Sunday, June 3, 2012

happy to be living

You know, sometimes life throws you a curve. Okay, truth be told, life is just one long, big curve. But every once in a while maybe one or a couple of those curves puts things into perspective.

Curve One:
I worked a full shift on Friday, and when I came home Danielle wasn’t home. No biggie. Happens often. In fact, more often than not. It seems our employers have it out to get us. My employers work me when she’s not working, and her employers work her when I’m not. So I wasn’t upset when she wasn’t here. No big deal. Her car was here, but she wasn’t. Again, no big deal. I assumed she was with her friend, but I had no idea where she was. Well, the evening came to a close. It got later and later and I began to worry. See, it’s my job, this worry thing. And I take my jobs seriously. Late into the evening I texted her and she responded that they were on their way home. From where? I had no idea, but I rested easy. She was okay. An hour later, she still wasn’t home. The easy rest turned into restlessness. From where could they be coming and not be home an hour later? I called her. No answer. I called her friend. No answer. St. George is a little place. At this point, my imagination went completely into a flying frenzy. I finally called her friend’s mother. She told me they had gone to a play in Springdale. Oh. That’s why it was taking so long to get home. Again, I rested easy. A half hour later, no Danielle and imagination on fire. I was physically sick wondering where my baby was. A few minutes later, she called. She was two doors down and had left her phone in her car. Relief. A flood of tears. And then I could breathe easy.

Curve Two:
Then today, I was eating dinner with Danielle, Marissa, and Carl. I made chicken fried steak. The Pioneer Woman on TV made it look so dang easy. As it turned out, the chicken fried steak wasn’t great, but the gravy was groovy. Oh man, score! I’ve never made good homemade gravy before. High five, me! As I was eating, I took a big bite of the steak. As I swallowed, it was actually a bit much for my throat. I thought: no biggie, I’ll just swallow hard rather than be unladylike and wretch it up. Wrong choice. It wouldn’t go down. Next plan: take a drink of water and MAKE it go down. Second wrong choice. Instinctively, when I couldn’t breathe, I began choking. My kids tell me that I made a noise they’d never heard come out of a throat. All that came up was water. Nothing dislodged. I ran to the sink continuing to choke. Everyone at the table stood up. “Do you need the Heimlich?” I’ve often wondered whether or not I would have the presence of mind to indicate to another human being the “universal sign” for: I’m choking. Save me. Yes, indeed it came to my mind rather strongly. But I discovered that I must have dislodged it enough for a speck of space for air because as I gasped, I found a wisp of air. I shook my head and continued to choke and gasp alternatively. After a few seconds of that charming activity, the offender came up. And then I could breathe easy.

So I wish a lot of things in my life. I wish Life had obediently followed my carefully constructed plan; but today perspective has spoken. Today I’m really happy to be breathing easy. I'm just happy I’m alive. And I’m happy my babies are alive, and I’m happy my baby’s babies are alive. Life is good. Live it, love it, breathe it.

Friday, May 25, 2012

I graduated!!!!

So even though most anyone who will read this already knows, I still want to document this important event. I graduated!!! Whoa!! What?! Yeah, I know. I’m still talking to myself about it. Oh, and to Miley. Sometimes late at night when I’m staring into the dark of night wishing I was asleep, I’ll start talking to Miley. One recent conversation went like this: “Miley. Hey, Miley! Are you asleep? I’m not asleep. Do you wish I was asleep? Do you wish I’d quit talking to you in the middle of the night. Hey! Guess what?! I graduated! Yeah. Me. I have a degree. A-for-real bachelor’s degree. Are you listening to me? Miley!!” She didn’t even raise a paw. I guess she’s getting used to me babbling during the night. Not only do I talk about it in the middle of the night, I also have some real panic moments still. It just doesn’t feel right to be hanging out with nothing pressing waiting for my immediate attention. It also doesn’t feel right to lounge around. I wonder if I’ll get beyond that.

