Thursday, September 8, 2011

Back to School?

Boy, am I glad my years of mothering school-aged children have ended.

Recently, our daughter, Tracy, and her family traveled from Michigan to spend a week with us. Every morning, prior to pool time, our granddaughter, Jenna, spent time completing a 25-page homework packet.

School hasn’t started and Jenna has homework. This packet was sent home at the end last school year. Jenna’s soon to be fifth grade teacher put out a reminder call to all her student’s parents that the packet would be due the first day of school.

I thought “How many parents’ said, ‘What packet’, or, ‘Can you send me another one?” I mentally raised my hand knowing I would have been one of those parents.

I remember the summer reading lists, but summer homework?

Watching Tracy and her husband, Zeke work with Jenna to have this packet ready for the first day of school, started me think about the many First Days of School I have been through.

Four kids X 12 years = 48 First Days of School. That’s one day short of seven weeks of “Firsts”. Seven weeks!

Remember all the clothes, notebooks, pencil boxes, lunches, gym clothes, padlocks, and backpacks purchased over the years just to be ready for a First Day?

Remember the carpools? The one inevitable mom who managed to NEVER drive on her day for the entire school year?

The years the kids rode a school bus always had me wondering if any of the other moms would notice I was wearing a sweatshirt over pajama bottoms as I schlepped to the bus stop coffee cup in hand, hair pulled into a hasty ponytail.

There was always one mom, standing at the bus stop, dressed in her perfect jogging suit, water bottle in hand, stretching for her morning run which commenced as soon as the bus pulled away from the curb. Pffsssttt!

And then I remembered the best First Day of School.

It took place while my youngest, Matt, was still in school. We had moved into a neighborhood heavily weighted with small, testosterone males units all approximately the same age.

That summer, interaction with all the moms was high as the boys ran through the neighborhood, paintball guns in hand, playing until the street lights came on.

Towards the end of that summer, one of the moms, issued invitations to a Back to School Brunch.

The first day of school a dozen of us met at the bus stop, coffee cups and/or water bottles in hand.

The boys loaded on the bus, the bus pulled away, and all the moms waved good-bye. As the bus rounded the corner we trooped to the neighbor’s for brunch.

Breakfast was a beautifully laid out buffet complete with flowers, crystal and champagne.

We celebrated the end of summer and the kids’ return to school. We celebrated surviving a summer of prepubescent teenage boys who one minute were crawling through backyards and a moment later answering a phone call from a madly giggling girl who had gotten up her nerve to call.

We laughed. We rejoiced. And The Back to School Brunch became an annual event until the boys graduated from high school.

While I don’t miss getting ready for a First Day of School, I sure do miss that Back to School Brunch . . . and the champagne!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Adventurers or Misadventurers of Motherhood ~ Story 1

Now that I am of a certain age, I can look back on the Adventurers or Misadventures of Motherhood with fondness and laughter. With time, these memories have become funnier. Even funnier as my children have become parents. And funnier still as grandchildren become teenagers.

From time to time, I am going to share some of my more memorable motherhood moments.


I say that, because I know some of my children will roll their eyes (upon reading this) and say, "Yeah, her first one would be about Troy." Know this. Your time is coming. Be afraid, be very afraid. You know what you've done.

To those who read these stories and relate, I salute you. Picture me sitting pool side, large beverage in hand, saluting, then downing beverage.

To those of you who read these and are horrified, I say, "Wow, what a boring life you lead," and I will drink two beverages on your behalf.

So, without further fanfare, here is the first of many, I say, many stories.

Standing at the kitchen island folding laundry, my husband arrives home, from work. On his way up the stairs, he grabs our sixteen year old son’s pile of clean laundry. He didn’t just dump the clothes on the bed, as was my routine; he opened the dresser drawer to put the laundry away.

It was only a couple of minutes when hubby flies down the stairs and says to me, “Do you know what Troy (the names have NOT been changed to protect the innocent) is doing with all those condoms in his drawer?” I didn’t and pondered on how best to approach the situation.

