And This Is How It All Began...

Robby and I are both from upper middle class working families. Robby grew up in town, while I was raised in the country. When we married, we didn't have much of anything (except love) or jobs with salaries that paid very much. So, on a search for living quarters, we came upon a little one-bedroom, government subsidised apartment. And with hand-me-down and bump and dent furnishings, we moved into our first place.

I knew absolutely NOTHING about "keeping house". Case in point...I had 2 items in my "cooking repertoire"; corn dogs and spaghetti. To this day, Robby cringes whenever I mention cooking spaghetti for dinner (that's the only 2 things he ate for our entire first year of marriage). The other thing that definitely was not my forte' was laundry. How could it be? I was never required to even learn how to operate a washing machine while growing up. I KNOW...this sounds odd even to me, because I required all of my own children to learn how to do this during their high school years. I actually typed and printed up a step-by-step instruction sheet of "How To Wash Clothes". It was posted in the washroom and it described in detail EXACTLY how to separate and wash clothes; including which cycle to wash them on and the appropriate water temperature to be used. I would send them out into the world with a little more knowledge that I was sent out with. So, when the "dirty clothes closet" became filled to overflowing, Robby asked, "When do you think you're going to wash clothes?" This was not said with sarcasm or in a derogatory was just an informational question. Hmmm...I actually hadn't thought of "washing" the clothes that were in there, so I replied, "Well, I guess I'll have to call my mother and ask her HOW to wash them." If he appeared surprised, I didn't notice. He just nodded, said OK and went about his way. I DID call my mother and wrote down the instructions, which I took along with numerous loads of dirty clothes and rolls of quarters to the laundry mat. Ahhh...married life! Another skill learned. I had the ability to not only prepare 2 staple dishes, but now I could wash clothes as well.

There was another "little surprise" at our first home that I hadn't counted on either. Now, although I had grown up in the country, I had NEVER seen a mouse or rodent of any kind in my childhood home ( I suppose it hadn't occurred to me that perhaps my mother had some sort of pest control service that made this possible), so, you can imagine my surprise when leisurely walking to the kitchen one morning, a mouse ran across my path. "EEEK!", I squealed as I jumped up in the sink (isn't this what they did in the cartoons?). Robby came running to see what all of the commotion was about. I told him that I had seen a mouse run across the room and although he sort of rolled his eyes, he DID look behind the refrigerator where I told him I saw it retreat (he did this only to appease me, I'm quite sure). He didn't seem too concerned with our new roommate, when I mentioned that we should seek to remove his presence. I told him that I would go to the store that day and buy a mouse trap and put a piece of cheese in it to catch the culprit (hey...that's what they did in the cartoons, didn't they?). Laughing at me, he said, "You'll NEVER catch a mouse that way." Not deterred by his lack of confidence in me, I set out to prove him wrong. I got my trap and my cheese and then set it in the path where I had previously seen our little rodent run. The next morning while Robby was showering, I went in the kitchen to check the progress of "project catch a mouse". Pulling a rolling cart away from the wall, there I found the smashed remainder of Mr. Mouse...Success! "Robby!", I shouted..."Come here!" He came around the corner again (I'm sure thinking he would again find me in the sink) and to his astonishment he saw that I had indeed caught the mouse with a trap and small piece of cheese.

Thinking back on this first place of ours...and many other subsequent homes, I have come to realize something. It was never the "place" where we lived that made us happy. No matter where I have lived over the years, I can honestly say that I have been content there. The structure or the items that you put in it do not create happiness; it is the people and the relationships that do that. So, my advice to newly weds? Embrace each other and enjoy all of your experiences together. These are the things that you take with you wherever you go...your memories.

Welcome To The World, Parker Ann!

As I woke up Sunday morning, I realized 2 things: 1. I had forgotten to sleep with my TMJ mouthpiece in; I had a headache and 2. I was a Ya-Ya! The second thing, made the first thing sort of irrelevant. I had been at the hospital awaiting my first grandchild's birth the day before for 20 hours! The wait had been worth it...Parker Ann was here in the world with us and I am sure that my life will never by the same.

From the moment that I found out I was to become a grandmother, I was thrilled! This was a 9 month "event". From furnishing the nursery to purchasing every cute outfit across the country. Literally everywhere I travelled, cute baby items called out, "buy me"...and I did! Needless to say, as the big day's arrival neared, my excitement grew to unbelievable proportions.

Saturday was an early and VERY long day. My daughter-in-law was to be at the hospital by 4:30 that morning to be induced for labor. I knew that the day would be long and had no intentions to be there too early; I didn't want to have puffy eyes in my first photographs with my grand daughter. My husband, however, had other ideas. I had things thought out...I needed to make sure that I wore a cute outfit AND make-up today...I needed to look good in those first photos. Well, after "hanging around" my bathroom door and threatening to leave me at home, Robby pulled out the big guns. He said, "We need to go. She is already at 4 cm. When they arrived at the hospital, she was already in labor." OK...I admit, that DID put me in high gear and we got out of there quickly.

Upon arriving, we found Justin and Sarah settled into their room and everything was quite calm. I thought, maybe this wouldn't be a long day after all. She was almost half way there and things looked pretty good. The nurse came in to examine Sarah and we left the room. When we were allowed back in, I excitedly asked my son how far she was dilated now. He held up 2 fingers. Was I somehow confused? Could you go backwards? That's when I realized that I had been had! In Robby's haste to get to the hospital early, he had LIED to me! Oh well, we were there now, we may as well settle in for the day.

Settle in, we did. Justin has a huge Labor Day sale coming up, so we decided to stick over 2,000 address labels on postcards to be mailed out for this event. Robby worked at this task like he does everything else...FAST. I inquired why he was working so quickly since we had ALL DAY. With this task completed fairly soon, I wondered what other" fun" thing he had planned for us to do. Actually, he sent Ryan and Caitlin to Books-A-Million to purchase him some reading material. It was then that people began arriving. Friends and family filled the waiting room.

