Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Into 2009...

New Years Resolutions! Ugh! People become fanatical about making changes. Grandious plans emerge from formerly rational people. Suddenly you see yourself svelt, tone and tan in the summer bathing suit. Your routine will no longer be something just shy of chaos. Family schedules will be organized. No event will be forgotten or missed and no one will arrive late or pick up forgotten. Your children will be well schooled, well adjusted and well behaved simply because they have followed your example. And then you wake up from your dream...

I am no different. I continue my ongoing battle of the bulge (which I realistically know will not depart without effort on my part). I don't anticipate rapid weight loss - just slow and steady. It's been a slow process. I can no longer claim it as 'baby fat'. People caught on when they met my nearly 21 year old 'baby'. One day at a time... one pound at a time.

I will continue relationships with family who reach back. I know better than to say "I don't care". I do care, more then many understand. I care about having our extended family be close - but I do not have the control to change things. I have allowed it to bother me for too many years. Instead, I will return phone calls, answer emails and write a few extra letters to family and friends. It's only fair. It's the same courtesy I hope others will extend to us. It's now time to stop sending gifts that go unacknowledged. Time to save myself the time, expense, frustration and heartache. I cannot force others to desire what is in my heart.

I will dig deep to find an optimistic approach to life. I once read in "The Secret" how positive thinking can manifest itself into your life. I've seen how negativity escalates to the point where you feel like everything you touch is going to pieces - like you've let your family down. It's time to regain what I've lost - my positive outlook and my faith.

Here we go... baby steps into 2009! God bless everyone.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Winding down...

When the year comes to an end we automatically reflect back on days passed. For whatever reason, I am having moments when I struggle to put a positive spin to the events that are now memories. I easily slip into the 'glass is half empty'-woe is me sort of attitude. I'd much prefer to wrap myself up in a blanket, pull the shades and sulk. The fact that we've overcome a few minor obstacles in comparison to what others have had to cope with makes me leave the pity party behind, pull up my big girl pants and smile gratefully for where we are today.


1. I started a new job January 2nd, after several months of hunting for the perfect job - part-time WITH benefits! I found what I desired. I work 32 hours a week. While I miss having time to play, given the current state of events I remind myself regularly I am grateful to have a job! With the addition of the new job I officially resigned from my former job which I was having difficulty leaving behind. I do miss many of my former coworkers but definitely not the stress, the grumbling negative attitudes, the schedule nor the steady calls to cover shifts.

2. My stepson passed away suddenly (not a highlight). It was comforting to see the way our family has rallied around his wife and children. We will never lose our memories of Rex at Kalaloch, on his Harley, his desire to help as a fire fighter and EMT, playing Santa with the Post Office, his love for Christmas and his ever present enthusiasm for life. He is still such a good role model and deeply missed. Even with the winter storm conditions last January we were able to get to Washington and back safely... despite a shredded tire in blowing & drifting ice and snow,

3. Matthew got out of the military. He, Britnee and Taten moved back near us. We get to see our grandson on regularly now and be a part of his life - something we've dearly missed with our older grands. Despite the fact that a departure from the military is not ideal and conditions could be better, we are grateful to have them close to home, be able to pull together and help one another. We are also thankful that they have jobs to assist in supporting themselves and know they will soon be able to have their own place again. We are deeply grateful to have him with us... he had a serious accident at a construction site in October, falling 18' from a rooftop. While his legs were terribly bruised and swollen he suffered no broken bones, and never lost consciousness. He's back to work - this time more respectful of gravity!

4. Krieg struggled for summer employment, trying to work in Boise, returning to Moscow and getting an unexpected invitation to work on a commercial fishing boat out of Sitka, Alaska. We missed him at our gatherings but his hard work and long hours was rewarded with a large salary that helped to cover school expenses, car payments and rent for his school year. And he had the experience of a lifetime!

5. Despite her very trying year in classes, an abusive, stalker boyfriend and moving to a new apartment Erin is determined to finish her college degree with a double major. She's had some major trials to overcome but has found resources to help her get through it all. I'm grateful for her strength and willpower to endure. Whether it's her faith or stubbornness - I couldn't be prouder.

6. My family is in Wisconsin, Illinois and Virginia. I was once again blessed with the opportunity to take time off from work and afford airline tickets to spend a week visiting again this year. My parents have their health and are happy at this stage of their life. While I wish we saw more of one another (annual trips just aren't enough) I am so thankful they are still a big part of our life.

7. Our visits to medical professionals have become more frequent - and we have not always been happy with the results but we are in good health. With minor changes to our questionable vices we'll be around to torment our children for years to come!

8. Our relationship with some of our extended family has dwindled this year. We have extended our hands in an attempt to keep in touch. It saddens us to miss out on their lives but to dwell on that which is out of our control would be pointless. Instead we continue to grow the relationships with the family members that reach back. We are thankful to have them in our lives and pray the others know we are here if they need us.

9. Our travels over the past 26 plus years have brought many people into our lives. This year has reopened the door to many we have lost touch with - including a few long distance visitors who have come to share our home. These times passed too quickly - as if we've never been apart - a sign of good friends!

