Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Shifts and Changes

Originally published in the Miami News-Record on August 23, 2015

 Paul quit his job a few weeks ago. It was a scary life event, I have to admit. In the nearly 23 years we’ve been together, he’s had nary a day of unemployment. He committed to being our breadwinner all those years ago and has worked very hard for us over the years. He’s worked in a factory where he was exposed to lead on a daily basis and got a monetary bonus if his blood tested in the “safe” level. (“Here you go sir. You get a bonus for not poisoning yourself stupid this week. Have a nice day.”) He’s worked in an auto garage where temps would hit upwards of 115° in the summer and well below freezing in the winter. He’s mowed many a lawn. And he’s most recently been in a casino where he was miserable. He’s always worked hard for us, even when it wasn’t fun or remotely enjoyable.

So when he called me one day on his lunch break and said, “I think I’m going to quit my job,” I know it took a few minutes for my brain to register what he had said. I said, “Oooooookay….” and even though I was doing a mental freakout like one of those cartoons from that new Disney movie, I added, “I support you.” He didn’t quit that day and I was secretly thankful. And he didn’t quit the next day or even the next week. And I continued being thankful all while I stockpiled groceries and laundry detergent – just in case.

Then the day came when he called me once again on his lunch hour and said, “When I leave today, I’m not coming back,” and I found myself once again saying, “Okay, “ and I took a deep breath and added “and ….. I support you,” all while my little cartoon Panic guy was doing this crazy parcour ninja routine all over my brain in full-on meltdown mode.

I want to be a good wife and a good mom and I would do anything in the world for this crazy clan I call my own. And sometimes being the good wife or mom means just saying, “I love you. I support you. I don’t necessarily understand you, and I’m more than a little freaked out, but I support you.” And then you pray. A lot. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16 KJV). I’m not saying I’m overly righteous, but lately my prayers have been pretty fervent in hopes of availing.

He was only unemployed two weeks before he found a new job that so far he really likes. It’s not day shift, but that’s okay. It’s hard work, but he’s no stranger to it and he’s willing to do it. His first night, he called me on his dinner break to tell me “They’re doing everything they can to make this old fat man sweat!” but he said it feels good to DO something, not sit behind a desk. It was a significant pay cut to start and we have some budget adjusting to do for the next few months, but we can do it. I am a coupon clippin’ fool and my sister guides me in the ancient Way of the Ad-Matches. My mother has sworn that we will not starve and asks me about every other day if I need butter or coffee. (The woman knows what is really important.) My mother-in –law has said she’ll help with bills if we need it. We have a great support system and pretty amazing kids who know that while things might be tight around here for awhile, we’ll be taken care of and that their daddy is a diligent provider for us. Plus, right now they’re digging the fact that we eat cereal or popcorn for dinner several nights a week and we can watch “Doctor Who” and “Downton Abbey” rather than “Cops” until bedtime.


Sometimes change is scary, but I do love a good adventure sometimes. Not too often, but sometimes.     

The Manager

Originally published in the Miami News-Record on August 16, 2015

While I was given supernatural mom-munity a few weeks ago when my entire family got the vile stomach bug that’s going around, apparently my super power wore off and I succumbed this past week. Instead of getting up on a sunshiney Tuesday morning to start our fourth year of homeschooling with my two beloved, smiling-faced, school-aged children I instead spent the entire day sleeping and barfing. Sam and Kady are both very independent learners and do the vast majority of their work on their own without too awful much from me, but I just couldn’t turn them loose on a new school year without being present. I like to call it responsible parenting and schooling. It might also be that I have control issues. But I digress.

