Caitlin, The Burglar And The Suitcase...

I have never been able to figure out why Caitlin is so afraid...of EVERYTHING (or as she puts it "afraid of the world"). Perhaps girls are just more easily frightened than boys or maybe the boys scared her when they were all younger...who knows? Whatever the case may be, this kid is scared of her shadow.

Everyone who knows Caitlin, knows that she is so skiddish that she makes someone either come stand at the door when she walks out to her car at night or actually walk WITH HER. I suppose her fear is a little difficult for me to understand, because I was a "Latch Key Kid", even before there was a name for it. I would get off of the bus in the afternoons and walk up my long, gravel driveway, remove my house key from its hiding place and go inside and get started on my homework until my mother got home from work. This was no big deal for me. Perhaps there was just not as much crime or coverage of it back then; I never thought that anything bad could happen to me. In any case, Caitlin does not like to be "home alone" ever. She says that, someone might "get her"...whatever that means. One must remember now, that this girl is about to turn 21 years old in December. However, we all do continue to humor her, while she takes this matter quite seriously. That is why I am very surprised that she shared the following incident with me. Try as I might...I could NOT stop myself from laughing.

A couple of months ago, we were up and getting ready for church. Robby and I were about to leave and Caitlin would be following a little later. Still getting dressed in her room, I informed her of that and she replied, "Lock the door when you leave!"...I said, "OK" (as if I didn't already know to do this). We have always had an alarm system in our home, but only set it before going to bed at night; simply locking the door during the day usually will suffice. Everyone, including David and Codi who were visiting for the weekend, met at church. After the service was over, we all dined out for lunch and eventually made it back home. As usual, I went over to the phone to check the Caller ID to see if I had missed any calls or had any messages. Upon doing this, I noticed that the security company had called; this alarmed me. They only call if there is an alarm that goes off and I knew that the security alarm had not been set. I panicked, thinking that maybe the fire alarm had been triggered. That's when I went in search of Caitlin to see if she had been home when the call had come through. Indeed, she had been.

Upon inquiring about the security company call, Caitlin got this wide-eyed look that told me something was DEFINITELY up. It seems that after Robby and I had left (and locked the door), she had decided to also set the alarm. After doing so, she went back to her bedroom to continue getting dressed for church. While doing so...the alarm went off; someone MUST be in the house, she thought! Panic set in and she began to quickly assess the situation regarding what she should do. Where could she hide from the intruder? In the closet? Under the bed? NO!...these were places EVERY burglar would think to look first. She considered jumping out of her bedroom window, but couldn't figure out how to open the new interior shutters that I had recently installed. She heard the telephone ringing (the security company), but could not get to it, because she would have to leave the safety of her room. She considered calling 911 from her cell phone, but our service is terrible here and she could not get a signal. There was no escape...she was destined to be discovered! Worried and becoming increasingly frustrated that her time was running short before the intruder discovered her, she glanced around her room and spotted her salvation...a suitcase! She had recently returned from a trip and had not yet returned her suitcase to the attic. Thankfully, she was small enough to fit into it and REALLY...a burglar would NEVER think to look there (Heck! WHO WOULD?). She could hear footsteps coming toward her room and just as she was about to climb into the suitcase, she heard a knock on her door and her name being called. Scared witless, she realized that she recognized that was David! Jerking her bedroom door open, she lit into him!

David was as amazed at her reaction as I was by the tale, itself. He explained that he had only stopped by to pick up a few items that he didn't want to forget, before heading to church. Of course, she was relieved that it HADN'T been a burglar intent on "getting her". However, it HAD been a very close call...if only in her mind!

It LOOKS Like Autumn...Even If It Doesn't FEEL Like It!

The calendar last week indicated that the first day of autumn had arrived. That was difficult for me to believe, considering that temperatures here in the south were still hovering around 98 degrees. However, I made my trek upstairs to the attic where all of my fall decorations sat...waiting to be displayed once again. Perhaps, I could coax Mother Nature into cooperating with me by getting these items out.

It seems that over the years, my fall decorations have multiplied...MANY times over. So, that trek up to the attic, was actually quite a few trips. There were so many trips in fact, that I was absolutely exhausted from packing all of the boxes downstairs. Thus, I simply piled it all up and looked at it for an entire week before beginning to put it out. Every now and then during that week, I would wander over and open a box lid and peek inside. FINALLY, this week, I decided to tackle the job.

I LOVE decorating for for the holidays; especially fall for some reason. Perhaps it is because it is just the beginning of all the "holiday seasons". Fall starts the parade of seasons off with its vibrant oranges, reds and yellows. Add some jack-o-lanterns, black cats and witches and you have Halloween. Take them away and add some more pumpkins and harvest items and it's Thanksgiving. From there, you go straight into Christmas and then for us, here in Louisiana, next comes Mardi Gras. So, autumn decorations kick everything off in their beautiful array of warm colors.

I began collecting a Halloween Village several years ago. For me, collecting this village is almost like traveling back to my childhood, when I would play with my dollhouse and dolls. I strategically place each house and all of the individual figurines around on different furniture surfaces, making sure that they are near an outlet, so I can light them all up in the evenings. Next, there is the dressing of the mantles. I keep my mantles decorated year round, however, for the holidays, I really like for them to stand out. Adorned with runners, scarves, candles, garland and lights, these items create an eye catching arrangement that immediately sets the tone of each room for the season represented. Along with the mantle displays, both my kitchen and dining room tables are decked out with fall colored dishes, just begging for hot soups, warm breads and casual conversations to surround them. Upon entering the front of the house, one is greeted by an orange lighted, leafy garland, an array of pumpkins and candy corn wreaths. Inside, the aroma of autumn scented candles wafts through the air, permeating it with smell such as, Butterscotch Toffee, Cinnamon Streusel and Caramel Apple Pie.

It took me several days to complete this little seasonal transformation within my home. It still may not FEEL like autumn outside, but I can pretend. I'll just turn my air conditioning down, light some candles and pour myself a cup of piping hot pumpkin spice coffee and look around at my decorations. OK, Mother Nature I'm ready your thing! Bring on the cooler temperatures to go along with my fabulous fall surroundings.

Packed My Boots And Headed To Cowboy Country!

I had this great idea. Robby would be playing in a golf tournament out of town this past Saturday, so what better time for me to visit Caitlin in Texas? I knew that it had been a pretty rough week for her...what with all the fines she had gotten and a few tifts with her roommates. It was time for some "Mommy Time"!