A couple of days later find Troy and me in the kitchen and, as luck would have it, we are the only people at home. I bravely bring up the condom stockpile.

“Wanna tell your old mom why you have a rather large supply of condoms in your dresser drawer?”

“Well, Mom, you never know when you’ll need to bag the bad boy.”

I grip the counter trying to maintain my Cool Mom persona.

“You had better be double bagging the bad boy! Where on earth did you get all those condoms?”

“You know that magazine you bring home from work, Men’s Heath? Well, in the back of the magazine, they sell a gross of condoms for $12.99.”

My Cool Mom persona has developed a tick.

“Troy! Does purchasing condoms in gross quantities give you ANY pause for concern?”

“No, Mom! They’re all date stamped.”

“Troy, if I get ONE phone call from ONE parent I will cut you off at the pockets, nail it to the front door and you won’t have to worry about bagging the bad boy!"

As I walk to the fridge, grabbing a bottle of chardonnay, repeating to myself, “Chardonnay, take me away”, I wonder, would anyone notice if I poured the wine into a beer stein instead of a wine glass?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Grandmothers' Kitchens

I loved to watch my grandmothers in their kitchens. Watch them as they cooked and baked. I wish I had learned the art of pie crust from them. Both could "feel" what needed to be added to a crust. More salt, more flour, more liquid.

I struggle and struggle to make a decent pie. They're just not my forte.

And then there was the bread . . . Lord, Lord, Lord, both women could make rolls and bread . . . in their sleep.

My Grandma Foremaster (dad's mother) always hummed while she cooked and baked. For every holiday, I could count on her making bread pudding. She made the BEST bread pudding. The fact her sauce was full of rum had absolutely nothing to do with my love of the dish.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

In addition to the holiday breading pudding, Grandma Foremaster also made a pie filled with shredded beef and raisins. I love raisins and looked forward to each holiday and a slice of that pie.

As I grew older, I realized I was the only person who ever ate that particular pie.

After one Christmas dinner, while driving home with my parents, I said, "I don't know why no one, but me, eats Grandma's raisin pie."

Dad replied, "Because you're the only one who doesn't know what she puts in it."

Being a woman of pioneer stock, my Grandmother bottled her own pie fillings. The beef in this filling was from the heart and intestines of the latest slaughtered cows.

That bit of information ruined "my pie". I couldn't bring myself to eat it again.

My Grandma Chadburn (mom's mother) made the best apple pie. She would slip a can of crushed pineapple into her filling.

Her annual Holiday baking produced something she called, Twice Cooked Cake. I loved that cake. As I grew older, a slice of that cake and a cup of tea was as close to heaven as I could get.

It was a Christmas tradition to receive one of these cakes. And once Grandma Chadburn was no longer with us, my mom continued the tradition making a Christmas cake for me and my son, Jeff.

The only person who loves Twice Cooked Cake more than me, is Jeff! Jeff has been known, in one sitting, with a gallon of milk, to polish off an entire 9 x 13 sized cake.

A few months ago, mom gave me the original recipe card for Twice Cooked Cake. Written in my Grandmother's hand. The recipe card was written, during mom's bridal shower. It is dated, May 3, 1950. I smiled as I read the recipe. It calls for English walnuts. English. Not California walnuts. Not pecans. English walnuts.

While my mom is still with us, receiving the original recipe card inspired me to move the tradition one more generation. This Christmas, I will be making the Christmas cake for my son, Jeff.

This will be my first time using this recipe. And based on the fact I did not inherit either Grandmothers baking skills, I'm a little nervous. I want to do the recipe and the tradition proud.

When I was young, I couldn't wait to show Grandma Chadburn my latest accomplishment. She always hugged me and smiled. With that smile she said, "What took you so long? I ALWAYS knew you could do that!"

As my house fills with the smells of Christmas cake, I will pour myself a cup of tea. When I pull the cake from the oven, I hope to hear Grandma whisper, "I ALWAYS knew you could do that!"