It was around noon and there was still no progress with the baby...she was still only 2 cm. dilated. How could this be? This was not the pitosin drip that I remembered. I decided to ask the nurse when she entered the room again. She informed me that the doctor "eased" her patients up to the full dose of the "drip". How humane! I wish they had done that 28 years ago. Then the doctor came into the room to inform the mother-to-be that she would monitor her progress and not check her again until she started having some pretty good labor pains. And thus, the day continued.

More people began to show up and the waiting room could not hold another person. The longer she was in labor, the more determined everyone there was to stay until the birth. Perhaps around 6:30 in the evening, although Sarah was still apparently not having much pain (she was reading a book!), the doctor poked her head in to check on her. It was at this point that things began to speed up...or so we thought. She broke her water and IMMEDIATELY the book was thrown down and she was in some REAL pain. Justin went from playing around and laying on the couch being bored to alert status and sitting in a straight chair by Sarah's bedside. When the doctor check a little while later, she was actually NOW at 4 1/2 cm. We were on our way to having this baby girl!

The anesthesiologist came in and administered an epidural...and then Sarah went to sleep. I couldn't believe that...asleep? Wow! BUT I watched the monitor closely and the contractions continued to increase in intensity and were now coming closer together. It was after 9 p.m. by this time. No one who had been waiting with us all day long was about to leave now; not even my 82 year old mother. She was actually having someone make her a new pot of coffee at this hour. Playing with I-Pads, cell phones and watching a football game, we tried to busy ourselves while we waited. THEN, we were told that they were about to prepare her to push. YAY!!! It was so very close now.

I went back into the room one last time to check on Justin and Sarah and let them know we were right there supporting them all the way through this thing. Justin looked at me and said, "I have to go to the bathroom." " go," I said. There's a bathroom right over there", I pointed to the corner of the room. "I CAN'T go in HERE. The nurses and doctor are about to be in here." I looked for only a nanosecond at him and relied, "Then go...go FAST...down the hall!" And he RAN out of the room. Almost as soon as he ran out of the door, the nurses came in and began readying the room for the delivery. OH NO!...Where is Justin? I started to worry that he wasn't back yet. Sarah had still been dozing and I calmly explained to her that he had stepped out to go to the bathroom, but would be back very soon. Much to my relief, he DID finally return. It was now time for me to step back outside the room for the remainder of the delivery process. It was around 9:30 p.m.

Valerie (Sarah's mother), my sister and I all stood in the hallway waiting to hear the sound of a baby's cry. We waited...and waited...and waited. And then, a nurse came out and said, "We're just going to let her rest for about 30 minutes and then try to push again." UGH! It was almost 10 p.m. now. I was getting constant text messages from friends everywhere, requesting an update on the birth status. My eyes were DEFINITELY going to be puffy in those first photos. She sent us back to the waiting room and told us she would come get us when it was time to try again. I looked at the time on my watch...and several of us snuck back around to the door on our own in 30 minutes; we knew those nurses weren't coming to get us. And then we heard a cry...had our baby finally arrived? NO! It was the baby in the room next door. So, we waited some more...Caitlin stuck her ear to the door and heard counting...1,2,3, PUSH! Still nothing. By this time, almost everyone from the waiting room was standing in the hall outside the room waiting to hear a cry. It was around 11 p.m by this time. And then...there is was. The softest little cry. That was our baby. What we had been waiting for all day...and for 9 months; Parker Ann Rogenmoser was here at last.

I have been a mother for almost 28 years now. However, I now set sail in uncharted territory. What will this grandmother thing be like? What will my duties be? Will she adore me as much as I adore her? I don't know the answers to what the future holds or what to expect. I do know one thing, though...I loved Parker before I even met her. And now that I have held that tiny little miracle in my arms, I am quite sure my life will never be the same.

They Call It "Labor" For A Reason...

Saturday, I will FINALLY become a grandmother...Ya-Ya (that's what my grandma name will be). I know this because we have been told by my daughter-in-law that her labor will be induced at 5 a.m. that morning. The doctor has told them to be prepared for a very long day...perhaps at least 12 hours. I won't be there at 5...I don't think she'll have it that quickly AND I don't want to have bags under my eyes for my first pictures with the baby. Anyway, upon hearing this news, I began to recall my oldest son's birth. I had no idea what to expect when I went in to deliver. I was a bit afraid and apprehensive because of the unknown. I think that hospitals, doctors and instructors of childbirth classes should do a little better job of preparing prospective parents (mothers, in particular) for the actual real life view of the birthing process. Because, although it IS a magical day, they call it "laboring" for a reason.

I was listening to my daughter-in-law and a niece talk the other night about this up-coming event. The facility where she is to give birth is the same place I gave birth to my oldest son, her husband. Although it is the same place, much has changed over the course of 28 years. The actual building has been totally remodeled with state of the art birthing rooms, fabulous sitting areas with leather couches and even a day spa (I could actually go get a massage, facial and manicure while awaiting the baby's arrival!). So, when talking to my niece, I heard my daughter-in-law mention that the birthing room had a flat screen TV and since the doctor had told her that her labor would most likely last for 12 hours or longer, she was thinking of bringing some DVD's to watch. WAIT...WHAT WAS THAT? Ummm...I realize that many things have changed over the years, but one thing is for will be experiencing too much pain to even CARE about a DVD, much less watch one. Knowing that she would quickly find this out, I chose not to interject a comment.

I did, however, ask if the doctor had informed her not to eat after midnight prior to her delivery. She said that they actually told her she could eat something light that very morning. "REALLY, I said. I'm not sure if they still do this, but they used to give you a "cleaning out" before your began laboring." They had not mentioned anything about that to either, I thought. That was one of those "little surprises" they fail to mention until it is time to administer it. I have always said that before a woman gives birth, she still has a bit of modesty left. After experiencing labor and delivery...she has NONE whatsoever left! Well, hopefully, for her sake, this little gem is one of the things that has changed over the years.