I arrived in Texas Friday afternoon, picked Caitlin up and then we checked into a motel across town. First on the agenda was dinner. We got dressed and headed to Longview to one of our favorite places to dine; Olive Garden. We both LOVE this place and there isn't one where I live, so whenever we have the chance, that's where we eat. Olive Garden, as usual, did not disappoint. After talking, laughing and enjoying out meal, we headed back to Marshall. Caitlin had a test to take early the next morning before we set out for the day,so she needed to get some rest.

Upon waking Saturday morning, Caitlin left for her test, while I drug myself out of bed and had a much needed cup of coffee. By the time I was having breakfast, she was back...and it was time to begin our adventure for the day! First, we visited downtown Marshall. I was amazed at what a quaint little town it was. I had two sons who had previously lived in Marshall and they never told me about these place (boys!). Caitlin came to town and within a few days, she had gone out, explored and found some really neat little boutiques. One of the shops we, of course, had to pop in to was a place called, "A Tisket A Tasket". You guessed it ANOTHER children's shop...and it was absolutely adorable. I was actually choosing items as she pulled them out of boxes! OK...I felt compelled to purchase just a "few" more outfits for Parker (sorry...couldn't help myself!). We also went into another couple of really neat shops, including a Texas wine shop. Here I found the most delicious chocolate infused red wine...OK, who could resist chocolate AND red wine...mixed together; I bought some! As we continued to shop, we noticed a huge tent with tables and chairs being set up...and a live orchestra warming up out there. We needed to find out what was going on. Upon inquiring, we found that every September, this musical event takes place in downtown Marshall. The Marshall Symphony Orchestra pairs with a singer, who performs selections from a different artist each year. This year was the tunes of Elton John. We definitely had to come back to this event tonight. Therefore, if we were going to continue our "shopping day adventure", we needed to get the show on the road...literally. Our next destination...Shreveport.

Caitlin knew of a great little restaurant in Shreveport where we could get a great Greek salad. We both became fans of Greek salads while visiting South Beach in Miami this past year.
"Newt's" Greek salad was delicious and I'm sure that this will be one of our "new favorite places" to dine in Shreveport. From here, we headed out to do a little more shopping. Catching my eye along the way was a sign, "Just Dogs!". I made a quick turn to see what this store was all about. Not only did it carry doggie beds, clothes and accessories, but it was a doggie bakery too! Sissy and Annie (my 2 doxies) profited from this little visit in the form of quite a few treats. After also stopping at Francesca's, The Loft, Pier One and World Market, we decided to head back to Marshall for that concert.

Downtown Marshall was now bustling with people readying themselves for the concert. We were walking toward the tent area when Caitlin mentioned that there might be an entrance fee...I hadn't thought about that. I had a little cash; surely it would be enough to get us in. We walked up to a table and sure enough...there was a fee. They asked Caitlin if she was a student and she excitedly answered, "Yes", knowing that there was most likely a student discount associated with that response. The student fee was $10! Wow! That was pretty expensive for a starving student; I hated to hear what the regular admission fee was. The lady at the table was just telling me it would be $20 for my ticket (and I must have had this shocked look on my face), when a member of the orchestra just walked over and gave me a complimentary ticket! It was my lucky day...we could now afford dinner. We got our wrist bands on, found a bistro table outside of a restaurant/antique shop called, "Central Perks", ordered our dinner and then waited for the music to begin. I have to say that the concert was definitely worth the wait...and the entrance fee. The music of Elton John filled the air and our souls as we sang along to many of the tunes. What a great ending to a fun day.

Before leaving Sunday morning, we had breakfast together and made plans for the following weekend. Caitlin would be coming home and there was Justin's birthday to celebrate, Parker to see and an LSU game to watch. However, THIS WEEKEND had been about "Mommy Time" with Caitlin...and I LOVED it!

The Big Cheese Wagon, Bully Boy And The Poncho!

Several years ago, I noticed that a good friend of ours had this habit of calling most of the girls and women we know "precious". I thought about this and then asked Robby one day, "I wonder why he doesn't call ME precious." He just stared at me; most likely not paying attention, I assumed. Well, in fact, he WAS paying attention and came back with an answer to my question. It seems that I really didn't fit the description of "precious". WHAT? Although I feigned surprise, I really wasn't. But, I DID push the ticket a little by asking, "If I'm not "precious", then WHAT AM I?" That stumped our friend a little and I have to admit that I enjoyed watching him squirm. Then, he piped up and said, "spunky!" Hmmm...OK, I could deal with that; actually liked it and AND it suited me better than "precious". That got me to thinking about what makes a person "spunky" versus "precious". MY spunkiness included lessons learned from riding the "Big Yellow Cheese Wagon".

"The Big Yellow Cheese Wagon" is how my children fondly (or not too fondly) referred to the school bus. While restricted from driving once during his senior year of high school, we told Justin that he could ride with his younger brother. He told us that he would rather ride "The Big Cheese Wagon" than to be seen riding with his YOUNGER brother. THAT was saying a lot! My children have pretty much lived a charmed life, as I'm sure each generation remarks about their own offspring. But, truly, they never HAD to ride "The Big Cheese Wagon". That is because they all attended private, Christian school and there were no buses; we had to carpool. I, on the other hand, was not quite as fortunate as they were; "The Big Yellow Cheese Wagon" was my mode of transportation to and from school for many years.

I don't suppose riding the "Cheese Wagon" was TOO terribly bad. There ARE a lot of lessons to be learned from riding the bus. For instance, sharing is one lesson you have to learn. There are only a limited number of seats on the bus and you may have to share one with someone...hopefully it is with someone you know and like, otherwise you will then get to experience being out of your comfort zone. Another lesson learned from riding the bus, is that of physical discomfort; it is hot in the summer and cold in the winter. However, one lesson I learned early on in my bus riding days, was the lesson of taking up for myself. This lesson was worth passing along to my children.

When I was in elementary school (and riding the "Cheese Wagon" every day), there was this boy in my class and I suppose you could call him a bully of sorts; he was ALWAYS in trouble. That was back in the day when teachers were allowed to spank kids (at least in the south they did)...and believe me, this kid got the paddle ALL THE TIME! However, with all of the effort put into attempting to mold him into a nicer person, his behavior still failed to improve. Lucky me...he rode MY "Cheese Wagon" (ugh!) Having such severe issues with his behavior, "Bully Boy" was given a permanent seat on the bus...directly behind the bus driver. THIS, however, did not deter him. From his seat of shame, he continued to have the ability to torture. The torture he chose for me, came in the form of DAILY tearing one of my favorite pieces of clothing. You heard me right! Let me explain. My mother made me this little reversible poncho to wear to school. It was really cute. One side was blue and the other was red, but my FAVORITE thing about it was the fringe. The fringe was these little smiley face balls. Those little smiley faces is where the trouble with "Bully Boy" began.