10. Once again we've been blessed with a wonderful holiday season. Ideally we would love to have our children around 24-7 but as they grow and develop their own lives our traditions alter to accomodate other families, travel and work schedules. While not everyone agrees, the white Christmas was beautiful (reminiscent of my midwest childhood) and cooperated to allow for safe travels to and from. I hope you too are healthy, happy and enjoying the love of your family and friends.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tree Decorating with Taten

As our children have grown and moved on (which was the goal in the first place) I've missed having them around as the house takes on it's Christmas aura. I remind myself, with every nativity and Old World Santa placement, of the memories of them with each decoration.

This year I had a new assistant - our 20 month old grandson Taten. During one of his visits, we carefully unwrapped a few ornaments for the tree. He was very deliberate with each placement to the tree. It was so much fun to watch him add my memories, one at a time, to our tree. Granted his placement to the lower third and front half of the tree may require some rearranging down the road but for now Gramma Deb is thrilled with a new tradition for future holidays and memories for years to come.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Motorcycle Gramma

Making it around the corner & staying upright!

My impression of a 'Shriner' in a parade!

I have to admit. Years ago as Matt & Krieg developed teenage-boy interest in motorcycle riding I had no desire to play. I have always been very content with riding on the back of Mike's motorcycle. I'm not sure how it started... maybe one of the boys thought it would be funny to dare Mom to ride a bike. We have several couple friends who ride together. Perhaps my curiosity got the best of me this year or at my age I caved to peer pressure. I finally decided to sign up for the STAR motorcycle course. There is a waiting list so I signed up in August for a course this weekend. I didn't think too much of it until this week when suddenly my weekend was booked solid with a 3 day course. I was very nervous.

Friday night was simply class room. I walked in with absolutely no idea how to drive a motorcycle. NONE. A blank canvas. I knew there was a lot of multi tasking and hand and feet moving... The boys all told me we would start to go over the book and than 'ride the desk'. Step by step, engaging our desk clutch, gears, brakes, etc. We started through the chapters covering what to wear (it's important to be fashionably safe), rules of the road, where things are on the bike and a vague diagram. I kept waiting for the desk riding. I knew this was going to be my salvation. I would at the very least have an idea how my hands and feet were going to work together to make this vehicle move forward AND remain upright. The instructor dismissed us and I panicked. He said we would meet outside on the range at 7:45 in the morning next to the bikes. What?! I didn't get to drive my desk and in the morning I was going to have to actually drive the bike. I called Matthew on the way home to point out he led me astray. He talked me down off the ledge and suggested I go to the garage and have Mike help me identify everything. Sound advice from the kid who recently learned about gravity!

Saturday morning bright and early I was standing on the range. The weather was cold but dry. We lucked out. Rain was threatening for later in the day. We were assigned a motorcycle. I didn't get a 'big girl model', there were no automatics AND someone removed all the training wheels. They were all small Suzuki or Kawasaki 125 or 250's. We learned to straddle walk the bikes, letting the clutch out and walking our way back and forth across the range. Feel the burn... Finally we lifted our feet and used the hand and foot brakes while letting the clutch out and applying the throttle. I couldn’t believe I was doing it. I proudly 'press down all four' - squeeze in the clutch, apply the hand brake, use the foot brake and down shift... and remembered to set a foot on terra firma! We worked our way through so many different skills. Swerving around cones, turning sharp corners, turning wide corners, abrupt stops... and shifting! We even got up to 3rd gear a couple of times! We actually put 10 miles on the bikes - making circles and figure 8's. whoo hooo.

The afternoon we had more classroom review. When we were done I was physically and mentally exhausted and slightly high from inhaling exhaust fumes. Four hours in the cold outdoors and than a nice, warm classroom. A hot shower was in my near future.

The bikes were just the right size - if you were 5' or under or have a 30" inseam. I struggled to keep my foot from stepping on the brake when I didn't want it to step and get my boot back out from under the gear lever after shifting. They told us it was mental muscles... but I had some aches and pains in other areas.

Sunday morning I was back on the range by 7:35 in multiple layers to be warmer and my rain gear. It was misting. More skills to learn. My brake foot was cramping because of the angle I had to hold my foot to keep it off the brake. My shoulders were screaming from tension. Myhips wanted a reprieve. tried to slide back on the seat readjusting the 'muscle memory' I learned yesterday. By noon when we got to the skill test it was raining. I'm actually grateful to have had the experience of riding in the rain. I survived my first and second skid and slide and never dropped the bike.

After lunch we went back to the classroom for more book-learning and our written test. I am proud to say I passed both - first with an 85% on the road test and a 90% on the written test. Now I review the motorcycle handbook for DMV, wait to get my certificate in the mail and go take the written test at DMV. It will apply a motorcycle endorsement to my drivers license to make it legal to ride in Idaho. Of course it's November so practice time is limited. The 'boys' think we should have his and her HOGS. Ha. I know that's code for 'if Mom buys a bike we can ride it'. I mostly wanted to take this course so I would be prepared if something ever happened when we were on the road and I had to help out. Who knows? Maybe someday I'll feel way confident and decide to be a motorcycle gramma. For now I'm content on the back seat... where I can sleep when I get tired. Meanwhile my husband hasn't stopped grinning at me. I think he's proud!

