Tuesday, March 31, 2009

for a limited time only

Mom, is that a dust mop? Because there was this guy and he found out after years of research that dust mops and vinegar can dull your floors. Regular mops scatter the dust all over your floors, but his mop doesn't scatter the dust. It picks up every last thing. It puts four layers of protection on your floors, so you still might want to clean it, but it won't ever dull it. It doesn't shoot water everywhere, it just shoots straight where you're going to clean.

A few months ago, we canceled our satellite TV, and we put an antenna on top of our house.

Mom, your plants... they're dying, OK? You need the Aqua Globe. You put water in it and then you put it in the soil and then for two weeks you won't have to worry about your plants. It will take out all the oxygen and return it with the water inside your globe. It's better than just hosing or watering. There's no dripping or cleaning up at all. It will save you a lot of work. You won't even have to worry about your plants for two weeks.


Now the only kid's channel that we get is called Qubo. The kids love this channel. And I don't mind it because they actually broadcast Veggie Tales shows and 3-2-1 Penguins!

Mom, you could really use some Space Bags. They don't let bugs or dirt go into the bag. When you take out the clothes they are just like they were the day you put them in. It keeps out bugs, dirt, moisture, water, insects, everything. It has four layers of protection, just like the mop.


But all of the commercials are "As Seen on TV" advertisements. No sugar-coated cereals. No vacations in DisneyWorld. No action figures, Barbies or Fisher Price. Only these extra special items that can be purchased with a phone call. And you must call now.

I really, really, really want some Bendaroos. You can bend them. Make them into a shoe lace. You can write your name with them, make them into fashion models. You can decorate with them. Bend them into a picture. Do the connect the dots. You can make clothes for your action figures. And they come with 5,000 of them, and you get two bags for free. You can straighten them again and use them over and over again. Please, Mom, please, can I have some Bendaroos?


My kids love these ads. They recite them to me everyday. If I only had that thing that goes in the toilet, I could throw away my toilet brush for good.

The kids would never have to go on another shoe hunt if we had the shoe organizer. It will even organize our socks. My life would be so much easier.

Short on cash? No problem.

Mom, do you have some gold sitting around that is just collecting dust? You can get the Gold Envelope. It's where you find gold that you don't want, and it's just collecting dust. You get their envelope and you put it in the envelope that they send you. You put it in the mail and the mail man or girl will pick it up and sell it to them and they will give you the cash.


It's amazing what you can get for only $19.95. But for a limited time, it's only $14.95. And if you order now, you will receive an extra gift, absolutely free. That's right. Free. But you MUST. ACT. NOW.

Mom, these can't be found in stores. You have to call right now. You have to use the number that is on the screen. Except for the Aqua Globe and the Space Bags. We found those in two different stores. You have to look hard, but you can find them in stores, Mom, you really can.


So, today, in honor of April Fool's Day, for a limited time only and if you call right now, you can have it all. That's right. All of this.

But wait, there's more...

For more funny posts in honor of April Fool's Day, visit Chocolate on My Cranium.

Monday, March 30, 2009

cooking lessons


I thought I should share a few cooking lessons I learned this weekend after our birthday extravaganza.

Did you know that you can wrap potatoes in aluminum foil and cook them all day on low in the crock pot? By dinner time, you can reveal 12 fully baked potatoes, and you didn't have to microwave, bake or grill to make it happen.

Did you know that it's really easy to make Italian beef? And really tasty? You just put some beef in the crockpot, a package or two of Italian-style salad dressing mix, a can of beef broth and a jar of pepperoncinis. I used five pounds of beef, three packets of the seasoning and one big jar of mild pepperoncinis. We had enough Italian beef to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner for several days. I would recommend making a smaller quantity.

Did you know that people like to eat raw veggies?

When I am cooking, I always feel that I should make a few of my most delicious, time-tested, raved-about recipes. And those always seem to include at least one cup of mayonnaise, sour cream or Ranch dressing. Or at least one stick of butter.

My husband's uncle, Jerry, was visiting us from California this weekend. We are all amazed that a couple of years ago, Jerry went on a medically-supervised fast and lost 90 pounds. I'm pretty sure he ate nothing whatsoever for a month, and then worked up to a liquid diet and finally, a highly-controlled diet.

He now eats lots of veggies. And zero-calorie salad dressing. Along with really lean meat.

Italian beef and baked potatoes aren't tops on his diet. And mayonnaise and Ranch dressing? That would be the equivalent of just applying fat directly to the skin.

I had no clue how to cook for him, so I let him contribute whatever he could eat to my high-fat offerings.

I was so amazed at how the whole family kept gravitating toward Jerry's ultra-healthy salads.

It got me thinking. I wonder what would happen if I served meals that were totally healthy. What if the next time we had dinner guests I made grilled chicken and steamed zucchini? I might try it sometime just to see what would happen.

Maybe I should experiment on my family first.

But not yet. We still have to finish this, which is sitting in our freezer.

allergy moms and our story

Last week, when I wrote this post about my son's peanut allergy, a reader from the Allergy Moms web site stopped by and asked if she could publish it in her newsletter. The newsletter came out this weekend, which has been bringing tons of traffic.

If you are looking for my posts on my son's peanut allergy, click here or here. Thank you for all of the wonderful comments!

If you are a regular reader, just getting caught up from the weekend, check out my messy cake extraordinaire and how corn casserole is making me nostalgic.

Meanwhile, this is our story of how peanuts landed us in private school:

As kindergarten loomed for our oldest son, we had debated for months the option of sending our children to a private Christian school. But we made up our minds. Too expensive. Too far. We both went to public school, and our children would, too.

The public school down the street had a kindergarten sneak peek allowing moms and their children to stop by and check out the classroom. I had grown accustomed to the peanut-free standards at the preschool my son had attended the past two years, and I guessed a public school would be even more on top of allergies.

So, as I walked out of the classroom that day, I casually said to the teacher, "Now, the school is peanut-free, right?"

"Well, sort of," she replied.

Sort of? WHAT exactly does that mean?

A few phone calls with the teacher, the nurse, and the principal shed some light on the situation:
  • Nine hundreds kids in the building.
  • If they forget a lunch, they are given a peanut butter sandwich.
  • Kids can bring any home-baked good they want for their birthday.
  • Oh... and the class does make a Chex mix around Christmas time, but they could leave out the nuts this year.

The next afternoon, my neighbor stopped by on a walk with her daughter.

"I'm so happy that your son is in Megan's class. Megan is so excited about kindergarten that I already purchased her snack for her "special day". I got her favorite thing. Peanuts."


Was that a bolt of lightening that just struck me in the head?

My son did attend the first day of kindergarten at the public school, and he and I both cried the whole time. There was nothing wrong with the school. But we both had a horrible sinking feeling in our gut that this was not the best situation for him. I called the private school we had been considering and asked if they had an opening.