Although he was required to sit directly behind the bus driver, it was almost as if he had the last say. It became a habit of his, that as I was exiting the bus at my house each day, he would quickly reach over and pull one of those smiley faces off my poncho! OH...this REALLY made me mad! Mostly because of him actually doing it, but also because the bus driver couldn't seem to make him quit! Considering all of this, I decided to take matters into my own hands. The only weapon I could manage to think of fingernails. Now, this was WAY before the days of acrylic nails (and I was only in elementary school too), I began to grow my own nails out. Day after day, "Bully Boy" would pop another smiley face off my poncho, as I would attempt to dodge him while exiting the bus and the bus driver continued to look helplessly at me. At this rate, I would soon have NO smiley faces left, so I decided to quit wearing the poncho until my plan was ready to execute. The day finally arrived and I once again donned my poncho...armed this time with my "weapons". As I exited the bus that day, I sauntered past "Bully Boy" with those smiley faces enticingly dangling before his eyes. And just as I suspected...he could NOT resist; he went for the bait! HOWEVER, as he reached for the smiley face, I reached for his arm and shall we say...came away with his DNA under my newly grown nails. Exiting the bus that day (to the screams of pain coming from "Bully Boy"), I glanced back at the bus driver. We made eye contact, but he did not reprimand me.

I'm not sure why I didn't tell my mother about "Bully Boy" and quite frankly it might have made things worse if I had allowed her to handle the problem. I don't recommend this type of retaliation for everyone. BUT, I CAN say that for me, it was just one more lesson learned from "The Big Cheese Wagon" that helped define who this spunky chick is today!

A Fine A Day...Does NOT Keep The Temper At Bay!

I should have known to expect this. It all started with David. At his college (and Ryan's and now Caitlin's), he was the "King of Fines". Every time I turned around, he was getting a fine. By the end of each semester, I was presented with the total amount required in payment in order for him to receive his grades and register for the next semester. Why, oh why, would I believe that at least one of my children could get through that school without incident?

I had driven Caitlin over to Texas and deposited her (and all of her gazillion boxes of "stuff") there merely a week and a half earlier. I suppose in the beginning, I was lulled into a false sense of security...a "honeymoon period" so to speak. I should have been prepared for this to end...but not quite so soon. I wasn't informed about the first fine until there were three! I feel the need to explain a couple of things regarding this school and her fines, first. The college that my daughter attends, is a Christian university. Now, this is nothing new to her, because she spent ALL of her formative years of education in this type of setting; Pre-K was Baptist, K-6th was Presbyterian and 7th-12th was Catholic. Besides being Christian schools, they all have another thing in common...pretty severe RULES. Now that you are aware of that small, but quite significant can most likely guess the problem.

Upon leaving Caitlin at school, I noticed that she was sporting a sorority t-shirt. I suggested that she be careful wearing Greek life t-shirts around campus that could be considered offensive...and get her in trouble. She nodded and said, "OK"...I don't think she even heard me. I say this because her first fine involved a "T-shirt violation". Oh, don't wasn't a Greek life shirt. It was a Margaritaville one!...worn to chapel! GREAT! She tried to argue her case by explaining to me that Margaritaville was technically a "place"; not a drink. True, but what do you do in Margaritaville?...DRINK MARGARITAS! There was no defending the issuance of this fine...but $25? Ugh! A lone $25 may not have been too bad, but remember, I said 3 fines. And "Little Miss Rule Breaker" doesn't have a job, so you guessed it...I get the honor of paying them. Therefore, when I got the call about fine #4, I encouraged Caitlin to go ahead and protest them...but in doing so, NOT to get thrown out of school.

Rule infraction #2 came in the form of a parking violation. Apparently, there are white and blue parking spots on campus, with the white ones being for students and the blue ones reserved for faculty. She parked in a white spot...and got a fine! She was told it was commuter parking., let me get this straight...she lives on campus, therefore paying MORE money and she can't park in ANY white parking spot? Oh...and she (I) get to pay ANOTHER $25 fine too? I think NOT! This was one fine that needed to be challenged. However, in the meantime, she was too busy getting another fine! She was racking those fines up quicker than rabbits have babies. This particular fine came about during "room check". Yea, some college kid is given a job of checking some other college kid's room and I don't think this job is about the money; I think it's about the power. Because REALLY...who wants to have a job where you make enemies on a daily basis? Any way, this fine was actually reduced to a "warning". By the time Caitlin received this "warning", she was beginning to get quite irritated. When the RA presented her with her copy of Cosmopolitan that she found in her room...IT WAS ON! Caitlin informed her that she was NOT taking her magazine unless she wanted to give her $6 for it, because she had just bought it that day and hadn't even had time to read it yet. Relenting, the RA agreed to her having it removed from the premises by 8 a.m. the following morning (how kind of her).

After the absurd Cosmopolitan magazine incident, I hoped that things would go more smoothly the following week. This was not to be. The next phone call I received, found Caitlin a little more than irritated...she was IRATE. Her on-campus parking lot is where the band practices in the afternoons. Apparently, band members are allowed to give tickets, or if they choose, physically move vehicles that are left in that parking lot after 4 p.m. (which is when band practice begins). It was barely 3:30 and she had a ticket on her car! AND...there were other cars out there that did NOT have tickets on them. That was the "straw that broke the camel's back". Under my advisement, she headed down to the administration offices to tackle this problem head on. After wasn't even 4:00 yet; there were no band members in the parking lot and she had a ticket in her hand. Upon entering the office, she marched up to the desk and told them in no uncertain terms, that she had HAD ENOUGH. She wanted not only THAT fine removed, but also the commuter parking one taken care of as well (smart girl...go for all or nothing). She informed them that if they chose not to remove the fines, that she would go back to her parking lot, wait for the band to arrive and then choose a random band member and punch them in the face...which would most likely result in a legitimate fine. I agree that this was not done quite as diplomatically as it could have been done...BUT, they did it! After commenting on how they weren't sure if it was possible for a 95 pound little girl to do such a thing. She assured them that they shouldn't underestimate her abilities...they relented.

Did I mention that Caitlin is a pre-law business major? Good practice, huh? Well, I feel certain that this will not be her last fine...something just tells me that. I only hope that they slow down long enough for me to catch my breath...and replenish my pocketbook!