Apparently, the mother now labors, gives birth and then keeps her baby with her in the new laboring room; there is no nursery window through which guests can view the baby. I have been informed that after the birth, both sets of grandparents will be allowed in to see, hold and take photographs of her. This is the part that I am most looking forward to. It has been discussed in which order we will get to hold the baby; the grandmothers first, followed by the grandfathers. Now, I really don't mind actually being the last one in line for this event. Because, you see, I have this theory: The last one to hold the baby, gets to hold her for the longest amount of time...AND mine will be the last face she sees before being given back to her parents!

Well, whatever the day may bring and whatever changes have indeed occurred over the years, one thing is certain...a baby girl will be born Saturday. She will be born into a family who already loves her before they even meet her.

I REALLY Don't Have Time For A Flat Tire!

I find myself sitting in the the tire repair waiting room this morning...and it is just now only 9:15! I can tell how this day is going to proceed already. I have a million things to do today...and now I have a flat tire! Isn't that how it always is? Is there really ANY good time at all to have a flat tire?

I suppose this morning's turn of events could have been avoided altogether. I knew there was a nail in that tire, however, I sort of slipped that information into one of the back corner's of my mind...and NOW look where that got me; the tire repair store.

Two days ago, I had to travel out of town by myself. Now, going by myself wasn't a big deal. I'm not a person who must have a traveling companion or am afraid to travel alone. So, off I set for my two hour road trip. Traveling the back roads for the first portion of my trip, I had gotten no further than a few mile when the "exclamation point" lit up.'s not an exclamation point; that's just what it looks like to me. It's the low air in your tire light. CRAP! As I continued on to the interstate, another light came on which also shut my cruise control off. DOUBLE CRAP! So, I called Robby. Answering the phone, his first words to me were..."I'll call you right back." Well, OK...I was getting more aggravated by the minute! When he called back, I didn't immediately tell him about the tire, but reprimanded him for putting me off like that. After all, I WAS traveling alone and WHO KNOWS what was going on. This did NOT seem to concern him; my "damsel in distress" routine was not working on him...Hmph! I told him about my tire and quite calmly he instructed me to stop by the Wal-Mart in the next town. WAL-MART??? NEVER! I would think of something else. I remembered a Texaco station just off of the interstate and decided to stop there. However, before I arrived at my destination, I found that I had ANOTHER little problem. Apparently that extra cup of coffee was working overtime on my bladder. I had to find a bathroom...and QUICK! Don't KNOW you've been there too. So, now I was driving quite fast...on a quickly deflating tire...while holding the seat belt away from my bladder!

Pulling into the Texaco station, I walked very quickly in and headed straight for the bathroom. The bathroom issue was now primary and the tire one secondary. I grabbed the door handle...LOCKED! I stood outside the door listening to a mother and her young child sing the Barney and ABC song over and over, while crossing my legs and trying not wet my pants. Were they EVER coming out of there?! Apparently, looking around, I grabbed the handle to the men's bathroom door and went in. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do...I would have squatted behind a tree at this point! I exited the men's bathroom at the same time the singing duo exited theirs. Looking embarrassed, the woman said, "I'm sorry." I told her not to worry and then began looking for someone to help me with my tire. The first man I ran into, I asked, "Do you work here?" Lucky for me, he did. I told him I needed air in my tires and asked if he could assist me. He gladly agreed to help and that's when he told me that I probably had a nail in that tire. Hoping it was a slow leak, I headed off for the remainder of my trip.

I made it to my destination and home safely and having a busy week ahead, put that "nail in the tire" information back in the corner of my mind again. Until this morning, that is. No sooner had I gotten on the road, for yet another very busy day than those darn lights went off again. Calling Robby, he suggested that I just stop by Wal-Mart (what IS it with him and Wal-Mart?) and have it repaired. I hated to go by there (because of past experiences), but is WAS closer than the Good Year place...and it was early. I quickly pulled in. Things looked pretty positive there at first because they took my vehicle in right away. I took advantage of this stop and grabbed a couple of items while I was there. I arrived back at the tire counter just in time to see them pulling my vehicle back around...AMAZING! Maybe I hadn't given Wal-Mart any credit. This was going to be OK after all. "Mam, I don't have the tools to remove your lug nuts. You'll have to take your vehicle somewhere else," the attendant said. WHAT?! What do you mean you don't have tools? Isn't this a STORE? I thought Wal-Mart had EVERYTHING! Ugh...I was off the Good Year place, where I now sit waiting to have my tire fixed. It has been 55 minutes now and the girl just came over to me..."Mam (I'm beginning to dread hearing that word), we can't fix your tire. WHAT?! I'm not believing this! "Why?", I asked. The nail is too close to your "whatever" (blah, blah, blah) and you need a new tire. Did I say CRAP?! I called Robby and he OK'd buying a new tire. I am SUPER behind for the day now, as they begin to put my spare tire on...the new tire must be ordered and put on tomorrow (GREAT!...I'm so very excited about getting to visit this place again).

So, the moral to this story? Don't put off what you COULD HAVE and SHOULD HAVE done yesterday...because if you do, you might find yourself sitting in a waiting room wasting your time...when you REALLY don't have the time!

Our "Nest" Is Officially Empty Again...

Our "nest" is officially empty again. Ever since May, our household has been full of activity. Ryan graduated from college and made his way home for the summer, followed by Caitlin, upon completing her spring semester. David, then also returned home from Kentucky for his nuptials. The Rogenmoser household was vibrant and alive once again. That's when I realized something...I was going to miss all of that chaos when everyone headed out in the fall. Well, that time has arrived and here we are...empty nesters again.

Each child made their way back to their respective homes or schools and I was not looking forward to the last one leaving. So, Caitlin and I made the most of our last month together by enjoying going to the gym, shopping, eating lunch out and viewing some afternoon movies. This year, she would be transferring to a new college. Instead of living an hour away, she would be close to 3 hours another state...Texas, to be exact.