Finally, after 14 horrendous hours of the worst stomach virus I’ve had in probably 20 years (No, I’m really not exaggerating) I managed to regain some semblance of consciousness. I wearily pleaded with my husband to bring me a Coke. We don’t normally keep soda around the house and the last I had bought as a treat for the 4th of July was gone. Bless his heart, he valiantly drove to Turtle Stop to not only get a 12-pack, but also a pre-chilled bottle for my immediate consumption. I tried really hard to not think about how much he spent on convenience store soda and held back my desire to tell him that he could have gotten it cheaper somewhere else. I just sipped the dark, carbohydrate-delivering liquid that normally would never touch these lips and tried not to see dollar signs before my eyes nor dwell on the chemicals entering my weary body. After nibbling on some saltines and polishing off my Coke, I left the bedroom to seek the company of my family, who I was absolutely positive had missed some something awful during my hiatus.

It looked like they’d hosted a rave right in the middle of our double-wide.

There were blankets strewn about the living room like they’d made a veritable blanket fort mansion. There were Eskimo Joe’s cups in every cup holder – one with milk that was bordering on a state I can only describe as “thick”. The TV volume was on approximately 492 and they were watching “Storage Wars”. Actually, no. No one was actually watching the TV. It was just on. Apparently entertaining the blankets.

The kitchen counters looked like a family of rabid raccoons had been turned loose to scavenge and had done so quite successfully. The Hostess cakes I had bought as a treat just the night before (with a coupon!) had been all but obliterated and nary a crinkly white wrapper had found a home in the trashcan. Someone had made tea – and those who had consumed it had wantonly set the pitcher down repeatedly on the actual counter top. We have white counter tops and I always set the pitcher on a paper towel to avoid stains. People, there. were. stains. So many stains.  The clean dishes were still safely housed in the dishwasher and dirty ones were piled so very high in the sink. There were crumbs EVERYWHERE. I don’t handle crumbs well. I stepped on something questionable – I think it was raccoon poop.

And that was when I lost it. Still in my pajamas from the previous night, my hair in the worst bed-headed state imaginable and pale as a ghost, I’m sure I looked slightly crazier than I actually was, but that’s okay. I like to go for dramatic effect. I think I made my point, though. The makings of the blanket mansion were transformed into neat folded piles. Wrappers magically danced to the trashcan. Crumbs disappeared. There were voices mumbling “Sorry, Momma” and “Glad you’re feeling better, dear” any time they got in my vicinity.


I think they need me. They need me to manage them. And keep them safe from scavenging raccoons. And possibly themselves.   

Motorin'

[Originally published in the Miami News-Record on August 9, 2015]

If you’ve ever seen the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? you’ll likely remember the scene where Everett was in dire need of some pomade and a car part. He was told the car part could be there in two weeks. Then when he discovered the store only carried Fop pomade, not Dapper Dan, he was told he could have his pomade in two weeks as well. He exclaimed, “Well, ain’t this place a geographical oddity. Two weeks from everywhere!”  Well, come to find out, Hooverton Mountain out here in the wilds of Wyandotte is a geographical oddity as well – we are 40 minutes from four Walmart stores. We can visit Grove, Miami, Joplin and Neosho Walmart all in the same amount of time. It’s almost like we are smack in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle of mass-market retail. We are only 15 minutes from Seneca, so for an item or two I’ll run there instead of having to trek 40 minutes to a Walmart and Abby is always good to pick things up for me on her way home from work – however, Abby is getting ready to move out and my errand-runner will no longer be available. It was starting to look like I was going to have to run my own unscheduled errands. *gasp!*

Sam has been 16 since last November and has had his permit since last summer, but driving was so far down on his list of priorities I was starting to think he was never going to drive. He was the same way about walking, too. His older sister walked at 10 months. We kind of expected him to walk early as well. Nope. The kid was completely content to sit where he was and holler until someone picked him up. He walked at 14 months only because I stopped picking him up when he bellowed. He finally walked only because I think he was afraid we’d stop feeding him and little dude really liked his groceries.

He dragged his feet on finishing his Driver’s Ed program – so much so that I begged for some grace by the company and got a free extension so he could finish and take the final because we needed that discount on his insurance, by golly. He finally finished and was legal to take the test, but refused to drive the car. Or I’d coerce him into driving on the highway, but he’d refuse to drive in town. It was rather frustrating because I just kept thinking about how inconvenient it was going to be to have to put on a bra and makeup to go pick up a loaf of bread.

