - and with it just being the two of us - I felt like I needed to make things really interesting. I spent so much time talking to her I would sometimes get hoarse by the end of the day. I was fairly certain that her first words were going to be "Mom, SHUT UP!" (They weren't, by the way, her first word, at 8 months, was bear. There were pictures of bears right above her changing table so I would always talk about the bears and make up stories about them to entertain us both.

She was always around the -20% for height and weight, so you can imagine how shocking it was when she would start speaking. By 12 months she was saying 2 word phrases - which is incredibly early....but since she was about the size of a 4-5 month old...well, you can imagine the reactions we would get when we were out running errands.

She was in no hurry to walk, however, so it was just shy of 18 months that she finally took her first steps. How ironic that one of her favorite past times now is to go running.

She has invented many great words over the years - most of which we still use:

Shun-oh - Lotion

Chidder - kids, children, etc.

Pwa-pwaps - okay we don't use that one - I just think it sounds funny.

Dad-oo - What she called Bob for years....now she calls him George. We don't know why.

Pa-ba - what she called Grandpa Bob for years.

Cereal with yum-yums - Oatmeal with brown sugar.

We always read stories before bedtime....this was the debate process that took place:

Me: Go get 3 books to read.

Nicole: I'll get 7.
Me: Nope, just 3.

Nicole: How about 7?

Me: Okay - how about 4?

Nicole: 8?

Me: You don't seem to be catching on to the negotiation process.

At the age of 7 she announced to all of the children at Christy's daycare that there was no Santa Claus - or Tooth Fairy. It was not a good day at Christy's daycare. (And, by the way, I wanted her to enjoy believing in Santa and the Tooth Fairy. Her announcement to all the daycare kids was the first I knew about her doubts. Turkey.)

She has grown into an incredibly talented, wonderful girl....I mean young woman.

I don't know anyone who tries harder to obey the teachings of Jesus Christ. She reads her scriptures everyday without any nagging from us. She takes her commitment to the Lord very seriously for which I have great admiration.

You ask her to do something, she does it. What parent doesn't want that quality for their child?

She is a great pianist, in spite of very petite and always cold hands.

She is a lover of books - hurrah!

She is a great student....usually all A's.

She is an award winning artist!
She has a fabulous sense of humor.
She is drop dead gorgeous.

She is a great friend - easy to talk to and fun to be around. I adore her.

Aren't I the luckiest Mom?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Story #34 Kristen

I am dragging my feet about ending my stories. I know that I need to write about the girls and Bob - but find that a bit overwhelming. Of course right now I am finding work, home and life in general overwhelming - so much so that my shoulder are basically one giant knot!



On Saturday Kristen turned to me and said, "Mom, our family needs a theme song." "We do?" I replied. "Yep. That way when everyone finishes breakfast and we head off in our different directions - our theme song will play." "Do you have a song in mind?" "Nope - I'll get back to you." This is one of many reasons why I need to write about Kristen.

When I was pregnant with Kristen I asked Nicole what we should name her new baby sister. She looked up and immediately announced "Pwa-Pwaps" as the perfect name. It is almost as catchy as Kristen.

I love that when Kristen was a toddler and would single-handedly destroy the entire house in under 3 minutes flat she would then proceed to bat her eyelashes at me and say, "I love you, Momma." Just to make the destruction okay.

I love that Kristen was so excited about her first zit, she stretched out her arms and declared "Puberty has arrived!" She then preceded to point out the zit to each one of Nicole's friends. That first one may have been exciting...but now she experiences a little more dread if a new one appears.

I love that Kristen, at a young age, told me, "You just don't get how important fashion is to me, Mom." And that she has already decided that she is the kind of girl who will always be okay with spending $60 on a tank top. (I feel just a little differently.)

I love that Kristen has pretty much memorized the script from What's Up Doc? - just like her mother.

I love that Kristen is very comfortable around disabled people of any age, or anyone who looks or acts a little differently than most. She is always outgoing and friendly with EVERYONE. (In spite of the fact that she made that guy cry at the post office....see story #30.)

All babies and animals love Kristen - that says something!

I love how hard Kristen works in school - her grades are very important to her.

I love that I find love notes from Kristen, as well as invoices for "the pleasure of being her mother."

I love that Kristen dances in dressing rooms when trying on new clothes. Is she testing the twirl-ability factor?

When Kristen was a toddler she was constantly asking questions. If I didn't know the answer she would say, "Well, think about it!" (This is still a family mantra.) This led to me OCCASIONALLY making up answers:

One day at the grocery store, Kristen age 3:

Kristen: Mom, what's that guy's name?

Me: I don't know him, so I don't know his name.

Kristen: Well, think about it.

Me: His name is Fred.

Kristen: (Loudly) Fred, hey Fred!

"Fred" does not respond.

Kristen: Mom? What's wrong with Fred?

She would always try to add things to the cart. When I would explain that we couldn't get that item because it wasn't on the list, she would say, "You meant to put it on the list - but you are always forgetting!"

I love that Kristen has that gift for picking great colors, fabrics and designs.


I love Kristen's incredibly nimble fingers that enable her to create beautiful artwork and beautiful harp music.

I love that Kristen has the confidence to sing a solo in front of her class.


I love that Kristen understands the importance of stylish shoes.

I love how important following Jesus Christ is to Kristen.

I am so lucky to be the mother of this incredible, beautiful, talented, smart, kind person!
I meant to have all kinds of photos for this - but my scanner has decided it's not in the mood.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Positive Attitude on speed

I just finished a two day conference that incorporates a totally new approach to sales at my business. Part of the homework I had to do before the conference involved reading a book and filling out numerous worksheets to get me to the positive attitude equivalent of Jim Carrey in Yes Man. (You can see it is still a work in progress.) I had the perfect example of this attitude, however, from my fabulously precocious niece, Eva.

Eva: I'm going to be a ballerina when I grow up.

Grandma Mim: You are?

Eva: Yeah, because I'm really good at being pretty.