But I Wanna Learn To Drive A Stick Shift!

When a child reaches the driving milestone in their lives, parents in turn reach a milestone of their own...EXTREME WORRY MODE. I can recall the excitement that I, myself, felt when I received MY first car in high school; a used Vega. I was so proud of that little car. I had been practicing on my driving for a couple of years; learning to drive a little stick shift all over the 10 acres in the country that we owned. Things were a bit different when my own children began driving.

There wasn't really a lot of that letting them practice driving thing, because there was really nowhere to do that. In high school, Driver's Education was sort of mandatory. I say "sort of" because EVERYONE took this class through the school with the coaches teaching the classes and then doing the actual driving with the students. In order for one to acquire a driver's license, they had to have documentation that they had indeed taken these classes. This all took place around the 9th grade; whenever a child turned 15. That sounds pretty young to me. I can't imagine how my mother must have felt...back when I was 15, we were actually given a license and put out on the road to drive! With all of the mandatory classes and age requirements, one would think this would hinder a child from attempting to drive without the proper credentials. NOT SO...well, at least not for my little darlings.

Justin and David were in high school and already driving, while Ryan was still in Jr. high school and Caitlin in elementary school. Robby and a friend of his had started a new fund raiser for the athletic club at our children's high school that year...BINGO. Bingo wouldn't have been so bad if it hadn't been "Late Night Bingo". It didn't get over until midnight and then after cleaning up and counting money, it was into the wee hours of the next morning when we headed home. The coaches for each sport were supposed to have people there to work the game for them...however, there were many nights that the volunteers did not show up, resulting in a phone call from Robby asking me to get out of my jammies and head back across town to help out.

This particular night was one where I was already scheduled to work. Heading out at 10 p.m. to the bingo parlor was NOT my idea of having a good time. However, I had to remember..."it was for the kids"..."it was for the kids"..."it was for the kids". Ryan was not "officially" driving yet, but I distinctly remember a conversation that I had with him earlier that evening. We had a little standard shift truck sitting in the driveway and he said, "You know...I wanna learn to drive a stick shift." I replied, "Maybe one day soon, we can teach you." And THAT was the extent of the conversation. Thinking nothing more about it, I went about my business, preparing for the late night ahead of me. On these late night bingo extravaganzas, we generally left the older kids in charge of the younger ones...don't ask me WHY we ASSUMED that they were responsible enough to be in charge of ANYTHING, but that was the case; as foolish as it now sounds to my own ears. On the night in question, we indeed did leave all of the kids at home as we headed off to bingo. Arriving home between one and two the next morning, we hurriedly checked on the kids and then got ourselves into bed too.

Saturday mornings after late night bingo found us sleeping late. Then, upon arising, we would start the coffee pot, read the paper and a neighbor (who was our cohort in late night bingo) would mosey on down to visit. That Saturday morning was not unlike any other. I was sipping my coffee and doing some laundry; Robby had gone outside and gotten the paper...the house was still relatively quiet for the time being with none of the kids being awake yet. Our kitchen was painted a cheerful shade of yellow designed with large pane glass windows all around the room so that we could bring a little bit of the outdoors into our home. So, sitting in the kitchen with his cup of coffee in hand and the paper up to his face, Robby was having a pretty peaceful morning. That is UNTIL...he lowered the newspaper, looked out of those lovely pane glass windows and a SCREAM could be heard round the world (OK...maybe not round the WORLD, but round the house and perhaps also the nearby neighbor's houses too). I came running; not knowing what to expect. Looking out the windows, I saw the reason for that distressing scream. At the bottom of the hill...very near the swimming pool...lodged between two pine trees, was Robby's aluminum fishing boat! The trees, thankfully, had stopped the boat from landing directly in the pool.

While we were still standing there with mouths dropped open in astonishment, (I'm not sure why ANYTHING would shock us any more...) Caitlin ran into the room. "Oh, thank goodness, you finally found out! Ryan told me if I said anything, he would kill me!" Robby and I turned to look at her and then at each other, still unable to utter a word. THEN..."RYAN! Come here!" It seems that the only explanation he could offer was that he really did want to learn to drive a stick shift. He had gotten into that little truck that was parked beside the boats and while sitting in it, popped the clutch; THAT set everything else in motion. The truck bumped the ski boat, which hit the fishing boat and in turn sent it sailing down the hill, to where it now sat...lodged between those two pine trees. I could only imagine what Ryan's face must have looked like when all of this occurred.

I cannot say that this was the first (or last) "driving incident" that occurred during the span of my children's adolescent years. However, this WAS the most unusual one. Do I have any advice for soon-to-be worrying parents of teenage drivers? Hang're in for the ride of your life (literally)! But, be sure to pack a good sense of humor to take along for the trip.

It's My Special "Golden Day" With Mom...

Fall is in the air and with its return, are the memories of older days when the children and I were beginning a new school year. When a mother has 4 children very close in age, one must be creative in order to give each child some special, individual attention. At the beginning of each school year, I have fond memories of one such special "golden day" set aside to spend with each member of my brood.

I realize that there are many things that I most likely did wrong (children are not presented with an instruction manual) or perhaps other mothers did better than I, during my child rearing days. However, there are also a lot of little special traditions that I started that were designed to make each of my children feel special in their own way. One of those traditions was our mother child outing prior to school starting each year.

I have always tried to be fair and impartial with my children. So, when I decided to start this little special outing, I needed to find a fair way to choose who went first each year. I wrote the numbers 1-4 on small pieces of paper, placed them in a bowl and then had each child draw a number. The number they chose was the order in which they would get to participate in the outing with me. The outing itself, consisted of a day that focused solely on them spending time with mom; this was a rarity.

I suppose this idea perhaps came to life after observing moms rush through stores with their children in tow, hectically throwing school supplies into buggies. I; this could be such an opportunity...WHAT IF...and a tradition was born. About a week or two before school started each year, this is what we did. The child, whose "golden day" it was, got to "leisurely" go shop for school supplies first. With supply list in hand, we perused all of the neat new items that were available for purchase that year. I allowed them to see all of their options before making any selections. When they did begin choosing items, it was interesting to discover that the items they chose, curiously reflected their personalities; from sport themed folders to cartoon notebooks and sparkly pencils. Other items they got to purchase, included a brand new backpack and year, new class, new start, new could one NOT be excited about beginning a new school year? Next, it was on to the uniform store.