Speaking of babbling, how about getting back on track here. Graduation. The day before graduation I took my last final and came home. Rissa was here. I started making a grocery list with the intention of going to the store before Shauntel and the grandbabies arrived. I didn’t want to miss their arrival, so I was hustling to try to get out of the house right away. Rissa started questioning everything I was doing. “Why are you making that meal? I don’t think Shauntel would like that. I don’t think Belle would eat that. How about we rethink this grocery run. Maybe you should wait until she gets here.” I argued with her, telling her I had nothing in the house for them, so I should at least go buy milk and some snacks for the babies. And that became my plan, but then I remembered that Shauntel likes to have some homemade wheat bread to eat, so I said maybe I should just make that right now. Rissa wholeheartedly agreed. Too wholeheartedly. There even seemed to be relief in that wholeheartedness, but right at that moment, I realized that I hadn’t really eaten that day because of my final, etc., so I picked up something and started eating. Danielle came in the room and said someone was at the door.
Me: “That’s nice. Go get it.”
Danielle: “I think it’s for you. You should get it.”
Me: “I have a full mouth. You get it. I’ll be there in a minute.”
Danielle: “No. Mom! You need to get it. It’s for you. I see flowers.”
Good grief! These girls were being difficult to me. So I gulped and went to the door. And there standing in front of me was Kristen’s boyfriend, Bruce, with flowers. Not that I wasn’t happy to see him (I really was, and it was the first time he had ever come for a visit!), but I knew if Bruce was standing before my eyes, Kristen was somewhere near at hand. Oh my goodness! What a wonderful, fun moment. I started screaming and hugging and dancing all at once. Kristen appeared from the bushes, and the screaming and hugging and dancing went on. They had all been planning this moment for two months. All of them had been keeping it a secret from me that they were coming. Well, they sort of kept it a secret. All of them slipped up at one time or another, but I only managed to catch one of the slip-ups.

About a month before graduation I got a phone call from the Dean of the School of Arts and Letters. The nice woman on the other end called to tell me that I was the valedictorian of the English department and that I would be speaking in convocation. I have to admit that I was a little surprised. I have one A-, and I was certain that A- was going to protect me from this honor. I was crazy ticked off when I got that A- in Advanced Oil Painting years ago, but then I came to adore that A- because I was sure it would be the thing that would save me from a speech. Where are all the 4.0s when you need them? About a week before graduation, I was called in for an interview to be the speaker at commencement. Right about now, can I say, “Whoa!! Stop it!!” See here’s how I look at it. I worked really hard my whole educational career, and then they decided to punish me by making me speak in public. And so I went to that interview. And, what can I say? I flubbed it. Okay, maybe not flubbed it, but I was outright honest and told them I’d rather speak in convocation. The valedictorian speaker in commencement was awesome. They definitely made the right choice with him. He was so awesome, I wish that I had a transcript of his speech.

So graduation day finally came. I practiced that speech every day for a week. Did I hear you say nervous wreck? Who? Me? I was calm as a clam. No!! Not true! I’m an English major, not a communications major. We English majors like to play with words on paper, not in the air in public. So I arrived with my little cue cards, and I sat down by my friend, Jessica. She told me I needed to be on the stand. She pointed out where I should be. I left and sat on the stand, and a couple minutes later, Jessica showed up with my cue cards. I would have left my brain behind if it was possible. Thanks, Jessica!

As I started my speech, I looked over to the second row where four beautiful young women and three beautiful little girls sat watching me. And I felt so blessed. How grateful I am for my four daughters who have become my four mothers. They have protected me, advised me, and loved me all along the way.

I got through the speech fine, and the day was finally over. I graduated! It took 34 years from start to finish, but I finally finished. I have a bachelor’s degree in English: Professional and Technical Writing. I keep saying it like I’ve never heard it before, like it’s some kind of surprise or something. I keep telling Danielle: “Did you know I have a bachelor’s degree?” She rolls her eyes. “Yes, Mom. I know.”

  Me with all my girls.

Me with Jessica.


So I had all of my girls together for a few days, and we did some fun things together, but mostly we just did what we do best. We hung out and lounged around and laughed a lot. It was a wonderful time. I am my happiest when I’m surrounded by these lovely people. I guess I should graduate more often. What degree should I go for next?

Saturday, December 24, 2011


These two are tireless. They're having such a jolly season.