Don't you love that? She is really good at being pretty and is confident enough to say it.

I'm home this morning from work to do all the things I didn't get done this weekend: Laundry, cleaning, pay bills for work. But I am afraid to go back into the laundry room. The last time I was in there a chunk of floor from the bathroom above fell on my head. The remodel marches on.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Story #33 Someone's watching me?

The house destruction has begun. My cats, one in particular is have a small nervous breakdown. I think he'll survive.

In Junior High I had a great group of friends and we remained friends into high school - with one big difference - they all started to party and, being a good little mormon girl, I did not. This meant that I soon was just a school friend. No one wanted to hang out with me on the weekends - unless they needed a designated driver. (You had to be drunk to be grateful for a ride in Fred the Ford - our mighty Pinto station wagon.)

One day, my junior year, I was feeling rather frustrated about never being able to share in the stories or laughs from the weekend. So frustrated that I actually told them I was tired of not being included. One of the girls said, "We didn't think you would want to come, since we were drinking." "Well, maybe I do want come. Maybe I don't care that you are drinking." I said this in a huff and stormed away from the cafeteria table. Jennifer, one of my girlfriends ran and caught up with me. "Wait, Michelle! You're not serious are you?" she asked. "Yeah," I said, "I'm serious - I'm tired of not seeing you guys." She grabbed my arm and told me that I was the only person in her life that had ever stuck by their beliefs. She told me she would be devastated to see that one person stop practicing what they preached. She gave me a big hug and made me promise that I would never turn away from my beliefs.

I never knew anyone was noticing - let alone cared. It was a truly life changing moment.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Never ending sorting

My house is like a disaster...no...wait....My house is like an onion. A giant onion and under each layer is a rapidly procreating community of random crap. And in each one of these communities is a pair of nail clippers. Yep, nail clippers. Yesterday, in my never ending sorting I kept finding nail clippers. 5 in total last night...one more today. I don't understand where all of these nail clippers keep coming from, because we have a pair in each bathroom. Yet behind the love seat, in a random box, under my sewing table, pretty much each new corner contained nail clippers. I just think that's strange. Couldn't I keep finding money instead?

It reminds me of our wedding gifts. We received over a dozen electric can openers. This was great fun for a number of reasons. First, we had not registered for an electric can opener...anywhere. Second, I have a weird dislike of electric can openers. I can't explain why - but on the annoyance scale they are at the fingernails down a chalkboard level. (Just one more strange quirk!) We also received dozens of hideous...I mean hideous picture frames, several of them containing our wedding announcement. I don't get that. I mean, I already had a copy. Can you imagine if you gave someone a book or say, a new frying pan and the following Christmas they gave it back to you nicely framed? Or, if you framed a note someone sent you and gave it to them for their birthday? Actually, the idea of that has me laughing so hard that I am weeping. (FYI -We did not receive any plates, flatware, towels or pans.)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Story #32 The Mother-In-Law

For the past week I have been digging through our storage room. We are very lucky to have a very large storage room...but that also means that anytime someone finds something they don't know what to do with - it ends up in the storage room. Basically the upcoming remodel has turned into the world's largest spring clean. I need to move everything from the living room, bathrooms and man cave (soon to be master bedroom) into the storage room...in order for that to happen I have to clean out the storage room...at this point it seems endless!

Our storage room is filled with boxes and boxes of things from Bob's Mom's house. She passed away 8 1/2 years ago and most of the boxes have never been sorted through. Do you need paper flannel board figures from the early 60s? I've got them! Cleaning supplies from the 70s? They're here, too. How about boxes full of Kindergarten worksheets? Come on over! Bob's mom saved everything. Bob was an only child so when it came to cleaning out his Mom's house there wasn't a lot of help. Fortunately, several ladies from church helped me out - but I still ended up with a lot of things that have just gone to the recycling bin - or the dump.

I remember going through her kitchen. One drawer was filled with twist ties and yogurt cups, another had re-used aluminum foil, and another had rinsed out plastic produce bags. She couldn't stand to throw anything away. She would clean out her fridge and then give us a "bag of groceries" that I would take home and throw away. She was incredibly frugal and saved every last dime that she could - but there was one thing she was willing to spend money on and that was her son. She didn't think she would ever have kids and didn't even realize she was pregnant until she was over 6 months along! Just think, nowadays she would be on reality TV for that one!

Having a miracle child is tough in one respect....no woman is ever going to be good enough for him. To say that she was thrilled when Bob and I got engaged would be...well, an outright lie. She was very unhappy and she had no problem sharing her feelings with me. Of course the way she found out we were engaged was not ideal. Bob had come to visit me in Oregon after Christmas and had ended up proposing - not exactly planned - but once he met my parents, he fell in love with them and realized the only way to have them was to marry me. So he had talked to my parents - but had yet to inform his Mom. He said once he had the ring and it was "official" he would tell her. (I think he sensed the impending doom.) So you can imagine her surprise when my Mom called, looking for me, and said how happy she was that we were engaged. Analu did not share her sentiments. She felt that the only reason we were getting married was because I was.....well...how do I put it nicely? Because Bob wanted to sleep with me....she felt I was a bit trampy. You can imagine how that warmed the cockles of my heart.

Unbeknownst to me I was just beginning to feel the pangs of food poisoning. Not just any food poisoning - Salmonella poisoning. I ended up deathly ill and was grateful that my landlady at the time found me passed out on the bathroom floor. She took me to the hospital where they hooked me up to 3 I.V.s - one in each arm and one in my foot - to try and rehydrate me. Bob had gone out of town for work and had no idea that I was so ill. I spent a few days with my grandparents before I was strong enough to go back to my basement apartment. When I returned home I had a call from Analu. She wanted to know how I was feeling and wondered if she could come over. I mistakenly thought she had wanted to come and apologize. Instead she came to bring me a list she had compiled of all of the reasons I would make a poor wife and mother. She had written it down so that I could refer to as often as needed. She went over the list with me and left. I was stunned. I shared the list with Bob who was embarrassed and mortified - but still out of town.