Whenever our school went to wearing uniforms, I personally loved it. This cut down on prep time in the mornings and I was required to buy only a few outfits per child for their school attire. A personal touch to their wardrobe came in the form of shoes. I allowed each child to choose a new pair of school shoes each fall; the boys generally chose the newest tennis shoe out, while Caitlin chose cute little colorful Doc Martens. With supplies and uniform purchased, we then moved on to the last portion of our "golden day".

I allowed each child to choose their favorite restaurant for just the 2 of us to dine at that day. I didn't matter what their choice was...or if in the end more than one person chose the same place; I ate there again. This day was ALL ABOUT THEM and their choices; not mine. Once at the restaurant, we sat there and talked about the new school year that was about to begin, their friends and all of the activities they planned on being involved in that year. This was essentially the BEST DAY EVER; not just for them, but for me as well! After lunch, we headed home with all of their loot to show the others, who were patiently waiting for their turn. Listening to that day's participant, I could almost mentally hear them making their own plans for their very own "golden day". has to take time to make these. Opportunities are everywhere. The problem with most people is that in their busyness, they fail to slow down, enjoy life and make some memories. The days of back to school shopping with my children are long gone; they are all grown and busy with their own lives now. However, this tradition built the foundation for other things I can now observe from a quickly expanding family. We make time for each other. Because our family IS expanding, we strive to find time in our new busy lives to slow down long enough to all get together. I am not sure that there is a day that goes by that we all don't talk to each other...sometimes several times a day. Our close knit uniqueness is what sets up apart. I would like to believe that those special, one on one, "golden days" with mom had some sort of impact that has made my children savor life and continue to make memories with one another as we enter into the new phases of our lives.

My 30 Year High School Class Reunion?...Not Possible!

This past weekend was my 30 year high school class reunion. It was difficult to believe that 30 years had passed since my graduation. I had already reconnected with many of my former classmates through facebook. There seemed to be quite a few people coming back home for this particular reunion and...OH MY GOSH! I needed to get into high roots were showing!

I had actually helped to plan our 20 year reunion and was planning on helping to plan this one. However, as things turned out, my mother was in the hospital for a while and then came the onslaught of wedding plans. Even though I would not be involved in the planning phase, I was definitely going to attend. The high school I graduated from is also where my late father graduated and my two oldest children. It would be fun seeing and visiting with all of my former classmates. The plan was to meet at the school's football field Friday night and watch the game, followed by a get together at the old general store, across the railroad track, turned museum. My two oldest sons actually had played football here, with David being somewhat of a high school football star. Watching the Indians play again would be bitter sweet.

Upon arriving at the field (which is also beside the Jr. high school), there were signs indicating that we to speak, "follow the yellow brick road". OK, OK...follow the gravel road. Butterflies of excitement were fluttering around in my stomach in anticipation of seeing many of my friends that I hadn't seen in years. Oh...I had wrestled over what to wear this weekend and yes...I had definitely had those roots done. I was just hoping that, like in years past, we did NOT have to wear a name badge that sported our senior picture (ugh!) However, if that was the case...I had a PLAN! I had cut out a picture of Jennifer Anniston out of a magazine and would merely slip that picture over my own. Go ahead, admit it...GENIUS, huh?

We followed the signs up to the Jr. high school gymnasium, where there was a sort of meet and greet session with hamburgers provided. I had sent a message to a friend of mine who was on the reunion committee the night before and knew that a couple of my friends who live here, would not be able to attend; this disappointed me. I had hoped for ALL of our old gang to get together again. However, I found out that one of my other best friends from 6th grade through graduation, who now lived in Florida, WOULD be there. So, upon arriving at the gym and signing in, I began to see faces that I somewhat recognized. Facebook had definitely helped with that! The most difficult faces to recognize, though, were the guys. Sorry, guys! They all looked so different...there is so much a guy can do to change his appearance, I suppose. For instance his hair...does he have any? Is is gray, short, long? And facial hair...slick face, beard, mustache. I must admit, at this point I was glad to have those name tags to look at. From the gym, we headed on over to watch the game.

The game did not was SO FREAKING HOT! The humidity was killing us. Looking around, people had sweat pouring and they were wiping their faces with tissues. Where had that lovely "cool snap" from the past weekend gone? We sure could use it now. Because of the unbearable heat, most of us headed on over to the museum right after the halftime show. The museum was a project that some kind soul had overtaken in years past, but I admit that I had never stopped to enter. Upon climbing the steps, I immediately recalled the old general store that it had once been. My grandmother had taken me here with her as a child; the old wooden slat floor looked the same. I reminisced with a friend how when stopping in as a child, I would always purchase the same treats...candy cigarettes and little wax filled cola bottles. The old copper post office boxes were still in place, with a life like replica of the post master standing behind a desk. Someone had put a lot of work into this place and it looked great. As I made my way through the museum, I could hear sound of 70's music playing...ahhh, some of the greatest music ever created. We continued to visit and take pictures for quite some time. I had determined earlier that I would attempt to speak to everyone I could, so pushing my way through people, I did just that. It was nice seeing that so many people had made an effort to return to their Alma mater for this event. We left for home, anxious to see even more familiar faces the next evening at the formal event.

Saturday, Robby and I decided to make an entire night of it. We got dressed and first headed to a locally owned restaurant near our reunion site. This was a perfect way to start the evening. The Diamond Grill was once a family owned jewelry store. It sits in the middle of old downtown Alexandria and is a beautifully restored, historic building. After dining, we headed about one block up the street to where my formal reunion event was to be held. It wasn't difficult to find the class of 1980 could hear the strains of "Cherokee Nation" and other familiar high school tunes being played upon entering the building. After signing in (and donning that badge with the horrible picture again...yes, I wore it!), I became whisked up in a frenzy of hugging, catching up and picture taking. More people were there that evening than had been there the previous night. As the event progressed, I was determined to continue on my quest to talk to as many people as possible...I know that there were still some that I didn't get around to (and I do apologize for that)...BUT, that 70's music began to play...and my feet just couldn't be still! My friends and I ended up dancing and laughing and singing all night was simply FANTABULOUS!

I would have to say that by far, the 30 year high school class reunion was the BEST reunion yet. Why? Well, I believe that there are several reasons for that. Face it...we are all nearing 50 and the simple things in life are more important to us now; our health, peace of mind, happiness, being content. There was a board set up in one corner of the room that displayed some of our class photographs and memorabilia. One of those boards was a memorial to those former classmates who were no longer with us in this life. In adolescence, we believed that we were invincible and would live forever. In this phase of our lives, we realize that is not true. Pretenses have fallen and we are now able to see life more clearly. If you are a classmate of mine who missed this reunion, please don't miss the next one. If you are someone who has an upcoming reunion and are contemplating whether to go or not...go! This isn't high school any might be surprised; while renewing old friendships, you may form a few new ones as well.