I feel good. Out of 12 students 6 were women. 2 rode automatic scooters (excuse me?), 2 had previous experience when they were younger driving motorcycles, 2 of us had no experience other than riding. I know one woman didn't pass. I felt SO intimidated by the entire course. I'd probably jump up and down to celebrate if I didn't hurt so much!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

November 5, 2008

It's the day after our Presidential Election. I state for the record I did not vote for our president elect.Our family had differing opinions over who should carry our nation forward. I voted by absentee ballot several weeks ago. I was certain of my decision. I too want change. I am not pleased with our present national crisis. I wanted to have a leader with experience, foresight and pride in our country. I did not need additional time to ponder who would receive my vote.

The reasons for my choice seemed rational, as I know my family members believed in their selection. I'm proud my children all participated. I'm proud everyone has the ability to make their own choice. I'm proud we have the freedom to be a democracy.

I'll be honest. I'm concerned. I love my country. I love telling folks I was born on the 4th of July. I tear up when I hear the National Anthem. I proudly hold my hand to my chest in salute of our American flag. At the age of 17, I chose to serve my country and when my service was complete I followed my best friend in life across the United States, to South American and the Caribbean, in support of his service to our country. We made sacrifices. We spent a lot of birthdays, anniversaries and holidays apart while he defended our rights. My heart swells when I think of our young children holding their chubby, little hands to their heart when the flag would pass in front of them.

I wanted to elect a president who shared my pride. I wanted a president who's family was proud to be American and proud of what our flag stands for. There is so much animosity among our younger generations. They are being raised during a time of war. They are being called upon to fight for our country. They are scared. I wanted a president who is someone our younger generations will look up to for leadership, guidance, and example.

I know God will guide us through the difficult transition period. I have faith that God has brought us to this point for a purpose. Everything happens for a reason. This has been my personal mantra for years. I believe God must have a reason. Perhaps as a society we've become too obsessed with material matters and we need to rethink our priorities. Perhaps God is asking us to look deep into our hearts to what is important.

Our own family was faced with reprioritizing several years ago when we moved and lost the job that brought us to our new state. As a family we chose to dig deep, cut back and remain where we were. We downsized our home, drove less expensive vehicles and worked jobs which may not have been the most desirable, until we were able to get our feet back on the ground. We learned the difference between wants vs needs. There have been no cruises, no long vacations. When we are able, we gather together at our favorite ocean site, we split expenses with the larger family group combining valuable time together with relaxation. We saved to ensure annual visits to see my parents as I know they will not be around forever. We are closer as a result.

My fear of all things Muslim influenced my choice of presidential candidates. I do realize that not all Muslims are radical fanatics. I pray to God our president elect will open my mind to understand that which I do not know.

Declining investments, decreased housing values and lack of jobs are concerns for everyone right now. I pray we will continue to find a means to assist our college bound children while they attend public state schools. If it weren't for financial aid and student loans this would not be possible. Our hard saved investments for this purpose disappeared after 9-11. I pray the economy improves enough when our children graduate they'll be able to pay back those loans and still get by. I pray our son and his wife are able to support their family and have housing of their own soon.

Change is inevitable - and necessary. I pray our Nation's choice for change proves my fears to be invalid and I can say "I was wrong". I pray our future president has the forethought to accept the guidance of those with more experience around him, to assist in making the right decisions to lead our Nation.

God bless America.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Empty Nesting

Dear Kids,

You've left home. Your parents are without adult supervision. Have you ever wondered what your parents are doing at home, all alone, when you move out?

Despite the long, empty hours wandering aimlessly through the rooms of our home, pining away for the gentle, calming of our children's voices, we are managing!

Mom & Dad

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My Life is a List!

Put gas in car. Finish book. Make grocery list. Wrap gifts. Laundry. Take donations to Youth Ranch. Call Linda. Motorcycle class. Answer emails. Oil changed in car. New garage door opener. Take a nap if it feels right. Finish magazine article. Iron slacks. Buy airline tickets. Sort pictures. Rake leaves. Take seams in on pants. Cats need shots updated. Dig out edging around trees in back yard. Pick up prescriptions for Mike. Clean kitchen cupboards. Mending. Paint laundry room. Clean out pantry. Invitation list. Flooring in bedrooms. Sing along with the radio. Finish new 'noodle warmer' for Krieg. Take Riley to groomer. Diana's b'day gift. CPR renewal class. Write in blog. Vacuum & dust. Vet appointment for cats. Be sensible but not too serious. Call for referral appointment. Order blinds for living room. Pick up material for drapes. Check prices for rental car. Remember to laugh. Water plants.

It seems my life is defined by my 'to do' lists. Is it a list of what needs to be done or a list of things that really do not matter - that's for me to figure out. Sad but true.

My family tells me I'm the organizer. I think at times I enable their disorganization because they know I'll figure it out. When there is an extended family gathering I wait to see who will start the ball rolling. It doesn't matter. Advanced planning isn't for everyone.

Life is a list. You make the choices to do what is most important from your list.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Free Falling

We have 3 grown children. The oldest and youngest are following their dreams with scholastic endeavors at the University of Idaho. Our middle child (and oldest son) lives near us with his wife and 18 month old son. He got out of the Navy this summer and started working in construction, roofing to be exact, the Monday after he was discharged.