After giving it a great deal of thought I created my own list full of scriptures on the importance of not judging, of loving one another and on the beauty of marriage. When I presented this to her she was surprised. She had felt so much better after sharing her list with me - she couldn't understand why I was sharing this with her. I told her that she had never given me the opportunity to respond to her list. This concept was also surprising to her - she had never thought I would have the need or desire to respond.

To say the first several years were challenging would be an understatement. But as time went on I learned more about her and the difficult past she had. Bob's father had been brutally emotionally abusive to her - which led her to divorce him and raise Bob on her own. She never felt good enough about herself to date again and simply became focused on raising her son in the best way she knew how. For years she took care of her Aunt, who lived in their home, in addition to being a full-time kindergarten teacher. Learning these things did not excuse the way she treated me - but helped me gain a better understanding of her. Years of depression and self-neglect took their toll and her diabetes took a turn for the worse. There were several occasions where I would be out running errands with the kids and suddenly feel like I needed to go to her house and check on her. I would find her in a diabetic stupor and quickly give her some juice or a candy. As the diabetes worsened I would sometimes find her completely disoriented having been unable to make it to the bathroom and confused about the time of day.

I did my best to help her in any way I could. When she entered a rest home Bob visited her every single day. I would go with him most of the time - and of course the girls - her new pride and joy - would come along as well. In spite of all of our difficulties, I hated seeing her go down hill so quickly. She was a doting grandmother and I often think how great it would be for the girls to have her here, cheering for them.

Her diabetes progressed to the point that amputation of her legs would be necessary for her to live. She was going to dialysis 3 times a week and her dementia had grown worse. When she learned of the possibility of amputation she decided she wanted to stop the dialysis - which would mean she would die within a week or so. Bob did not like this decision and spent a great deal of time trying to talk her out of it. One day she called me and asked me to come and see her alone. I went to the nursing home and found her in the "sun room" waiting for me. For the first time in a year her mind was sharp and crystal clear. She told me that she was sorry for how she had treated me. She knew I was a good wife for Bob and a good mother to the girls. She told me that she had thought and prayed and was ready to return to Heavenly Father- it was her time. She wanted me to help Bob understand that this was the best thing for her...that she was ready.

That was the last day she was able to communicate. I sat by her bedside holding her hand for 2 days as she lay in a coma. At 10:00pm on the second day she passed away. I had already come home when we got the call. I was so sad that when she passed we weren't there. She had spent so much of her life feeling alone that I hated the idea that she would die without someone with her. When Bob and I went to see her I was surprised at how peaceful she looked and hoped and prayed that her spirit felt peace. I like to believe that she is in heaven watching over us all. I hope she can see the wonderful people her grandchildren are and the good man that her son has become. I'd like to think that someday she and I can have the friendship we missed out on here on earth.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Story #31 The First Dad

A follow-up: I did write Kevin on his mission (story #29) and was excited to see him when he came back. Upon arriving at BYU, however, he met a girl and blew me off. I was bugged. We could have at least been friends...it's not like I waited for him! (Dating was quite fun at BYU.) When we ran into each other about 6 months later I was dating someone else - and after that I met Bob....you know the rest!

So I have battled with the idea of this post for quite some time. Although I do believe this is my story to tell - it's a question of should I tell this story. But, clearly, I have decided that, yes I will tell it.

My parents were separated briefly when I was around 6 months and after some attempts at reconciling were divorced when I was 3. The reasons and issues surrounding their divorce are NOT my story - so I won't go into it here.

My Father moved to France for a couple of years just as they were getting divorced so I did not see him again until the age of about 5...maybe 6 I'm not sure. Since he left when I was so young I did not really have many memories of him. I still remember going to his apartment that first time. I was nervous. I remember Lisa holding my hand as we walked up to the apartment building and buzzed to be let in - she seemed nervous, too. As the three of us were welcomed in I remember Lisa and Marc hugging him - but when he went to hug me I stiffened up and felt scared. Although I knew he was my Father - I had no memory of him - so, unfortunately, it felt like a stranger. He was not at all pleased with my reaction- and thus the reasons for my fear were confirmed. As an adult I can imagine how painful it must have been to have that kind of response from one of your kids...but I was not an adult then and could not filter my feelings as I can now.

Through the years there were many misunderstandings and hurt feelings. I think we were both looking for something from the other person that neither of us was capable of providing. There are some things I still don't understand. Why don't I remember him at any of my piano recitals? Why do I remember my Mom's friends visiting after I was hit by a car, but I don't remember him? My sister would say I should ask him these questions - but I don't see the point. Having children of my own I have realized how much he missed out on. I love all of the parenting moments - the good, the bad and the ugly. Each moment teaches me so much about who I am and how I can help my children become who they want to be. I was lucky that I had a wonderful Stepfather who filled the huge "daddy" void in my life.

There is a picture of my Father with the three of us kids when I was just a baby. He is holding me and Lisa and Marc are on either side of him. It looks like we were on a picnic of some kind. Growing up I spent a lot of time looking at that photo - trying to imagine that moment. Was I excited to have him pick me up? Did he sing me songs? Did he read me books? What would he do that would always make me giggle? I would invent the answers based on what Lisa and Marc would tell me about the games he used to play with them. He clearly loved us, but maybe it was just too painful to be the "limbo" parent. Maybe it was easier to distance himself.

I saved every letter and postcard from him. There was one letter, in particular, that I have cherished for years. It was a letter for my eighth birthday - with a fabulous poem about turning 8....it was only recently that I realized the letter was dated a month after my actual birthday.

In spite of many difficult times - I made a decision one day that I wanted to be at peace with the relationship I had with him. I wanted to let go of insecurities, hurt feelings and misunderstandings. I spent a lot of time praying for the peace I was seeking.