Patience Is A Virtue...Apparently One I Do NOT Possess!

A couple of weeks ago (before Caitlin left for school), I gathered a bunch of old photos to take down to Target to scan to a disc. A friend of mine who follows my blog told me it would be a good idea to include some photos of the kids in their younger days. I'm not really good at many things that are technologically related...thus Caitlin's invitation to come along with me. She had that machine up and running before I even had all of the pictures out to stick in the scanner. When we hit the "complete" button...nothing. Calling the photo attendant over, she informed us that for some reason none of the pictures scanned and we needed to do them all again. Ugh! We were pressed for time and couldn't scan them all again right then; this little project would have to wait for another day. Today was that day.

I got up early and headed over to Target. It was in my plans to get all of those pictures scanned on a disc BEFORE I went to the gym so I would have the rest of the day free. Upon arriving, I walked over to the photo center. I didn't see anyone around, so I just touched the screen to scan the photos...nothing. Walking over to the customer service center, I asked if someone was available to assist me. The associate informed me that the photo center did not open until 11:30...WHAT? That was just CRAZY! I decided to run around the corner to Walgreen's to use their machine...someone was using it too! I jumped into my car and ran over to ANOTHER Walgreen's...time was running short now, but I was determined to get this done early in the day. I walked into the store and saw that no one was at the photo machine...Yay! I walked up to the attendant and asked if that machine scanned pictures to a disc. Pointing to a sticky note taped to his computer screen, he replied, "Normally (why did I feel a "BUT" coming next?)...BUT our machine is down; we are waiting to have it repaired." OH MY GOSH! You know what they say about the "best laid plans". I was on a MISSION now; I was GOING to get those pictures scanned TODAY!

I went on to the gym and made it back to Target at 11:45; the photo lab attendant should definitely be there by now. I walked over to the photo center one. I found another sales associate nearby who informed me that the photo center did not open until noon! Sighing LOUDLY, with disbelief and impatience, I said, "Someone else told me it opened at 11:30! I drove all the way back over here...ugh!" My comments did not seem to phase the woman. I grabbed a buggy and decided I may as well get a few items I had jotted down on a list while I waited. After doing this, I glanced down at my watch to find that it was 12:15 now...SURELY that photo center would be open now. And it was...and someone else was using the machine! NOW I had to wait in line (tap,tap,tap...come on, HURRY UP!). FINALLY she got finished and it was MY turn. I read all of the directions very carefully (which is a "biggie" for me...I don't do directions), scanned my pictures and took the pick-up ticket that printed out. I noticed that it said my disc would be ready in 30 minutes. I would wait...I had come this far; I was going to walk out of this store with my disc in hand TODAY. I had an item to return, so after putting my purchases in the car, I went to the return counter, got my refund and then asked the lady behind the counter how to go about getting my photo disc. I asked, "Do I just present this to anyone? I don't see anyone behind the counter over there." This is when she really made my day. "Oh, you can't get your disc today...the girl who works that counter is out today." I thought... YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!! I said," No one in the store can just get the disc for me?" "No; no one else know how to (a likely story...).

So, I ended up leaving empty handed; what else could I do? I would have to return the next day to pick my photo disc up. As you can see, those "oldie but goodie" photos have now been added to my blog! I hope it was worth it and you enjoy putting some faces with the stories about the kids I've shared when they were younger.

The Last Holiday Of Summer...

Put up those white shoes and sundresses. Although autumn has not "officially" arrived, Labor Day is over and for most of us that marks the beginning of a new season. I never was really sure why school started before Labor Day because it is the last "official" holiday of the summer season. After Labor Day is over, THEN it is time to settle down and get back into a routine.

My Labor Day weekend for years now has always been the same. Robby is an avid golfer and he plays in the annual Deep South Four Ball tournament held at a local golf course. Now, I am not one of those golf groupies who follows the players around on the course, therefore, I usually just make a few plans for the day and then catch up with Robby for dinner in the evenings. The plans this year included taking my mother and sister to lunch on Saturday and then on for my mother to see our new baby, Parker. Although I would go on with my plans, I would end up not feeling very chipper on this last holiday of the summer.

About mid-week, my throat began feeling a little scratchy. Along with the long holiday weekend, some cooler temperatures had also blown in; the high was about 85 degrees...I know that does not seem too cool, but it was cooler than the 105 degree temperatures we had been experiencing daily. By Friday night, the scratchy throat had turned into watery eyes, runny nose and a slight cough. I knew that this was my first bout with seasonal allergies...GREAT! Determined not to allow my allergic symptoms to deter my Saturday outing, I decided to show those allergies who was BOSS! As Robby was kicked back in his recliner reading, I was "self-medicating". As I began to do this, I determined that it MIGHT be a good idea to share with someone the ingredients that I was mixing together in my quest to subdue my allergies. I interrupted Robby's reading to relay this information. "Robby, I'm going to tell you what I'm taking before I go to know...just in case." He peered at me with glazed over eyes and I suddenly felt that he was most likely the wrong person to be imparting this important information to. However, I continued..."I am taking 4 Advil, 1 Zyrtec, an antihistamine nose spray, my asthma inhaler...AND a little homemade cough concoction." This concoction consisted of a shot of whiskey, laced with lemon juice and honey. I'm not sure if this actually helps a cough, but it does burn your chest (which MUST mean it's working) and you immediately become very sleepy shortly after consuming it. After taking all of these medications, I headed off to bed.

Upon waking Saturday morning, I still was not feeling quite up to par, but continued on with my plans. I met my sister, her grand daughter and my mother for lunch at Piccadilly. This is not my favorite place to eat and I really didn't have much of an appetite, but I thought Mother might be more likely to find something she would eat there. Her present diet consists mainly of dill pickles. We're not sure why she eats so many pickles (and have even discussed this with her doctors), but I (the "food police"...that's what she calls me these days) decided she MIGHT choose some "real" food at Piccadilly. Upon finishing lunch, we headed over to see baby Parker.

Today Parker was 1 week old and although Mother was in attendance at the hospital during her birth, she had never actually seen her in person or gotten to hold her yet. I suppose I should also explain that my mother is a retired nurse. For those of you who do not have medical professionals in their families, let me embellish. There is not simple oo-ing and ahh-ing over the baby...there is an inspection to be done, along with some personal questioning. I tend to tune most of this out by babbling to anyone else who is around at the time about inane things. I had predicted, once we arrived and the baby was placed in her arms, the expected conversation about bowel movements and breast feeding began...along with a good bit of eye rolling and silently mouthed OMG! from my sister and I. BUT, I had done it...allergies and all, I had accomplished my goals for the day despite feeling under the weather.