Although I knew in my heart that this move was a good thing, I was not looking forward to the actual "physical" aspect of the move itself. There are many things that I do not like about moving. I suppose the number 1 thing would have to be the boxing up of everything...and then the unboxing of it all again. But, I have a new thing that is definitely moving its way up the list; moving those darn boxes into an UPSTAIRS apartment! WHY, I must ask, is EVERY apartment that she lives in UPSTAIRS? I was hopeful that this move to Texas would find us moving her into a ground level apartment. But, alas...NO! Yet ANOTHER second floor abode (ugh). As I stood there looking up those daunting steps, I was dreading the boxes even more. It was not simply the fact that we had to move those boxes upstairs, but I KNEW how Caitlin packed. Each box was SO HEAVY that it took both of us to lift and carry them from the parking lot to her new lofty apartment.

It was not long at all (ummm...immediately, to be exact) before the sweat began to pour, our faces turned red and quite frankly my heart started palpitating along with having difficulty breathing. OH...did I fail to mention that it was only about 126 degrees outside?! Trip after trip, we shoved boxes inside a bedroom approximately the size of my bathroom (actually, I think my bathroom might be a little larger!) The closet was even tinier. We stood there looking at this new place, Caitlin was to call home and that's when I asked, " WHERE are you going to put all of this stuff?" She said not to worry...she had a plan. Well, I hoped so, because it was soon evident that I had created a real life "Elle Woods". Clothes and shoes overflowed her room. There was NO WAY it would all fit into that closet. She then informed me that she would be adding two more rods (one she would have to access by climbing on a chair) and a couple of shoe racks to the closet in question. Also, as I assisted her with unpacking, I noticed that all of the decor for her room was in Elle Wood-ish, bright splashy colors (this was in stark contrast to the conservative decor throughout the rest of the apartment) pink, green, blue and purple. When a roommate asked if she had a tool kit she could borrow, she replied, "Sure." The roomie (who had been watching this unbelievable unpacking scenario) asked, "Is it pink?" "Yep, ABSOLUTELY!", she chuckled. Paper flowers on the wall, fuzzy green rug on the floor, lime green retro chair at her desk...Hey, I thought, this generic looking place IS beginning to look and feel homier by the minute.

It was after 3 p.m. and I needed to get on the road; I had a long trip back...ALONE. I suppose I chose not to think about that aspect of the move up until then. And that's when the reality hit me...I did NOT like an "empty nest". I know that lots of folks enjoy their nests being empty, but I prefer mine to be crowded. Oh, I know it is loud and chaotic whenever the nest is full. But, I can't remember a time whenever kids did not fill my house and my world. They have made my life more eventful, sure. However, they have also made my life fuller. I could never imagine life without them. So...although they are all scattered from Louisiana to Mississippi to Texas, I can still talk to them every day...AND begin to plan our fabulous fall and winter holiday celebrations, when my nest will be full again; if only temporarily.

We Have A "Gator" Living In This House!

Down here in the south, we are known for our swamps and alligators. However, there is another kind of "gator" that lives at our house...the "insti"-gator. His name is Ryan. And as cute and pithy as he may be, he is quite the sneaky little instigator. Ryan's greatest joy in life, at times it seems, is to start a little squabble and then watch others go at it amongst themselves. He also loves to find something that irritates people and then hones in on it; he teases unmercifully.

Throughout her high school years, Caitlin never dated anyone seriously. This was in part because she was a very picky girl and little things (such as showing one's feet in sandals...I KNOW; weird, huh?) were a deal breaker for a prospective date. She also didn't have a "boyfriend" in part due to the fact that her father insisted on formally meeting and interrogating every potential date. And then, of course, there were the 3 older brothers. All of these things combined made serious high school dating pretty non-existent for her. However, when she became a senior, she did attempt to venture out a little on the dating scene. One such incident landed her brothers in some pretty hot water.

Being the only girl with an overprotective father and 3 older brothers was not an easy thing for Caitlin; amusing at times, but definitely NOT easy. One time, during her sophomore year of high school, Caitlin went out to dinner with a young man and another couple of friends and low and behold, who should also show up at the restaurant, but all of Ryan's buddies! For some strange reason, they all also considered her their "little sister" too and were out to protect her from any unsavory suitors. Upon spotting her with this boy, they proceeded over to her table and ask, "Does Ryan know you're here?...with HIM?" Mortified, she replied, " YES". And if that wasn't bad enough, one of them then took out his cell phone (in front of them at the table) and called Ryan asking, "Hey Ryan, did you know your sister was out with a boy who has long hair and an earring?" GREAT! Needless to say, she didn't have much of a chance where dating was concerned.

When she became a senior, however, all of her brothers were either in college or married (Justin) and I suppose she felt it was safe to test the dating waters again. She had gone out with this particular guy a few times when Ryan got wind of the situation. It was immediately clear that he disapproved of this boy (for whatever reason...perhaps for merely existing). So his campaign to get rid of him began.

Everyone was in for the weekend. Some were playing cards and others were watching TV. But, I could see that Ryan and Caitlin were in the kitchen...and there was some "quiet conversation" going on. Straining to hear, I focused on what was being discussed and every now and then, I heard this boy in question's name being mentioned. Then, all of a sudden, Caitlin SCREAMED, STOMPED out of the room and SLAMMED her bedroom door shut! Well, THAT got Robby's attention. "Now, I'm not going to have all of that slamming doors and screaming around here...where is she?!" I had to do something quick to update him about what was REALLY going on. I explained that Ryan had been steadily instigating her by saying little things about her seeing this boy, until she finally blew a gasket. Understanding a bit more clearly now, Robby headed towards Caitlin's room...and ordered (it was not optional) ALL of the boys to follow him. Peaking around the corner, I found this scenario very reminiscent of much earlier days in their childhood. There they were...all standing in a row with Robby knocking on Caitlin's bedroom door. Poor Justin was complaining, "Why do I have to be in on this, Daddy? I'm married." Well, I suppose the reason was because that had always been the "rule"...somehow all of the boys had found themselves lined up in 3's for life while being reprimanded; and marriage hadn't provided an exemption from that apparently. Robby clearly explained to the group, in front of Caitlin, that they were NOT to comment or try to control her "love life" ever again. And then he dismissed Justin and David (they were not hard core offenders; this speech was for future reference). Ryan, however, was called into her room for "further discussion" on the matter.

