Wednesday, December 29, 2010


The kid's dentist, who is a gem of a guy, has made a horrible mistake with Nickels.

In the last six months, Mike and I have done LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of prompting and griping and prodding and checking and re-checking and screaming and cussing* when it comes to teeth brushing. The result? The child got a "97%" on his check-up.

You could have knocked my fat thighed self over with a toothpick, conveniently removed from any of the assortment of appetizer platters I've grazed through over the holidays.

"Seriously?", I thought, "The same kid I picked up from kindergarten who had so much food caught in his upper gum line that I had to shield my eyes to continue the conversation, lest I wretch in front of his class? The same kid who thinks that 10 seconds of brush-time is plenty sufficient, thank you? HIM? Are we sure you don't have another kid of the same height and hair color back there that you are mixing up with MY SON?"

Tonight, he's decided he can skate on that almost perfect score. Wednesday's excuse? "Why can't you just let this go this one time? I'm tired and I want to go to bed. BESIDES, I made a 97%!"**

And that's the problem with giving a kid a grade on brushing his teeth, Dr. Niceguy: now my son thinks he's immune to any issues his parents have previously brought to his attention.

Teeth falling out due to lack of hygiene? Doesn't apply to kids 3 points short of 100!

Disgusting breath? Everything smells GREAT with almost a perfect score!

Junk caught in between your teeth grossing out all your friends? Not a worry--once them know my grade, I'll get a standing ovation from the entire school!

So, next appointment, Mr. Nice Dentist? It's time to pull out the big guns and introduce all the scary dental equipment and work on hitting a sore spot with that probe thingy and show pictures of what happens to nice kid's teeth when they don't brush properly.

Because, if you don't? I'm going to have to resort to buying Billy Bob Teeth and wearing them until he decides he's so embarrassed that he'll actually brush properly.

Then, and only then, will I remove the stupid things. And probably put them at the back of a drawer for use when the other two pumpkins of ours get an almost perfect score on their dental appointments.

Because if I've learned anything in my eleven plus years of parenting it's that the chickens generally come home to roost. Over and over and over and over again.....

*Behind his back, such as "Why the HELL can't he just brush his teeth? It's such a basic thing. I LOVED brushing my teeth when I was his age. Crap, I even ate the Colgate (true story, probably have latent cancer as a result)!!! What is the matter with that boy??"

Figured out, after exhaustive conversations with everyone, from the Youth Director at church to our friends who have a one-year-older son, that this is just par for the course. EVERYONE is having this trouble with their children. Boy v. girl doesn't matter.

Somehow, that just makes it worse for me, not better. After all, these kids have designer toothbrushes and custom-flavored "kid" toothpaste and they STILL aren't brushing??? REALLY???

**That was over 30 minutes ago. His teeth are still unbrushed, he's pacing around the house, counting his Christmas money, trying to avoid actually hitting the sack before what he considers a "reasonable" hour. Me? Writing this post to avoid pinching his head off.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

"B" is for "Baseball"

Cliff Lee has left the Rangers. (Sure, it's been a couple of weeks ago, but I'm tardy for everything, if I'm nothing else. So, queue today's post!)

Um, frankly, I didn't even know he was really in Texas at all. Much less playing for a ball team out of Arlington. But what DID catch my attention was the news that he has signed a $120 million contract for the next five years.

Yes, you read that right: 24 million/year.

Some of you are thinking "That's just ridiculous. Nobody is worth that kind of money."

Some of you are thinking "Good for him. I hope he is happy in Philly and has a long pitching career."

And some of you are thinking "Good riddance, jackwagon. I hope you tear BOTH your rotator cuffs."*

I don't keep up with baseball** and I don't have an opinion about whether trading from one team to the next is right v. wrong, so I'm in the group of people wishing him well.

And because I don't give a horse's tushy about watching baseball, I'm admittedly ignorant about HOW someone can be worth this much money for playing a game. But, I figure someone being paid MAJOR coin to pitch a ball must have something going on, so I'm taking his talent at face value.

But, this salary? I had to break down to a daily thing to get my mind around: $65,753.43.

That's a whole lotta clams.

I look at that kind of money and I see burden. Not wealth. Not excess. PRESSURE.

Think of it from Cliff's point-of-view: I make $66,000/day and if I have even one off day, one off game, that's a problem.

Add to that, the fact that professional ball players have plenty of injuries and surgeries and the pressure escalates. The pressure has caused plenty of normally sane men to turn to steroids to keep their careers in tip-top shape.

Then, bump it up again by adding that Jesus stated "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24). And add emphasis by the repetition of this same phrase in both Mark and Luke.

And when you put all the pieces together? You find Cliff Lee and many other professional sport's players in one heck of a pressure cooker.

Hopefully the next five years will be injury-free. Maybe being in one place will take some of the stress off. There should be time for his family to throw down roots and make a home for themselves.

