I do like to be beside the seaside.


We had a good day at Ocean City. We enjoyed each other’s company, we found plenty to laugh about. But, as Oldest pointed out last night as we were posting our pictures on FB and phoning our family back home, the photos look as if we had a long, joyous day on the shore. In reality, all the really good stuff happened in the space of about half an hour and the rest was stupid.

imageGood stuff:
+No seagulls pooped on us.
+The kite festival was interesting.
+Oldest saw the ocean along a U.S. coast for the first time.
+It was actually pretty clean.

imageStupid stuff:
+If I wanted to walk past piercing parlors, t-shirt shops, candy stores, and souvenir stands, I’d go to a trashy carnival. I do not.
+Food: expensive and quite nasty. Even though we chose a sit-down place billed as “Maryland’s Best Irish Pub.” I feel sad for the state of Irish pubs in Maryland.
+Traffic on the way there and especially on the way back was painful. We’re accustomed to wide open spaces. Our highways at home have a speed limit of 65-75, and don’t have stoplights on them every few miles.

Redeeming the outing somewhat was a quick side trip to Assateague Island. We just drove around, and we did actually see some wild horses (though they were close to a parking area and some imageoutbuildings, so the effect was as if they were domestic and they’d just escaped from their paddock). A friend tells me her family camped there every year when she was young and she still has wonderful memories, so I’m sure it’s a great place. Probably here again it’s a matter of what you’re accustomed to. Horses aren’t a big deal at home. We have friends who own them, and we see them all the time when we’re driving anywhere on the highway.

Truly, it was the differences between this area and our home in the Midwest that I found most interesting. Being around people for whom boating is a life skill. Repeatedly coming upon bodies of naturally occurring water. Inviting, well-kept farm produce stands every few hundred yards along the “highway.” Oh, and along those “highways,” the lack of derelict barns, outbuildings, and grain silos. Apparently people in this part of the world very cleverly take down their old, collapsing farm structures – as opposed to our part of the world, where to see the proliferation of ancient, crumbling barns and farm houses you’d think an apocalypse must occur every 50 years or so. It does have the effect of making an attractive, scenic drive through rural Maryland/Delaware.

Coming up on the last day of this trip: Oldest has a lab TA meeting during which I’ll visit the campus bookstore. We’ll hang out together a little more and squeeze in a few more games of Bananagrams before I head to the airport. Then a long flight that diverts to Tampa (what was I thinking?!) and finally home just before dark, to be picked up at the airport by The Husband. First time I will have seen him in two months, so it’s a joyful ending to a lovely long weekend away.

Good-bye east coast, hello Midwest.


Filed under adult children, families, family life, marriage, motherhood, parenting

A day in Baltimore

Things I’ve seen today running around in Baltimore with our oldest:

•The Black and Decker world headquarters (this would have been very exciting for The Husband and The Boy)
•Pimlico race course
•The building from which the Hubble telescope is controlled
•Carnegie Institute

After a morning of shopping and walking around in Towson to find an interesting place to eat (we ended up with Vietnamese), we spent the afternoon at the street fair right in Oldest’s neighborhood. Picked up some excellent, one-of-a-kind souvenirs and Christmas gifts. And got to see this:

Found outside "Cafe Hon," where we ate Friday night. I thought Oldest was saying "Cafe Hun." Either way, I had a great burger there.

Found outside “Cafe Hon,” where we ate Friday night. I thought Oldest was saying “Cafe Hun.” Either way, I had a great burger there.

and this:

An annual event at this festival: toilet racing. The rules seem to be limited to having one or more toilets (or urinals) mounted on a human-powered cart.

An annual event at this festival: toilet racing. The rules seem to be limited to having one or more toilets (or urinals) mounted on a human-powered cart.

It’s only 4:30 and we’re already done with the scheduled events for the day. Tonight it’s just card games, leftover chicken noodle soup from last night’s dinner, and the final episode of Ken Burns’ “The Roosevelts.” My kind of vacation.

And tomorrow, Ocean City!


Filed under parenting, moms, motherhood, adult children, family life, families

Up or down?

Visiting our oldest, who shares a house with two other students, one male and one female, I’ve been forced to keep my mouth shut (uncharacteristically) regarding the debate about toilet seats: up or down?

All discussion has long been closed on this issue in our home.

The answer is down. Don’t argue. That’s just how it is.

No. Just....no. This is so wrong.