The real test of success will be Jeff. If he finishes that cake in one sitting, I will know the Twice Cooked Cake torch was successfully passed.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Limit Political Terms

Political terms need to be limited.  No more than eight years period---no exceptions.

The entire Congress of the United States is corrupt. And I mean both Houses and I mean both parties. I realize that a few Members of each House are Independents and at least one is a declared Socialist but, as a group of people, they are absolutely the most corrupt bunch to ever disgrace our Nation.

In November of 2010 the entire House of Representatives will have to stand for re-election; all 435 of them.  One third of the Senate, a total of 33 of them, will also stand for re-election.

Vote every incumbent out.

And I mean every one of them. No matter their party affiliation. Let's start all over in the House of Representatives with 435 brand new people who have absolutely no experience in running that body, with no political favors owed to anyone but their own constituents. Let's make them understand that they work for us. They are answerable to us and they simply have to run that body with some common sense.

Two years later, in 2012, vote the next third of the incumbents in the Senate out. You'll know who they are because their names will be on the ballot and, in most cases, will be shown as the Incumbent. Vote them out, too! Vote out every incumbent.

We can do the same thing in 2014 and, by that time we will have put all new people in that body as well.

We, the People, have got to take thiscountry back and I prefer to do it peacefully.

Monday, November 16, 2009

If There Were More Men Like My Dad

If there were more men, like my Dad . . .
You would welcome everyone with a big cocky grin,
a warm hands
hake and a greeting of,
"Don't I know yo

 If there were more men, like my Dad . . .
Your nickname would be "Lover".
Your brother's nickname would be "Easy".
Explaining how you came by those names
not be told in church or in mixed company.

If there were more men, like my Dad . . .
Teasing would be as natural as inhaling and exhaling.

If there were more men, like my Dad . . .
All children would know their butt from a hole in the ground.

If there were more men, like my Dad . . .
You would be a genuine chap wearin', spur jinglin', whip crackin',
lasso throwin' cowboy.

If there were more men, like my Dad . . .
You would know all the words to songs like,
"Running Bear Loved Little White Dove",
"Have I Told You Lately That I Love You",
"The Old Grey Mare",
and the ever popular
"I Love To Go Swimmin' With Bow-Legged Women
and Swim Between Their Knees".

If there were more men, like my Dad . . .
You would give countless hours of your time and talents in service to your church and your community.

If there were more men, like my Dad . . .
You could catch horseflies by their wings.

If there were more men, like my Dad . . .
"I'm feeling a little bum today," would not be a comment 
regarding your general state of health.

If there were more men, like my Dad . . .
You would never nap.  You would just rest your eyes.

If there were more men, like my Dad . . .
You would REALLY love to eat. 

If there were more men, like my Dad . . .
Patroitism would not be just a word to you.
When you heard the "Star Spangled Banner" played
or saw Old Glory pass in review,
you would be the first one on your feet,
placing your hand over your heart.
Then you would urge everyone around you to do the same.

If there were more men like my Dad . . . 
Your son-in-law would also be your best friend.

You may have thought I didn't see,
Or that I hadn't heard,
Life lessons that you taught to me,
But, I got every word.

Perhaps you thought I'd missed it all,
(The young aren't very smart),
But, Dad, I picked up everything,
It's written on my heart.

Without you Dad, I wouldn't be
The woman I am today;
You built a strong foundation,
No one can take that away.

I've grown up with your values,
And I'm sure glad I did;
So here' s to you dear dad,
From your ever grateful kid.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Where in the World is Ron Riley?

Most of you know, Ron travels about 70% of the time. And most of the time, it is without incident. With the exception of that trip, a few years ago, to Cabo. His original thee day trip turned into a ten day trip, thanks to a hurricane. But that's another story for another Blog. And before I can tell it, I would have to resurrect Spalding. You remember, Castaway? Wilson? Well Wilson has a brother named Spalding.

But I digress. Ron was looking forward to this trip to Mexico City. For the first time, he had scored a direct flight on AeroMexico. Usually, he flies to Texas, staying overnight then catches a second plane into Mexico.

