Our house…in the middle of our street.

We live on a busy-ish street. Not as busy as it used to be, I’ll grant you. Our street was closed for a major construction project for nine months last year, and somehow a ton of drivers learned a different route and never came back. Not a bad thing.

But still, we’re on a good through street. No fewer than three times over the years we’ve lived here, cars parked in front of our house were hit by passing drivers. One time it was our car that got hit. Being fast learners, we don’t park in front of our house any more.

Because of the regular traffic, it’s always an adventure moving our cars around in the driveway/garage. That’s a constant task around here, especially when everyone’s home and there are four vehicles to jockey around. Who’s leaving first tomorrow? Whose car needs to be in the garage for some reason or another? Who needs to dash out right after dinner? It’s like a finely choreographed ballet.

So this evening Middle Sister had to head out for a late choir rehearsal, and I had to move my van to let her out. While sitting in the street with my blinker on, waiting to pull back in after my daughter had pulled out, I witnessed a fascinating and long overdue incident.

You see, people driving past our house often become inordinately angry at us for pulling out of and back into our own driveway. There’s generally a few seconds’ wait as the family member we’re letting out actually exits the driveway, and apparently that few seconds is totally unacceptable to a lot of people. We get honked at (the lay your hand on the horn for 5 seconds kind of honk), flipped off, shouted at. It’s so ridiculous we actually find it pretty amusing.

In tonight’s drama, a car waited quietly behind me while I waited to get back into our driveway. So far so good. But then a huge pickup truck pulled up behind her.

The pickup driver was impatient, and immediately started to go around the car behind me.

The car behind me had no clue anyone was behind her, and decided to come around at the exact same time.


The two drivers, both women, moved forward a bit and pulled over. They got out and immediately started shouting at each other. I thought about putting in my two cents about the fault in the incident, but the pickup truck driver was SCARY. I have this thing about women and girls who look like fast-pitch softball players. They scare the crap out of me. They are not people I want to be in conversation with at the best of times. That pickup truck driver looked and talked like she played fast-pitch, and this was not the best of times. (I realize that’s a broad generalization, and I apologize to all quiet, gentle, fast-pitch playing women out there.) Besides, if the police were called in and a witness was needed, they knew where to find me.

Strangely, by the time I’d gotten in the house, shut the door, and looked out the front window to see the progress, both vehicles and drivers were gone.

It was like an episode of the Twilight Zone.  For your consideration, two unpleasant drivers and an innocent bystander…

I’m just glad I got out of there alive.

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About daughters and sons…

So which do we prize more, our daughters or our sons?

photo (3)My mind wouldn’t normally go there, but a story I heard on NPR this morning made me start musing. It was a report on the terrible avalanche on Mt. Everest that killed many Sherpas. A mother was interviewed, and was introduced as someone who had “lost her only son.”

It made me think…have I ever heard of a mother “losing her only daughter?” I don’t think so.

First, my thoughts went to the historical perspective. There was a time when a woman – or a family – needed a son to carry on the family business, the family farm, the family name. To provide protection, security. Go back very far into the history of western civilization and you get to a time when succession and inheritance only went to a male of a given line. My guess is that there are still cultures today with that rule.

And next, I considered my own children. Would the loss of our son be more devastating than the loss of one of our daughters? I don’t even like to contemplate the possibility of that kind of loss. And I discovered that there’s no way I can answer that question. I pray I never have to.

But I do know I have different feelings for my son than I do for my two girls. I’ve never been able to clarify in my own mind whether that fact is because he’s our only boy, or because he’s our baby. Perhaps the reason doesn’t matter. What is important to me is that each of them is special and wonderful in his/her own, unique way. In some ways I can identify better with my girls, I think; I never knew many boys (or men, for that matter) when I was growing up, and in some respects males are quite foreign to me. Actually, I’m thankful to have had a boy so that I could begin to understand boys a little better.

I do know I love each of my darlings more than I could ever begin to express. And yet I truly do feel oddly different about the girls v. our boy.

It’s a puzzler, this question of male v. female children. I’d love to hear other thoughts…


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possumThough I’m well aware that there’s a lot of wildlife running around our suburban neighborhood (where we’ve lived for 25 years), this morning’s sighting of a possum on our back porch was a new one.

I’ve seen foxes, raccoon, even a deer – complete with antlers – trotting down our street. But this little guy was a complete surprise. Thankfully Middle Sister had her phone and got a quick shot.

In other backyard wildlife news, we have a pair of cardinals for the first time in several years – always a treat.

And our robin family is getting along quite well. We think the little peeps cracked out yesterday. I missed an awesome photo this morning when Mama robin was peeking over the edge of the gutter on the roof, looking at me to see if I noticed her and whether it was safe to swoop over to the nest. You can just barely make out her silhouette here as she sits on the eggs/babies.

nesting robin








Such fun, right here in our own back yard!

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ABC’s of Parenting: “L” is for Laughter

A happy, healthy family laughs together. Being a family can be hard work, but finding the funny side of life makes it easier.

An example of Middle Sister's sense of humor. She and her sister took turns drawing funny pictures for each other on this dry erase board on their door (when they both lived at home).  Note: we are are actually fans of our president and the ACA - the drawing is tongue-in-cheek.

An example of Middle Sister’s sense of humor. She and her sister took turns drawing funny pictures for each other on this dry erase board on their door (when they both lived at home). Note: we are are actually fans of our president and the ACA – the drawing is tongue-in-cheek.

I’ve actually known families in which it seems that not one member ever cracks a smile. That’s a red flag for me. Something is wrong in a system where stony faces/frowns are the norm.