"Oh, and by the way. My son has a severe peanut allergy. Are you equipped to handle that?"

Let me call you back.

That school didn't start until a week after the public school. While our school of choice took the matter before their board, we called in sick at the first school. We visited, and almost enrolled in another private kindergarten that had extremely high standards for allergies. But it was only a preschool and kindergarten, so it would be a temporary solution.

And we had numerous discussions with the other school.

They didn't have a nurse on staff, so who would administer the epi-pen? They didn't have any other children with severe allergies. How would this work? Quite frankly, they just weren't quite sure if they could handle us. And we weren't quite sure we could handle them.

For the first time in my young child's life, I realized what we were dealing with could be considered a disability. And it hit me that our choices were limited because of peanuts. And suddenly, I felt tremendous compassion for other families with children with a special need.

Maybe it's a physical need? Autism? Downs Syndrome? A developmental delay?

These families don't have the same choices other families do. They can't choose to send their child to a private school just because they want to. They have to make extra plans and preparations every time they take their children to the park or the pool or the zoo to keep them safe. And so did we. Because of peanuts. Because of a stupid, stinky, greasy legume that isn't even really a nut.

The board at our school did let my son attend. We have been trailblazers in establishing a peanut-free table at lunch, educating the teachers on allergies and instructing staff on the use of the epi-pen. We have taught all of the students in the school that if they eat peanuts or nuts, they must wash their hands immediately after eating.

This has been a tremendous learning experience for the students at my son's school. They are learning to look out for the needs of others. They are learning that no matter WHERE they are in society -- the park, an airplane, or a shopping mall -- that the peanut butter that is so yummy to them can be deadly to another child. It only takes a minute to wash. your. hands.

We don't worry about sending our son to school each day. He is in class of 14 students where his teacher is highly aware of his needs and concerned about his safety.

But I've also learned that we can't control everything. We don't know if someone came to school with peanut butter on his hands that morning. We don't know if someone forgot to clean his hands after eating a PB&J. And even recent newspaper reports have revealed that the foods we assumed are safe, might not be properly labeled.

The worry could drive us out of our minds.

We trust God to help. Just as we pray each morning for the safety of our other two children, we trust Him to protect our oldest son.

From peanuts.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

messy cake extraordinaire

Last month, my friend Cheryl Lynn posted a photo on her blog about a cake her mother-in-law had made for Valentine's Day with a heart-shaped ice cream center. Oh, I was fascinated.

When I started thinking about what kind of cake to serve at the big birthday celebration we had at our house this weekend, that cake immediately came to mind. We were celebrating some milestones: grandpa turning 90, two people turning 50, two people turning 40 and a precious 3-year-old.

My husband is starting to really get involved in my blogging, and without being asked, he snapped photos of the entire process.

So, here you go. I'm going to try to be like the fancy, schmancy food blogs, several of which are linked in my list of favorite blogs on the left. Of course, with a few exceptions.

The real food bloggers take beautiful photos. And they create beautiful food. They don't normally post photos of cakes with frosting sliding off the side and sitting in messy pools all around the edges of the cake plate. And they don't typically toss smashed OREOs on the top of their cakes, without even attempting to make a pretty presentation.

But here at everydayMOM, we're keeping it real, sister.

  • One cake mix, plus ingredients to make the cake (I was aiming for low-calorie, so I went with the Triple Chocolate Fudge cake mix)
  • One container of ice cream (I used Bryers Cookies 'n Cream)
  • One container of chocolate frosting, mixed with the smallest container of Cool Whip
  • Plus the Wilton cake pan set, which you can purchase at Michael's (the web site says the set is $17.99, but it was priced at $11.99 at my local Michael's store)

These are the two baked cakes. They have indentations in the center for the filling. (See my finger on the side of the plate? That's to hide a chip in the plate. Fancy, huh?)

I let the ice cream defrost for about 10 minutes before I scooped it into the cakes.

I dipped my spreader in hot water to smooth the ice cream.

Nice and smooth. You also can use pudding or other types of filling, which would probably be much easier. After filling both sides, place the cakes in the freezer for 30 minutes to allow the ice cream to freeze.

Quickly place the top layer on the bottom layer.

I have not made this type of frosting before. I just made up how to do it after seeing my mom mix Cool Whip with frosting. The frosting was very runny. But it was yum-my!

Instead of carefully smoothing out the frosting, I basically let it pour down the sides of the cake. Then, I placed the cake in the freezer immediately.

I put chopped OREOs on top to attempt to hide some of the messiness. I think they might have actually increased the messiness, but oh well.

Now, to unveil the heart in the middle.

I just love this photo of what's left of the cake and Grandpa eating his in the background.

I can't wait to try another variation of this cake!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

food nostalgia

Now that I haven't updated my blog in about 36 hours, I know you all must be worried about me. Actually, I've been hanging out with some real people. You know the type. The ones with skin.

Eleven of CapableDad's closest relatives came for a visit this weekend. We've all been whooping it up since they got here Thursday night. But everyone must need a break from human interaction, because five of us are sitting around the table right now with laptops. It's a beautiful thing.

I guess we can only handle so much laughter, so many big stories and so much sarcasm before we all have to plug in. But don't worry, it will only be a short break.

The reason for our family gathering is to celebrate the 90th birthday of CapableDad's grandpa. We also have two 50th birthdays, two 40th birthdays and a 3rd birthday that will be included in the celebration.

I love to host. So, we were doing backflips when we heard that my husband's grandparents were going to get on an Amtrak train and journey up to our house for the first time from their rural home in southern Illinois.

Planning the menu is one of my favorite parts about hosting. And with this many people here for three days, I got to have some fun.

Usually, I like to find a new recipe and try it out on my guests. But with so many folks coming up from the farm, I didn't think that would be a good idea. This is a family that knows pork and they aren't picky about how it's served. Shredded. With barbecue sauce. Or grilled.

So, I decided to play it safe.

When we sat down at the table last night, my husband's family was raving about two side dishes that are such staples on my side of the family that we rarely gather without them: homemade noodles and corn casserole.

As I thought about this, I started to get a lump in my throat. Until six years ago when she went to heaven at the age of 90, my Great Aunt "Dee Dee" brought corn casserole to every family gathering. Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving or Fourth of July. You could count on Dee Dee to bring corn casserole.

And Grandma Dot would bring the noodles. She would make hers from scratch and let them dry on her counter for hours before boiling them in a big pot of chicken broth. (I bought mine pre-made at Sam's Club.)

Even when Grandma Dot lost her sight, she could still make homemade noodles. And they always turned out just as good, except for the time she accidentally poured in a big can of pineapple juice instead of chicken broth. Not so good. But worth it for the years of joking we all got out of that one incident.

Sitting at the table last night with my husband's grandparents, who are 90 and 86, I realized that everyone from that generation on my side of the family is now gone. Grandpa Paul left us three years ago, and Grandma Dot went home in February just a few months after celebrating her 95th birthday.