My husband gave us both a stern talking-to and told him to start driving and me to start making him. We both had to man up so last week he drove in town and I didn’t give in when he begged me to let him stop. It was exhausting for both of us. My Pops asked if he could take him driving and I was so glad to let him I think I cried a little bit. Pops had really helped my drive-shy niece get ready for her test and I was more than willing to let him help Sam. After a day of driving Pops brought my boy back to me and said, “Hon, he’s ready. Let him test.” It was Pops’ faith in him that got the kid his license this past week.

So now, mere weeks before my oldest child moves out into her own place, I have a second child with a driver’s license. He plans to drive himself to a church back-to-school bash this weekend AND to Vo-tech next week. Eek! 


I’m starting to think there’s a conspiracy amongst my children to age their daddy and me as swiftly as they possibly can. There’s a whole lot of growing up going on around here these days. 

A Whole Lot of Nothin'

[Originally published in the Miami News-Record on August 2, 2015.]

I try not to miss writing this column too often, but sometimes it can’t be helped. Last week 4/5 of us came down with a horrifically vile stomach bug that had me changing trash cans, spraying Lysol, applying cool cloths to hot faces, bleaching anything that looked remotely germy, and washing every sheet, pillowcase, and blanket in the house every time someone recuperated only to begin the whole process over again when the next one bit the dust. I just opted to just take the week off. I don’t think I could’ve written anything intelligent anyway. Paul and I slept on the couches or an air mattress for a solid week while the kids convalesced in our room close to a bathroom and nightly my slumber was punctuated multiple times by barfing teenagers or husband. Needless to say, I was kind of doofy by my Friday noon deadline anyway. But hurrah for “mom-munity” because once again everyone in the house got sick except me. Although … a few days in bed sounded kind of nice by week’s end.

In my “free” time I have been working on lesson plans. My dining room table hasn’t seen the light of day since July 4th . I am in the home stretch, though, and by the end of the weekend should have both kids’ lessons written out through Christmas break. I have been having strange dreams about Moby Dick, the Jamestown colony, Hiawatha’s wedding, sentence diagrams, sonnets in iambic pentameter, and business ledgers for the better part of the month. Something tells me I need a vacation. Well, either that or some medication.

Not long after we moved a year and a half ago my washing machine stopped agitating. The repair guy said it was the transmission and it was on borrowed time. Well, we borrowed three days then she gave up the ghost. We took our monthly date night to Lowe’s to purchase a new Whirlpool. The new machine was fancy and weird, but we adjusted. Over time I grew accustomed to the strange clanking noises the owner’s manual said were normal as the load leveler and automatic doohickeymabobber did their jobs. But alas, a mere week after the one-year warranty went out, she began her death cry – a horrible racheting sound that makes the coyotes howl and the cats run for cover. It also makes my husband grumble and the kids moan. It just makes me see dollar signs. A call to my favorite repair guy went like this:

“Did you buy any kind of extended warranty on that washer?”

“……No…..”

“Well, you should have.”

*sigh*

Last June I began the construction of my very first rag rug. I got this crazy Pinterest-fueled idea to make all of my sister’s and my kids a handmade (with love!) rug. The idea was to present them as graduation presents. Since Abby had already graduated and my nephew Trust was about to be born I decided to tackle Trust’s first as a birthin’ gift then would finish Abby’s immediately after then be on track to finish my niece’s long before her graduation this coming May. I put the last stitch in my squishy baby nephew’s rug last Monday, a week before his 1st birthday. So his birthin’ gift has turned into his birthday gift and I learned that homemade rag rugs aren’t to be rushed. I also hope he doesn’t mind that toward the end I jammed the needle into my finger so hard I kind of bled on his rug. But it’s on the underside, so as long as no one inspects it too closely, we’re good. It turned out really pretty and I’m proud of how it looks (blood and all). I know how to make things go smoother for the next one. And the good news is my niece should expect her rug in May.

Of 2025.




