Thursday, October 27, 2011

Room to Breathe

Tuesday night I went to bed at 10, woke up at 1, read until 3:30 and then had this crazy nightmare:

I was stuck in traffic when three guys jumped into my car and ordered me into the back seat.  One guy was rummaging through my purse while another was checking out my cell phone.

"Take my purse, my car, whatever you'd like,"  I told them.

"Do you have kids?"


"What do you do?"

"I stay home."

"How can you stay home and afford this nice car?"

Next thing I know I'm in a house in the middle of some subdivision.  The whole house is full of women.  Some of the ladies were sitting out on the back patio very relaxed.

"How can you just be relaxing like this?  We out number our captors.  We can get organized and break out of here!"  I said.

One worn out woman took a drag on her cigarette and let her smoke out as she said, "they actually take pretty good care of us here.  It's kind of nice really."

I went into the house where the rooms teemed with more women.  I suddenly realized that the boys would be getting home from school soon and that Aaron was out of town.  I had to call and make sure my bases were covered at home.  I found the House Hostess.

"Look, I know this isn't jail but I need to make at least one phone call.  My kids are going to be home unattended."

"Oh, sure.  You can make as many phone calls as you'd like.  That's how we make our money."

I found the old rotary in the corner of the breakfast table.  I wanted to call Aaron or Caren but did not know their numbers because they were on my cell phone.  I dialed my mother's "real life" phone number and it rang at my "real life" house.  (Make sense?) 

"This is Drew."

"Drew!  Hey baby!  It's Mommy!  I'm so sorry I'm not there!  There is an emergency though and so I need you to go tell Mrs. Caren to call Daddy and tell him to return home."

"Mrs. Caren is here,"  Drew said.

Thank goodness!  I'm sure Caren is wondering where I am and why I did not make plans for someone to tend to the kids.

"Let me talk to her Drew!" 

Drew gave Caren the phone.

In a groggy and thick voice Caren answered with: "I'm really sick..."

"Oh no!  I'm sorry you don't feel well and I'm sorry you are having to watch my kids but listen, I've been kidnapped!  I need you to call Aaron and have him come home."

"Are you serious?"

"Yes!  Please call Aaron and I'm so sorry again that you are stuck with the kids."

After getting off the phone I watched some ladies break the front window to make a hole.  One lady crawled through to see if one could fit through it and then she came back in.

She was out and free.  Why did she come back in?

Then I saw my friend Christina.

"Huh.  Fancy seeing you here," I say to her.

"I know, right?"  she seemed just as confused.

I became belligerent and loud about getting out and going home.  One of the "bad guys" somehow made me bite the end of a pen and I immediately felt the effects of some drug.  I fought the effects of the drug and then wailed punches on the man who then hit me so hard he knocked me back into my conscious and was awake.

It's was 5:30.

I laid there reviewing the dream and trying to shake off the fear that gripped me.  I found it amusing that while I was in peril I apologized to Caren for having to keep the kids. 

So typical of a woman.

The dream was obviously about domesticity.  I love and am blessed to be a Stay Home Mom and I'm very happy in it.  I do wish I was able to be more involved in musical theater which is why I guess Christina was "trapped" in the house with me.  (She is currently on a national tour of The Heights, lucky broad.)  I could peel and dissect that whole dream (so much symbolism) but I won't.

I called a girlfriend of mine today:

"How you doin'?"  I asked.

*Sigh* "It's been a really rough morning," she confessed.  "My daughter had a 'Five Alarm' in the middle of the store today in front of some of our friends.  I tried to calm her down but everything I did only made it worse until we were both screaming at each other.  It was awful!"

"Girl I've been there!  In fact this morning I dropped the F-Bomb on the boys."


"Oh yeah.  I said 'I'm so fucking tired of always being late.'  Only I didn't say it like that.  I screamed it.  I screamed the F-word at my sons."

"Really?  That's great!  Now I don't feel so bad."

"Yeah, it's not us.  It's them," I joked.  "I felt so bad and had to apologize of course.  Let me just say they were perfect the whole ride to school and Drew thanked me again for making his Halloween costume.  Every morning I give them a 10 minute warning for Go Time.  I walk through the house reminding them of everything they need to have. Shoes? Back pack? Coat?  They say they got it all and then as I'm grabbing the keys someone yells, 'wait mom!  I can't find my shoes!'  It takes those boys 200 years to get out the door.  The thing that gets me is that I have good kids.  Really good kids.  Can you imagine the terror I would be if they were jerks?  I would be spending time at bars more then coffee shops that's for sure!"