I realized how much I took for granted that the noodles and corn casserole would just magically appear at every family gathering. I was free to show up with a pear and bleu cheese salad or an artichoke dip because I knew the basics were covered.

Thankfully, my mom also makes some mean homemade noodles, which she has been doing for years, so that tradition continues.

But maybe I will have to give up on trying my new recipes when we get together.

Someone has to bring the corn casserole.

What about you? Do you have a favorite food that is a staple when you get together with family? Does one person always bring the same thing? What is your typical contribution to a family get-together?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

LOST: He's Our You

WARNING: Spoiler alert! Spoiler alert!

OK. Are you kidding me?

Sayid shot Ben.

This was just so astounding on so many levels. I mean, first of all Sayid. Shot. Ben.

But then to watch him shoot this poor, hurting, abused 12-year-old boy in cold blood. I couldn't believe it.

So, where does that leave us? Has Sayid completed his destiny and changed the course of history by killing Ben? So, no annihilation of the Darma initiative? Has Sayid stopped himself from becoming the killer who worked for Ben after he left the island?

Or, could it be that Ben is not really dead? Daniel Faraday said that it isn't possible to change the past. That leaves me to believe that either the bullet somehow missed Ben's heart and he isn't dead. Or that the island's powers somehow bring back to life people who weren't supposed to die.

In fact, this would then explain WHY Ben became such a heartless, cruel person. Instead of stopping Ben, Sayid might have CREATED the evil Ben that we now know and love.

That's my guess.

Beyond that, I don't even know what to say about this week's episode.

It was great to see Sayid's whole story, as horrible as it was. I was relieved that the "Our You" only used a truth serum to get Sayid to talk. And it was comical to hear him explain to his captors where he had come from. "Who's Sawyer?!"

We also have the new mystery of who hired the woman who brought Sayid on the plane. His reaction in the airport when he saw Hurley, Kate, Jack and Sun was classic.

So, what do YOU think? Is Ben really dead???

And now, for your entertainment... This week I went on a field trip with my child's 2nd grade class to the Oriental Institute in Chicago. We saw this monstrous statue of King Tut. Remind you of any four-toed statues in your life??

I also want to offer a theory that I have been thinking about since last week.

Remember the episode a few season's back that was focused on Desmond when his whole life was on a loop and he kept reliving the same part until he found his "constant"? Well, what if that is happening to Ben, Richard and the other Others?

Just as Desmond had to give himself clues to find Penny at a certain point in time, maybe they are trying to bring the Oceanic passengers back to a certain point where they can alter events and make the loop stop.

Remember how Desmond was "special" and the only one who had been able to alter the course of events to make the loop stop? Well, maybe the same is true of Ben, but he has to get the record to the exact spot and have the right people in place at that moment.

This idea is so mind-boggling that it's really difficult to even think about, but I've always wondered why the writers had that whole episode focused on Desmond. It has to be a key to the whole mystery, doesn't it??

Can't wait to hear YOUR thoughts!

Monday, March 23, 2009

a new perspective

Since I haven't written a post about my 40th birthday in, oh, four days or less, I thought I better give you all an update.

I think I might have scared a few of my almost-40-year-old friends into dreading their birthdays way more than is necessary. Since I started my 40 Days of 40 and also began planning some fun times for my actual birthday celebration, I've started really looking forward to my big day.

It's like I'm 7 again, and I'm helping my mom decide if we should play Pin the Tail on the Donkey or Musical Chairs. (Those were actually considered good parties back before we had Pump It Up, gymnastics parties and Libby Lu.)

And the 40 Days of 40 are going great because when I want something all I have to do is snap my fingers and say, "It IS my birthday, you know!" and then my family members do whatever I ask. (Well... Sometimes.... Actually, they are very nice to me on a regular basis.)

Up until a few weeks ago, I was thinking that if there was anything in life that I really wanted to do during which someone might announce my age, I should do it quickly. You know... like if I wanted to be on a game show, or maybe try out for a reality TV series, or if someone suddenly wanted to interview me on a talk show. That kind of thing. I would want them to announce me as a mom in her 30s.

But then my husband, who turned 40 in January -- and is now extremely wise in his years -- made a very good point, which changed my perspective completely.

He pointed out that it's better to be the youngest person in your category. For example, if I wanted to run a marathon or maybe participate in an Iron Woman competition. You know. Stuff like that. It would be better to be a young 40 going up against the 49-year-olds.

Plus I would rather have people say, "Wow! You look so good to be in your 40s!" Rather than, "You're in your 30s. Hmmm... I wouldn't have guessed."

I'm starting to really look forward to this new decade in my life. I think every decade so far has been better than the one before it. I'm looking forward to trying some new things... and of course some new shoes to go with it.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

birthday cake blues

The moment my 2nd grader opened the car door and climbed inside, I could tell something had gone wrong.

"What is it, honey? What happened?"

"Oh, mom," he cried. "It was David's* birthday. And he brought a cake."

He clutched his face in his hands and shook his head. His body was convulsing now as the tears started to fall. It was as if the emotion had been piling up inside as he stood in the pick-up line, and only after he was safe in the presence of Mom could it come pouring out like a flood.

"He's my very best friend. And he brought a cake," he cried, as he fidgeted with a pre-packaged Rice Krispie Treat in its bright blue wrapper.

I keep a stash of Rice Krispies in his teacher's desk drawer in cases like these. Because my son's allergy to peanuts is so severe, his teacher can substitute one of the packaged treats if someone brings in a snack that might not be safe for him to eat.

The parents of the other kids in my son's class are so thoughtful. They go out of their way on many occasions to bring a treat that doesn't contain peanuts or nuts. They have learned to read labels. They check for foods that aren't made in a plant with peanuts. And in the midst of the morning rush to pack lunches, they often choose peanut-free foods for their kids, just so they can sit at a special table with my 8-year-old.

But they can't possibly remember, or even know, that it's really not safe for him to eat something made in a bakery. And even if they did think of it, we can't expect them NOT to bring their child's favorite snack for his or her own birthday!

So, it's just the reality in our home that the special days at school when the kids get to break 15 minutes early to celebrate someone's birthday are some of the hardest days for my son. He gets tired of eating his Rice Krispie Treats while he watches the other kids bite into a big slice of cake with the thick icing on top.

He couldn't comprehend that his "best friend" would bring a treat he couldn't eat. But I know as a mom, this little boy's mom had absolutely no idea my son would be so upset by it. (And I would never write this post if any of the other 2nd grade parents knew I had a blog.)

"Why, Mom? Why do I have to have this stupid allergy?" he cried. "Why??"

We talk about the things we have learned from it:

The allergy helps us all remember that some kids are born with legs that don't work properly. They can't run.

Some kids are blind. They can't even see.

Some kids have autism. Some have epilepsy. Some have other diseases that severely limit their abilities. Some have challenges we can't even begin to imagine.