I suppose this little "little talk" must have worked because in the future when Caitlin brought a boy home, they did not say much. Well, Justin and David were civil and polite...Ryan merely ignored them as though they were not even in the room. Technically, this was not "instigating" or causing trouble, but with Ryan, one must work in specifics. Robby did not tell him that he had to be cordial; he just said he could not meddle. So although Ryan has not instigated in matters of Caitlin's heart, he still tends to instigate in other areas. Because, you the south, you might be able to take the gator out of the swamp...but you can't take the "insti" out of this family's gator!

My Love/Hate Relationship With Technology...

Society today is consumed with technology. One can rarely find an individual who does not have a computer or cell phone. We live in the age of having to be able to reach people on a whim. And I will confess that I also have been sucked into this technology abyss.

Although, I consider myself "technologically challenged", I do own all of the proper equipment. I can remember the day when we had to use pay phones while away from the house during the day (do those even exist any more?). Then, there were the pagers that everyone used for a while, and one had to devise a system to let the receiver know if the page meant it was an emergency or not. Robby and I devised a system where in case of an emergency, I would follow the phone number with "911"...of course, then you still had to find a pay phone to return the call. On the one hand, it has become more convenient now to be able to just pick up a cell phone on a whim and call or text a person to inquire about any mundane thing, such as the score of a ballgame or what's for dinner. However, there are a few things about these "technological tools" that tend to irritate me as well.

First, there is the "ear bud". Yea, you know what I'm talking about. I'll be walking through a store and someone next to me begins talking. It never fails...I look around and I'm the only one there. So, naturally, I think that they are talking to me. Do I know this person? Hmmm...I'm racking my long term memory for some sort of identity factor, when all of a sudden, they turn around and I see that CRAZY THING hanging out of their ear! ( me again, I think!)

The next "technological irritant", is the cell phone...MINE, in particular. The coverage I get on the road where I live is, how should I put it...NONEXISTENT! Oh yes, the phone will ring (perhaps sometimes and then again sometimes it goes straight to voicemail) and then you can't hear the other person and then..."Beep, Beep, lost"; the phone goes dead. OR, if it's a really important call, you grab it quickly and then proceed to run around in the yard (or better yet, the middle of the road) trying to get a signal. Then, of course, there's the phone itself. I'll give you a perfect example of a scenario that just occurred this past week. I woke up, went to the kitchen for a cup of coffee and then decided to check my e-mail from my phone. The roller ball would not scroll "up". I removed the battery to reboot the phone...STILL the roller ball would not roll "up". I could hear the sound of voicemails and text messages coming through, but could NOT access them...that darn roller ball would NOT cooperate! I needed to vent; who to vent to? Robby, of course! So, I got on my computer to send him an e-mail (I wanted to "vent", but not really "talk" to him while he was at work). This is the message I sent: "P.S. I HATE this phone! The service is terrible. I just wanted you to know that I'm most likely going to throw it in the middle of the road and then run over it with my car! But, I know that you probably won't read this, because you usually delete my e-mails and don't answer text messages in general. LUV YA, Barbara". The phone rang. Robby said, "Well, I guess you may as well just go get back in bed." "What?" "If your cell phone isn't working, you might as well go get back in bed, because I'm sure you won't be able to function today." HA HA HA! VERY FUNNY...But, he DID actually read my e-mail; that was progress.

I say all of this to make a point. That point what if we are out of touch with people for a while? Years ago, we didn't have access to a phone 24/7 and we made it through life just fine. Really...I've even considered giving my phone and Internet up for a week; going "cold turkey". BUT, alas, I do believe that Robby is right...I would just have to put my jammies back on and go to bed. Because I admit it...I'm a "technology junkie" too!

You Too Can Have a Birthday Club!

I absolutely LOVE birthday parties! Can't you remember back to your childhood how much fun it was to either go to a friend's birthday party or prepare for your own? That is one of the special traditions, we here at the Rogenmoser household have maintained. No matter whose birthday it is, we have a CELEBRATION!

When the children were young, I often times planned theme parties. For example, we have had Easter Egg Hunts with clowns, Teddy Bear Tea Parties, Summer Fun with Gummie Worm cakes in sand pails, Sesame Street parties, Royal Tea Parties, 50's Soda Shop get it, huh? And for the adults, I always plan something according to the season in which the party is in. For example, Robby has a November birthday, so I usually make some sort of tasty soup or pizza bread. A fire is lit and the house is decorated for fall with pumpkins. The table is set with napkins and plates of orange and yellow and somewhere, there is a wonderful holiday scented candle burning. Everyone in the family is invited for these events.

About a year ago, however, I decided to start a "Birthday Club" with a few gals who are either related to me...or should be! We decided to celebrate each member's birthday in a very special way. And if there was more than one birthday in the month, all of that month's birthdays would be celebrated at the same gathering.

So, tonight, we celebrate the August sister's! We are having it at my house for this month's celebration, although at times, our celebrations have taken place elsewhere. Like I mentioned before, I just LOVE themes, therefore, upon starting this "Birthday Club", I went around town looking for the "perfect" items to complement our celebrations. My first stop was at a wonderful little gift shop in town called, Terra Home (you can find her on Facebook). She has some very unique items and lucky for me, she had just been to market and had a GREAT selection of birthday items. I bought a festive "Happy Birthday" table runner and 2 great birthday hats (the birthday girl has to wear this). Then, I moved on to Tuesday Morning, where I found some very cute glass, etched birthday plates and I also found some birthday napkins there. Now, that I was "physically" set up for a party (my festive mood was set), I had to decide what to serve.