No. Just….no. This is so wrong.

Here are the facts:
•There are five people in our household. Two guys, three girls. Majority rules.
•Looking at the statistics involving events of elimination in our household of five, eight out of ten of these events involve sitting down.

The toilet seat goes down, gentlemen.


Filed under families, family life, life lessons, marriage, moms, motherhood, parenting

Paradigm shift

Waking up this morning over 1,000 miles from home should have thrown me for a loop. Especially when you combine that fact with the solitary travel I did yesterday, clinging desperately to Siri for directions from the Baltimore airport to Johns Hopkins campus to pick up my daughter. Siri came through for me beautifully, by the way.

But I did it all, quite matter-of-factly.

No, what’s throwing me is that The Husband arrived home late last night, and HE is all comfortable and happy in our cozy house without me.

I’m thrilled that he’s home and getting some down time. And I’m in absolute shock because he was awake and texting me at 6:45 his time. By 9:00 he’d already been to the grocery store and started his own laundry.

Bottom line, everything in my own personal universe has turned upside down. It turns out I’m a good solitary traveler. I’m not bad at navigating life without having every ounce of my attention tuned to the needs of the family and the household. My husband has learned to be self-sufficient.

I left our house empty of groceries, for Pete’s sake! Without a qualm! I’m perfectly confident that Middle Sister can pick up some food, plan a few meals, and feed herself and her father while I’m gone.

It’s a whole new world.

My day so far:

Oldest as we hiked to campus this morning

Oldest as we hiked to campus this morning

This is staged, but this is one of the things she does in lab.

This is staged, but this is one of the things she does in lab.

I got to be unskilled labor in the lab this morning - putting the plugs in these fruit fly tubes. New job!

I got to be unskilled labor in the lab this morning – putting the plugs in these fruit fly tubes. New job!



Filed under adult children, attitude, empty nest, families, family life, life lessons, marriage, moms, motherhood, parenting

What a lovely thought.

one-lovely-blog1I’m woefully slow in responding, but at some point in the not-too-distant past Merryn (and what a beautiful name that is!) at Humble Heart Scribbles nominated me for the “One Lovely Blog” award. Thank you, Merryn! I suspect I’m not the only blogger who feels humbled and honored to hear that something she’s written has touched the heart or mind of a reader.

Award rules:

  1. Thank the person who has nominated you.  Provide a link to his/her blog. (check!)
  2.  List the rules and display the award image. (check!)
  3.  Include 7 facts about yourself. (check!)
  4.  Nominate 15 other bloggers and let them know that they have been nominated.  This is a way to introduce others to bloggers that you love. (check! – sort of)
  5.  Display the award logo and follow the blogger who nominated you. (check!)

At the risk of boring to tears anyone who’s still reading, here are “seven things about me:”

  1. I LOVE to read. Mostly cozy mysteries, but also history, biography, and general literature. And my very favorite books (and the friends within them) are on my shelf to read over and over and over again.
  2. I’ve never had a nickname. I do not feel deprived by the lack.
  3. I also LOVE crafting and handwork. Long ago I did a lot of embroidery and cross stitch. Now it’s mostly knitting, crocheting, and interesting projects I make up on my own to give as gifts. Oh, and jewelry making.
  4. The only time I ever bought a lottery ticket was once a couple of years ago when there was a huge prize and my co-workers and I went in for a big pile of tickets. I work for a church. Make of that what you will. We’re a raucous bunch.
  5. I had a secret admirer for a few weeks at one point in my life. It was creepy. I don’t recommend it.
  6. I am a total neat freak. But I can live with some dust and grime. Especially if I don’t put on my glasses.
  7. I loved standardized test days when I was in school. I would finish as quickly as I could and then we were allowed to just sit and READ.

Okay, now I’m going rogue. Nominating 15 other bloggers just seems excessive. But here are five I never miss:

  1. Glue Stick Mum
  2. The Emptying Nester
  3. Moby Jo Cafe
  4. Eye Rolling Mom
  5. So Long Suburbia

I hope you’ll check these writers out – they’re well worth your time!

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Filed under blogging, familes, families

Support for My Little Free Library: Fingers Crossed

I mentioned in a post earlier this week that there was one task involved with getting my Little Free Library going that I was NOT looking forward to.