Some kids feel the pain every day of being the only kid of their race in the classroom. They feel different. And left out.

Not that any of these things make his struggle hurt less. But it helps to remember.

And it reminds us every day that only God can protect him. Only God can see the stray peanuts that might fall into a box of cereal. Only God knows if another child was playing at the park with peanut butter on his hands. We have to trust Him for our son's protection. Not only from peanuts, but lots and lots of other things.

"Did you cry in class?"

"I wanted to," he said. "But I tried to pretend like it was OK. Like it didn't matter."

He ripped open the Rice Krispie Treat and tore off a big chunk.

It seems way too early in his life to learn to pretend like it doesn't hurt. Like it doesn't matter.

We moms have all been there. It hurts more to see our child hurt than it ever did to go through it ourselves. So, I write this post, not to make anyone feel guilty about peanuts. But just as a window into simple things that sometimes turn into difficult days in our home.

What is it for you? Have you had a similar experience with your kids?

And by the way, we made a HUGE chocolate cake with chocolate icing that evening. And we've been enjoying it for several days.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

no more hykerspeed

You might remember a few months ago when my daughter, 4, kept demanding that I drive "hykerspeed".

Well, the questions about my driving keep coming, but she has significantly changed her requests.

"Mom, are you driving hykerspeed or regular speed?" my first mate asks from her big booster seat in the middle row of the minivan.

I'm going regular speed, honey.

"Good. Don't drive hykerspeed or you might get a ticket."

I know honey.

"And if you get three tickets, you will have to go to jail."

Yes, sweetheart.

"But you have to get three tickets in the same year. And you got the other two in different years. So you would have to get three more this year."


It seems that the two times Mommy was pulled over by a police officer in this sweet child's life have left a permanent scar on her brain. I must defend myself by explaining that 25 mph on a busy street in the Chicago suburbs is not appropriate for the situation and, quite frankly, is a speed trap.

And, by the way, if an ambulance is passing you on a two-lane rural highway late at night and it seems completely unsafe to stop on the side of the road because you are afraid another driver won't be able to see you and will rear-end you, you are wrong. You also can get a ticket for that!

In these situations, I do what any good mother of three would do as the officer approaches my driver's side window. I turn to the three children and say, "Please cry as loud as you possibly can." And, regardless of how much they HAD been crying previously, they now are completely quiet and sit like perfect angels while the officer writes the ticket.

But through it all, they have learned, and told the story, whether accurate or not, that you can go to jail if you get three tickets. But they must all be in the same year.

And with this possibility plaguing her thoughts, my daughter has now decided that she does not what me to drive hykerspeed under any circumstance.

So, you can imagine her shock this week when I did it.

I pushed. the. hykerspeed. button.

I was trying to make a very dramatic point and slammed my hand against the button to turn off the loud, blaring 80s music that I was attempting to sing along with, and as I did so, I hit the red triangle button. Instead of blasting through outer space and soaring through an asteroid field, our hazard lights came on.

Even I was stunned for a minute. Now what do I do?

I regained my senses and pressed the button again. Lights stopped flashing. We were still on earth.

Apparently, the hykerspeed button malfunctioned. But nonetheless, my co-pilot is adamant about warning me against its use.

"Mom, don't press the hykerspeed button. Remember when you slammed the radio and you pressed it? I don't want you to go to jail."

LOST: Namaste

I like to focus my LOST posts on taking the episode and trying to develop any theories based on the latest information. So, even though last night's episode was kind of a break from the usual whirlwind of activity we have seen this season, I think it provided some great clues into the overall LOST story.

The most significant piece of information we gained was that Ben Linus did, in fact, meet the O6ers when he was a boy. Could this explain "the list" that was a central point in the early episodes?

Let's say that the Losties cause something significant to happen and then leave the island. Ben Linus follows their parallel lives back home and then works to bring them back to the island.

We might even have two competing forces at work. We know that Matthew, Charles Widmore's hit man, is the one who said he got John Locke to get on the Oceanic flight.

Perhaps Ben Linus had another set of people working for him to get Jack, Kate, Hurley and Sayid on board the original flight. Ben had to bring them all back for some reason. Just as they all had to come back the second time for some unknown reason.

The next big question is why Sun was not transported back in time like the other people on the flight. I will go back to my previous theory that Sun is the baby we saw in the crib of Dr. Pierre Chang. Even though Sun wasn't born yet in 1977 where the other Losties are taken, perhaps she still couldn't go back to that place because she might bump into herself in a few years. This theory needs a ton of development, but I can't come up with any other answers.

Oh, but wait! I just came up with one!

LOST uses so many Biblical and religious references. When the O6ers are time-warped from the plane, it reminded me of the end-time prophecy in the Bible where the true believers will be suddenly removed from the earth and taken to heaven.

So, could it be that Sun wasn't a true believer? Perhaps she came back for the wrong reason? Maybe she wasn't destined to be on Ben's later list and so she wasn't taken??

Whatever the case, it's going to be very interesting to find out how she gets back in time to meet up with Jin and the other O6ers.

Finally, we have the question of Christian Shephard.

Is he alive, like John Locke? Is he a spirit? Why is he there when everyone else is gone? And how creepy when he showed Sun the picture of the Dharma recruits from 1977! Good thing, Jack, Kate and Hurley never stumbled upon that picture!

What an eery scene when Sun and Frank walked into the Dharma camp and started hearing the voices. I thought this was another confirmation of the early theories that the voices are the people who are occupying that same space in different times.

Another big question that was created last night is what happened to Daniel Faraday. When asked about his whereabouts, Sawyer seemed very mysterious when he told Jack that he had been with them but was now gone. Where did he go?? Could it be that he already figured out how to go back in time?

Other great moments from last night:

  • We found out that Amy's son was Ethan! Wow! What a creepy moment that was!
  • I loved it when Sun whacked Ben with that oar. Man. She is really getting fierce, huh?
  • We got to see exactly how the flight was able to land. That was cool.
  • I supposed I should at least mention the reunion between Sawyer and Kate and the tension between Juliet and Kate. Whatever. That whole love quadrangle isn't that intriguing to me. I would rather see someone get chased by the Smoke Monster, discover a new Dharma station or beat up Ben.

Best lines:

  • When Hurley said, "I vote for not camping."
  • When Jack was inducted as a "work man" and told "based on your aptitude tests, you'll be doing janitorial work."

So, what did you think about last night's episode?? Any interesting theories or favorite moments??

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

note to self

Note to self: Please be careful not to write blog posts about showing forgiveness toward pizza places.

If you do decide to write such posts, please beware that:

The very next day you might have to pick up the pizza for the hot lunch program at your child's school.

And when you arrive at the pizza place at 11:15, exactly when the pizzas are supposed to be done, you might notice the alarming lack of smell of fresh pizza.