The people of Philly HATED him when he left. But, as they say, sometimes you can go home***. I'm sure, in the Philly press, Cliff is giving interviews about "hoping to retire and make a permanent home for his family." At least for the next five years, that should be true. With the crazy schedule that baseball follows, something should be solid for his wife and kids.

I really hope Mr. Lee has a great run of it, gives away a good chunk of his money to worthy charities, pursues God, stays off the 'roids, and keeps himself grounded. Because, regardless of what the press says on any give day, all this stuff won't matter when he's on his death bed.

Best of luck, Cliff. Sadly, this is the first and last time I will pay attention to you. I'm crawling back in my "Baseball? What's that?" hole and staying until I see the shadow indicating the season is safely over.

But, if you have an extra two mil or so floating around that needs a safe landing pad, feel free give me a little ring-a-ling.

*Might I suggest a little anger-management course? It's BASEBALL for gosh-sake, not life and death.

**Unless I can find a baseball player that looks like Mike Modano or Howie Long or Jason Witten. THEN, suddenly, I'm VERY interested in the sport. Sadly, I haven't seen anyone with a ball glove and cap on who's as cute as those other athletes....

***But, of course, home is actually with the fine folks of Benton, Arkansas. They are the people who wiped his infant butt and called him out of the top of the tree and boxed his ears. They KNOW him and probably aren't afraid to tell him the truth when he gets out of line. Too bad there aren't any professional teams in that area; the Walmart Walruses does have a nice ring....

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Baby's Hug (George J. Carroll, author)

We were the only family with children in the restaurant.. I sat Erik in a high chair and noticed everyone was quietly sitting and talking.

Suddenly, Erik squealed with glee and said, "Hi." He pounded his fat baby hands on the high chair tray. His eyes were crinkled in laughter and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin, as he wriggled and giggled with merriment..

I looked around and saw the source of his merriment. It was a man whose pants were baggy with a zipper at half-mast and his toes poked out of would-be shoes. His shirt was dirty and his hair was uncombed and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be called a beard and his nose was so varicose it looked like a road map. We were too far from him to smell, but I was sure he smelled. His hands waved and flapped on loose wrists.

"Hi there, baby; Hi there, big boy. I see! ya, buster," the man said to Erik.

My husband and I exchanged looks, "What do we do?"

Erik continued to laugh and answer, "Hi" .

Everyone in the restaurant noticed and looked at us and then at the man ..
The old geezer was creating a nuisance with my beautiful baby.

Our meal came and the man began shouting from across the room, "Do ya patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? Hey, look, he knows peek-a-boo."

Nobody thought the old man was cute. He was obviously drunk.

My husband and I were embarrassed. We ate in silence - all except for Erik, who was running through his repertoire for the admiring skidrow bum, who in turn, reciprocated with his cute comments. We finally got through the meal and headed for the door.

My husband went to pay the check and told me to meet him in the parking lot.
The old man sat poised between me and the door. "Lord, just let me out of here before he speaks to me or Erik," I prayed.

As I drew closer to the man, I turned my back trying to sidestep him and avoid any air he might be breathing. As I did, Erik leaned over my arm, reaching with both arms in a baby's "pick-me-up" position. Before I could stop him, Erik had propelled himself from my arms to the man's.

Suddenly a very old smelly man and a very young baby consummated their love and kinship... Erik in an act of total trust, love, and submission laid his tiny head upon the man's ragged shoulder. The man's eyes closed, and I saw tears hover beneath his lashes. His aged hands full of grime, pain, and hard labor, cradled my baby's bottom and stroked his back.

No two beings have ever loved so deeply for so short a time. I stood awestruck. The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms and his eyes opened and set squarely on mine. He said in a firm commanding voice, "You take care of this baby."

Somehow I managed, "I will," from a throat that contained a stone.

He pried Erik from his chest, lovingly and longingly, as though he were in pain. I received my baby, and the man said, "God bless you, ma'am, you've given me my Christmas gift."

I said nothing more than a muttered thanks.

With Erik in my arms, I ran for the car. My husband was wondering why I was crying and holding Erik so tightly, and why I was saying, "My God, my God, forgive me."

I had just witnessed Christ's love shown through the innocence of a tiny child who saw no sin, who made no judgment; a child who saw a soul, and a mother who saw a suit of clothes. I was a Christian who was blind, holding a child who was not.
I felt it was God asking, "Are you willing to share your son for a moment?" when He shared His for all eternity.

The ragged old man, unwittingly, had reminded me, "To enter the Kingdom of God, we must become as little children."

From our house to yours: Have a very blessed Christmas! The Nowell Family

Friday, December 24, 2010

The THIGHS Have It

Thigh #1*: PSSSST. T2. What's shakin'?

Thigh #2**: Was that supposed to be a joke?

Thigh #1 (quaking like a bowl full of jelly): Yeah. Funny, huh??

Thigh #2: It might be funny if it weren't so true.

Thigh #1: So, what's she been eating that's come your way?

Thigh #2: I think it was a piece of cake but she ate it really weird. It started as all frosting, then merged into all cake, then all frosting again. Must have butchered that thing.