But I tackled it today, and I’m just hoping my actions will reap some results.

imageA very important aspect of having an LFL is gathering community support. For one thing, I want people in the neighborhood to know about the library so they’ll use it and enjoy it. Just as importantly, getting people on board and supportive will, I believe, go a long way toward preventing vandalism.

All along I’ve thought it would be very helpful to get the support of the librarians and administration of the two schools within blocks of our house. Smart, right? But here’s the issue:

For a year and a half I worked at the elementary school around the corner. And our kids went there, so I was a frequent visitor and volunteer. In those years, there was a P.E. teacher who truly despised our family. In my role as a paraprofessional I witnessed her regularly bullying children. When she was called out for bullying a special education kid, she blamed me for not TELLING her the kid was in special ed (as if that would have prevented her from being horrible to this child).

And then there were our kids. All three of them were in our district’s gifted program, which meant they were away from their home building one day each week. For various reasons, this sometimes meant that they came into their P.E. class late. This same teacher bullied them and berated them in front of the whole class when this happened. Along the lines of “You make me sick, wandering in here whenever you feel like it. You don’t get special treatment just because you’re in your sweet little gifted class.” My husband and I got to find ways to deal with this abuse without making the situation worse. Oodles of fun.

The problem is, the librarian of this school was always tight with that P.E. teacher. So, though I volunteered extensively for the librarian, she didn’t much care for me, either. Both are still at this school. I’m really afraid my overtures toward the school will be rejected – I’ve got a stomach full of butterflies over it.

So it wasn’t easy for me to send an email today, explaining the Little Free Library and asking to get together to talk about how the school kids could benefit from it. A friend suggested I copy the school principal on the message, in an attempt to force accountability.

My fingers are crossed. I’m hoping a sense of community and good will might win the day.


Filed under attitude, books, familes, families, life lessons

The Homeburglar

I believe those of us lucky enough to enjoy a sense of security in our homes tend to take that security for granted. It’s only when something shakes that tranquility that we appreciate how important it is.


Sadly, it’s pretty rare to get this result after a burglary.

Yesterday evening Oldest texted me that she’d returned home from lab to discover that the house she shares with two other students had been broken into. The kitchen was a mess, and she quickly noticed that her old Mac (she got a new one a year ago) was gone.

As the evening wore on, we kept in touch about what was happening. The police came to take fingerprints and make a report. Quite a few  items belonging to her roommates were missing, as well – including, maddeningly, one girl’s important daily medications. Being forced to spar with her prescription “benefit” company to immediately get replacement meds ON TOP OF the blow of the burglary is the ultimate insult.

The three friends sat up late into the night discussing the violation and discovering more and more things that had gone missing. The last I heard they planned to camp out in the living room together overnight, because they all felt uncomfortable being alone in their own bedrooms – which had all contained a malicious stranger at some point yesterday.

I understand that fear. When I was in high school I was the first one to return home one day and found our house had been ransacked. The television was the most obvious item missing. But what hurt me the most was the loss of my bedside clock/radio. It wasn’t an expensive appliance by any means. But it had been my constant companion every night; it was an intimate part of my daily life. And some creep had been right there where I slept, talked with friends, and did homework every evening. It was several weeks before I could sleep through the night again.

On the lighter side of the issue, we had an annoying and expensive yet funny theft one summer when The Husband and I took the kids to Texas to visit my sister’s family. While parked near a nature reserve for an afternoon hike, someone smashed our van window and stole what I’m sure they thought was a purse. What they actually got was a nylon bag with a Velcro closure in which we put our trash when travelling. Meaning they got a handful of snotty Kleenexes and old snack wrappers. Ironically, I had left my purse under the back seat rather than carry it with me on the hike, but the creeps missed that. The good fortune of not losing my purse combined with imagining the thieves’ disappointment over their haul allowed us to handle the whole experience with good humor.

I leave tomorrow for my long-planned visit to Oldest, and it will seem a little odd to intrude on my daughter’s little household when they’re still reeling from the burglary. They’re all such busy, driven students I don’t imagine they’ll have time to do much clean-up (both from the intruder and from the fingerprint dust)  before I arrive tomorrow. But maybe I can play a small role as a surrogate mom, a comforting presence, and an extra hand to help with the necessary cleaning. At the very least I can cook them a nice dinner to give them all a bit of a break. Mom goes on!

photo credit: pirate johnny via photopin cc


Filed under adult children, families, family life, life lessons, loss, moms, motherhood, parenting

Things are looking up.