And the worker might hurriedly look around a very small pizza shop, which clearly does not have 25 fresh pizzas hidden anywhere, and finally decide there are no pizzas.

And you might be told that the person who took your order wrote down the pick-up time as 11:50, not 11:15.

And you might start freaking out because you only have 15 minutes to get the pizzas to school and no pizzas have been made yet.

And you might say in a very harsh, loud voice, "Start making pizzas!"

And then you might have to pace the floor for the next 30 minutes while the workers make pizzas in record time.

And then the manager of the store might offer to give you a discount on the pizzas, but you will have to look at him and say, "It wasn't your fault. It's totally OK."

And in the meantime, you might call the school 15 times to let them know the pizzas are going to be late.

And during that time, no one will answer the phone.

And by the time you arrive at the school with the pizzas, all of the other hot lunch moms, not to mention more than 100 students will be lined up staring at you, wondering where you were.

But you will have to forgive the office workers for not picking up the phone when you called.

And in the end, everyone will get pizza. And they will be happy. And a little first grader will say, "Excuse me, Mrs. Neal. Can I have a wet wipe?"

And you will look at the little boy's face smeared with pizza and you will say, "of course."

And maybe it won't be such a bad thing after all.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

a little chiastic structure

I noticed a license plate today that made me think. A woman in a mini-van was speeding along beside me into a left turn lane that actually didn't exist yet. You know... she wanted to turn left, but had to drive along the median to make it into the turn lane while the arrow was still green.



But I was thinking, "Why do you want to resign yourself to that? Being late isn't a positive attribute in life. Why not work toward change? Why not start telling yourself you are ON TIME?"

Maybe putting that on her license plate was an excuse to the world: I'm ALWAYS L8, so just deal with me and get out of my way. I'm in a hurry.

I studied a similar concept this morning with a group of women from my church. We get together on Tuesday mornings to discuss a Bible study on the book of Esther. I know. It probably sounds kind of boring. But the author, Beth Moore, has a way of bringing to life a story that we have heard countless times before. And she has a way of challenging us with some amazing truths.

Today we learned about a literary device called "chiastic structure". (To my Bible study mates, I might not explain this properly... ) To explain it very loosely, the chiastic structure is when a key part of the story reverses itself and becomes the opposite. A problem becomes a solution. A negative becomes a positive.

For example, "Don't live to eat. Eat to live." Or "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."

This seems to be a theme in my life lately. I have been learning that I don't have to BE what I have always been. The very thing that has been a challenge in my past can be a source of joy in my future.

A prime example for me is on the topic of forgiveness.

The chiastic structure might look something like this:

Unforgiveness limits choices.
Choosing forgiveness gives freedom.

(OK... I know my structure wasn't exactly chiastic, but just hang with me anyway. It's the point that counts, right?)

I didn't even realize until a few years ago that my brain had been trained to hold a grudge. Of course, I knew that I should forgive when it came to a close friend or a family member. But what about a stranger, someone who cut me off while driving, a teacher or even an institution, such as a business or school? It's OK to hold a grudge against someone or some THING, right?

But unforgiveness limits choices:

Think of the pizza place that forgot half of the order for the hot lunch program at school and the kids had to miss recess to eat the late pizza. "I will never order from that restaurant again!" I don't need to forgive a pizza place, do I?

But that choice limits me from eating their very tasty pizza. Or I could choose forgiveness. Pizza delivery drivers are humans after all, aren't they?

Or how about the doctor who made tons of mistakes when I gave birth to my first born? (A c-section without proper anesthetic? A cut bladder? A baby with a horribly traumatic birth?)

Without forgiveness I might never have another child. Worse, I would blame the doctor for challenges that have come up through life. The unforgiveness turns to bitterness and soon I'm blaming that doctor I barely knew for a long list of issues. Or I can choose forgiveness and enjoy my healing and that of my son. She is a person, after all, who makes mistakes.

How about a relative who makes me mad? Or a friend who violates a trust?

Unforgiveness could limit me from attending a family gathering. Or from making new friends. Or seeking reconciliation. Choosing forgiveness gives me freedom to have lots of healthy relationships in the future.

Of course, this doesn't mean we shouldn't set boundaries (limits), if necessary, in situations to avoid repeated abuse. Would I let that doctor deliver ANOTHER child of mine?!? NO WAY! But does that mean I can't forgive her?

You know what's crazy about forgiveness? It seems that the minute I have (attempted at least) to forgive everyone from my past, there's someone new to forgive. Someone makes a snide remark. A driver cuts me off in traffic. Or it could be something truly momentous. Lots of people are faced with the choice to forgive a complete stranger who has altered their life forever through a car accident or a crime.

And that's why it's so important to live a lifestyle of forgiveness... so the automatic choice in every situation is to forgive, rather than hold a grudge.

I have a long way to go on this issue and many others. (This one was easiest to explain.) But I'm confident that God can bring a chiastic change in my life.... a crisscross... a reversal... a sudden turn.

I wouldn't want to be ALWAYS L8.

What about you? I know this post goes way deeper than usual. But I hope that it has challenged you in some way!

You also will enjoy this post related to our Beth Moore study:

if you read nothing else, you might want to read this

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this and that

This post really has me thinking about a friend today. (I need to stop crying now!)

This is a GREAT story! Wouldn't it be great to do something like that??

This is sooooo cute.

But then there's this, which just might be the cutest thing ever!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

my inner rock star

I don't know if this is true for everyone, but there is just something about music that has such a strong influence on me.

When I'm sad, a song can pick me up. Or make me cry. Or just make me feel good inside.

I love to sing it loud in the car. And I love to belt out a tune in the shower, which has that amazing acoustic effect of actually making me sound good. And I love to grab a wooden spoon out of the drawer in the kitchen to use for my mic and put on a little lip sync act if a good song comes on the radio while I'm cooking dinner.

So, you can only imagine how happy I was this weekend when I got to release my inner rock star.

I got to go away for the weekend for a conference for Discovery Toys consultants. We were each assigned to a team, represented by a color. Our first task was to choose a name for our team, an outfit and come up with a song, slogan or cheer based on our company tagline: teach play inspire.

Our team was green, so we decided to be the green goddesses. One of our team captains had brought along a green dress, so we appointed her as our chief goddess and the rest of us, dressed in green crowns and accessories, frolicked around her, waving green streamers and making noise with a recorder, tamborine, egg shakers, etc.

It took a lot of teamwork, but we were able to come up with a chant and a dance routine that was a bit of synchronized swimming meets the Hokey Pokey.

Our next task was even more challenging.

At the end of the weekend, we had to come up with 15 tips we had learned and then present them either as a song, skit or story.

Our brains were fried after a long day of sitting in a conference room. So, I turned on a CD with a collection of dance music.