Then one day I remembered something or dreamed something. I believe it to be true...but to this day I am not completely sure. I remembered going out with him to the Mill Race - a stream in Eugene where you could rent canoes. We climbed into our wobbly canoe and began to paddle down the stream. The banks of the stream were lined with enormous blackberry bushes. We would get just close enough to fill our hands with the delicious berries with out getting caught in its brambles. As we coasted along the stream my fingers and lips became stained a deep shade of purple and soon I could hear the rushing of the water where it went through a grate and under the street. Soon we would have to turn around and go back.

As we got to the end of the rushing stream we saw piles of grass and debris trapped at the grate. On top of this enormous pile was a broken stop sign...on which were several small ducklings. The mother duck was on the stream bank making quite a racket - desperate to save her babies. My Father carefully climbed out of the canoe and into the water, where he moved the stop sign and saved the baby ducks.

I don't know if this is a memory or if this is a dream. Maybe it is some bizarre dream interpretation of him reading me Make Way for Ducklings - but I do know that something about that story softened my heart and helped me let go of most of my hurt feelings. I asked my Father one time how you know if something is a dream or a memory. He said that if you were watching yourself - could see your face - it was probably a dream - but if everything you saw was from your view point than it could be a memory. In this dream I only remember looking down and seeing my blackberry stained fingers, hearing that loud water and seeing him save those ducklings.

I'm sure there are many psychological interpretations that could be made from our relationship and many fingers that could be pointed in many different directions. All I know is my relationship with him is part of the reason I have arrived at this point in life...and that is a pretty great place to be.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Story #30 Proud Parenting moments.....um, actually embarrassment via my kids

Everyone knows being a parent is hard work - but no one ever tells you about the way they will embarrass you when they are young. I'm very familiar with this concept since I work with children. One of my favorite moments was during a parent child class. It was a few years ago, when women were wearing ridiculously low rise jeans. Because of this fashion statement we frequently saw more of the moms than we wanted to see. One day a little girl ran up behind another Mom who was sitting on a mat (let me be clear...this was not her Mom) and stuck her finger in the 4 inches of butt crack that were looming above her waist band.

Now things like that are funny when it is not your child - mortifying when it is your child. I have a few of those moments myself. One great moment was when Nicole was about 2. I was standing in line at the pharmacy, waiting to pick up my pre-natal vitamins....Nicole was standing quietly next to me, when I started to hear some of the other line dwellers snickering. I looked around, the snickering was getting louder - they were all watching Nicole. Nicole was playing with a long "ribbon" of condoms that were hanging from her coat pocket. I was slightly horrified - but more so when she looked up at me and said "Look, Momma, they're shiny." at which point everyone burst out laughing.

Another moment is one that is truly mixed with pride and just a sprinkling of embarrassment. Kristen has always been a girl with some attitude. She was constantly asking questions and if you replied, "I don't know" she would say "Well, think about it." (It was the way she would say it that was funny.) One day, after dropping Nicole off at preschool, Kristen and I went to the post office. There is always a line at the post office. If you don't have children let me fill you in on a little child development tidbit: children are not built to wait in lines. It is a physical impossibility. So, while I was waiting in line Kristen kept running back and forth between me and the display of postcards and stationery hanging on the slat wall. Several of the packages of postcards had fallen onto the shelf below - just at her height - so she would pick them up, show them to me, then put them back on the shelf.
During Kristen's show and tell activity an elderly lady and her adult son came in. The son began watching Kristen running the postcards back and forth. He came over and tapped me on the shoulder, "She shouldn't be doing that." he said. His voice was very deep and garbled. It was clear he had some mental/physical disabilities. I told him, "It's okay - she always puts them back." He watched for a few minutes, clearly not pleased with my answer. He then went over to Kristen and told her she should go back to her mommy. I was afraid she would cry - his voice was very deep and unusual. Instead she put her hands on her hips leaned forward and screamed "STOP TOUCHING ME." The man took a step back, looked at his mother, looked back at Kristen's angry face and then he started to cry. Although I felt badly for this disabled man, I was quite proud of Kristen. No one was going to mess with her!! My Mom always says girls need to be feisty...Kristen has that covered!

One of the most memorable moments is certainly not one of my most stellar parenting moments - but the girls and I still laugh about it.

When Kristen was 2 she became quite a hitter. Her target - there was only one - Nicole. Kristen would tell us that she wasn't hitting...they were smaps. Love smaps. She just liked to give Nicole very firm love smaps - as if changing the name made it ok. Nicole did not like the love smaps and neither did I. In an attempt to end the "smapping" I followed all of the parenting rules - I was consistent, calm and quick to respond. I tried taking away privileges...for weeks...no effect. We turned to time-outs.....again weeks of no success. One particularly bad day I resorted to... brace yourself...spanking. Now I didn't do it in anger - but I didn't know what else to try. So, very calmly, I said to Kristen, "If you hit your sister again I am going to have to give you a spanking. Do you know what a spanking is? It's when you get hit on your bum. I don't want to give you a spanking. Do you want to get a spanking?" "No," she replied "I don't. I won't hit anymore." But of course 2 minutes later she "smapped" Nicole. "Uh oh, Kristen...do you remember what was going to happen if you hit Nicole again?" "Don't do it Mom. I'll be nice." she said. "I'm sorry, sweetie - but you knew what would happen."

I then told her to come over to me and I laid her across my lap. I spanked her very, VERY gently at which point Nicole burst into tears and yelled, "Don't hurt my sister!!" This caused Kristen to start to cry and I quickly followed suit. The three of us sat on the couch crying and hugging each other. We decided hitting was a bad idea and none of us was ever going to do it again. She never hit again after that....and neither did I.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Story #29 A really good summer romance

First - a pet peeve. What is up with all of these costumed individuals on the sidewalk waving signs for cell phones or cash for gold or pizza? Is this really some great new marketing tool? I figure it must have some success because they are every where! So, how does this work, is someone out running errands, sees a pink gorilla dancing around outside a store and thinks "Gee, that makes me want to go upgrade my cell phone." And if that is the way their thought process works should they be allowed behind the wheel of a car?