Inappropriate Laughter

I love to laugh, I love to make people laugh, and I love to hear people laugh – unless I’ve gone to town in shorts; then I’m suspicious of laughter in my vicinity. Laughter is a huge part of who I am, however, this gift of laughter is also a bit of a curse at times. Like, when I can’t control it in embarrassing, unfortunate, and/or awkward situations.

Granny Glenn passed away when I was pregnant with Abby – so pregnant I was convinced that when she wasn’t using my bladder for a pillow, she was kickboxing with it. My sister, Cousin Courtney, and I were shuffling quietly and serenely into the chapel of the funeral home when Aunt Erma accidentally took a picture, setting off a blinding flash only capable by the old school flash cubes of the 70’s and 80’s. It was 1996 and Aunt Erma was still blinding everyone with flash cubes and also, did you catch that she brought a camera to a funeral?? We three girls began giggling when my giant belly nearly knocked over four people as we shuffled down the row, giggled harder when the camera flash went off, but we spiraled out of control when my giggling paired with a sucker punch by my gestating daughter caused me to wet myself right there in the Cooper-Althouse chapel. After a quick run to the bathroom where we nearly collapsed from laughter, we managed to regain control only to spontaneously begin again several times throughout the service. Hopefully folks behind us perceived the shaking of our shoulders with crying, not laughter.

My mom, Uncle David, and I are all afflicted with a phenomenon known as “Furniture Relocation Hysterics.” It’s a medical condition that appears to be in remission, then attacks the patient when they lift a piece of furniture more than six inches off the ground. It is then that the laughter commences, thus causing muscle weakness, loss of breath, tears, and sometimes loss of bladder control. It has also on occasion caused bruised shins, smashed toes, and irritated husbands.

As a teen, once during the Lord’s Supper, the cups were filled too full. Mom, Sis and I were carefully holding our miniscule cups, full to the brim, all three of us getting more and more tickled because the more we tried to not laugh, the more we laughed and the closer we came to spilling Welch’s grape all over our Sunday best. We were never so glad to hear the words, “Drink this in remembrance of Me” in our lives.


More recently, I was plagued with a case of inappropriate laughter when the kids’ doctor tried to convince me to vaccinate my youngest for HPV, a vaccination I am not comfortable with after reading about some serious side effects. This did not please the doctor who then informed me that I was going to watch a video. I informed him that his video would not change my mind. He sat his iPad firmly down in front of me and said, “Watch this.” What followed was a parody video extolling the virtues of the vaccine and at the same time describing all of the horrible things that could happen to my child by not vaccinating her. Did I mention it was all set to the tune of a 1991 acoustic ballad with an added awkward bass drop and rap solo at the end? I tried so hard to keep a straight face, but I couldn’t help it. I wasn’t a good example to my kids that day – especially since they had maintained straight faces until they saw that I was giggling while tears streamed down my face. By the time the video ended, all three of us were beyond laughter and had slipped over to uncontrollable guffaws. It was definitely not my most shining parental example, but in addition to a legacy of informed selective vaccination rebellion, I hope to leave behind a legacy of laughter. Hopefully the kids will learn to control the laughter better than I ever have. 

Gettin' My Survivalist Redneck ON! (A review)

Occasionally I get requests for product reviews. Some are legitimate, some are not. And sometimes I am just simply not in the mood to review bulk fiber laxatives or "websites for seniors".


But when Angie from Offroad Power Gear sent me an email a few weeks ago I definitely knew I couldn't pass up her request!

She sent out some of their Permanent Matches and some Bullet Earrings to check out in exchange for my review. 







Pauly and Sam instantly started playing with the permanent matches and they are now attached to both guys' keychains. It's a good thing she sent three because I have one for my purse, too! 










These little bad boys have the power to be lit over 15,000 times! If you're like us, you're always in need of a lighter or match because, well.....because you're always blowing stuff up or setting something on fire. It takes a little bit of practice to get the strike right, but once you figure it out, you can strike it on the first try every time. Don't be daunted by the $14.99 price - they are worth it!  