"After 'The Incident' the cashier greeted me and I just started crying.  She and another woman said they totally understood."

"Of course they do!  Everyone's kids act like a turd at some point and every one of us handle it poorly at LEAST once.  Good Lord, I can't tell you how often I've had to apologize to my kids.  Boo...  But we can't beat ourselves up about it.  We gotta dust ourselves off and try again."

"Thank you so much for telling me your story!  It has made me feel so much better!"

Ladies, Mommies, get real.  We can't do it all and we can't always do it right.  We've got to be kinder to ourselves.  Strive to do your best and have grace for youself when you miss the mark.  We will go crazy trying to be a "Disney Mom" all the time.  We are real women and real people screw up.

It meant so much to my friend to hear how badly I behaved this morning that I thought I'd share it with all of you.  It was not a proud moment, to be sure, but I hope it gives you room to breathe.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I am so proud of Drake I could bust!  Drake is 3 years old now and is 90 lbs of muscle!  If you are new to my tales of Drake he is not a weight lifting toddler but our Labrador/Rottweiler that we adopted last Christmas.  He came into our lives full of love, mostly well mannered and with a taste for cat.

Drake tried to eat our cat, Sinclaire, on about Day 2 of joining the family.  He also ate several dog beds, broke into our house and the neighbors house (repeatedly) and would drag me down the hill on our walks.  Literally, it would be like water skiing down the gravel hill as I dug my heels in and Drake pulled/pressed on. 

The first time I took him for a walk he was at heel the whole time and he ignored distractions like other dogs, horses, and wildlife.  It seemed he had been trained in his previous life.  Each walk progressively got worse as Drake realized that I did not know all of the rules.  He became more bold at home as well, eating things off of the counter and the like.

Our walks became much more challenging.  He would break off leash to chase deer or foxes or whatever.  The deer were especially challenging for Drake to ignore because they were like Meals On The Run for him.  The dog is a natural hunter.  I think he would be awful to hunt with because he does not want to flush out critters he wants to take them down himself.  He has come close many, many times.  It's both terrifying and breathtaking all at the same time.  Kind of like watching an episode of Wild Kingdom!  It's a problem though.  It puts me in danger and himself as well.

I tried a pincher collar. 


I tried a harness. 


I tried The Gentle Leader and it seemed to work but then...


After being dragged down a hill on my ass for Drake to break into my neighbors horse corral I finally gave up and called a trainer.

As soon as Christine walked in the door she immediately had Drake under her control.  As I said, it seems that he's had training and he could tell that Christine knew the rules.  He was always so perfect for her.  He was either a genius level fast learner or he was smart enough to know who to behave for and who he could manipulate.  (That would be me, BTW)

Christine came every weekend and Drake quickly learned to walk at heel, not jump to greet, and various tricks.  I learned how to distract him from the wildlife, what words to use to calm him, and what leash and collar system would work best (and believe's quite the system).  We also did some training with the cat.  It went really well as we were able to have Drake and Sinclaire in the same room with out him trying to eat her!  (Though, I don't think Sinclaire thought it went so well.  I am sure that was the day that she vowed to leave.  She spent several days after scoping out a knew home for  herself and then, the day before we left for a trip to NY, she packed her bags and walked away.  I'd like to think she looked back a time or two at the home of those who cared for her for 12 years...but I doubt it.)

The day finally came when Christine announced that there was nothing more to do with Drake and that the leash was now in my hands.  I have not walked Drake everyday as I should.  I'm still very intimidated.  Call me crazy but I just don't like wrestling with a 90 lb. beast nor do I relish the idea of being dragged down a mountainside.  I've bit the bullet though, and have taken Drake on his walks, when fear does not get the best of me. 

One such walk was with my brother-in-law, Matt.  Drake was walking beautifully.  I usually have two hands on the leash but dropped one so that I could respond to a text message.  At that exact moment Drake happened to spot a deer and he took off.  Matt kept calling for Drake and I just stood there, dejected and angry with myself for not paying enough attention.

"Well," I sighed, "let's just finish the walk and then get the car and go looking for him."

Just then Drake came bounding back and hopped into a heel at my side.  I took up the leash and we finished our walk.  I gave that walk a B- because had he not went after the deer it would've been an A+.