As this long Labor Day weekend came to an end, I really didn't feel as though I had accomplished much. September was here and I hadn't retrieved one fall decoration from the attic yet. I guess that will just have to be a goal for another day this week. In the meantime, "WELCOME FALL!"...and new school year...and routine...and football...and cooler weather. After all, what is there NOT to like about this time of year...after the last holiday of summer?

Miss Scarlet, Miss Scarlet...I Don't Know NOTHING' 'Bout Birthin' No Babies!

My all time favorite movie is, "Gone With the Wind". I absolutely LOVE Scarlet O'Hara...I think I'm actually her in a different era. Robby thinks I have her attitude...and I suppose that is true. There are many lines that I enjoy quoting from the movie. However, one of my favorite parts is when Prissy comes sauntering home, humming after Scarlet has sent her to fetch a doctor for Miss Melanie who is giving birth. Prissy tells Miss Scarlet, "Miss Scarlet, Miss Scarlet, I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no babies." This got me to thinking about Justin, Sarah and my new grand daughter, Parker. What exactly DID they know about babies?

It was Monday evening and I had just returned from a class at the gym. Arriving home, I found that Robby had prepared some home made sushi (we empty-nesters tend to try new things like this). We had a quiet, leisurely meal together and were just settling in for the evening. As I snuggled down into my big overstuffed chair with my 2 doxies, the phone rang. Robby answered it and I could hear him attempting to offer some sort of instructions concerning a baby (Parker). After hanging the phone up, he glanced in my direction and said, "I'm not really qualified to be giving advice about babies." Hmmm...did he REALLY just admit that he wasn't good at something? I took a brief moment to savor this admission and finally said, "What seems to be the problem?" Apparently, Justin and Sarah could not get the baby to stay in her bed after putting her to sleep. The minute they would put her down, she would wake up crying. Whenever they picked her up, she stopped crying. Ah ha...who would've guessed that a baby would rather be held than put down?! "Get Justin on the phone," I instructed Robby. When he got on the the phone, I asked, "Did you give her a pacifier?" He answered, "No." "Why?", I inquired. Well, it seemed that the nurses at the hospital had told them not to give her one for 3 weeks (I had this visual image of them with a calendar...marking off the the baby cried endlessly). I thought, just as you were ready to leap off of a cliff from insanity, you could give them a pacifier; makes sense to me...NOT! I asked if he would like for me to come over to help get her settled. "Yes!", he emphatically said. "Do you HAVE a paci?", I asked. He said he did and I told him to boil it...I was on my way. It was about 9:15 p.m. I was now wishing that I had not had that extra glass of wine.

Upon arriving, I found that Justin indeed had a paci...14 of them to be exact! We boiled an entire pot of them. I then moved up the stairs toward the sound of crying. Entering the bedroom, I found Sarah looking totally haggard from trying to manage this new little person. That's when I realized that, although my son and his wife were both 27 years old, they had NO IDEA what to do with a baby. I guess I took it for granted that they would. By their age, I had 4 children. Since the age of 12 or 13, I had been a baby-sitter, so motherhood had just come naturally and easy for me. I decided to start from scratch. I told Sarah that she needed to relax; that baby wasn't going anywhere or rushing her to do anything. After all, she was only 3 days takes a little while for mother and child to get adjusted. The next thing I explained was perhaps not the advice that a health care professional would offer, but the advice of a mom with previous real life experiences; no book or class can prepare you for some things. Although the nurses were well-meaning, I had to tell her to allow common sense and instinct to prevail. Perhaps the nurses were simply advising her on things that they had been trained to do; they may not even have a child of their own...she hadn't thought of that!

Our next goal was to get that baby settled into THEIR room for the night. Now, the nursery was set up beautifully, but Parker was having none of that "sleeping in her own room" business. Oh, I even tried playing the music on the mobile that hung over her crib (after explaining WHAT a mobile was and then having Justin search for some batteries for it). When the music began to play, I had to wonder...who in the WORLD would put such music on a baby's mobile for them to go to sleep by? Don't get my wrong, I love classical music, but this was not a calming music; it was played quickly and with trills...I wondered what had happened to "Brahms' Lullaby" and "Old MacDonald Had a Farm". This music would NEVER do...I turned it off. I inquired if there was anywhere Parker had slept during the day that made her happy; Justin indicated the swing. Well, I know that some of you are thinking that this wasn't a good idea,'ve gotta do whatever works. So, up the stairs Justin went with the swing. It had a musical button on it as played the sound of outdoors with crickets chirping; the baby loved it! I told them to just let her sleep in it for the night and the next day, they could go to my mother's house and pick up a porta-crib that she had in storage.

Finally around 12:30, with everyone settled, Robby and I headed home. We were exhausted, but strangely content at having been able to help with the new little member of our family. The next day, Justin did go pick up the porta-crib from my mother's house. I had to sneak up the stairs to take a peek at it. The little bed where my new grand daughter laid her head to sleep at night was 48 years old. It had been my baby bed and each of my 4 children had also slept in it when I brought them home from the hospital. The thought of that brought a smile to my face as I ran my hand along the wooden rail. Parker would be the 3rd generation of babies to sleep in this little crib; that made me happy.

I'm NOT Going To Be Doing That "M Word" Thing...

Contrary to popular belief, I DO still have my egg carton. OK...I guess I should explain that statement. When the kids were young, we spent most spring and summer evenings at the ball park. On one particular evening, Caitlin made an announcement to everyone at this game that quite frankly shocked me and I'm sure EVERYONE else who heard it. As we were sitting there enjoying the game, casual conversation and ballgame food, Caitlin loudly announced, "My mama can't have babies any more; she had her egg carton removed." Suddenly, one could have heard a pin drop...and every head and eye turned in my direction. Absolutely flabbergasted, I quickly felt the need to emphatically deny that the information just given to them (by a pre-schooler) was true. I realized how she might have possibly misunderstood and come to that conclusion. When asking me for a baby brother or sister, I simply explained that we couldn't have any more babies. I suppose she must have discussed this with her peers (or perhaps her brothers) and come up with this "no egg carton" theory. Needless to say, NO ONE in our family (and I'm sure the people at the ball park that night) has ever forgotten those words. That is why, I suppose it should not have surprised me the other day when Robby laughingly inquired if my egg carton had been removed.