Second - I have been so crazy busy lately!! I want to blog more, but work and an upcoming home remodel are completely sapping any sort of creativity that I can muster, let alone time. So be patient! I will get more consistent again soon! In order to post this I am happily neglecting completing my 2010 budget for work. (Yes, I do realize it is the middle of February. But this way it's really easy to figure out January's budget.)

Third - Last night I went to a spa party and won a gift certificate....a one hundred dollar gift certificate to....(drum roll please)....slumber parties....a sex accessory type catalog. So anyone need a whip? I had no idea how naive I was about certain things....definitely an ignorance is bliss kind of thing. I probably shouldn't put that in my blog - I already get a lot of weird spam - but I just think it is so funny! It could not be more wasted then giving it to me. (Sorry, Bob.) So expect some really unusual gifts this year! Michelle O. - anything you want for your birthday?


Anyway, on to the much requested "good kiss" story...Maybe not the best story to follow the last announcement. WARNING: The cheesiness factor is bordering on a "Velveeta" rating...so proceed with caution.


The summer before my senior year in high school I went to spend some time with my Aunt and Uncle in New York. We were going to be heading to Europe to pick up my brother from his mission and my parents thought I would enjoy spending some time with my Aunt, Uncle and cousins before we left. They lived outside of Rochester in a small community call Honeyoye Falls. It was a gorgeous area with a mixture of mansions and slightly smaller homes. I have always had a great relationship with my cousins and my Aunt and Uncle - so I was thrilled to be there.

Down the lane, in a beautiful house (you should have seen the library), complete with a 3 hole golf course and a large pond (large enough to row around in a small boat), lived a young man whom I will call....um.....Fabio...no just kidding....I'll just use his real name - Kevin. Kevin was just getting ready to leave on a mission and had a lot of spare time on his hands. Over the course of several days, Warren (my cousin) and I spent a lot of time with Kevin. We played cards, went to dinner, watched movies and took some walks. He had a beautiful smile, great sense of humor and was so easy to talk to. I was crushing in a big way. Never in a million years did I think someone this cute would be interested in me - but lo, and behold, he was interested.

Do you remember what it feels like to feel the flutter of butterfly wings when a certain someone brushes their hand against yours? Or gently guides you through the door by placing their hand in the small of your back? The way your breath would catch in your throat and you would have moments where you could swear you were floating? That was how every moment was that summer. We had an incredible time together. It didn't take long before Warren wasn't joining us on our evening strolls. I couldn't get enough of anything he had to say and he seemed to feel the same way. Too soon, our trip to Europe came. Now don't get me wrong - going to Europe was an incredible feeling and I loved seeing Marc again after 2 long years - but my mind was back in Honeyoye Falls. Everywhere we went I would wish that I was there with Kevin. I had fallen and fallen HARD!

After 3 weeks we returned to Honeyoye Falls for just a few days. I couldn't wait to see Kevin and was slightly distressed upon our return to discover that he was out of town for a few days. By the time he returned we would have 2 days together, then I would return to Oregon and he would go to Argentina for 2 years.

The highlight of this summer romance was definitely the last night together. He invited me over that evening for a picnic. When we arrived at his house, he walked me down to the pond in the vast backyard. It was a beautiful evening, complete with fireflies, candles, soft music and a warm breeze. We sat on the blanket talking, laughing and barely eating. "I wish we had more time together." he said, "I wish you weren't flying back to Oregon tomorrow." "Me, too." I replied. He stood up and brushed off his pants. He turned up the music and said, "I have been trying to find a way to ask you to dance, without it seeming silly." (Insert sigh here.) I stood up and he wrapped me in his arms and we danced. I know it sounds over the top corny, but I am telling you it was foot sweeping on the level of a zamboni.

Soon a light sprinkle of rain began to fall, we both looked up, started to laugh and hurried into the house. He took me into the library. An enormous room lined with mahogany book shelves and great big leather arm chairs. He guided me over to the sofa where we started to talk....YES, TALK...for hours. Around 4 a.m. he started to rub my shoulders. He ran his fingers through my hair then traced my jawline and the outline of my lips with his fingertips. His fingers ran along the edge of my ear and across the back of my neck as he gently turned me around and gave me a long, soft, gentle kiss.

There was no long make-out session, no groping hands, just one tender, heart-felt, passionate kiss. As he pulled away I had to remind myself to breathe. We both looked at each other - slightly teary - wondering what would have happened if we had met at a different time - when the toll of the grandfather clock began.

The sound of the clock suddenly brought me to the awareness that I had been out ALL night and might have hell to pay when my parents discovered my perfectly made bed. We both agreed it was time to go. We walked down the dirt lane to my Aunt and Uncle's house as the sun was starting to rise. The closer the house got the slower we walked. We embraced one last time and I crept into the house, forcing myself not to look back.

It was the kind of summer romance that every teenage girl deserves to experience. No regrets, just sweet memories of a first love.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Story #28 The Ivory Keys

You know, I sort of started this 40 stories for my 40th for a couple of reasons. One was to get myself writing on a regular basis and getting down some memories, another was sort of a "this is me" portrait. A way to see how I ended up where I ended up and to be okay with that place. A lot of stories are funny, but many are difficult stories. I haven't written many of the difficult ones because I don't want to put others in my life in a less than stellar light. So I feel very conflicted. I have always believed that with journal keeping you should be yourself, the good, the bad and the ugly. How else will our children and others learn how we hopefully rise above problems - and how we all experience difficult times? Too often during emotional times, people are afraid to share how they feel - afraid they are the only ones to feel that way - afraid to look foolish or strange - wouldn't it be nice to know you are not alone? I heard in a lesson at church that we should always keep our journal entries positive....I thought that was...well...idiotic. We wouldn't be able to bask in joy if we hadn't experienced some pain, right? Don't worry, though, I will try to the skeleton displays in my own closet - not yours.

I come from a very musical family. Music has just always been and continues to be a part of our lives. The fact that I have a semi-grand harp and a baby grand piano on 40 year old carpet should let you know where our priorities lie. I am very happy that my talented daughters are continuing the musical tradition!