While I grew up my dad was self employed as a carpenter. It's hard work. I know there is satisfaction from doing a hard day of labor and do not begrudge Matt's employment. As a parent you always hope your children will be successful AND enjoy their work. However, the combination of Matthew and this particular job caused me inner panic at times.

As a little boy, Matt was always the one to fall of his bike, the day before pictures, and have a huge road rash on his cheek or the goose egg on his forehead. There was the 'turtle lip' and chipped teeth, from a header over the bike handle bars (but it was near Halloween and he was going to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle so it added to his costume). Yet for all the blood shed, he never had stitches.

Matt is a creative soul. Right brained. Whether he's drawing up pictures of wildlife, designs for new tattoos or cars, he's got a plan. Well, what he needed last week was a parachute!

Matt was working on a rooftop which had two levels. He was climbing from the lower roof to the upper roof and instead of securing a foot on top of a solid surface he hit air and dropped 18' to the lower roof. One foot landed hard into a nearby wheelbarrow and the other hit the ground. His head met with an edge sharp enough to give him a gash and his hand, still in the glove, was cut on a piece of sheet metal.

Matt is 6'4 and just under 200 lbs. Not someone who can be easily 'fireman carried' down a ladder. Actually I'd pay to see that... but I digress. Three fire engines arrived with the paramedics. They ended up repelling Matt down off the rooftop with their basket and ropes.

Once again our family needs to drop to our knees and thank the Lord for looking out for one of us. Matt never lost consciousness. No bones were broken. The doctor referred to his finger as partially amputated though he didn't lose it. The muscle and tissue is twisted and mangled. Matt has 3 stitches in the end of the finger where it was actually cut. The finger was eased back together and wrapped for healing. Both legs were black and blue and badly swollen. The left foot is in an air brace and wrapped. The right foot wrapped and in a boot. He is unable to put any pressure on the legs so is confined to scooting around in a wheelchair.

He went to the Orthopedic surgeon this week for second x-rays. They confirmed no broken bones. He will have an MRI later this week to determine if there is any ligament or muscle damage and to what extend.

While housebound we will be teaching Matthew the lessons of Sir Isaac Newton and the not so recent discovery of gravity!

Seriously, we realize how very blessed we are the damage wasn't more serious or permanent. My prayers of thanks are becoming repetitive. We know that he will heal and be back up to his full frame in a few weeks.

In all this there had to be a lesson learned... Matthew - you'll have to stick the dismount if you strive for the gold medal! Love you Papi!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Rhetorical ?'s - No Answers

What is the value of ignoring someone when you are upset. In reality no one wants to be confronted but you certainly don't want to go on making matters worse either. Sometimes it takes time to sort out what was said or done or to understand why it stung. How does the offender apologize or change their ways if they go on unaware something upset you. Maybe it was misinterpreted and not meant in the way it was received. We don't always know what is happening. Of course we aren't mind readers either. Is your burden truly something worth confining into the crevices of your heart or would someone be able to help you carry the load if you shared? It's a grown up thing... sit down and talk one on one. Talk about what matters. Listen to what is said.

Where do we stand in the big scheme of things? Are we really a united family-type group or is it just what we say to onlookers when it's convenient? Do we make ourselves available to others if they choose to reach out? Shouldn't we be able to seek comfort when we are down or need a shoulder? Is the tie that binds you together just those you were raised with? Do you have to share parents? What if you have shared losses? Is it about control or who's in charge? What about time together? During the holidays are you inviting others to share your time?

When do you finally say enough is enough? At what point do you decide if someone wants to be a part of your life they can make the effort - or at least meet you halfway. This is not an easy decision and in time you want to throw your hands in the air and shout 'uncle'. You hope traditions will continue but you see things slipping away. Sometimes you try to rekindle tradition or create new and you hit a wall. You ask yourself what has changed but uncertainty is the only answer. How many invitations go unaccepted before you no longer extend them? How many times do you come up with the plan so everyone can spend time together? OR When do you stop and inventory what has gone wrong and try to mend fences? Perhaps what you thought was a big deal at the time really isn't as important now. Is it time to reevaluate and call someone you haven't shared with in a while? Is it time for them to answer? Time to move forward?

Why do phone calls or messages go unanswered? It seems a common courtesy you would extend to a family or friend. It's the age of texting, emails and cell phones. Snail mail long forgotten. Just a quick note or returned call just to acknowledge 'hey it's crazy here but I got your message'. It's understandable there are times you don't feel like talking. Does the continued seclusion make matters any better or is it self-pity festering the problem?

Who doesn't enjoy receiving gifts in the mail or an unexpected package? It's nice for the sender to know the package arrived. Everyone is busy. How much time would it take to send a quick email acknowledging you got the package or a thank you for the gift after the sender thought to send it.

Yes... lots of questions. No Answers. Maybe it's the time of year. Holidays approaching. Money disappearing. Election impending. Nerves on edge. Tempers flaring. Name calling. Finger pointing. Everyone is tired. Worried.

Call me old fashion. I just want the creature comforts. My family. My good friends. Less anxiety and more pleasantries. A simple returned phone call. An answered email. Even a thank you.