I will admit that it is in my personality to at times...let's say be a little "snippy". However, when family members (namely the MEN) insinuate that the cause could be the "M Word" (you know...menopause) that make me even snippier! So, I made a public declaration stating that I would NOT be doing that "M Word" thing. I went as far as even discussing this with my doctor. I told him that I had decided that I just would NOT be doing menopause because I didn't want to go through all of that physical and emotional upheaval that many of my friends had and were currently experiencing (quite frankly I wasn't sure my family could withstand a hormonal hurricane named Barbara). He chuckled under his breath as he told me, "Good, Hun...I hope that works for you." Hmph! Yet ANOTHER MAN trying to tell me what I was going to do! Well, I felt the need to explain my theory about "skipping menopause". I feel that if you eat right, drink green tea and regularly exercise (including plenty of yoga), you are BOUND to decrease your chances of going know; the "M Word".

So, several years ago, I hired a trainer (it was time to quit messing around and get SERIOUS), took up yoga and REALLY altered my diet. I know that you are probably wondering what "really altering my diet" consists of. As per my trainer's instructions, I gave up all cold drinks; I only partake of water, coffee, tea...and of course, wine (hey, everybody's gotta have one vice). I eat whole grains, fruits, vegetables and fish. Yep! No meat. This, of course, is a personal choice, because my family DOES continue to eat whatever they choose. My new diet probably bothers my mother the most. She keeps trying to convince me that I couldn't resist her fried chicken were she to make some. Robby and the kids refer to me as a vegan (which I am NOT) and I call them carnivores (which they ARE). Oh, don't worry...these things are all said in good humor. After all, if the nutrition theory doesn't do the trick to prevent the "M Word"...the laughter might (laughter IS the best medicine, isn't it?)

Yoga is one of my favorite physical activities to participate in. I became a "yogi" back when Caitlin was in high school. I felt I NEEDED yoga not only to help me become more fit, but because life with a teenage daughter (after raising 3 boys) was OVER THE TOP! It worked too...after doing yoga, I feel much more relaxed and centered (that's a work we yogis use). That IS until I re-enter the "real world" (the one outside of that cold, dark room with soft music playing) and LOSE ALL OF MY ENDORPHINS AGAIN! it "temporarily" takes the stress away. However, it does teach me some great relaxation techniques. These techniques should definitely be beneficial in assisting me to not go through the "M Word".

With all of this effort put into the "No "M Word" Project", you are most likely wondering how it's going for me. Truthfully? I have now developed TMJ! No...,seriously; I have never had this condition before and I believe that it is in part due to the fact that in my quest to eliminate the symptoms associated with the "M Word", I have begun clenching my teeth! So, basically, PERHAPS I MIGHT be suffering from a FEW (Robby says I can run through the entire realm of emotions in 30 seconds flat) symptoms...I now have ANOTHER problem (ugh!)

Well, I'm not sure if everything I'm doing is working, but at least it gives me goals to shoot for. Every theory must be tried and tested; and I am willing to continue the experiment. Now, if I could just find out who keeps messing with my's burning up in here!

Rules Were Made To Be Broken

Everyone knows my philosophy regarding "rules". I don't like to be told what to do and only believe that "rules" apply to other people. Apparently, this genetic trait has been passed along to my offspring, because as children, they had a tendency to hold my same views where "rules" were concerned.

Quite frequently when leaving the gym where I work out, I swing by the Subway there to get lunch. While I am waiting in line, I usually check my phone to see if I've missed any calls or texts while working out. During my wait, I generally send replies to those missed messages and return any missed calls. One day while ordering my sandwich (and talking on my phone), I noticed this little note taped to the counter...right in front of my face. It said: "Please refrain from using you cell phone while ordering". The lady in front of me caught my eye. She noticed what I was reading and sort of nodded toward the which point I simply waved my hand and said, "Hmmm...I've never noticed that before. Oh well, it doesn't apply to me anyway." If she thought this was odd, she didn't say so (she was most likely a fellow rule breaker too!). Anyway, you get the idea about my beliefs concerning "rules".

Over the years, my own children at times have stretched a few rules themselves. Fortunately, Robby has been there to save them from their self-destruction. However, one rule we tried to enforce strictly, for safety purposes, was the rule pertaining to the trampoline usage. The rule was really quite simple: "Only 2 people were allowed to jump on the trampoline at a time." Simple...don't you agree? Well, for all of our efforts to enforce this rule, it was to be broken...and it wasn't the ONLY thing that would be broken. Those boys would definitely be found out when this rule was broken!

It was summertime and as usual, the kids were outside playing. I was inside cooking dinner. Every burner had a pot on it. Ryan refers to it as, "The day Mom almost burned the house down". He does so because in the midst of preparing dinner, David ran into the house (not crying or appearing upset in any way), presented me with a tooth (yes, you heard right...not broken, but a whole tooth) and informed me that his tooth got knocked out while jumping on the trampoline. I just stared at the tooth for a moment and thought...I KNOW there is something that I'm supposed to do with this tooth...think, think, think. Immediately I picked up the phone and dialed a local hospital, where they informed me to put the tooth in a glass of milk. I then called our dentist, who instructed me to meet him at his office as soon as possible.

At the same time, next door at my mother's house, Ryan was telling her about David's little accident. That's when she noticed a trickle of blood running down his face. She brought him next door (while I was preparing to leave for the dentist's office with David) to show me HIS injury. THIS is when Ryan noticed the smoke coming from the stove! In my distracted state of mind, I had forgotten the dinner that was cooking. After taking care that the house indeed did NOT burn down, I realized that Ryan also needed stitches in his head! "OK", I finally managed to inquire, "How many people were jumping on the trampoline?" Wide eyes bulged around the room, as I soon discovered that ALL 3 BOYS were jumping on there at the same time. I had no time to deal with the broken rule issue at that time. I had to get that tooth to the dentist quickly...while my mother headed to the emergency room with Ryan.

When everyone was home...with Ryan's head stitched and David's tooth wired back in (he had actually broken the bone in his mouth), we had a little "rule discussion". I had to make them realize that rules were made for their protection (these words felt ridiculous coming out of MY mouth). And although, I still do not agree with ALL rules, I do agree that they tend to make the world a more controlled and safe place to live in. And in the case of safety, I will concede that rules are definitely NOT optional. the case of the "Subway cellphone rule", I'm not sure it is completely warranted; I AM capable of multi-tasking, after all!