Refillable with your lighter fluid of choice, these are a must-have for all good preppers, outdoors-y type folks, and of course -- rednecks. I've seen others in stores, but I like these better because they strike fast and the price is lower than I've found. And the fact that they're good for at least 15,000 strikes, well, you can't beat 'em.  





She also sent us a few pair of their Bullet Earrings and I gotta say, while the permanent matches were awesome, the girl in me was squealing (yes, literally) over these earrings. The girls and I had seen a version of these over the summer and all three commented on how rockin' we would all look in them, but the price the store wanted was way out of our price range. Imagine how excited I was to see that Offroad Power Gear has them WAY cheaper! 


The pair Miss Kady is sporting here is the opal in yellow gold. These are real Luger 9mm* casings that have been cleaned and polished and the stones are Swarovski gems.  And the opal stone catches the light and shines like crazy! They're nice and heavy, but not uncomfortable to wear. They just look so cool. Oh and? They. are. awesome.   

She also sent a pair of the Midnight Diamond and those are mine. Only mine. And I'm not a good share-er.  







(And aren't Kady's little cheek freckles just the cutest?)

Most of the bullet jewelry is on sale right now and hey, Christmas is coming! All the redneck women in your life need a pair of these in their stocking. And if you don't have a redneck woman in your life, you can always just buy me some. My birthstone is garnet


Go visit their website and check out all the wicked cool truck gear they have. From truck decals, clothing, jewelry, gear and more, they pretty much have you covered no matter what you need. Or want. (They have a sweatshirt that says "Certified Redneck" that I also hope to find under the tree this year...hint hint, Paul....sweetie....honey...) And be sure to like them on Facebook

*Caliber and make of bullet may vary.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

For the Love of Hand Soap


So, I'm mad.

At the beginning of summer I finally ran out of a hefty supply of Bath and Body Works hand soap. I only buy it when it's on sale and I  refuse to buy without coupons. Over the years built up an amazing cache of soapy goodness. But alas, we eventually washed enough that we came close to running out.

I gathered my best coupon and while clutching it in my greedy - yet clean and fragranced - hand, I entered the store to have my olfactory senses attacked. I eventually settled on several bottles of Blue Skies and Blooms, Kady picked out something pear-y, I threw in some coconutty stuff so we could channel the Professor on Gilligan's Island, and made our way to check out. Then I saw the display for the New! American! Summer! Collection! Kady and I instantly fell in love with Driftwood Surf. It smells manly and woodsy and awesome. Her friend Miranda just washes her hands for no reason when she's here, it just smells that good.


And now.....we are on our last bottle. Kady looked last week and......it's gone. No mas. Adios, Driftwood. Sayonara, you manly hand soap, you. I can only find it on eBay. For $5+ a bottle.



 So if you see me on a street corner with a cardboard sign that says "Will work for Route 44's", before you drop some change in my empty Sonic cup, please ask to smell my hands. Because if I'm begging in a corner, it's because I couldn't resist the driftwood and had to pay such exorbitant prices on eBay I can no longer afford my Sonic-y goodness.








Wait.....maybe I should just beg for the hand soap.....





Monday, July 13, 2015

The Curse of the Third

Originally published in the Miami News-Record on July 12, 2015.