And in case I haven't said it often enough 'thank YOU'!.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Front End Work

I'm at work and making reminder calls for the next day when the phone rings. I answer with "office voice" and have a gentleman on the phone. Right off the bat I am thinking he has a wrong number - we don't get a lot of calls from men. I can also tell he's not paying attention because he jumps into a story about how he has a Jeep Liberty, had it in for warranty work and there is still a problem. He's on the verge of going off the deep end... you can just tell.

I gently interrupt him, "excuse me sir, if I may...". I go on to tell him which hospital clinic he as contacted. There is a long pause (you could feel the heat rising to his face). He tells me he was certain he called the number they gave him. I explained that unless he wanted a mammogram for the Liberty we weren't going to be able to help him with his vehicle. Again, silence. He stutters a minute. I get out the phone book and look for the phone number of the company he meant to call. I tell him - we do front end work here but not the sort he was seeking. He chuckles.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Not relaxing just yet!

You would think I've learned by now not to completely relax and believe everything is finally going as planned. Thus my blog's name choice...

Our youngest son, fishing for salmon and school tuition in Alaska, sent a text this weekend. "We (like that pronoun... we?) may have a problem. My wallet went overboard."

I know I didn't have a problem. I was camping at a site next to a peaceful lake, surrounded by mountains and enjoying a campfire with my husband and oldest two children and families.

I stop and ponder for a brief second - was his wallet inside a pocket worn by our son? I wouldn't put it past him to avoid the part of the story where he went the ocean, to keep me from fretting. That wasn't the case. He used his wallet to store a needle necessary to repair fishing nets. The needle came out of the wallet and the wallet didn't get back into the pocket. The net went overboard and the wallet is now property of Davy Jones' locker. Oh goodie.

We will keep an eye on bank accounts since he had a couple of cards inside the wallet, though for now I'm not concerned about that issue. We'll get them cancelled and replaced. We did discuss how he would get on his homeward bound flight and return to school, without proper photo ID.

Easy enough - we should be able to go down to the DMV and get a replacement card sent up to him... (SCREEEEEEEEECH................. the sound of brakes putting a quick halt to that plan.)

We headed to DMV, pulled our number and settled in. 75 minutes later I heard our number called and we carefully rousted our numb backsides from the wooden platform we were using. Armed with his birth certificate and passport we headed to the clerk. As we are explaining she reaches for her phone and calls "downtown". Lots of nodding, 'yes', some eye contact - but no help. We retrieved our documents and were sent "downtown" to the State DMV to speak with Mrs. Boss Lady.

Once again we share our dilemna with the clerk, who apparently is assigned to keep uninformed folks like us from reaching Mrs. Boss Lady. The clerk heads into the back bowels of the DMV to speak with Mrs. Boss Lady in person. I'm sure they were discussing their weekend's events and shared a cup of coffee before returning to tell us - again - no dice.

At this point my husband asks to speak with Mrs. Boss Lady - the waiting game continues. Eventually we are granted a moment of her time. My husband, being the trainer, discusses nonstandard deviation from processes, customer satisfaction (clearly a new concept to DMV), responsibility and leadership. We had documentation but no power of attorney. Our son didn't have access to internet to print their form or a fax machine to send it back to them.

Eventually we received some positive feedback. If we can get our son to call her before 5 pm in the evening last night or by noon today, to verify some information about himself, she will mail him out a new driver's license. We paid the fee and try to be optimistic.

Our next hurdle - Fed Ex vs USPS- the service they wanted to use to send out the driver's license. Our son doesn't have a physical address - unless Fed Ex now uses GPS coordinates. It's a small fishing town. If we want to mail him something it goes to General Delivery. When he is back in port, he walks over to the Post Office and checks for mail. Very small town Mayberry.

Our son got the text we sent with instructions. They are in the middle of a 48 hour run at sea and hopefully he'll get a chance to make the call before noon our time today.

Meanwhile, I have contacted the airlines. I again explained the situation. Wallet in the ocean. No photo ID. It took the agent a couple of times through the story to convince her that yes, that included school ID, military dependent ID and his credit cards but she didn't seemed too concerned about the photo of his mom!

I was assured that if he presented his birth certificate and a truthful statement as to what happened he MIGHT be able to get on the plane if the counter agent and TSA felt it was reasonable. I inquired as to what we might be able to do to guarantee the results. Leaving it up to a TSA agent doesn't give me a warm, fuzzy feeling.

The agent goes on to tell me in addition to his birth certificate, if he had some identification from his employer... not likely as he's on a privately owned fishing boat with a crew of five... or have a coworker with him when he checks in for his flight, it may be beneficial.

Finally - my ah-ha moment. I get it! His mom and dad, with original birth certificate and passport, cannot make arrangements with a local State agency for a replacement driver's license to be sent directly to our son so he can board his flight back to school but a Federal agency will permit our 25 year old nephew (and coworker) to vouch for him! Sheez! Gotta love it!

Another Olympic Event

(I actually wrote this and was published in the local newspaper August 1996. I recently came across it again and thought - given the current summer Olympics in progress - it would be fun to share.)