We have a huge snow fall about to be dumped on us this week and so I wanted to get my walk in before then.  I strapped Drake's body harness on and then his Gentle Leader (told you it's a system) and we headed out to the bus stop with the boys.  As we neared the bottom of the hill I saw a herd of about 6 deer.

"Gabriel, run ahead and scare the deer off for me, will you?"

I turned Drake back up the hill so we were behind a bush and he would not see them running.  I put him in a sit/stay and caressed his face while I gave the command for "calm."  Then I point to my eye and say "watch" and he stared at my eyes until I released him from it. 

Good.  I still have his attention and he's in a frame of mind to obey.

The deer did run off but only to the hill across the street.  I couldn't keep hiding with Drake and so we walked on down to the bus stop to wait with the boys.  Drake quickly spotted the deer.  His ears were thrust forward, forehead wrinkled and body poised in full alert.

"Drakers!  Drakers, sit."

He sat.  Haunches twitching.

"Drake...calm..."  I caressed his face.

His butt came back up off of the ground.  I wrapped the leash around my waist.  Most of the deer were pretty much out of sight but one stood right smack in the middle of the hill and kept making a a chirp/barking sound. 

Drake eventually sat and the boys and I gave him loads of love for his good behavior and in hopes that it would keep him uninterested in the deer.  Drake was still very heightened but he never even lunged in the deer's direction!

The bus finally came.  I loaded the boys and then Drake and I continued our walk.  His pace was brisk today and he stopped to smell a lot.  The run in with the deer at the bus stop had him riled up!  We made it through the walk and I was feeling pretty good about things.  I was so proud of Drake and I!  As we got to our road that herd of deer were back at the bus stop!


I wrapped the leash around my waist again.  I grabbed onto Drake's body harness and then decided that we would just keep on and take the second entrance as our house is on a loop.  Drake whined and pulled a bit but he obeyed and we continued past the deer.  Seriously, you have no idea how huge a fete this was!  (See Stags and Studs)  Once past the temptation I released the harness and unwound the leash just as I finished this process we came up on the second entrance which had about 4 loitering Doe's. 


I took a minute to assess my options.  Bear Hunt came to mind.

Can't go over it.  Can't go around it.  Gotta go through it.

Taking a deep breath, I wrapped the leash around my waist again, grabbed a hold of the harness and began to pray:

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death....OK God, I know that's taken from the Drama Queen translation but what I mean is: help me!  Give Drake some blinders or something.  Scare the deer away.  Just let us get home with out incident.

Drake was fully alert and aware of the deer but he followed my lead and pressed on up the hill.  He heeded my pulls and chides and we were soon passed his greatest temptation.  Man!  And he's a DOG!  People, when we are faced with life's temptations...sometimes they can't be avoided but we can get past them if we listen to the chides and pull of the Spirit. 

If Drake can do that then I think I can make it through the potato chip aisle at the grocery!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fall Fun

Oh!  How I love fall!  I love the cool crisp weather, the colors and the festivities!  Bring on Oktoberfest, Halloween and Thanksgiving!!!

Last weekend we hosted a Beer and Cheese pairing party.  It was very fun and educational.  I found that I liked Guinness much better when paired with Mozzarella then with out.  A beer that stout does not need anything too fancy.  Also, Aaron bought a Banana Nut beer that was awesome!  We did not have a cheese to pair with it but it really did not need one.  So good...  (Pictures and details on pairings will be found under the Party Ideas tab later this week.)

Our weekly Pizza Night was turned into a Spooky Pizza Night!  At baking day I made scads of pizza dough so the kids could all make their own pizzas.  We had jars that were filled with various toppings and then labeled with creepy names, i.e. green olives are Frog Eyes, black olives are Tarantula Eggs, etc.  The kids had a blast.  There were calls down the table of "please pass the Vampire Vomit" and "I need more Spider Webs!"  Finally they ate something other then a plain cheese pizza or pepperoni pizza.  Yes! (Pics and details on this will also be under the Party Ideas tab....soon!)y

The rest of my week has been dedicated to putting together the odds and ends needed for my family's costumes and decorating Caren's house for her annual Halloween party.  It looks so great all in purple, black and orange!  I will reveal all of our costumes after the Holiday.  They are turning out great.
A painting I did for Caren's mantle

Yesterday we checked off our final thing on the List Of Things To Do Before Halloween and visited a pumpkin patch to pick out our pumpkins.  There were Go Karts, a corn maze, petting zoo, hay ride and the biggest field of the most variety of pumpkins and gourds that I have ever seen!