It all started back in 2002. It was July 3rd. Paul was on the brush hog and I had just managed to get all three kids down for a nap at the same time. I kicked on the attic fan and lay down on the couch to catch a quick nap myself. I woke up when I realized the attic fan wasn’t on anymore. I had set the timer for an hour and thought surely I hadn’t slept that long. It was quiet. Too quiet. I went down the hall…. and heard crackling. It took about 3 seconds for me to realize it was fire. I woke up the kids, grabbed Kady out of her crib, snatched up the diaper bag and ran out of the house. I tried waving down Paul in the field, but he was in the zone out there on his tractor. It finally took letting the kids take turns honking the car horn to get his attention. The fire didn’t damage anything more than the attic fan itself and we considered ourselves very fortunate.
The following year on July 3rd Paul had a car vs. motorcycle wreck. Unfortunately, he was on the motorcycle. The kids and I had been swimming at my sister’s and walked in the door to the phone ringing. Sam, who was four, answered the phone then said, “Cool! I hear sirens!” When I snatched the phone from my son all I heard was Paul’s friend screaming that Paul had been hit, it was “bad”, and I needed to go to the hospital. He had let the friend drive the bike and Paul was on the back. The guy stalled the bike as they pulled onto the highway. Paul was thrown (people who saw the wreck said he looked like a rag doll when he flew through the air) and landed under the car. On top of a totaled bike (on which we hadn’t even made the first payment) he had a dislocated shoulder, a concussion, got four staples in his head, and had a lot of road rash. He was sore and banged up, but alive. We considered ourselves very fortunate.
The next year a black snake got in our kitchen window and was perilously close to getting in the house when I found it. The year after that Abby spiked a high fever of unknown origin. None of us can remember anything happening in 2006. We were given a break that year I guess.
In 2007 we were flooded in by the river on one side and the creek on the other. We spent seven days unable to leave our house. We had no phone. We had no fireworks. But boy, did we have mosquitoes the size of pterodactyls. We ended up floating my family to the house in Paul’s boat for the 4th. The kids still talk about that being the most fun 4th of July ever. A couple years ago we set the field on fire, but that was kind of our fault for shooting fireworks during a drought.
I don’t really believe in curses, but don’t you find it a wee bit eerie that bad/weird/traumatic things happen to us on the 3rd of July? Not every year, but enough that we all are extra cautious from the time we wake up on that day until we are all safe and accounted for that night.
This year the curse was delayed and Kady was in a minor car accident on the 5th. It was a fender-bender, but shook her up nonetheless. It wasn’t until that night when she was loaded up on ibuprofen, worn out from the excitement that any of us connected the wreck to “the curse”. She hugged me tight and said, “Next year, wrap me in bubble wrap, okay?”

I think I’ll start on July 1st and keep everyone in the house until maybe the 7th or so. Just to be safe. And no one’s allowed to drive or ride anything with a motor.

Lovin' All Y'all

Originally published in the Miami News-Record, July 5, 2015

Man, talk about some turmoil in our great country right now. I have been pretty scarce on Facebook lately simply because I am quite frankly sick to death of all the negativity and conflict I see in my newsfeed. I see rebel flags and rainbows even when I close my eyes these days. I see long rants written by church-goers, non-church-goers, political folks, and those who are far less political (but still argumentative nonetheless), family members and friends pitted against the other and I just don’t enjoy that. Not one bit.
I love y’all. Plain and simple. I love all y’all. I don’t like some of you and barely tolerate more than my fair share, but I do love y’all. I do this because it’s my job to love y’all. Jesus made it pretty clear when He said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31) He didn’t say “Love them only when they agree with you,” or “Love them only when their dog hasn’t pooped in your yard and torn up your Sunday paper with all the good coupons.” He also didn’t say, “Only love them when it’s easy.” It’s been my experience that when it’s hard to love someone, that’s when the lovin’ is needed the most. So with all that being said, it boils down to this: love.
Love God (see Mark 12:30) and love everyone else.
I love being an American. I am thankful God put me here in this place at this time. I love the nation I live in. I love the state I live in, the county I live in, the neighborhood I live in, the family I am in and the God Who put me here. Sure, it’d be nice if Oklahoma wasn’t throwing earthquakes in to compete with all the tornadoes. You betcha, I’d love it if the road grader came down my county-maintained road a little more often. And yes, I wish the neighbor’s dog didn’t run at my car every time I drive by, thus making me scream because it never fails to scare the bejeebers outta me. I could also point out some of the things that drive me crazy about some family members, too, but with the holidays approaching, I’d rather things remain amicable.
But wait….did I just say I loved all those places but didn’t love all the things in them or about them? What? You mean, I can love things but not love everything about them – all at the same time? Folks, this ain’t rocket science. Just because your country isn’t everything you’d love for it to be at this moment in time, doesn’t mean you have to stop loving your country.
Be thankful you have electricity, running water, a roof over your head, a McDonald’s on every corner and two Starbucks for every McDonald’s. Be thankful you don’t go to sleep at night hungry. Or listening to gunfire and mortar shells raining down around you. Be grateful to those who have given and continue to give their lives to keep you knee-deep in lattes and Quarter Pounders. Be thankful you can go to church – or not go to church if you choose. See, it’s this thing called freedom. And it’s pretty great.
Even when our country was founded, it wasn’t perfect. It’s grown a lot. It’s changed a lot. It’s been good, it’s been bad. It was founded on freedom and we remain free today. So why are we spending so much time fighting and less time loving? We are all masterpieces created by God. Some of us are fat, some are skinny, some are cat people, others love dogs, some love girls, some love boys, and I won’t even go into all the different shades of skin tone that are out there. Frankly, it just doesn’t matter.