I started to play the piano around the age of 8. My mom never had to tell me to practice because I was always competing for piano time with my brother and sister. When something seems unattainable, it becomes more enticing! (Now you are all trying to figure out how to get that situation going with your kids, right?) I liked piano right off the bat. My first teacher's name was Lori and Marc and I both took lessons from her. Lisa didn't enjoy lessons - I think she maybe took a year? But, of course she was the one that could and still does, just listen to a song and sit down and play it. No fair.

Anyway, we took from Lori for some time and then stopped for awhile. I went through one more teacher before I started taking from Beverly Smurthwaite. I loved taking lessons from her. It wasn't long before I found that playing the piano was a great emotional outlet. I didn't always feel like I could let my true feelings out at home - but the piano was always a great source for releasing joy, anger, depression, and happiness. Mrs. Smurthwaite seemed to sense what an emotional release the piano was for me and we spent a lot of time exploring different composers for the types of emotions they elicited. Because of this I felt a very deep connection with her. Our lessons each week felt like some kind of musical therapy and in those teen years you need that!

The problem was I suffered from performance anxiety. I thought "Why do I become so incredibly terrified to play in front of other people?" My siblings would frequently seem quiet and shy - but then - put a mic in front of them and they would come to life! I wanted the piano equivalent of that...maybe if I had been shy that would have happened. But when your older siblings make you go up to the clerk in a store to ask questions - or to be the one to ask where the restrooms are - you get over the shy thing rather quickly.

I soon became the designated accompanist for family performances - that wasn't so bad. I knew I wasn't the main event...I just had to try and make the singer look good - but to play a solo? Terrifying! My hands would shake so much that I could barely get the keys to press down. Of course, the more anxious I became about the shaking, the more I would begin to forget what I was playing....leading to one horrid performance after the other. Since I had this pathological desire to live up to Lisa and Marc's ability to perform I continued in a cycle of self-induced piano panic.

In my junior year of high school I had spent months working on Mozart's Fantasia in D minor. I loved this piece!! (I still do.) It had these amazing runs that made me feel like I could play anything. Mrs. Smurthwaite, knowing of my tendency to panic, spent many lessons helping me get comfortable performing the piece. I thought maybe, just maybe, this piece would be my break through moment. I would conquer my fears! At the recital I walked bravely up to the piano. My heart beat was calm, I felt almost relaxed, until I pressed the first key. The piano I was playing on had incredibly stiff keys. The recital took place at a local church and it became clear that the organ was the instrument of choice. To get any tone out of the piano took immense finger strength.....I felt doomed. There was no way I was going to be able to perform the runs at the necessary lightning speed. I stumbled through the performance, on the verge of tears the entire time. As I finished, instead of walking back to sit with my parents, I immaturely ran out to the car. I was so embarrassed.

At the end of the recital one of the other students, an adult woman, came to the car and told me she loved my performance. I looked at her like she was crazy. She said, "I know it didn't come out the way you wanted it to, but the emotions you were able to convey through the music touched my heart. I just wanted you to know." Hmm.

As years went by, I couldn't seem to shake my inability to perform a piano solo or accompany someone, without making error after error, until about 10 years ago. A neighbor of mine asked me to accompany her while she sang to a group of retired folks who met at church every Monday night. I practiced hard. It was a challenging accompaniment and I didn't want to do anything that would distract from her singing. As I took my place at the piano I said a small prayer and began to play. As I played I began to realize that these people weren't listening for mistakes, but simply grateful for the performance. I felt this wonderful sense of love and appreciation as I played for my friend Kathy. I had never played so well. I didn't make one mistake - I think Kathy was as shocked as I was. But instead of feeling proud, I simply felt grateful for the experience. I realized that playing was not a way to bring positive or negative attention to myself, but a gift that I could give to the kind souls who would listen to me play. I can still picture the faces of the people in that room - and I try to remember that feeling whenever I have the opportunity to play.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Story #27 Colliding with Cars, part 2

A quick work story:


A conversation between a few 4 & 5 year old boys:


Boy 1: What do you want to be when you grow up?


Boy 2: I'm gonna be Santa Clause!


Boy 1: You can't be Santa Clause! That's not a real job!


Boy 2: Yes it is!!! I give away toys. That's my job.


Boy 3: That's not a real job, 'cause you don't make any money, you just give it all away!


Boy 2: GRRRRRR!

Anyway....

I tend to be slightly delusional in many areas of my life. I frequently get shocked when I look in the mirror..."Who is that fat woman?" since when I peer down at myself it doesn't seem that bad. (Rosie O'Donnell called it the opposite of anorexia - thinking you are thinner than you really are.) Although the dieting is progressing...


When it comes to cars I didn't realize how delusional I was until my birthday party. I always think of myself as a good driver, after all I didn't get my first ticket until last year, and I really haven't been in any accidents......have I?


It turns out I have - but fortunately I was usually the only driver. So I am a great driver out on the street where there are other cars and drivers - but put me in a parking lot full of driver-less cars and watch out!!


Case #1: The summer after my freshman year in college, my church was putting on a big musical which both of my parents and myself were participating in. It just so happens that shortly after the rehearsals began I broke my right ankle. I was lucky enough - after a few days of crutches - to be put in a walking cast. (You should have seen me dancing!) The walking cast was cumbersome and heavy, but far better then spending the whole summer on crutches!


After rehearsal, one Saturday, I climbed in my mighty Pinto to drive home. As I slowly backed out of the parking space, my heavy right foot slipped off of the brake onto the gas pedal and WHAM! I hit something hard. I pulled on the emergency brake and stepped out of the car. I had managed to back into my parent's Camaro - which then rolled back and hit the family van. Did I mention that the 3 of us drove separately? In one fail swoop I managed to ding up all three of the family cars! Fortunately, the damage wasn't bad, but my normally mild mannered StepDad was less than thrilled.