You never want to serve a very heavy meal at these events, but there are a few things that MUST be served. Every event should have a "special" drink and of course a dessert! I knew right away what the dessert would be..."Little Cakes with Big Attitude" (they also have a Facebook page). What I like to do, is buy several flavors and then cut them into pieces so everyone can have a little taste of each of these delicious cupcakes. So, off I headed to "Little Cakes", where I ended up buying a red velvet, snickers, butter pecan, banana nut, wedding cake and pina colada. The drink was easy to decide upon for this event as well. I went down to Hokus Pokus (local liquor shop) and purchased some Coole Swan. This is a delicious Irish Creme Liqueur with the taste of vanilla and chocolate infused...and served cold...YUM! Another "must" is the glass you serve this yummy concoction in. Make it a rule that whatever is served, it is served in some sort of festive I chose my Lolita and other various martini glasses. Finally, I had to decide on the main appetizer. It would be crustinis made from a fresh loaf of brown sugar and walnut bread that I had made 2 days earlier. I sliced the bread and drizzled it with a little olive oil and then stuck it in the broiler. Upon taking the bread out, I mixed together some olive bruschetta, calamata olives, roasted red and yellow peppers, onions and a fresh tomato. These items were chopped up and spooned onto the toasted bread. Topping that with finely shredded mozzarella cheese, I stuck the crutinis back in the broiler just long enough to melt the cheese. And then Voila! Almost everything was done. Another member of the club brought chips and salsa and we were ready for a party!

For the next 3 1/2 hours, conversation and laughter poured around the table as we intermittently enjoyed our crustinis and small tastes of those yummy "Little Cakes". Then it was present time. The way our birthday club does presents, is to buy items you see over the course of the year and save them. When it gets time for that person's birthday, each item is wrapped in tissue paper and then put into a gift bag, giving the birthday girl lots of little surprises to open. What a fun evening and great way to end a week!

So, go on out and grab a few of your closest friends and start your own "Birthday Club". It's a GREAT excuse to have a fun, festive get together...possibly every month!

But I Really Don't Like "Fun Family Adventures"

Ever since we have been married (28 years), Robby and I have taken a summer, family vacation. As each child was added to our brood, we continued this tradition and even now, as our family has expanded, we still plan a family trip each year. There have been some places we have visited more than once, because they are considered a "favorite", but generally we try to visit new places and experience new adventures each year. One such adventure, however, I do not ever care to experience again.

I suppose the children were around the ages of 5, 7, 9 and 11 when we took our first...and last white water rafting trip. Let me first begin by saying that there are a few things that I do NOT like to do. And I am not too proud to admit that I don't like doing these things because of fear. Fear is a very powerful thing. The adrenaline starts flowing and then your heart begins to race and before your know it, you become paralyzed by it. Am I being a bit melodramatic?, I just usually don't participate in these activities because I'm not a believer in "submersion therapy"; the more I do it, the more afraid I become...thus, hating it more. So, while vacationing in the mountains one year, when the topic of white water rafting came up, I immediately balked at the idea. And I must say, that I usually get my way whenever I say I don't want to participate in certain activities. BUT, on this occasion, Robby wasn't budging. He stated that we were going to have a "fun family adventure"...( for WHO?)

We signed up for this little adventure and then were required to go to a white water rafting orientation before we would be allowed to embark upon the adventure. Now, I was wondering...orientation for a "fun family adventure?" How "fun" could THAT be? Upon arriving at this "orientation", at an open air shed, we were each given a helmet, life jacket and and oar...OH, and some very serious and troublesome instructions. OK now, any activity that has "serious instructions" CANNOT be "fun"! So, as the guide was regaling us with these details, I was catching eye contact with Robby and shaking my head "no"..."I REALLY don't want to do this", I silently mouthed. He simply appeared not to notice my concern (a nice way of saying he was PURPOSELY ignoring me!)

Upon completing our instruction session, we all loaded up on a bus, dressed in our rafting gear and headed down to where we would enter the river. Looking out of the bus window, I could see the water rushing by and Caitlin looked at me beneath her over sized helmet and said, "Mama, I don't want to do this." "Me either", I replied. Well, it was inevitable...we were going down that river in a boat that didn't look sturdy enough to brave the rocks and rapids that were to come.

The one very important thing that our guide/instructor mentioned, was that most serious injuries involved with white water rafting occurred from accidents with the oars. He also brought to our attention that if you fell out of the boat, you should make sure that you popped up to float on your back....because if you got your foot hung under a rock, you'd better be able to hold your breath for a very long time, or you would drown! FUN? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! We all began to get into the boat and the first thing David did was to hit me in the head with his oar! "OH MY GOSH", I shouted..."Didn't you just hear what that man said? BE CAREFUL WITH THAT OAR!" Next, I pushed my feet firmly under the seat section as I had been told to do and then made my official announcement to any and everyone within hearing distance: "IF I FALL OUT OF THIS BOAT...HEADS ARE GOING TO ROLL!"

So, off we headed down the current filled river, fighting the rapids that were coming at us at an alarming rate of speed. I was taking this stuff seriously. And quite frankly, it was a very stressful activity. At one point, while riding over a particularly perilous rapid, Justin began to lose his balance. And in doing so, threw Robby overboard! OH NO!...OH NO!...HELP! Well, not to worry...the great big, hulking, body building guide instructed us to paddle in place while he hefted him back into the boat.

Finally, after losing my stomach many times over, the end of our adventure was in sight. Glad to have my feet on solid ground again, I exited the boat...only to find that we then had to carry it up a hill and down a path to turn it in! (Ugh) Would this "fun family adventure" EVER end?! Well, thankfully it did and I vowed to NEVER do such a thing again. After is one of those things that varies from person to person. And THIS person would be choosing a much safer "fun family adventure" from here on out.


Be Careful With My Purse...You Might Spill The Gravy!

In this suffocatingly HOT southern weather, there are not many activities one can do and stay cool. However, one of my favorites is going to see matinee' movies at the theatre. So, Caitlin and I made a plan...we would go to an afternoon matinee' this week.

When the kids were young, we would all pile in the car on hot summer afternoons and head to the movie theatre. This is an activity that we have continued to enjoy as a family over the years. The fun is the same, but other things have changed regarding our movie going adventures. For one, when did the price of a matinee' movie ticket increase from $2.50 per person to $7.50? How is THAT a "deal"? And that yummy smelling popcorn...what is is now, about 50 cents per CUP? So, on this particular afternoon, we decided to skip the movie concessions and grab a bite to eat "outside" the take "inside" the theatre.