My heart is happy and so ready now for the next Holiday!  I have so much to give thanks for.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Part Of A Blanaced Breakfast

The thing about getting ready for school is that first thing each morning Mom and Kids are having to launch over one of the biggest hurdles of the day.  It would be nice to ease into things: have a cup of tea and a nice quiet breakfast, maybe watch the morning news.  It would be nice to wake up because you've had a full nights sleep and so you just can't sleep any longer. 

Instead an alarm blares and I hit snooze about 4 times before I finally open my eyes. 

"Time to get moving Bugs."  I sleepily call out while still laying on my pillow.  I peel myself out of bed and give another wake up call as I pass their room on the way to the kitchen.  I flip the tea pot on, fire up the computer and then shuffle back to my sons' room.

"Guys, I'm serious.  You've gotta get up.  It's a school day."

Moans and groans.

"I have to go to the nutritionist this morning so I've got to get myself ready too.  I need y'all to get dressed and get your own breakfast so I can take a shower."

They finally get moving.

"What can we have for breakfast?"  Drew asked.

"I set out some bagels and cream cheese for you.  They are already cut."

The boys are quite capable of making their own breakfasts and lunch but I am still usually the one to do it for them.  Drew for sure can handle his own in the kitchen.  Sometimes he will eschew the breakfast I'm offering, take out a pan and cook up his own eggs.  Just the other night I was making the family a green chili stew for dinner.  Drew walked into the kitchen, took out a spoon and started giving me tips on how to prepare dinner.

"Mom, I like your green chili stew but can I suggest a little less chili?  And could you add a little more garlic?"  he said while stirring the pork in the pot.

Typically I'm putting away dishes, signing off on homework and a few other things while making dinner.  I don't want the kids under foot while I cook.

"Buddy, when you are head chef of your own restaurant you can prepare your food however you'd like.  Right now I need you to get out of my kitchen."

I shooed him out and then minced another clove of garlic.  I mean, the kid kind of knows what he's talking about.  With this in mind, I showered and continued getting ready with very little concern for whether or not my sons could prepare themselves a bagel.

"Hey guys, we gotta go in ten minutes!  This is your time to get your shoes on, make sure your back pack is packed, grab a coat...."  I gave the last call warning as I walked into the kitchen to make my own bagel.  About that time Drew walked out of the pantry wearing nothing but a t-shirt and undies.  There is food all over his shirt and a little still stuck to the corner of his mouth.

"Drew Bug!  Why are you not dressed?  We are leaving in ten minutes!  Wash your face and get dressed for school."

"I don't feel so well..." he groaned, "My tummy hurts..."

Figuring this was just a ploy to get out of school I said, "Well...I guess I will have to cancel the party we are having tonight.  Can't have you playing with your friends and getting them all sick."

"Maybe we will.  I don't feel good."  As he said this I noticed a smudge of chocolate going down the side of his face like war paint.

"Buddy...were you eating chocolate?"




"Well, then why is there chocolate smeared on your face?"

"OK I have a confession..."


He lead me into the pantry and gestured to the second shelf.

"I just couldn't resist the frosting!"

On the second shelf is leftover canned frosting from when Uncle Matt made him a castle cake for his birthday.  They are like the cheez whiz cans.

"I mixed it with my grape nuts and bananas and it was soooo good but now my tummy hurts!"

We have a huge walk in pantry and Drew had set up a little picnic in the back of the pantry with his concoction.

"I'm sure it does Bug.  Get dressed.  You are going to school."

"But what if I get sick at school?"

"That's OK.  You're not contagious, just foolish.  Get dressed.  You now have about 5 minutes."

After my appointment with the nutritionist (please note the irony) I went to the school to volunteer in Drew's class. 

The front office clerk greeted me with, "Ms. McDowell, are you aware that Drew is laying down in the clinic?"

I marched into the clinic, dragged Drew off of the cot and down to his classroom.  He told his teacher and class about his faux pas.

"Ms. D, I know it's Fun Friday today but I think I'm going to pass on the treat..."

Lesson learned.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Cat Came Back...

When we arrived in Colorado it was with two kids, two cats, an old dog and a snail. 