Case #2- Shortly after Bob and I got married I drove his car to work. We always referred to it as "the mighty Jimmy," and it was a nice companion to the pinto - "Fred the Ford.") Well, I was driving the mighty Jimmy and went to workout after I finished work for the day. Still to this day I am not quite sure what happened.....I decided to take a short cut through a bank drive-thru and somehow lost control of the car - slamming into one of the concrete pylons. Don't worry - the concrete was okay - the Jimmy not so much. I was so scared to tell Bob! I found a pay phone (remember those?) and called him at work. I was sobbing on the phone. He waited patiently to find out what was going on - as I calmed myself down enough to tell him I was suddenly struck by how funny it was that I tried to drive through a drive-thru...get it? I know - but maybe I was in shock. So, as I told him I started to laugh hysterically (it's neat to be crazy) until I was almost in tears again. Just like my Dad in case #1 he was less than thrilled.

There happens to be one other story, but it's not very interesting. Suffice it to say - the mini-van ended up with the passenger side all scraped up. Sharp concrete corner in a parking garage drive way....I choose to blame the concrete.

If you are ever in a car with me you have absolutely nothing to fear! I save all my fender benders for my alone time. Need a ride?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Story #26 We're armed and dangerous

Sorry about the very long delay in my posts. Without going too far into the TMI realm, let me just say that over the past two weeks I was unknowingly experiencing an entire year's worth of PMS. Don't you wish you had been with me?

Marc and I spent a lot of time together when we were growing up. I look back on it fondly, he probably looks back on it as having to babysit all the time. Marc educated me on the finer points of movie and television viewing at a very early age. Without him who knows how much I would have watched Land of the Lost, Charlie's Angels, The 6 Million Dollar Man or Star Trek. As soon as videos came into the picture he kept me well trained on what made a movie worthwhile (although I believe that definition may have changed over the years). Many of the movies we watched were a little scarier than I would have chosen for myself...but I didn't want to seem like a baby. We would watch all the James Bond movies, then all the Alfred Hitchcock movies and so forth. Most of our viewing entertainment was either a thriller, sci-fi or the (much dreaded) horror flick.

One night, as we watched some pre-Stephen King scariness I thought I heard someone outside. I mentioned it to Marc who immediately thought my movie fear level was affecting my senses. Moments later we heard some more noises....and heard the front door knob rattling. Hah! It wasn't just my over active imagination!! I asked Marc if we should call the police. Channeling some sort of Captain Kirk-esque macho-ness, he said no, went into the kitchen and came out with a big knife. He crept into the front hallway with me tiptoeing closely behind. The doorknob was slowly turning back and forth. Keeping a close eye on the door knob, Marc stealthily reached up and slid the door chain onto it's latch. (That 1/4" of chain link will keep them out!) I started wondering what Marc was going to do with this knife....every thing I imagined seemed awful or ineffective so I ran and called a neighbor who lived up the street.

I now have mixed memories on whether Marc tried to open the door and just reach the knife through...but I'm not sure.

We both jumped about three feet when there was a loud knocking on the door. "Kids, it's me, Larry! It's okay you can open the door!"

Relieved, we un-slid that all important chain lock and opened the door. The entire front yard was covered in toilet paper. Some of my sisters many suitors, knowing how a girl would swoon over the sight of toilet paper, had not only bedecked our entire front yard (we had an ENORMOUS maple tree), but had also covered the front door and the windows with shaving cream...thus the door knob jiggling - they wanted to be thorough, after all. I had so much adrenaline coursing through my veins I couldn't sleep for hours. I think Marc may have been slightly disappointed that he wasn't able to get rid of the intruders, or better yet avenge the toilet papering and fly off into space. The next weekend, we chose a comedy - not as exciting, but no need for knives and sleepless nights.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Story #25 Jane of all trades, Mistress of none

Before I begin, a question...Do you get those emails from places like MyLife or Classmates that say "You are in demand!" or something similar? I keep getting those and I have to say I find it disheartening when I excitedly open the email, wondering who could be demanding me and lo and behold...in the past 12 months one person looked me up. I realize this is just a ploy to get me to join their site....but if they really want to get me they should bump up the numbers a little. Anyway.

My creative abilities, like my energy, comes in waves. Nothing, nothing, MUST CREATE, nothing. Perhaps this is why I have experimented with many moments of craftiness - and yet I am greatly lacking in expertise in any one area. My sister-in-law and her friend Jill have this wonderful tradition of creative Friday, which has always sounded heavenly to me. They make cards, labels, work on scrapbooks, or whatever project they are trying to finish. I have thought this is something I should do! Or I should crash their party! In reality, I wonder if I would just sit across the table from them and stare, mind blank, no creative juices flowing. I could be their cheering section. "Wow, way to create." "WooHoo!" Or maybe I would simply gaze into space mumbling things like..."You're so pretty." (I know - I'm in a really weird mood today.) Could I be creative on demand? No, idea.

Now, don't get me wrong....I am not all thumbs or completely inept. In fact sometimes I think I may have created something great - but then I see a project of someone who is very dedicated to their art and I realize mine looks like some kindergarten craft involving a toilet paper tube. I think that is the main problem - I just can't seem to dedicate hours on end to building skills in one area. My name is Michelle and I have crafting attention deficit disorder.

Many, many years ago I went with my cousin, Warren, to his water color lesson. Warren is a very talented artist, so I think the instructor was expecting some sort of talent from me. I just wanted to observe the lesson but she insisted that I join in. She said, "Water color is a very forgiving medium. Just paint." Ummm...I looked over at Warren...I was cheating already...what was he painting....I'll just copy it. She caught on very quickly and became very frustrated, "Don't you have any ideas of your own? Let your heart decide what to paint." So I did what any normal, television raised child would do, I channeled Bob Ross and tried to paint a happy little mountain with a happy little lake. It didn't go well. Too many years of laughing at Bob Ross to actually get help from him. I am pretty sure I caused Warren's teacher to have a mini-stroke. She finally grabbed the brush from me and muttering under her breath, tried to make something artistic out of my blue circle and brown triangle. Apparently an artistic flair and anger flare go hand in hand. All the while, Warren was thoroughly enjoying the interaction between the two of us. Giggling as he painted these incredibly beautiful flowers. I was the artistic equivalent to the child in the corner with the dunce cap on. I have been terrified of water colors ever since.