I know that you are not supposed to do this sort of thing, but hey...they kind of FORCE you to resort to these measures with all of the inflated prices. We tried to first run by Subway (our favorite lunch spot), but the line was too long and we were a little short on time, so instead, we pulled in to Sonic. I was busy taking a phone call and before I knew what was happening, Caitlin had order for us a BLT, grilled cheese sandwich, French fries and onion rings...oh, and 2 bottles of water! Good thing I was carrying my large Hobo bag today, but WOW! Bacon and onion rings? That was some strong smelling food...I hoped we wouldn't get busted. And that got me to thinking...what would happen if we did? Would they demand I open my purse...could they do that? And if they did...would they throw me out of the theatre? Or worse yet throw your food out?!

As we entered the theatre, I was relieved that the popcorn smell permeated the air inside; that smell would definitely cover the smell of the bacon and onion rings. Making it past the ticket taker, we were now on our way to find the theatre where our movie would be showing. was so cold in there; what a GREAT place to "beat the heat". And then Caitlin turned to me and said, "I forgot my hoodie in the car." "Well, let's just switch purses. You take mine with the key (and food) in it and I will hold yours." "OK, she said, but be careful not to turn it upside down ...because you might spill the gravy."
"GRAVY?! What gravy?"
"The gravy I got to go with my fries", she giggled.
Now, this might be pushing it a bit, but what the heck...if you're going down, you may as well go down BIG.

We eventually got settled in and the lights dimmed and the movie started. Covertly, we removed our lunch and began to eat. For a while, each new person who entered the theatre had us flinching and hiding our food, but after a while we became more comfortable and were able to enjoy our "lunch and a movie". After all, if caught, I had decided that I would just simply state my life motto in defense of my discretion..."It's better to ask forgiveness than permission!"

The Old Gray Mare Just Ain't What She Used To Be

Last week, I didn't have time for blogging or anything else for that matter. I had been summoned to Mississippi. David and Codi were moving into their new rent house and they needed some help. "What kind of help?", I inquired. "Oh, just a little help putting some furniture together...and there is "one little flower bed" that also needs some "help".

Upon arriving from the 4 hour road trip it took to get there, the first thing I noticed was the "one little flower bed" was not only NOT" little"; it was TWO flower beds AND they looked very much like a JUNGLE! Standing there with my hands on my hips looking at the mess I had to clean up, I heard the next door neighbor quietly walk up beside me..."You've got your work cut out for you", he said. No truer words had been spoken.

I suppose I have gotten soft over the years (that sounds better than "old", doesn't it?) , because I can remember the day when I could stay outside working in the yard all day long. However, I KNEW the triple digit temperatures of Mississippi were going to be unbearable. It was because of this, that I told Robby that we would have to get up EARLY the next day so we could work outside during the coolest (HA HA) part of the day. We arrived and began working the next morning at 7:30.

Upon looking things over, I decided that we needed a few things for our "little project". One of the first things to make the list was fire ant killer. That's because Robby immediately stepped into a HUGE ant bed that was in the "jungle". Oh...and did I mention that he was wearing sandals? Yea, I know...some people will do ANYTHING to get a break from doing yard work. Well, you will have to do better that that! Put some medicine on those ant bites and get on out here! In addition to the ant killer, we also needed some mulch. David had made a visit to Justin's Ace Hardware store and gotten some mulch before he left for Mississippi...3 bags. It took 23 bags. He had also picked up a shovel for us to use. Justin told me, "I don't know what David is planning to do with a "war shovel"...WHAT?! What is a "war shovel"? I quickly found out. I think it is perhaps called a camp shovel, but I DO know why Justin referred to it as a "war shovel". It was a very short handled shovel...and it looked like it should be used to dig fox holes-thus, a "war shovel"!

Well, EVERYONE was required to help with the "little project". There was digging, pruning, transplanting and weeding to be done...and it was HOT! I started drinking water like nobody's business...literally gallons! I have to say that the work went pretty well, but there was an award given out that day...the "complaining award". That award went to Caitlin, who was the last one to join our little party and the first to go in and take a shower. FINALLY, (just before I passed out from heat exhaustion) we finished up. It had taken about 4 1/2 hours to complete this "little project", but it looked GREAT (if I may say so myself). The final project was complete with monogrammed garden flag and 2 ferns hanging from the front porch (hope those make it through the heat).

With my head throbbing and sweat pouring profusely from every pore in my body, Robby and I headed back to our hotel to take our showers. He swung into a Quik Stop to grab another drink, while I opted to stay in the car with my face pressed against the air conditioning vents. As I watched him exit the store, I began to laugh. He had worn a white shirt to work in (having forgotten his "work clothes"...nice try, buddy) and I told him as he entered the car that he reminded me of someone...Pigpen on Charlie Brown! Agreeing with me,he continued to back the car out and head toward the hotel, as I simultaneously began softly singing a familiar tune..."The Old Gray Mare Just Ain't What She Used To Be..."

Now Tell Me Again...Why Would You Buy A Kid A BB Gun?

We live in Louisiana, which is considered a "Sportsman's Paradise". Fishing and hunting here are not just for sport, though. Most people eat whatever they catch and the commercial industry for fish and seafood is abundant. Whatever the case, most young boys here are initiated into hunting by being given a BB gun. One of my favorite stories about a BB gun is, "A Christmas Story". I just love that movie! Poor little guy...everyone from his teacher to Santa Claus tells him that he doesn't need a BB gun because he will "put his eye out". And in fact, when he gets his BB gun, he almost does exactly that! Our boys were no different than all of the others around here; they all got a BB gun around the age of 6.

You may think that 6 is a young age to give a kid a BB gun, but that seems to be the "coming of age" thing for boys in the south. Oh, don't assume that these kids are just given a gun without instructions. Fathers give strict gun safety precautions, such as: do not pump the gun more than once (to do so would cause the BB to come out with more force...AND you could put someone's eye out), do not aim it at anyone (we do not shoot people or toward them...they could get hurt OR you could put their eye out) and never shoot an object at close range (you could DEFINITELY put your eye out...). However, with all of the good intentions concerning safety rules, boys will be boys and left to their own devices, they tend to get into a little mischief with those BB guns.