When we heard Last Dance by Donna Summer, we knew it was our song. The song has a dramatic beginning where Donna sounds pretty down and out. We composed a song about a Discovery Toys consultant who is in the dumps because her business isn't going well. As the song picks up in pace, all of the back-up singers cheer her up, singing "Let's Dance" and shouting their tips to the music.

I was so happy that the other ladies "let" me be the lead singer. This could be because I couldn't keep from bursting into song and dance as soon as I heard this song. I mean, seriously, who can resist when Donna starts singing the "ooooo-ooooo-oo-ooooooooooo, oo-oo-oo" at the beginning?

Last Dance is a favorite tune in our home. It's one of the songs on the CD that we use as our "housecleaning music". This is a collection of songs that includes my favorites, Make it Happen and All Star as well as some other great cleaning songs like Love Shack, Kung-Fu Fighter (the rap version), Car Wash and Boogie Wonderland.

When my 4-year-old daughter hears Last Dance, the housecleaning stops because she breaks into a dramatic dance and I can't help but join her. We've had enough practice that we have all of the words memorized and have perfected our Donna Summer dance moves.

It's funny, but this weekend when we did our little Last Dance, I felt like I was depriving all of the other women of getting up in front of a room full of their peers and doing a Donna Summer act. In reality, they were probably all relieved that they didn't have to make fools of themselves, and I was so willing to do it.

I can't explain or make excuses for this lip syncing diva who lives inside of me. But when she comes out, it is usually a ton of fun. I love it when everyone is laughing. I'm not sure if they are laughing at me or with me. But everyone is happy. And my inner rock star gets a moment to shine.

Does anyone else have an inner rock star? And if you do, what song makes you want to grab a mic and dance? Are you more of a car singer, a shower crooner, a kitchen dancer or would you sing and dance in public (regardless of lack of talent)?

Friday, March 13, 2009

what side are you on?

I learned a very important piece of information today, which I wanted to pass along.

This might only apply if you have a short haircut. So, if you do... When your hair starts getting too long and you need a hair cut, what part of your hair bugs you most?

Did you just reach up and grab your hair? That's your trouble spot.

My very informative hairstylist, Shea, has used this trick on me many times. After four years with her, I now know that if she asks me how I feel about my hair, she is waiting for me to naturally reach up and grab the part that is bugging me. I have started sitting on my hands when she asks.

Today when I was getting my hair cut, Shea -- whose real name is Amy, but whose haircutting name was Shea at an old salon because they already had an Amy, but who went back to being Amy at her new salon, but who I still call Shea -- also told me that one side of our hair tends to grow faster than the other.

The part that grows fastest is the side you tend to sleep on.

So, I finally put it all together. My trouble spot is that part on the right side of my head. That's the side I sleep on and, thus, it's the part that grows faster. WHO KNEW!?

A few months ago, a professional photographer took my photo. She asked me which side was my good side. (Neither, I thought.)

"Ummm, I'm not sure," I said out loud.

She took photos of me from both angles and then announced quite conclusively that my good side is my left side. I'm thinking now that it MUST be because I don't sleep on that side as much, so my hair isn't as long and messy over there and my face isn't as smooshed.

I have a few other important pieces of information I would like to give you about dominant sides. But right now, I need to leave you with a question:

Even though it's still cold outside, it's starting to feel a bit more like spring. Do you think it's OK to still wear my high-heeled boots? Or should I go with more of a springtime shoe? If you could answer this question within the next hour, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thanks and have a GREAT weekend!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

you say it's your birthday?...

It's my birthday, too, yeah!

That will officially be my theme song beginning tomorrow.

In case you hadn't noticed, I have been a little obsessed with my impending birthday. I know, I know... it's just a number. Your real age is in your mind. It's how you act. How you think.

But I'm just not ready to say good-bye to my 30s. I'm not ready to be a fully grown, middle-aged adult on her way to the other side of the hill of life.

So, my first idea was to let it quietly pass and hope no one noticed. Well, unless you read my blog. And then it's kind of hard to miss the 3,524 posts I've written about my upcoming birthday.

But, around everyone else, I was planning to be really quiet.


Stop laughing.

(I can hear you.)

Being the completely moderate person that I am, free of any ridiculous mood swings, I then came up with a new plan. We'll just call it the 40 days of 40.

That's right. Instead of counting down with dread the last days until my passage into middle age, I'm going to celebrate every last one of them. I'm going to have parties for myself, eat cake, buy gifts, eat chocolate, buy shoes, hang streamers, go out to dinner, have pedicures, dance and sing until I'm so tired of my darned birthday that I can't wait for it to be over.

How's that? That will show it. That will teach the calendar to taunt me. I'll show the fine lines. I'll teach the wrinkles a lesson. I'll stomp on the hill, plant a flag and tell it who's boss.

I'm turning 40, and it's going to be fun, darn it.

The 40 days of 40 begin March 13 and continue until my actual birthday on April 21.

So, you say it's YOUR birthday? Great! It's my birthday, too! Let's have a party!

Cupcakes, anyone?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

the gift

My child has a gift.

It's a beautiful thing.

He can weave a story, compose a tale and create elaborate characters in his mind. He can visualize detailed images and then give them shape on the paper in front of him. He longs to write a chronicle, act out a play or sing in a musical.

But it's sometimes hard to see what's inside a gift. Imagine mismatched paper glued tightly around a cardboard box. Think of masking tape torn and twisted, holding it all together.

The messy handwriting. The misspelled words. The trouble with reading. They sometimes hide what's inside.

We ask why is it more difficult for him to learn to ride his bike, to venture down the waterslide, to catch a ball? Why does he always spill the milk, drop crumbs on the floor, bump into things? Why is it so hard for him to figure out how to open a container or use the remote control?

There are names and labels. Words and terms that might offer an explanation. Do any of them fit? They don't sound pretty.

They can't begin to describe him. They can't begin to describe a kid with so much determination, even when he has to work so hard. So much compassion for the feelings of those around him. So much sensitivity for the needs of others. Such a desire to do what is right. To understand spiritual things.

So much creativity and joy.

My child has a gift.

It's a beautiful thing.

Monday, March 9, 2009

the birds! the birds!

The temperature is still chilly here in the Chicago area, but it's starting to feel a bit more like spring. The snow has finally melted, we've had some hard rains, the days are growing longer and the birds are starting to chirp their morning tunes.

In fact, right now a bird is sitting outside my sliding glass window staring at me. And it's freaking me out. Really. Freaking. Me. Out.

I used to have a normal relationship with birds. They did their thing and I did mine. They flew from tree to tree, singing their birdy songs. I walked around the yard, talking to other humans. When our paths crossed, it was no big deal.

But then, our lives intersected, mine and that of the birds.

It all started when a bird built it's nest right inside the hanging basket of flowers on my front door. It wouldn't have been a big deal, but the bird seemed to slam it's body into the front door frequently throughout the day. I was afraid we would open the door and the bird would hit someone in the head.