 In the back seat of my car. They meant to scare me, but I just laughed and then took them to church with me. I hope they enjoyed it. 

In the office. I hope you guys are paying some bills while you're in there. Or at least doing some homework for me. 

And at last!

The elves have been caught!
Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 12, 2011


Please note that Santa is "going down the chimney." Yeah, we're funny.

We have an interesting tradition around here. It's not necessarily a Christmas tradition, but it has recently seeped its way into a sort of Christmas tradition. Let me explain.

Sometimes we pick an object and we hide it, usually in plain sight, but in some very strange places. You know like finding a brush in the frig or something. I don't even remember what our original hiding object was. I only remember the details around it.

Whatever this object was, I said, "I don't want it."

Danielle said, "I don't want it either."

"Okay, fine. You can have it." I pretended not to understand her response and left it in her room.

That object made its way back and forth and showed up in some of the strangest places. Then eventually someone must have hidden it really well because we can't for the lives of us figure out what the object was or who hid it last. Since then, we've had variations on the hide-the-object game from time to time. Some certain objects of the hide-the-object game are best left undescribed, but this new one's a winner.

At Christmas time, we always put out this cute reindeer that you see pictured above.  While Annabelle was here at Thanksgiving time, she was playing with the horse you see in the picture. (Imagine Annabelle's voice here in a high pitch as if she's talking to a baby: "It's just my size. Ohhhhh.") The horse belongs to Danielle. She actually uses it as a chair at the computer. I know. So normal. When Annabelle was so enamored with the horse, I brought out the reindeer. Annabelle was nearly beside herself with joy, and it became a playfest.

Well, lazy people don't always put things away, and the horse and the reindeer continued to hang out with us long after Annabelle left us to our quiet, boring home. One day I came home and this is what I found.

It seems that the reindeer and the horse had decided they were tired of being sat upon and they decided to sit upon. Anyway, I had a good laugh, left the room, and when I returned I found this.

Apparently their relationship had moved to the next level. "Making out not allowed!" I cried, but I giggled as I left the room. Upon returning again, I found this.

Apparently, all that making out had made them hungry, and they decided to go make a snack. During all this moving around, I never actually saw who moved them. For all I know, they moved on their own. Anyway, the game had begun; and since then, these two good friends have really gotten around. Here are a few of the places they've been in their travels.

Waiting at the bedroom door to scare the daylights out of the occupant when she emerged.

Waiting at the back garage door to scare the daylights out of whomever might come through the door next.

Waiting at the front door to scare the daylights out of whomever might dare to visit. They seem to have a thing for doors.

Taking an afternoon nap. Note that they are under separate blankets. We have chaste animals around here.

Waiting in the backseat of Danielle's car to scare the daylights out of the driver. And scare they did! (Sorry about that.)

In a closet looking through the shoe box. I guess it was time for a re-shoeing.

In another closet. It's really sad that you're not getting the full effect of this one so I must elaborate. I came home from playing in the Messiah concert. I walked in, put my instrument away, stood in the hall as I sent a text, and looked about for Miley. Hmmm. Rather odd. Where is that little runt? She always comes running when I come home. Ah. There she is. She came running out of the master bedroom. I greeted her and then remembered that I wanted to get my special snowflake that I hang from my rearview window and get it hanging before the season got away from me. I went into the master bedroom, opened the drawer to a chest of drawers, and retrieved my cute snowflake. By the way, said chest of drawers is right next to the closet, and said closet door was open. I walked away and put the snowflake in my car. When I came back in, I wandered back into the master bedroom, and Miley was running around in the closet like a little nit-wit. Then I saw the reindeer and the horse---with riders! Danielle and her boyfriend had been waiting for me to find them in the closet all that time.

On top of the tv. Look at me! No, look at me!

 In the shower waiting to scare the daylights out of me! And scare they did! Chaste, remember chaste.

In the tub. I guess they didn't appreciate being thrown out of the shower. They weren't cleaned up yet. And hey, wait a minute. It looks like they're making out again! Hey! CHASTE!

And now for my two personal favorites.

A ride down the banister. Doesn't it look like they just said, "Race you to the bottom" and then slid away? Never mind that the reindeer got to slide farther. It was fun for both of them.