I can still recall one such day quite vividly. I was inside doing house chores and the boys were outside running around, as usual. At the time, we were living next door to my mother. While playing outside, the kids would frequently go back and forth between our two houses. There was no need for concern about allowing them to do this because we did not live near the road and there were 10 acres on which they could roam. There had been several "BB gun incidents" over the previous years...after all, 3 boys can think of things that you and I never could. There was the time when my mother had just freshly painted the colonial columns that line the front of her house. I received the call..."Barbara, could you come over here?" what?! She then proceeded to show me all of the tiny holes in her fresh paint...made by no other than the BB gun. And then, of course, there was the time that my mother came around the back of our yard (undetected), just as Ryan took careful aim with his BB gun and shot and shattered my French doors. Upon witnessing this, she then made her presence known by inquiring, "Well...I wonder who did that?" Without any sudden or startled movement, Ryan very calmly turned to her (with his BB gun still in his hand) and said, "I was just standing here wondering the same thing." So, when I received "the call" that day, it was of no great surprise to me.

"Mama", the small, squeaky voice came over the line..."We can't come home right now."

"Why?", I asked.

"Because Ryan is holding us at bay with his BB gun."

What in the WORLD was David talking about?!

He went on to explain that the floral property divider between our houses (where they crossed from yard to yard) was where Ryan was "holding them at bay". ( OK...Ryan is the youngest, but he is also the sneakiest; always has been...and still is!). I put the telephone down on the counter top, walked to the kitchen window and what to my wandering eye should appear, but Ryan...dressed in a camouflage jumpsuit, laying atop the roof our Aero Star mini van with his BB gun in his hand sighted in...HOLDING HIS TWO BROTHERS AT BAY! Every time they would attempt to cross the property line, he would threaten to fire a shot.. I THREW the window up and SHOUTED one word...RYAN! In one fell swoop, he slid from the van roof to the driveway, never even looking back toward me. That's all it took. They say "tone of voice" can be quite convincing...and he KNEW that "tone of voice"; it definitely convinced him to comply. The gun was confiscated, the other 2 boys were allowed to cross over into unhostile territory and all was well once again...Well, at least until the next misadventure of the 3 amigos! Which would most likely be the next day at the latest!

Mam-Maw, The Witch and Harry Potter

My mother turned 82 years old this July. Although she has lived here for many years, she originally hails from a VERY rural community. Remember the movie "Deliverance"? OK... maybe it's not THAT bad, but close! Let me just give you this little example and you can decide for yourself. When Robby and I were newly married with only Justin and David being born, we headed over there for the annual Easter egg hunt. We left the main road for a gravel one and started to head deep into the woods. The first little house we came to had something hanging from the front porch, and startled Robby looked at me and asked, "Was that a bobcat I saw hanging off of those people's front porch?" I'm NOT kidding you! Back to my mother, now. She grew up during The Great Depression, therefore, her view on many things is quite unique. She is the eldest of 4 children; 2 sisters and a brother. All of the siblings, at one point in time also left "Deliverance" to seek work and start their families. All, except my mother have slowly over the years also migrated back to their home town. My mother is the matriarch of this bunch ( even if it is a self-appointed position). She has no problem letting everyone know that she is in charge. None of the siblings even call her by her given name, but instead refer to her as, "Sister". And it is not just the siblings who call her this, but also the other residents of "Deliverance" as well.

As I said, Mam-Maw considers herself the martiarch of the family and most people do not argue with her about anything...because she is right and you are wrong and there is just no reason to do so. Case in point is, Harry Potter. When the Harry Potter series came out several years ago, my mother announced to us that Harry Potter was evil. OK...I thought; now where is this going? She went on to say that Harry Potter was a real boy, who did witchcraft and Hogwarts was a real place. Hmmm...what do you say to that? YOU DON"T. You just listen and let her talk and DO NOT argue. So, when my cousin announced that she was a "witch", my mother's response to this was somewhat of a surprise to all of us.

Let me first explain a couple of things to you. Between my mother and her siblings, there are 9 of us first cousins; only 3 of us (my sister, another female cousin and me) are close with each other. The others, let's just say don't have a lot in common with us (The Witch!). Now, I don't doubt the claim by this particular cousin that she is indeed a "witch"...and here is the reason why. She is a hippie throw-back from the 60's, who looks a lot like your local present day coffee house employee. You know the one I'm talking about...she has unnaturally dark black hair, multiple face piercings, her entire body is covered in tattoos...AND she has a voice that sounds strangely like Darth Vader's (mostly likely due to a lifelong habit of smoking). All of this, along with the fact that she OPENLY professes to being a witch, has led all of us to believe it...all EXCEPT for my mother. Apparently, she has listened to all of the witch banter and observed for herself the oddities surrounding this girl and proclaimed (as any sitting matriarch would do) that she is NOT a witch. Hmmm...OK, so let me get this straight...Harry Potter, who is a book/movie character is a "real" witch and "hippie throw-back", who clearly admits to being a witch is not one. Makes sense to me...NOT!

Although we usually try to avoid discussing the witch issue with "the witch", my mother decided one day to do just that...AND that it was time to make her public declaration on the issue. So, she called her over to where she was sitting and said to her, "Sit here on my lap" (YIKES! This is NOT a "touchy feely" person...we didn't know what she was about to do!) Mam-Maw then took her face between her hands and looked sternly into her eyes and said, "Now, you stop all of this nonsense! You KNOW you are NOT a witch!" Trying to act as though we were not paying attention, around the room, eyes were beginning to bulge, mouths were hanging open and some (Caitlin) were even hiding for fear that a spell might be cast their way. And do you know what the witch had to say about this proclamation? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Yep! She may be a witch, but she too knows the rules...NEVER argue with Mam-Maw; why? Because she is right and you are wrong and there is no sense in doing so! Even IF Harry Potter is not a "real" boy and you "really" ARE a witch!