So, I carefully moved the bird nest into a nearby tree. I knew this wasn't the best thing to do. But I had no idea just how upset the birds would be. And how hard they would seek revenge.

They sent their calling card a few weeks later. We had just purchased our new inflatable swimming pool for the summer season. We came outside to find that a bird had nosedived into the pool and was floating on his back.

That was strange. In seven summers of inflatable pools, no bird had ever drown in our pool before. Perhaps it had a disease? Or maybe it was something else? A sacrifice designed to send a message?

So, we buried the bird, and we threw away the pool. But the next week, I had a run-in with the birds that changed my life.

I was going for a walk and had just turned the corner onto a long street with no side streets. A bird came barreling out of a nearby tree and whacked me right on the head. What?

It took me a minute to figure out what had happened. But by the time I was back to my senses, it was coming at me again. Wham! It flew into my head again.

What? Do I have something stuck in my hair?

"ACK! ACK!" one bird screamed. Then, its buddy came from behind and hit me again. They seemed to be working as a team now. One would scream and the other would fly after me.

I started to run. But I couldn't get far before it would come after me again. I started diving to the ground with my hands over my head to try to ease the blow.


Run, run, run. Dive. Bam!

A car was driving slowly down the street, and the driver was staring at me. I can't imagine why. I was running down the street, diving to the ground with every fifth step and screaming for dear life. I was tempted to dash out into the street and beg for a ride. But I didn't have time. I had to dive again.

Finally, after about 10 hits, I made it to the end of that street, and the bird went back to its tree.

"That bird did the same thing to my buddy last week," the driver of the car said. He had stopped and pulled into a parking lot. "My friend was so freaked out that he called me and begged me to come pick him up."

I know the feeling. I had to walk a half mile out of my way to go home another direction.

For the rest of the summer, the sound of a cackling bird sent me running for cover. But the birds weren't done with me yet.

It was late August when they left their final message. We live in a relatively new subdivision, and we don't have many large trees. Thus, we don't have many birds.

But one summer morning, my children set up a huge fort in the backyard using chair cushions, lawn chairs and assorted toys. A flock of birds swarmed into the largest tree in the corner of our yard. For about an hour, they cackled and chirped as they flew back and forth from the house to the tree. By the time they were done, everything was covered in bird poop. Not just a few droppings here and there. Covered.

This had never happened before, and it never happened after that one day.

Ah, yes. Spring is on the way. I love it when the flowers start to bloom, the grass turns bright green and the days grow warmer. But the chirping of the birds in the morning is a sound I can do without.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

on being emily

A couple of weeks ago, I had an appointment at the ear, nose and throat doctor, and I took my 4-year-old daughter along with me. I hadn't been to this doctor in the morning before, so I didn't know that many of his patients are children.

The nurse walked us back to the exam room and then said in a sweet, high little voice, "Now, you just sit right here Emily and the doctor will come see you in a few minutes."

That's a strange way to talk, I thought. Then I noticed, she was looking down while she was talking. At my daughter.

"Oh, I'm Emily," I informed her. (I would have thought the birth date on my chart would have been a dead giveaway.)

"I'm sorry," the nurse said. "Emily is a little girl's name. But I guess you were a little girl at one time."

I spent the next 30 minutes contemplating this statement as the doctor looked in my very adult-like ear, nose and throat. Then, we checked out, made the next appointment and got ready to leave.

"Good-bye, Emily! We'll see you soon!" the receptionist sang in her little sing-song voice. I just waved politely, and asked my daughter to do the same, since the woman was looking right at her as she talked.

This was the first time I had ever thought of myself as having a little girl's name. You see, when I was a little girl, I had an older person's name.

I never had to worry about being one of three Jennifers in my class or the second Cathy. I didn't mind being different from all the Cindys and Christys. I liked the fact that when I called someone on the phone, even someone I barely knew, I only had to say, "This is Emily". No last name required since I was the only Emily of my age in town.

If someone shouted, "Emily" in a park or shopping mall, they were looking for me. I responded to the name like a big Labrador being called to a steak dinner.

Until about 10 years ago.

And that's when all of the other Emilys were born. They came in a great wave. Emily climbed to the top of the chart of popular girls' names and sat in the No. 1 position for several years. In fact, when we moved into our house eight years ago, two of our neighbors were Emily. They were age 5 and 6.

I wasn't sure how to handle this rise in popularity of my once unique name. I guess it's a compliment that everyone loves the name so much they want to give it to their babies. But I kind of liked being the only Emily in town.

For the first few years, I found my head whip-lashing from left to right as mothers called for their little girls all around me. Finally, I learned to keep looking straight ahead when I heard a stranger's voice call my name.

So, I guess I've come full circle. I'm no longer the little girl with the old-fashioned name. Now, I'm the mom of three kids with the name of a little girl.

What about you? Have you had any strange experiences with your name?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

lost for words

Something very strange happened to me tonight. I realize it was Wednesday night. And despite all of my best efforts to prioritize, plan, set my boundaries and keep my life running smoothly, it happened.

I had to work.

And I didn't get home until 8:25.

Which means I missed the first 25 minutes of LOST.

And we don't have TiVo. Or a DV-R. And despite my love for technology, I don't really know how either of those devices even work. Or how to write their names properly (so forgive any misplaced captializations).

So, I have to wait until tomorrow to watch LOST when they put the free episode on the Internet. But I have to leave at 6:45 in the morning.

I wouldn't even bother to write about this if it weren't for the fact that I have developed quite a HUGE following of readers who stop by here for my LOST posts. And by HUGE, I am talking a HALF DOZEN OR LESS real-live readers who are not related to me in any way!

These are real people who actually care what I have to say about a topic. And let me tell you, for a girl who grew up with her share of imaginary friends and spends a good chunk of her day either talking to herself or small children who love her because she is the only choice for a mother that God gave them, I DO NOT take this responsibility lightly!

I actually feel bad that I will not be able to write my LOST post for a few days and by then, all the other people out there who watch more than just ONE TV show per week will have moved on to other blogs to read about AI, Biggest Loser, The Office or whatever other hip shows exist out there on the other channels at the other times on the other nights of the week. Trying to organize my life around 8 p.m. on Wednesdays is obviously difficult enough for me, so I can't even think about venturing out to include another show in my schedule.

Without being able to watch the entire episode of LOST, I can't give a really well-thought analysis, but I will tell you a few important thoughts I gathered during the last 35 minutes.

1. Holy Smokes! Sawyer and Juliet?

2. WHO is Amy's baby?!? We know it's a boy. And we know he was born in the early 70s. But who is it?!?! WHO, WHO, WHO is it??

3. And WHO is Amy?!? I thought we were trying to wrap things up here and they just keep bringing in more characters!

4. Ah, Charlotte. She was so cute as a little girl.

5. Does Richard really wear eyeliner or does he just have really thick eyelashes? I read on another site that the actor who plays Richard looks like he wears eyeliner in real life.