Gary the snail died not long into our time here.  He was a Rosy Wolf snail and ate other snails.  The dry atmosphere and high altitude does not make a good habitat for a snail.  We could find none to feed him but honestly I think he dried up before he had a chance to starve to death.  It was sad even though he was just a snail.

Theodore was a 16 year old shitzpoo (part shitzu/part poodle) who was deaf, blind and incontinent.  We inherited him from my mother.  Theodore lived through the road trip (that I was thoroughly prepared to be pulling over and burying him on some Texas roadside) and he seemed to actually flourish in the mountain environment.  But his new lease on life was short lived and he went to the Big Dog House In The Sky a few weeks after our move.  (See Theodore's Finale

This left us with two cats, Sinclaire and Smee.  Sinclaire has a thyroid problem that we treated with medication.  She was a sweetheart even though she was constantly jumping on our counter which I found disgusting.  I would spray her with a water bottle.  She would get down and then return.  I would spray again.  She'd get down and return.  This went on and on.  Her thyroid issue made her very thirsty so she would also drink out of the toilet or any unattended beverage.  Annoying!

Aaron and I found her a year after we got married.  She came when he called her and so Aaron conceded to keeping her.  She was a pretty silver tabby with a scar over her left eye.  Sinclaire would often bring us the gift of a dead bug.  She would follow me to the apartment laundry mat and stalk the ducks at the creek that ran through the complex.  When I was pregnant, she would walk with me at heel as I strolled through the neighborhood.  No one has seen anything like that.  She played outside and came to the door and mewed when she was ready to come back in.

One day, when Gabriel was a little more than a one year old, Sinclaire came to the door and mewed loudly.  I let her in and as soon as I shut the door behind her she opened her mouth and out flew a frantic (and slightly bloodied) bird.  The bird flew all over the living room while Gabe and I both stood there screaming.  It swooped down and BAM!  hit the storm door and dropped dead.  I grabbed a dustpan from the kitchen and proceeded to scoop up the bird.  As I tossed it out the door it came to life and flew off!  Gabriel could not speak but he would re-enact the whole scene over and over complete with our screaming.  Sinclaire brought live birds to Gabriel, and later for Drew, several times during their infancy's.  I think she was trying to teach them to hunt.  Ug.

Sad for our loss of Theodore, Santa brought the boys a new dog last year; our beloved Drake.  Drake is the most loving beast a person has ever known.  Everyone who meets him falls in love!  The problem is that he is 90 lbs of cat hating muscle.  Drake wants to eat the cats.  He's come very close to getting Sinclaire.  We did some training with him to correct it and it seemed to help.

A few days before Aaron and I were to leave for NY (August), Sinclaire went outside to play.  She would usually return to us around 3 or 4 in the afternoon but one day she did not.  I called and called for her, hiked around hunting for her and she never turned up.

"Are you going to put a sign out for her mom?" 

"No buddy..."  I always kind of laughed at people who put Lost Cat signs up out here.  Really, if your cat has not come Mountain Lion?  Lot's of options as to it's demise.  Once Caren saw a sign for a lost goat.  Bwahahaha!

Aaron and I figured one of two things: she left to die (thyroid getting the best of her) or she was some mountain animals lunch.

Today was Baking Day and I made two sour cream coffee cakes. They were to bake for...

" hour and a half?!  Why do I always manage to get these recipes that take a hundred years to finish?"

After two hours of baking they were still doughy and raw in the middle.  Caren and I dumped it out and decided we would have to make a bread pudding with the remains.

When the boys got home we had to rush through homework.  I needed to take a meal to the school for the teachers who were working late for parent/teacher conferences.  After that I needed to take Drew to Cub scouts and Gabe to soccer.  I had a hard time getting the boys out the door (imagine that) and so was late.  I grabbed all of the food for the teachers and peeled out of the drive way.  As I raced down the hill I suddenly saw something gray in the corner of my eye.  Instinctively I knew and slammed on the breaks.  I got out of the car and walked up to my neighbors fence to have a better look. 

There, sitting near my neighbors horse coral, was...


She looked at me but did not move.

"Come here kitty, kitty, kitty!  Sinclaire!"

The cat gave me a blank stare.  With no acknowledgement she turned away from me.  Her profile revealed her scar over her left eye!  That damn cat is alive and well!  I don't know if she's been living with our neighbor all of this time or what but there she is!  She obviously has no interest in returning to our house.  Hmph!  After 12 years!