The Olympics. Two words which render complete strangers into lengthy, arm-waving conversations. Everyone has heard of or spent some time watching at least one Olympic event. We've sat breathlessly awaiting the results of the last competitor. We've, no doubt, wiped a tear away, or swallowed hard.

If the viewer is particularly sensitive or patriotic he or she may be nearing dehydration by now. The Olympic games draw athletes and viewers from countries far and wide. All of the Olympic athletes are thoroughly trained for their events. Today's Olympic frenzy is at an all time high. However, there has been little said of one of the most participated-in events. There is one group of athletes who continue to maintain a rigorous work out schedule. These athletes know not what a day off means.

In previous Olympics we have followed male athletes such as Bruce Jenner, Mark Spitz, Dan Janssen and Dan O'Brien through their quest for the gold medal. We've been wowed with the strengths shown by returning female athletes like Jackie Joyner-Kersey, Gail Deyer and Janet Evans.

In 1996, spectators will be awed by the participants in the newest Olympic event - the Momathon.

Many athletic events date back to the original Olympics, held in Greece. The Momathon was created, in recent years, out of necessity. Participants must last longer and go farther than any marathon runner. This event is not limited to a mere ten events as in the decathlon. It exceeds the skills required too compete in the heptathalon. In this new event, the athlete must see how many tasks can be completed successfully in a twenty-four hour period.

The American female team is made up of moms from all over the United States. These women fear not what the dawn brings. They have trained to perfection and are ready for the challenges set before them. It's not as easy as it sounds.

Spectators may be unfamiliar with the individual rounds that must be completed before determining the champion. The following is a quick rundown of just a few of the obstacles the competitors will face.

The Morning Drill. Athletes are up at sunrise, preparing breakfast for five (nutritional value is extra), bag lunches for four, organizing school backpacks with the appropriate homework assignment, while settling the reoccuring argument over who should be in the bathroom first.

Athletes will continue with arranging the departure of three children on two different buses and one to day care. All of this is accomplished while the athlete maintains some sense of sanity, gets herself dressed for the day (including make up) and arrives to her own appointment on time.

The Laundry Sharpshooter. To win this event, athletes must maintain a keen awareness for the obvious. An Olympic stadium's worth of revolving laundry will be inside-out and armed. Participants must be able to empty a loaded pocket, previously worn by a small boy. One never knows what dangers lurk inside. The next step requires the athlete to have precision aim and a steady trigger finger, while squirting stain remover at even the smallest of targets.

The Phone Conversation. This event can be tricky. The athlete may find herself speaking with a salesperson, whose task is to convince her to change long-distance services. Other possibilities include a mother-in-law, an overseas inquiry, the doctor's office appointment confirmation or the random surveyor. Athletes must be careful not to be caught off guard and sucked into the question forum. Distractions will include the doorbell, an unbalanced washing machine, questions and answers from a teenager (usually one of their own) and the famous tears and blood combination from a young child.

The High Hurdles. Athletes will make a short dash across a toy-strewn room to prevent a pot from boiling over on the stove, thus saving the family meal of macaroni and cheese. Obstacles include the ottoman, stacks of folded laundry, building blocks, the rocking horse, two Tonka trucks and a sleeping dog.

The Five-Mile Shuffle. This event involves children and the family vehicle. Athletes must deliver no fewer than three children to three different locations, with two being required to arrive at the same time. An additional distraction, because these are the summer games, would be a detour from the closest, most obvious route, due to road construction.

The Grocery Store 100-meter Sprint. Late afternoon and the athlete must enter the local food chain store and purchase sufficient quantities of juice and treats for a child's soccer team, and dinner for the visiting office VIP, while still being able to check out through the limited number express aisle.

The Bake-Off. This feat is a common event. The athlete is told by a pajama-clad child at 9 pm that she has been volunteered to bake two dozen cupcakes for tomorrow's class party.

The 800-meter Airport Run. This event is not part of the daily routine, but nonetheless equally important. It consits of a race through any airport terminal, under construction, with a dawdling 5-year old, a crying 3-year old and a year-old sleeping child. Additional equipment necessary to qualify include an overpacked diaper bag, a bag of books and small toys, a stroller and an adult carry-on. The athlete will be arriving at Gate 33 and departing in six minutes from Gate 211 AND the plane is already loading passengers. There will be no outside assistance from skycaps.

As with any Olympic game, athletes may encounter deductions from the final score. Athletes must avoid using familiar threats such as "Wait until your father gets home," "If I catch you doing that again...," "Do you see Golden Arches in front of our house?" "If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times...". These can be costly mistakes for the medal-seeking competitor.

When all the events are completed and the scores are taillied, the winners are not looking for a gold medal placed around her neck. These winners are the ones who sigh at the end of the day when they check one last time on those angels that lie peacefully sleeping. These winners are the ones who overlook the sticky, jelly fingerprints on the stair rail or the muddy footprints across the carpet.

Today's momathon winners are the ones that receive the bear hugs and the cookie-crumb kisses at the finish line. When all is said and done, today's mom's are all winners!

Monday, August 4, 2008

I am me!

Who am I? If you checked the Dictionary to look for a definition of 'Deb', I am certain there would not be a picture of my face... I don't know Webster.