Our family has, you might say, been through more than its fair share of difficult times. The joy we found in just being together is what kept life sane. And now our little world is full of bizarre references and inside jokes, any of which, if said in the presence of another family member, will produce huge laughs.. A few examples from the archives:

Squid Fat Patagonia! These words were the topics of three articles in a National Geographic we had in the house once, and they were the only words that appeared on the spine of the magazine. Their crazy juxtaposition was a delight.

“I want to install a small man” Puzzling words said by The Boy one day when he was driving the Cougar, which the kids shared in high school. His meaning – which definitely required explanation – was that it would be helpful to have some tiny person in the console who would hold his drink while he was driving. Very weird.

Tidbits Pineapple These words appeared on a box we had in our bedroom one spring day while in the process of switching our closets from winter clothes to summer clothes. They amused The Husband so much he took them as his alter identity…we all started receiving texts and calls from him under the name of “Tidbits Pineapple.”

“This is funny in two ways” I once wrote this phrase on my answer slip for the game “Things,” to make sure the reader understood that my answer made two jokes at the same time. I wanted credit for both jokes. We were all in a silly mood, anyway, so this one made us laugh until we couldn’t breathe. And now this sentence is sometimes paraphrased, as in “This is not funny in any ways” or “This is funny in at least one way.” Always good for a laugh.

Laughter really is the best medicine. What family jokes keep you in stitches?

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Beautiful spring evening

This winter felt so long it seemed there would never again come a time when it would be light enough for a walk after dinner.

But tonight, after dinner, I went on a few errands with The Husband and THEN still had plenty of daylight for a walk. On these spring days I’ve enjoyed the parade of blooms:

First – crocuses, then: narcissus, daffodil, snowdrops, forsythia, Bradford pear, hyacinth, tulip trees…and now phlox, tulips, bugles, redbuds, and flowering crabapples. Soon will come the spirea, hydrangea, and irises.

It’s like living in the Secret Garden.

Overheard while out walking: Two boys playing and goofing around in their driveway, calling in to their mom, “Can we stay out just a little longer? Five minutes?”

Ahhhhh…spring is really here.


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Just call me Superwoman.

One of the things I love about my job is its flexibility. Never a problem scheduling appointments, picking up kids (in the good old days), etc. That flexibility makes handling the many details of life SO much easier.

imageBut a day off, like today (Easter Monday – a perk of working for a church), is still like getting a present all wrapped up in beautiful paper with a big bow.

Before 10:00 this morning I had checked off all the really unpleasant chores on my list. By 11:30 I had remembered several other nasty tasks that needed doing and got them finished off, too. All that’s left for today is time together with a friend, making a delicious treat to share at staff meeting tomorrow (thanks to Mary at Family Life With imagethe Mom Who is All Hart), and playing around with my new iPhone.

It’s amazing what warm weather, blooming trees and flowers, and an end to SAD will do for a person’s energy level.

Hope you’re having a Superwoman (or Superman) day, too!

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Cell phone follow up OR Customer Service Win #956

There’s been a pretty happy-ish ending our cell phone purgatory tale of woe.

imageFirst, a little back story:
Because, as I mentioned yesterday, The Husband also goes by the alias “Consumer From Hell,” we have never paid for a cell phone. Never. Five people on our account, new phones every year and a half for each person, and we Never. Pay. For. Phones. In fact, we rarely pay for the upgrades. That’s the beauty of having the Consumer From Hell in your family. You see, every time we make a change, the phone company completely screws something up. Mr. Consumer From Hell is happy to wear down every customer service rep for hours on end, until they give him an enormous credit on our bill, free service, free upgrade, whatever. Oh – and there’s his secret weapon: the customer retention department. Want to get your way with a service that’s trying to pull a fast one on you? Demand to speak to a customer retention person.

Now, for the final chapter of our weekend phone purgatory odyssey:
The Husband returned from the phone store 40 minutes past their closing time. Here was his story:
•He remained buddies with the awesome on-site sales people. They immediately offered him a big credit on our bill, which effectively made my new iPhone free of cost.
•He was on the phone with customer service people most of the time he was there, and on them he unleashed his wrath. Their first solution was that Oldest Sister, who is 100% an innocent bystander in all this drama, would have to find a store in Chicago, find a way to get there, and have them give her a new SIM card (because they had indeed, mistakenly shut down her phone). Guess how well that solution went over?
•Final solution: Surprise, surprise, they do have a way to reactivate her phone remotely, though it’s “against company policy.” Ask us how much we care about company policy. So Oldest will have her phone automatically reactivated later today because the rep condescendingly offered to “expedite the process” (we hope…).
•The customer retention department will be in touch with us (No, they won’t. The Husband will end up spending another hour on the phone at some point forcing someone to talk to him. He will win.) about a reduction to our monthly rate.

A couple more follow-ups:
•Once Middle Sister’s account was reactivated in the proper phone, we were able to listen to a voicemail that had been left the phone thief. The message was for a young lady in foster care who had attended the Good Friday service, who had been suspected all along.
*Middle Sister communicated with a person from the church, and found that another phone had been stolen at the Easter Vigil last night.
*There’s some small chance we may be able to get the phone back, which would mean we’re one phone up and The Husband would then have a smart phone.
*And I’m now having my usual slight grieving process over changing phones. Stupid to be so attached to an inanimate object, but I always miss my old phone when I trade up. The fact that I traded up to an iPhone helps.

Looks like an eventual happy ending.

Oh, and by the way – Happy Easter!

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