She's been gone for 2 months.  I heard a recent story of a cat who left home for 6 years and was found in another state.  I wondered if Sinclaire could be out there living the mountain life but doubted it.

I called Aaron.

"I knew she wasn't dead," he said.  "Nothing is going to kill that cat."

I just laughed and sang: "Oh, the cat came back the very next day.  The cat came back; they thought he was a gonner but the cat came back.  He just couldn't stay awaaaaay!"

Monday, October 10, 2011

Curtain Call

Up stage, the doors open.  Dramatic entrance music plays and my friend and cast mate, Becky Donnella, stoically marches out as Eva Peron.  We are all facing her, backs to the audience, moving like flowers to the sun as she moves down stage.  One by one she takes the hands of the ladies she passes as would a Pope offering a blessing.  She comes to me and takes both of my hands in hers.  We give each other a squeeze and in my squeeze is every hope, every wish to "break legs" and every bit of good energy I can send to her and the whole cast.  It's my secret prayer for the performance and though we've already performed 2 songs, it's in that moment that the show would begin for me each night.

Every performance was better then the next.  As things improved and we became more comfortable on stage, the back stage antics amped up.  We all had so much fun making puppets, kidnapping flip flops, and making faces and dances up to try and make those on stage laugh.  There were so many comedies going on on the side, I could not possibly share them all here.  Friendships and partnerships were forged to be sure!

Also every night I would style the girls' hair.  I knew how to make mine work and tried to help a few with theirs.  It turned into a permanent "position" and I loved it!  It also became a sort of measurement or prediction for how that night's performance was going to go.  I told them it was like my crystal ball but instead was of hair.

"What does the hairball say tonight, Michal?  How is it going to go?"

"We are going to start out a little rough but end with a bang!" 

Or sometimes vice-versa.

As a thank you for all the heads of hair I did this past month, the cast presented me with a bottle of wine (yes ma'am!) and a golden head.  Sadly, the gold head was made of Styrofoam and so when spray painted it got a little eaten up.  The result was something that looks more like a golden burn victim...  I'm moved none-the-less and she will hold court on a special spot on my dresser.

I must've done a good job because after every show someone would find me in the lobby to tell me how beautiful my hair and make up was and how fabulous my costumes were.  The first time I was very pleased but when it started to be the only compliment I was getting, I became annoyed.  Really, I did not work for months on learning to dance and sing these crazy Andrew Loyd Weber songs to hear that I looked pretty.

Our last show was splendid!  Everyone's energy was great, the audience was playful and our leads gave it their all.  I started to tear up in the second scene but held it at bay the rest of the show. 

After our bows I felt good and ready to say good bye to Evita but it was still hard.  I don't want to liken it to a death but maybe more like sending a child off to school or like putting a friend on a plane. 

That was next for me to do.

For the last show my friends Amy and Christina came all the way from MO!  Since the show was over the cast was to stay and strike the set, clean dressing rooms and the like.  I had also been invited to Caren's for raclette, her family's traditional First Snow meal.  (It snowed Saturday!)  My heart was a wreck.  Part of it wanted to be with the cast to physically and symbolically put away the show.  Another part was desperate for more time with my MO girlfriends and wanted to spend this last bit of time with them, even if that time was spent in taking them to the airport.  The last bit of me so wanted to be in my Caren's kitchen with our families, wine and food. 

That "Spread Thin" feeling has been with me a lot this month as I tried to be involved at the school, with my family, my friends and the show all at the same time.  I did not want any of these components to effect the performance of the other.  Here in lies the reason that I have to step down from the stage for awhile.  My family and friends need the break and, if I'm really honest with myself, I guess I do too.  It kills me.  I want to be in all of these places and do all of these things and it's just not possible.  I feel like this is how my whole life is right now as I'm still struggling with having half of my heart in Texas and the other half here in CO.

I fought tears all the way to the airport.  I dropped my girls off with hugs and kisses.

"Don't cry," Amy warned.

I got into the car and burst into tears.  I bawled like a banshee the whole way home.  There goes my friends!  There goes my show!

When I got to Caren's I fell into her door and dove for the table.  It was beautifully set and wine was already poured.  I fought tears again as relief flooded over me.  I had not seen Aaron or Caren all week.  It was so good to be back in the role of Wife, Mother and Friend.

I had another good cry in bed.  With out saying a word, Aaron just held me while I got it all out.