A few years ago, out of budgeting concerns, I decided that I would not take on any new hobbies. Whatever hobbies I had experimented with at that point was it. I could try and excel in those and nothing more. So, for some reason that shut me down completely. In the past I have done:

tole painting
scrapbooking
cross stitch
sewing
quilting
Russian needle punch
sketching
calligraphy

Just to name a few. I decided that nothing could be added to the list. Because, if you are crafty, you know that every craft comes with 4 billion necessary accessories. There is always some new invention, book or product that will improve your crafting abilities. I blame Martha Stewart. She made crafting accessories so cute you just had to have them - then all the other crafting companies followed suit.

So now that I have limited myself to these areas I have produced very little in the past few years. I have done a needle punch for my Dad and his wife, a cross stitch for my Mom, a few sewing projects for friends and the girls and that's it. What I would like to do is just put my girls on a couple of pedestals and say..."Look what I made!" Is that crafty enough?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Story #24 Is this my story to tell?

I always try to be very aware of whether or not I have the "right" to tell a story. There is one about Nicole that I have wanted to share but didn't want to take away from the fact that this happened to her...I just happened to be the mom. I can only tell what happened on my part - she was unconscious for most of it anyway.

Remember when the Olympics were in Sydney, Australia? I clearly remember those particular games. I remember that my parents were visiting. I remember that Bob was working a swing shift job and therefore gone in the evenings. And I remember that Nicole almost died.

I had just put the girls to bed. My parents had begun watching the games upstairs in the family room - so I went in and joined them. After about 2 minutes a thought came into my head, "Go down to bed." I thought this was very strange. It wasn't very late and I wasn't tired - but I definitely had a thought that I should go to bed. I ignored it. The thought came again, more intense than the first time, "GO TO BED." I turned to my parents and apologized. "I'm sorry, but I have to go to bed." I quickly went downstairs. First I peeked in Kristen's room...she was fast asleep. Then I peeked in Nicole's room - she wasn't there, but her bed had vomit on it. I went into the bathroom - she wasn't there. I looked in my room and saw her lying on my bed. "What are you doing, sweetheart?" I asked. She didn't respond. I could tell from the reflection of the hall light that her eyes were open. I walked in and turned on the light and discovered that Nicole's eyes were open but she was unresponsive. Strange noises were coming from her throat. I ran over and sat her up - pounded on her back - thinking she was choking - but got zero response. Her skin was grey and her lips were blue. I was terrified, but calm. I called to my parents. They helped me wrap her up and my Mom and I raced to the car.

I have never driven so fast. I flew down the hill - knowing that there would be green lights and absolutely no one to interfere with our drive to the hospital. I honked the horn at each intersection to warn people that I was coming through. At one point my Mom said, "Slow down!" But I knew I couldn't slow down and I knew we would get there alright.

I pulled in front of the emergency room doors, scooped Nicole out of my Mother's arms and raced inside. Right there in the hallway was a doctor and two nurses who were just going on a break. They saw me, came running over, and snatched Nicole up in their arms as we all raced back to a gurney.

They fired off questions:

"Has she had any medication?"
"Does she have access to anything poisonous?"
"Did she fall or hit her head?"

No. No. No.

"I read her stories, we said prayers, she went to bed. Everything was fine."

Her oxygen level was at 40%. She had aspirated on vomit. She was having a grand mal seizure. She was not regaining consciousness. I was so scared - and yet I felt the hand of the Lord with me the whole time. Why would the Lord prompt me to go downstairs, why were there only green lights and no traffic on such busy streets if she were not meant to live?

Her small little form was surrounded by medical personnel talking over one another and working on her all at once. They were able to clear her airway. Her oxygen levels were improving, but she was still unconscious.

They took her back for a CAT scan. Through the entire process she remained unresponsive. When the doctors determined that she was stable they loaded her into an ambulance to head to Primary Children's Hospital.

It had been over an hour and a half and she had not woken up. Even with strong faith, it is frightening to see your little one in such a position.

I climbed into the ambulance beside her. Bob and my Mom were going to drive separately. The ambulance was surprisingly quiet. The paramedic who sat along side me gave me a sad, awkward smile. For some reason, that was the moment that my eyes finally filled with tears. And that was the moment a little voice said, "Momma, where am I?"

Never was there a more glorious sound in the world. I explained to her that she had been sick and the doctor wanted her to have a special ride to the hospital to make sure she was okay. She said, "Alright." Then closed her eye and went to sleep.

After testing and another scary seizure the neurologists discovered that Nicole had abnormal electrical activity on the lower left side of her brain. They didn't know what was causing the problem, but they could treat it with medication. The type of seizures she had were somehow triggered in the process of her falling asleep. I haven't slept through the night since. I always have to check on her and on Kristen. I remember when she was about 10 and I peeked in her room in the middle of the night she murmured "I'm fine, Mom." Nicole's pediatrician gave me great advice. She said, "Epilepsy is something that Nicole has, don't let it define who she is." I tried very hard to remember that - but still felt a little nervous when she would swing, or swim or ride her bike.

My neighbor is convinced angels moved her into my room. "How else could she have gotten there?" She has asked. Maybe she is right. I certainly never would have done more then glanced in to see if she was in bed. She was 5 years old - we weren't at the point where I was holding a mirror under her nose to see if she was breathing. So it leaves one to wonder...

I'm happy to say that she has been seizure free for almost 5 years. We were very fortunate that she grew out of this form of Epilepsy. I feel very blessed that I heard that voice telling me to go to bed, blessed that my parents were there, blessed that the traffic was light and blessed that those medical personnel were so quick to resond - Because I can't imagine my life without Nicole in it!