I realize it's not much, but it's all I've got right now. I would LOVE to read your comments though about last night. You don't have to worry about spoiling it for me. Given the fact that I've already watched the ending, I think I've already taken care of that.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

making the grade

Today is report card day.

I grabbed the white envelope out of my second grader's folder and ran into the living room. I needed to sit down in a cozy chair by myself for this.

"I hope she says something nice about my sweet little boy. I mean, he tries so hard and he works his little heart out. I know all the answers don't come easily to him and his handwriting isn't great, but please, Lord, let her notice the good parts of him. Please, please, please go easy on him."

My mind was racing with these thoughts.

I mean, report cards are just so unnatural from what we face as adults.

As adults, if someone invites us for dinner, we tell them that we enjoyed it (even if the cooking wasn't that great). If a friend helps us with a project, we tell her she did a great job (even if it wasn't done perfectly). And if a neighbor feeds the dog (or opossum) while you're on vacation, we point out their generous spirit (even if they left a few crumbs of dog food on the kitchen floor).

But in school? That's when teachers have to be brutally honest. Even if it hurts. That's just how it is.

This got me thinking... what if someone gave ME a report card every trimester.

E=Excellent, S=Satisfactory, NI=Needs Improvement

Meal planning: S-
Overall cooking: S
Reading: NI
Geography: S
Keeping up with friends: NI
Physical Education: NI
Housecleaning: NI-
Laundry: S-
Bible: S

And then there are the behavioral traits:

Observes rules: S
Responds to correction: NI
Shows self-discipline: S-
Accepts responsibility: S
Is courteous and considerate of others (at home): NI
Stays on task: NI
Works independently: E
Uses time constructively: S+
Shows neatness in work: NI

My son's report card wasn't perfect. But he scored better than I did in many areas.

And thank goodness, my loved ones don't have to go to my conference on Thursday to review my grades. I would hate to be the one sitting at home waiting to hear what was said about me. I am definitely needing improvement.

Monday, March 2, 2009

not another possum post

I swore I would not write one more word about the opposum. But there are a couple of things that just need to be said.

First of all, I can't believe all of the rodent, muskrat, squirrel and skunk stories out there just waiting to be told! I love your comments! Please give me all the details. Then I don't feel so alone in this world of furry creatures.

Second, I spotted the opossum today running across the patio and under the grill. OK. I use the term "running" very loosely here. It was more of a low-to-the-ground semi-quick waddle.

Fine. I can handle the possum taking up residence in the backyard.

But not this! Not SCALING the screen door as if my children wouldn't notice his fat body and furry tail as he scurried to the top. Excuse me, Mr. Possum! You are NOT a spider! You are not even a squirrel! What are you doing climbing the screen door?!?

Oh, no. And NOT THIS. Not standing with his front paws on the sliding glass door, staring at the children with his eyes pleading, "Feed me! I loved your Fritos! I loved your Frosted Flakes! Please toss me one of those cheese sticks! Mmmm. Those brownies look good!"

This is TOO MUCH!

Repeat after me, Mr. Possum: "I am NOT a pet! I am an over-sized rat! I belong in the forest!"

Oh, my... I feel some poetry coming on.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

alligators under the bed, varmints in the garage

You might be wondering why I've been writing posts lately about opossums. Then again, maybe it didn't even seem odd to you, which is a really scary thought.

I was just kidding around last week when I wrote that it's my husband's "job" around our house to take care of varmints, rodents and vermin. Little did I know that the next day we would have a real varmint of our own to care for.

My husband had been telling me that he suspected something was living in our garage for about a week. I chose to ignore the ripped garbage bags on the floor. I also chose not to think about the sleeping bag that "fell" from the shelf at the top of the garage where we store our camping equipment.

Maybe the house was shifting and causing things to fall? At worst, a cat? I hoped.

When we got home Wednesday evening, we opened the garage door and saw the furry striped tail slip under the kids' big green motorized jeep.

Being the seasoned southern Illinois hunter boy that he is, my husband announced immediately that it was an opossum.

The thought really didn't even bother me that much at first. Until I looked at a picture of one on the Internet. Did you see those teeth?!

The next morning, we called Animal Control, and a lady in a blue uniform brought over a trap we set up in the garage.

I had known for a week that an animal might be living in the garage. But now that I saw WHO it was, I was scared to even open the door. We kept the door from the garage to the house locked tight, as if it was going to reach up and turn the knob. The bags of garbage started piling up in the kitchen. What if it was hanging from the rafter, waiting for a new batch of scraps, ready to pounce on my face?

The kids had the opposite reaction. Their persistent pleas to go hunting with dad had finally been answered... in a way! They were just steps away from trapping their very first varmint!

That night, I could barely sleep. I dreamed a falcon was caught in the garage. A family of mice was living under the chair in the living room. Worms and spiders were crawling through the carpet.

"It's not MY JOB! My husband is in charge of vermin!" I tried to scream out of my dreamy state.

The next morning, I slowly opened the door to the garage and peeked around the corner.

There he was.

He looked sad and cold, snuggled up in his new cage.

He didn't hiss or snarl at me. He didn't even move. He was just a baby. Just an over-sized baby RAT with a hideous tail! Just a nasty garbage-eating rodent, with sharp teeth that have probably been gnawing into every box and riding toy packed into the garage. Just an animal who has been trapped IN our garage for more than a week, probably leaving trails of his refuse all over our stuff!

I wondered what the Animal Control lady would do when she came back to retrieve the cage. I assumed they had an animal prison somewhere for garbage thieves. Or at least a special spot in the woods where they would drop him off with all the other raccoons, skunks and muskrats they had pulled out of homes, cars and garages around town.

"Better close your garage door," she said. Then she walked five steps to our lawn, opened the cage and turned it upside down.

He wrapped his tail around the bars of the cage and held on tight. She poked him in the butt, gave the trap three hard shakes, and he finally relented.

Then, he ran for freedom.

Well, not exactly. He waddled over to the nearest tree at the edge of our lawn and stood there. For several hours. By evening, he had moved just over our property line into the neighbor's yard.

I assume that he is sitting somewhere now with a good view of the garage waiting for the door to open so he can dash in and reclaim his spot on the shelf by the tent.

It's funny that just a day before the opossum drama began, my friend, Sarah, had been telling me how disturbed she was that they had found a mouse in the basement. It wasn't that I didn't take her plight seriously. But I guess I needed my own rodent problem to truly feel her pain.

We started joking around our house that the Opossum in the Garage reminded us of the book, "There's an Alligator Under My Bed", and that's what got my crazy little brain writing opossum poetry. Now, if only other people thought I was even HALF as funny as I do! I could bring smiles to possum victims worldwide!

Postscript: We had moved the garbage cans outside for a few days while the possum was in the garage. When my husband went to take out the garbage today, there he was... sitting in the bottom of the garbage can next to our house. Looks like we have a new pet.

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