Yesterday, Ron left for the Phoenix airport at 12:30 PM. I received a call from him about 7:00 PM. His plane had landed in Guadalajara. The passengers were informed the plane would be delayed two hours due to bad weather in Mexico City.

After sitting on the tarmac for two hours they pulled into a gate and deplaned.

After waiting two more hours it was announced the flight was canceled.

That sent Ron on a quest to locate his luggage. With luggage secured, he headed for the reservation desks along with several hundred of his closest friends who were also trying to rebook flights.

The reservation desk was very helpful (read those last six words in your best fairytale reading voice as in "then the handsome prince said to the beautiful princess") telling Ron, they had a lovely flight for him that would leave at 4:00PM Monday afternoon.

Ron, politely (and politely in the Ron Riley world has a different connotation than most of us), (Ron's close friends know of what I speak) informed the Reservation Desk, they better look again because that was "unacceptable".

Ron's new flight left would leave at 6:00 AM Monday morning. It was now 2:30 AM.

Ron stayed at the airport using their facilities to take a whore bath, shave and change clothes. So he would be bright and shiny for his flight (again, that last line is best read in your breathless, wonderment fairytale voice).

He arrived in Mexico City about 8:00 AM.

When I heard from him about an hour ago, he was slowly making his way to his appointment/client. Several of the major roads were flooded or washed out making travel a bit of a struggle. And he was running on the sheer power of caffeine.

Join us tomorrow for the next, "Where in the World is Ron Riley?".

Cue Music and Fade.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Something for Nothing ~ Extreme Home Makeover

Several years ago, Extreme Home Makeover revamped a home, for a family named Okvath. The makeover was just a couple of blocks from us. It was very exciting to drive by, watch the progress and try to spot Ty Pennington. And then to see the big reveal on the TV.

This past week, an article in the AZ Republic, a spot on the news and an article in the AZ Magazine stated the Okvath's will be leaving their home, because they can no longer afford it.

They can't sell the home as it is over-built for the neighborhood.

The quality of care/cleaning/housekeeping the home has received since the Okvath's took ownership the home finds it in a state of almost total disrepair.

The family is on state insurance which limits the amount of money they can make to $5,000.00 a month. I don't know if that's gross or net.

Yet, at this level of income, the family states they are unable to meet their monthly financial needs which until a year ago, consisted of utility payments, groceries and clothing.

A year ago, Okvath's took out a mortgage for $405,000.00. ALL THAT MONEY IS GONE! They spent several thousand dollars paying for two parties. Yes, I said parties.

The family bemoaned the fact their cable and cell phones have been shut off.

They pay $300.00 a month for someone to take care of their yard.

They used part of the money to build a new pathway in the backyard but the article did not explain why this was necessary. Perhaps they needed a new pathway to the merry-go-round.

And spent a significant amount to cover their garage floor with wood flooring.

Their current home, not including the garage is 5,300 square feet. Each child has his/her own bedroom and there is a movie theater in the house. Why they felt the need to turn the garage into living space leaves me scratching my head.

While it is sad the Okvath's will lose this home, I feel they hold a level of responsibility based on their choices.

$300.00 a month for a landscaper when they have children old enough to take on that responsibility?

Thousands of dollars spent to put hardwood floors in a garage?

Thousands of dollars spent on two parties?

$405,000.00 gone in one year? That means they spent over a $1,000.00 a day for the past year.

While the Okvath's hold a level of responsibility here, so does Extreme Home Makeover.

This is a perfect example of giving someone something for free and it does nothing to improve or correct the situation.

How sad Home Makeover did not include a course in financial management and budgeting. The Okvath's are worse off today than they were before Home Makeover came into their lives.

Leaves me wondering how many other families, in the Home Makeover history, have come to the same end as the Okvath's?

While I'm sure this was not Home Makeover's goal, I hope they will take a hard look at their future generosity. Besides going for the big emotional reveal, how about some education to go along with those tears?