Because love is all that does.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Family Vacation

Originally published in the Miami News-Record, June 28, 2015

Back in March I realized this would not be a year for a Disney vacation and started looking around for a place to stay in Branson. Then I thought that it had been an awfully long time since we’d done a BIG family vacation and immediately sent an email to my mom and sister. After much calendar checking, schedule rearranging, and work schedule securing, we all decided on a date. A couple years ago Paul, the kids and I took a long weekend in Branson and stayed in a condo rather than a hotel room. I gotta say it spoiled us a bit. I started looking for condos then learned pretty quick that it’s darn near impossible to find a condo big enough for 14 people. I started looking at cabins, but the ones big enough for us were all booked up for the weekend we wanted. I forged on, and glory be, I found THE HOUSE and the preparations began in earnest.

A month before the vacation I sent a text in all capital letters to the group exclaiming my joy that the official countdown had begun. And because apparently I have too much time on my hands and a very weird brain, I put together everyone’s last names and came up with an official name for the trip: FORRFERRHOOVESCHTELLE SUMMER VACATION 2015. Someone text me back and asked if we had changed the destination to Germany instead of Branson.

The day of vacation finally arrived – and so did Hurricane Bill. We loaded the Durango in between showers and downpours and any attempts at fixing hair that day were for naught. Sam had opted to ride with Mom and Pops and they were about an hour and a half ahead of us. He was sending texts telling us how hard it was raining, but we were already quite aware. Paul had to drop something off at his mom’s on our way out and got drenched, then rode most of the trip freezing because I was having hot flashes most of the way and was pretty sure if I turned the AC down I was going to spontaneously combust. And apparently he found my being vocal about it rather annoying. We drove in and out of rain bands, some pouring so hard we could barely see the car in front of us. When we finally made it to the resort and pulled in, the rain had stopped and the sun was attempting to peek out of the clouds. Then as I got halfway up the sidewalk with my arms full of bags, it was like someone in Heaven said, “Hey y’all – watch this!” and let go with a bucket the size of the Grand Canyon.

The guys fished in the rain, the kids swam in the rain, I loved on my sweet baby nephew while it rained, we cooked and ate while it rained – I think you get the picture: it rained. But eventually the rain stopped and the sun came out enough to effectively sunburn everyone who visited the pool that day. They didn’t mind. I got a new owl coffee mug, the kids all got new Disney t-shirts, Pauly got new shoes, my sweet baby nephew ate his first Oreo while we were there, we learned just how twisted (and hilarious) we all are when we played Cards Against Humanity, and we made a heck of a lot of memories.  

Mom and Kady cried when we had the leave the house Sunday morning. It had been such a wonderful time of togetherness, no one wanted to see it end. I probably would’ve cried, too, but I had a belly full of Krispy Kreme donuts and hey, it’s hard to shed tears when you’re riding that high. We all decided that time is too short to let moments like those pass by, so we’ve decided to do it every year and stick to it. In a few years we’ll be adding in-laws and grandbabies and so many more memories. I can hardly wait!