I was born a Cheesehead, joined the Navy, was both an active duty member and a Navy wife - in CA, VA, Venezuela & Puerto Rico - only to return to WI and finally land in Idaho!

While in the Navy it seemed whatever happened would happen - just like Murphy's Law. But all these events helped to define the person I am today.

My husband and I have 3 children - and a daughter-in-law we love as one of our own. Together we share our first grandson.

It has always been important to include all of our extended family. Perhaps this goes back to my childhood-surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles & cousins.

I can say what I want about my family and friends but it is better if you hold your tongue. I am protective of those I love.

I am loud and shy. I am giving and selfish. I am caring and a B!+ch. I am both teacher and student in the lessons of life. It isn't as easy as it looks.

I do not need approval to be who I am - I am me!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Family Time

Gas for the weekend trip to Olympia to attend our grandson's wedding - $230

Mexican lunch, Chinese dinner and picnic on the beach - for 12 - $300

Three connecting rooms in the hotel for 3 nights and enough space for everyone to be together - $700

One afternoon on the beach at Kalaloch with most of our family - PRICELESS!

Sunday, June 22, 2008


One thing holds true in our family - change - and our steadfast strength and ability to adapt to said change is what enables our family to be who we are. This week was no different.

Tuesday afternoon Krieg is working at his job packing and moving folks. He gets a call from his cousin Ric. "Hey one of our crew isn't coming to work - want to come to Alaska for a couple of months?". Yeah right...

Ric is five years older than Krieg and they grew up in Oregon and Wisconsin respectively . Two different ways of life - with only one real visit and yet when they met last summer for a week at the ocean, my theory on nature vs nurture held true.

Krieg isn't one to make sudden, rash decisions. He has to ponder and deliberate. Calls were exchanged between his family and Alaska in addition to his former lacrosse coach and mentor, as well as the anticipated grueling run to clear the mind but by 10pm  Krieg made the choice to go to Alaska to work on a fishing boat AND the boat Captain had purchased an airline ticket to leave Friday morning.

Wednesday was a long, last day for Krieg packing and moving up a large household. His boss was very understanding about the reasons for Krieg leaving without proper notice and even offered him work if Krieg came back to Moscow before school started.

Dad and Mom headed out armed with a packing list Wednesday afternoon. We managed to find out-of-season rain gear, boots and thermals for a giant. What luck! All with a minimal amount of driving around thanks to our advance recon! Time was of the essence.

Thursday Krieg drove the six hours south to Boise (after an evening of Apples to Apples with sister and friends) arriving late afternoon. I got off work and dashed to the store for dinner supplies and a digital camera (no family member of mine is going to miss a photo op!). We were able to get a dinner together sharing with Matt, Brit, Taten and friends.

Later Krieg decided to check out the camera only to discover the box was EMPTY! I won't go into detail of the expressive discussion I had regarding what I wanted to do to certain store personnel. My 'guys' assured me it would be resolved in the morning and Krieg proceeded to pack two months of gear into his duffle and backpack.

While choosing some of his gear he picked a red & white stocking cap from our winter storage - one knit by Denie years ago. He was happy it would cover his 'noodle'. I voiced my concern about wearing something that would make him stand out and he said since he was the 'Greenhorn' he'd just give them something to work with. Matt and his Dad went on about how it would show up great on the top of the ocean if Krieg fell in - he'd look like a fish bobber popping up and down - and if the red cap went under they'd think he had a nibble... and THEN they wanted to watch a few episodes of Deadliest Catch. Give me a break!

Friday morning Matt was off and made it here for breakfast before he, Krieg and I took off for the airport. Mike headed to meet the opening store staff for the camera exchange. We got Krieg checked in for his flight and Mike met us outside of Security before Krieg passed thru.

Krieg's first impression of Sitka, Alaska included a bald eagle flying overhead. He shared a beautiful view of the harbor.

The Captain and crew of 4 will head out in the morning on their first fishing expedition. Mike and Matt are envious. I am handling the fretting and worry. This is an incredible opportunity for a young, single man to work hard, earn great money for college, experience a new life style and see a part of the world he may otherwise have only visited if he were lucky. I am dreaming about being lost at sea, ship wrecks and George Clooney (ok so it's not all bad!)

It's been a whirlwind week. From moving boxes on Tuesday to fishing nets on Friday! Krieg has great cell service so we'll be able to keep in touch when they are in port. Erin is not out of range and Matt, Brit and Taten are close by.

Life goes on... and I sit here and wait for the next change in plans

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Women's Healthcare

I recently participated in an annual health care event. Upon my arrival I looked to the registrar for reassurance. I nervously laugh when the elderly woman near by informs us 'the girls are ready for their close up'.

I shared my personal information while she used her best soothing voice and flashed a comforting smile to calm my queasy nerves - before shuffling this unsuspecting female off to a maze of hallways and endless rooms - to be groped and compressed... the dreaded mammogram. A necessary evil part of women's health care.

Mid-30 year old women swing their tiny hips into the office for their 'base line' as directed by their trusted physician. The appointment is squeezed between their massage and tennis lessons. Easy enough - they won't be back for another five or six years... after there is a small bon fire on their birthday pastry. They flash a whitened smile, flip their perfectly coiffed hair and move on to their next mani-pedi appointment.