This morning the boys and I did our Off-To-School dance.  Gabriel had band so I drove them.  After getting Gabe settled, Drew and I went to the library to kill time before class started.  A teacher found us there.

"Oh Michal!  I saw the show Friday night and I just have to tell you that you looked GORGEOUS!  I really enjoyed it.  The leads were so good.  I just loved it and your hair and make up were perfect.  Those gowns you wore were beautiful!"

Oh. My. Lands.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Good Apple

When a child has a birthday in Drew's class, his teacher has the students write a letter to the birthday child telling them all the good things about them.  To start the class brainstorms, raising their hand to tell a word that describes the child.  Ms. D writes it on the chalk board and then the kids can use the words on the board to help write their letter.  For example: If "nice" is on the board a student may write, "You are nice because you help people."

When I got Drew's book we sat down together to read his letters.  His classmates said the sweetest things about him!  Drew was beaming.  At the end of the book Ms. D wrote everything that had been put on the board. 

Drew's read (and in purple because it's his favorite color):

Dear Drew,

Happy birthday!  We think you are:

empathetic, clever, artistic, a team player, helpful, caring, selfless, determined, smart, really kind, generous, nice, polite, considerate, happy, joyful, positive, creative, giving, an outside the box thinker, patient, loving, cooperative, loyal, sincere, sensitive, honest, truthful, genuine, and a magnificent Magic Maker!


Your Classmates and Ms. D

My eyes welled up and I choked the words out as I read those traits all together to describe my son.  That is what a mother hopes for!  "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22)  I think all of those things were listed!  What an awesome kid.  I'm so proud of him.

I wish Gabriel's class would do the same.  He is already planning on having a Samurai party.

"We could have sushi!"  I suggested.

"And you will have to make me a Samurai costume because there are none in the stores.  For kids, that is."

"Maybe we won't do costumes buddy."

"But that's what makes it so fun!  You made gauntlets and greaves for Drew's knight costume..."

Oh boy.

The good news is I have until May to figure out how to make a Samurai costume.  Either that or to convince him to go another route....  What will we do?  Make a pinata that we disembowel? 

"And I'll need a katana."

I love my sons!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

With The Grace Of A Chicken

Last weekend my brother's family and my friend Tiffany came in to town.  I had three Evita performances (like every weekend) and hosted the cast party.  Many have asked "how do you do it?"

I do it with all the grace of a chicken with her head cut off.

Last week there were three mornings where I woke up sick to my stomach.  Friday was one of them.  The Bug was dancing and singing through the house, "It's my birthday!  It's my birthdaaaaaaay!"  I squeezed him and wished him a happy birthday and also asked him to stay out of the kitchen for the morning.  *stomach roll*

"Don't forget my special treats at school today Mama!"  Drew reminded me.

"I got 'em."

"Will you stay and have a special birthday lunch with me?"

"Not today Bub.  I have to finish getting the house ready for Uncle Isaac."

Since I had an appointment with the nutritionist that morning I needed to get myself ready as well.  I was looking for a new shirt of mine that I had not been able to find during the week, not in the clean or dirty piles of clothes.  I started to tear through all of my drawers, the floor of my closet, under my bed.  My stomach was getting worse and worse, then I stopped.

This is nuts.

I text Caren:

Sick to my stomach again.  I think it's stress.  I'm flipping out about a shirt!  I feel weak to ask it of you but if you can, would you help me today?

"Take a deep breath..." Caren says to me when we met up at the bus stop.  "What all do you have to get done?"

"I dont' know.  I mean, I know it's just...I have an appointment at 9 with the nutritionist, the house is pretty much done but I need to sweep, mop and vaccum, I have a picture at Michael's that I need to pick up....well, I guess I don't need to, but I want my house all ready for when my brother gets here!  There are a few more groceries to grab because the food for the party is going to be prepared ahead of time, I have some gag gifts for the party that I need to finish painting.  I have a stew in the crockpot for the family's dinner tonight but I need to make a salad...."

"Make a list.  Decide what really does need to be done and what I can help you with.  Text it to me, or at least what you want me to do.  It'll all get done!  Your problem is that you are trying to do it all at this Martha Stewart level.  It'll get done."

I headed to my appointment taking deep breaths and saying prayers of thanks for Caren and for Heaven's peace to be with me.

My appointment was stellar!  I lost 4 lbs!  That probably means I had really lost 2 lbs. the last week but the salty meals the day before weigh in effected the out come.  This was a short visit just to weigh in and see if that was indeed the case.  I left feeling light as a feather!