And today they're making beautiful music together.

It's anyone's guess where they'll show up next.

Monday, December 5, 2011

christmas elves

Putting up the Christmas tree. The very thought makes me shudder. I've had nightmare encounters with non-compliant Christmas trees. One such nightmare went like this:

I checked all the strings of lights, and they all worked perfectly, so I wrapped them around the tree. After putting all the ornaments on, I plugged in the tree, only to find an entire section of the tree unlit. I checked for connections. Everything was fine. If you remove a string of lights, you pretty much have to remove all the surrounding ornaments first, or else you're likely to knock them off and break them, so I removed the ornaments. Then, I removed the offending string of lights and replaced it with another string, which I tested first, of course. I plugged the lights in again, and what do you think? An entirely different string of lights was unlit. At this point, it was just too much, and I collapsed on the floor in a fit of tears. People magically disappeared to rooms unknown in the house and didn't resurface until I had managed to fix the tree and regain my dignity. Now, it would be one thing if said nightmare only happened once, but this nightmare has repeated itself in varying forms more than once or twice. Therefore---Christmas tree---shudder.

Well, this year, with school, a brand new granddaughter to love, and practicing for the Messiah concert, Christmas tree = shudder = forget it. Well, at least, if it doesn't equal forget it, it at least equals put it off. Yesterday when I was busy in the kitchen making Sunday dinner, my daughter returned from church, and said, "How do you like the Christmas tree?" Imagine a shudder here; I assure you there was one. My response was: "Christmas tree! What Christmas tree? I haven't had time to to put up {shudder} a Christmas tree." She opened the sliding door into the living room, and there to my wondering eyes did appear a sleigh full of toys . . . wait, wait . . . a Christmas tree! A fully decorated, absolutely beautiful, more beautiful than I've ever made it, Christmas tree. Wow!

Thank you Christmas elves. What a beautiful gift!

Monday, November 28, 2011



Annalise Lichelle Neve
born: November 21, 2011
weight: 7 lb 14 ou
perfect in every way
and look at all that hair!

Sweet little Annalise is one week old today. And as you can see, we've managed to keep our Girls Only Club intact.

Last Monday was quite the day. Marissa had been in labor forever. I'm pretty sure that's how she felt because that's how I felt just waiting and fretting at home. One good thing did come out of the wait, however. I went into a cleaning frenzy in a futile attempt to try to distract myself from my overdeveloped ability to worry. It didn't actually distract me, but I certainly accomplished a lot.

Finally, around 5:00 p.m., I received this text/picture message:

 annalise lichelle neve 7 14. 20 inches

I probably don't need to tell you this, but I burst into a flood of tears. My baby and my baby's baby were fine. I got to that hospital before they even had time to move them from the delivery room.

As I entered the room, a nurse was cleaning Lisie up. The nurse turned and looked at me as I walked through the door, "That's who she looks like!"

Welcome to the family, sweet Annalise. We're sure happy to have you.

*all pictures except the text/picture message by dcphotography

Saturday, August 13, 2011

move on

Today marks the one year anniversary of the date of my divorce. When I married thirty-one plus years ago, I never dreamed that my road would bring me here. It didn’t occur to me at that point in time that marriage and life could be anything but blissful, wonderful, and fairy-tale perfect. I’ve been down a long, rocky road. I’ve learned and grown a lot. I’ve survived some tough, painful experiences. Sometimes when I get down in the dumps about the waste of my youth, I’m sure that if I could just contact my young self, I’d issue a strong warning: “Run away fast! There’s nothing here but hurt!” But then I always come back to that happy place, that place in my heart where my girls live, and I know that if I was really confronted with the full knowledge of those thirty years and the possibility of warning myself, that no, I wouldn’t stop myself. I might raise my arm ready to shout at myself: “Go now! Before all the hurt begins!” But then I know I would quietly turn away from my young self and allow myself to move on through those thirty years because life without my babies wouldn’t be life at all. They're the best thing that ever happened to me. I’d live it all again and again just so I could have the privilege of loving, raising, and knowing my girls, my best friends, the joy of my life.

me and my girls--1993