The annual visit begins after 40 years. These women are older, jaded and could care less about traipsing around in a less-than-adequate pink gown. No padding, support or underwire is available to assist vanity at this point. You can no longer tuck the excess mammary glands into your waistband to cover up the sag. No more pretending.

First there is the physical exam. Sitting with your arms up over your head while a nurse seeks out visual imperfections. Any unoccupied staff is called in for a consultation and - excuse me - but are the muffled giggles really necessary. Point and laugh out loud and get it over with! Your arms are quaking and all of the blood has dropped from your hands which now feel like they are being stuck be needles. Feel the burn...

At last - a chance to lay down - shake the feeling back into your arms. You can exhale the breath you've been holding to make your weakened stomach look somewhat normal. This same nurse has successfully managed to substitute the fluid in her hands for ice water and commences 'feeling' for trouble spots. Across, over, up, down, circles, lines, in, out - repeat. You have a bad flashback to that awkward date a bizillion years ago!

You convince the nurse you are diligently doing the same procedure on yourself every month while showering just like the guide recommends. Some are even able to say it with a straight face. If there is a fibroid or cyst the session will start over while the left and right sides are compared - they should be mirrored.

Finally a chance to sit by yourself and contemplate, usually in a highly air conditioned room on a cold vinyl seat. Suddenly a young 20-something mammography tech bounces into the room, pony tail flipping behind her, to tell you 'come on down' in her favorite game show host impression.

Now the fun begins. You are situated to stand in front of a streamline pole with paddles set at multiple angles. You are required to stretch on the tips of your toes because the tech hasn't noticed you aren't quite as tall as the person who was just before you. You reach your arm across the paddle, grasp hold of a handle - but don't clench - and lay your sensitive tissue on the cold plastic surface. The tech reaches with her gloved hand and grabs more tissue from your chest and brings down the top 'shelf' to form a vise like grip over your boob - says 'hold still but let me know when it gets painful' - which occurred about a minute ago. The upper paddle is cranked down the top another 3 inches. Stunned, you look down at the pancake of breast between the clear plastic paddles and find it hard to believe you are attached. However you can feel the metal of the machine digging into your rib cage and underarm. The tech says 'take a deep breath and hold' - disappears behind her radiation-free protective screen and takes the image. Thankfully the pressure of the paddles automatically releases. Free at last! You take a deep breath and sigh in relief. You are a survivor! Not so fast...

You still have to endure a 2nd matching image and another pair of compressions coming at you from the side (rumor has it these second compressions are only necessary to restore the breast to it's original shape).

Yes, it's a necessary part of health care. Ranks right up there with pap smears and blood draws in popularity. I'm sure men have their own horror stories about prostate exams. Hey guys - if you are looking for sympathy it's in the dictionary between...

In all seriousness - we joke about mammograms. I saw something that might have been prevented if treated in a timely fashion. A patient hadn't had any health exams in 14 years. She only came in because her husband was being laid off and they are losing their health insurance. A sure sign of the times but I digress. The RN discovered a lump. Examining the images it was certain to be cancerous. Even the lymphnodes under her arm are in question. The patient will no doubt lose her breast and endure months of chemo and radiation treatments. This very well could have been prevented with an annual mammogram and knowledge of the grants and financial assistance programs available to help with healthcare.

Please know I have great respect for victims of cancer and their families. I wonder if I would be able to find their strength. May God be with every one.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

In Memory...

On Saturday, January 26, 2008 my stepson Michael Rex (Shaw) Slemp passed away suddenly in his home with his wife Debbie and daughter Andi at his side. He was 46 years old. Words cannot describe the void felt in our family with his death.

Rex was the oldest of 10 children - and an only child. His mother and father both remarried and had children with other spouses. Rex was adopted by his 3rd stepfather and raised with three other siblings. His dad remarried two more times and had six more children.

As the days passed after his death, his family and friends gathered at his home. Sisters and brothers from one family were introduced to sisters and brothers from another - bringing everyone together for a common loss. It was an incredible example of the sort of life Rex experienced. He watched out for everyone. He respected everyone. It sounds cliche, but Rex was an incredible human being.

I was blessed to be a part of Rex's life. I hope the legacy he has left behind will always be remembered.

Thank you Rex for setting the example in our family. You set the bar high. You have been loved by many and have loved all in return. You have lived by the example you created. You have set no boundaries and treated everyone with equal love and devotion.

Thank you for loving your three youngest siblings as much as everyone born before them--despite the fact they are the same age as your own children. Your constant strength and presence in their lives taught them respect and responsibility as well as love and devotion. You reminded them family is always number one.

Thank you Rex for always being accepting of me in your heart. We certainly are not a "Norman Rockwell Family" though I cannot imagine any other way and wouldn't change a thing. Thank you for being in my heart this week--to help remind me what family is all about. I am still waiting for you to come through the door and put your arms out for that always available bear hug.

Thank you for your support. I only hope I can provide some of the same comfort to Debbie, Adam and Andi. Thank you for always being you. I am so blessed to have not one but three roles in your life--wicked step mom, sister and friend.

We'll see you at the ocean Rex. I know you will be close! I love you. God bless you.