After buying groceries, I went home and began to make my list. 

Shoot!  I forgot to buy butane!

Caren was going to be watching the boys that evening while Aaron picked my family up from the airport and while I was at the theater.  She was going to help Drew make creme brule with his new kit he got from his Aunt for his birthday.  I text Caren about the butane.  As I looked at my list I realized that was really all the help I would need from her.  It felt great to go through and cross things off as I got it all done.

At 11 a.m. I ran Drew's birthday treats up to the school.  I had planned to just drop them off and then rush home to finish my list.  Drew's teacher does such a fun things on their birthday!  I got caught up in his special day and ended up staying about an hour.  It was so worth it and I still got everything on the list accomplished.

I got to the theater a little early Friday to hunt for a pair of missing flip flops.  One of the cast had lost her flips.  She had to leave the theater in her character shoes.  She loved them so, as they were perfectly broken in.  It was so wierd that they had seemingly vanished. 

After scouring the dressing room I found them stashed into a small opening that I could barely get my hand into!  I was so thrilled to have them!  I had been hoping to find them first and have a little fun with it.  I stashed the flip flops in my car.  They hardly struggled.

Friday night, when I got home from the show, the house was dark and quiet.  Everyone was already asleep.  Someone had done all of the dishes but the stew was still out.  I had a small helping and put the rest in tupperware.  When I put it away I found the salad I had made untouched.  Poop. 

I went to bed and laid awake, too wound up from the show and too excited to see everyone in the morning.  It was like Christmas Eve!  Early in the morning I awoke to the sweet sound of a little bird.  It was my niece who practically chirps when she talks!  Just a doll!  It's been over a year since I'd last seen her!  She is so big and smart and downright adorable.

That afternoon Gabriel had a soccer game.  Aaron went to pick my friend, Tiffany, up from the airport and then they met us at the soccer field.  Gabriel was great!  I had never seen him move so fast.  I think he really tried hard to impress his Uncle.  After the game I prepped some of the food for the party.  I made homemade cream cheese icing to go on a banana cake Caren had made for me to serve at the cast party.  I of course added too much powdered sugar and had to run to get more cream cheese to fix it.  (Why had I not just bought cream cheese frosting?  Ug.)  Then it was time to get ready for another show.  I made dinner reservations for my family and then headed off to the theater.

I was so excited because my family was finally going to get to see the show and because I had my friends flip flops!!!

As soon as I got there I wrote a note:

If you ever want to see your "precious" flippity floppity's again, await my instructions...

At various times during the show I would steal away to make another ransom note. We were all in stitches!  To add to the back stage antics this same gal missing her flops had brought a mustache that we were all posing in pictures with.  (See why I love this girl?)

Once home, after hearing my family's accolades, I continued to harass my friend.  Tiffany and I tied the flip flops together and put duct tape over where their mouth might be.  We took a picture and sent it from Tiff's phone to the owner of the footwear.

MICHAL, You gave yourself away with a Texas area code!  P.S. I hate you.

Doh!  I should've used my brother's phone...

Sunday we hit the ground running again.  I made a list of what needed to be done for my sister-in-law and Tiffany.  There is no way I would have pulled this off with out their help!  It worked our perfectly.  We reviewed the list and pulled out different pieces of serviceware and arranged tables with decorations and plates.  Everything was set!  All I needed to do was text them when the show was over and they would heat up the goodies and fire up the grill.  In between the party preparations we got a few more pics of the kidnapped shoes.  One had them hanging dangerously from the balcony and another showed them with a knife to their "necks."  I tried to get money or cookies out of this but this gal is tough.

After the show the cast headed to my house.  My home was teeming with nerds!  It was great!  We karaokied and I gave my friend her dang flip flops back.  Ha!

Monday I was exhausted!  I could barely stay awake.  While driving my brother to the airpost there was talk about whether or not my niece was going to be able to stay awake.  She got her pink blankey and took a little snooze.  I was so jealous...

Everyone is back at their homes.  After running errands I had a nice little nap today.  This is the last weekend of the show.  I have another friend coming in from MO to see me and I can't wait!  I can't wait for Friday when we all perform again.  Three more shows and then Evita will be over.  I'm looking forward to life going back to normal and I also dread it.

I'm signing off now.  Gotta go re-attach a chicken head.