I’m holding off on patting my own back, but it’s seeming more and more like I’ve figured out how to manage living in the cavernous, echoing, empty house that is becoming a nearly permanent thing.

It’s a combination of effort and luck, really. But there definitely positive signs that I’m learning how to keep myself happily occupied:

•Little Free Library!!! There’s still a world of work ahead, and every bit of it is filled with delightful anticipation. Well, almost every bit. More on that later.

•Book project – my friend/coauthor and I are actually making progress again.

•Good company – a girls’ night last week to help make decorations for a wedding and a night at the dinner theater with a new friend – big feats for this introvert, and thoroughly enjoyed

•Plenty of craft projects to keep me busy through Christmas and beyond

•Plans throughout the next couple of months: flying out to see Oldest THIS WEEK, annual fall festival next week, going to see The Boy in “Don Giovanni” at his university, Middle Sister’s concerts

•Excellent viewing on PBS this fall, to enjoy while I do my crafting. Is anyone else watching “The Roosevelts?” I’m loving it, and it prompted me to start reading “Franklin and Winston” by Jon Meacham, which I’d meant to do for some time. And “Inspector Lewis” is coming up soon – can’t wait to see Robbie and James back in action.

There’s no denying that the darkest months of the year are on their way. There’s less and less daylight every day (which is always hard for me) and we’re having very unusually cool weather for this time of year (which I’m loving). And yet the dread I normally feel at this time of year – a signal of oncoming Seasonal Affective Disorder – is currently nonexistent. Fingers crossed…though I will be sure to start my fall/winter/early spring antidepressant as soon as I get back from my trip to visit the Oldest.

It’s looking good so far.


Filed under adult children, empty nest, families, family life, life lessons, moms, motherhood, parenting

And now, for an important announcement…


Found this and just had to share. Maybe because I’ve been reading and watching a lot of early 20th century history recently.

Isn’t this a question we’ve all asked at one time or another?

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Filed under attitude, blogging, humor, politics

When someone you love is a doofus.

Actually, I don’t have any advice for anyone in this situation. But I have a lot of experience with loving someone who sometimes behaves as if he has no brain in his head. Today my doofus tolerance has been sorely tested.

Seven weeks ago, when The Husband was packing for his long stint on the road, I watched him count out exactly enough meds for the number of days he expected to be gone. He put them in a large pill minder, with the overflow in a zipper bag.

I said to him, “Don’t you think you should take your whole supply, just in case? We really have no idea what it’s going to look like for you or when you might actually get home again.” See, he takes meds that you really CAN’T just stop taking. Serious side effects will result. Not to mention the fact IMG_1476that he really needs them.

No, no, not necessary, he protested.

Ten days later, while I was at work, he phoned home in a panic. He needed the actual prescription bottles with him in case of any driving event that might require a drug test. Federal regulations.

He talked Middle Sister through how to mail the bottles to him overnight. He also instructed her to remove the medications from said bottles. Why, I don’t know. Why not just send the bottles with the meds in them? Just in case he might need them? But I didn’t arrive home until the deed was done. I’ve been staring at the bottle-less meds in zipper bags, sitting on his bare dresser, ever since.

This morning I got another distraught phone call. The Husband only had one more day’s worth of meds. He won’t be home until the middle of next week. We talked it through and came up with what I hope will be a workable solution. Luckily my schedule is fairly wide open today. I have time to deal with the necessary arrangements.

My question, repeatedly, for many years has been “WHY DO I HAVE TO CLEAN UP YOUR  MESSES?” Because this isn’t the first prescription medication emergency I’ve had to deal with. It’s not even the tenth. We’re way beyond that count.

How does an adult not notice when he’s getting down to just a few vital pills? How does an adult not consider the consequences ahead of time? Why does the wife have to play “mom” to the husband? Okay, I know the answer to all these questions is “The person in question has raging Attention Deficit Disorder.” Neither of the meds he needs is for treating ADD. He can’t take those meds because they seriously escalate another of his other diagnoses. Sigh..

I really do love my doofus. I’m very glad he’s coming home. But man, am I tired of being the cleaner-upper.

Note: In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that my frustration today was multiplied when I went out, all virtuous, to mow our grass and discovered that I cannot get our mower to start. It’s only 9:30 am and I’m already fed up with this day. 


Filed under adult children, families, family life, life lessons, marriage