Thigh #1: I'm all cookie balls over here. It would kind of be funny if she were a guy. Get it? Balls.....

Thigh #2: You are a laugh riot, dude.

Thigh #1: I KNOW.

Thigh #2: Hey! Move off me.

Thigh #1: ME? It's you that moved closer.

Thigh #2: NO.I.DIDN'T.


Thigh #2: Look. I'm telling you I didn't move.

Thigh #1: It's almost like we're, what do you call it? Rising...growing...what's that word?

Thigh #2: Do you mean "expanding"?

Thigh #1: That's IT! We're expanding.

Thigh #2: Toward each other. That completely explains why you keep rubbing up against me. It's horrible. Especially in this wind suit. It sounds like two pieces of Saran Wrap having a terrible fight. UGH.

Thigh #1: What should we do? I like you and all but I'm starting to get a bit closet phobic.

Thigh #2: You mean claustrophobic, fool. Follow my lead: I'm working on rubbing a hole in the pants right now. Maybe that will be a sign it's time to lay off those Christmas cookies.

Thigh #1: I don't know. She's pretty stubborn this time of year. She likes her sugar.

Thigh #2: Yeah. But I don't think she'll like the holey pants I'm working on. Come on your part.

MEANWHILE....North of the land of mouth:

Me: "Honey? Do these pants seem a little too tight on me right now?"

Mike (panicking, trying to figure out what the best PC answer would be, given the line of questioning that resembles "Do these pants make my butt look big?"):
"I think I've been rendered BLIND. Can't see!!! Must.rinse.eyes.for.a.LOOOOONNNNNGGGG.while. Ask one of the kids....."

May your Christmas be filled with all things yummy
that won't expand your hips or tummy.

May your New Year party leave you happy
instead of feeling very crappy.

And may all your thighs be quiet and charming
instead of sounding the chubby warning!

*This is the thigh, attached to the foot, that has had multiple surgeries and has never quite been the same since. As a result, this thigh is a little chubbier than it's counterpart. And since it doesn't shape up in reponse to exercise quite as well as the other thigh, I think it is dumber.

**This is the less-chubby counterpart to Thigh #1. Notice I didn't use the terms "thin", "skinny", or "bony". No super or model here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Strange Attachments

Nickels has this uncanny ability to bond. He bonds with people and will bring them up in conversation, even those he hasn't seen for weeks or months at a time.

He bonds with animals. The night Tex went missing while my Mom was sick, that child slept on the hardwood floor, by the drafty front door, all night long, waiting for Tex to come home*.

But, most interestingly, he bonds with things. And this strange obsession led to the oddest series of events Mike and I will never forget.

It all occurred when Nickels was about five and still in Preschool, where dismissal time was in the mid-afternoon.

Mike had recently purchased some new office furniture and was ready to dump the old at the store near the Preschool, so he accompanied me to pick-up with the back of the SUV full of office goodies.

We picked both happy-to-see-us boys up, drove about one minute down the street, lifted the back gate, dumped everything out in about three minutes flat, accepted our tax receipt, and started to drive away. That's when we heard this from the middle seats:


"Nickels? What's wrong honey?" Never, in all the time he had been in Preschool, had he cried after pick-up. This was ODD.


Now I'm starting to get worried. But, like a really good joke, the punchline was about to spill forth with comedic genius. Problem was, this wasn't a joke....

"Meeeeeee. SNIFF. And that chair. SNIFF. We had some good times. SNIFF. Spinning around." With every sniff came an intake of air that was so violent that his shoulders would rise up and down, as if he were strapped into a seat on the "Pukemaker 2019" roller coaster that was heading into the final, ultra-whiplash-inducing turn.

I felt like Rod Serling had taken over the driver's seat and was taunting me: "There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call The Twilight Zone."

NO WAY! My five-year-old son is losing his mind over a dumb, faux-leather, broken-down, CHAIR?

Problem was, Nickels was DEAD SERIOUS. He's now crying full force.

And, me? I am facing Mike (mistake), my head pushed so far into the headrest that Nickels can't see me, and I am laughing so hard that my body is convulsing. I have no earthly idea how Mike is driving at this point because he, too, is convulsing, his cheeks stained with tears of laughter.

You would have thought Nickels and the chair had been happily engaged and recently broken up. And he chose this car ride to come to terms with it.

Fast forward to just a couple weeks ago; bulk trash was scheduled to come by our house. I had actually planned ahead for the event, cleaned out the garage, scoured the backyard for bulky items that were broken, no longer useful, or just plain unnecessary. Everything went into a huge pile at the front of the house.

Later that day, the entire Nowell crew got in the SUV and Nickels started bemoaning the fact that the Target-purchased-four-year-old-red-faded-to-pink-two-legs-broken folding chairs we used to take to the kid's sporting events were prominently displayed on top of the pile.

These things were so worthless that nobody had taken them. In fact, a gentleman picked up five ginormous bags of leaves** gathered from our yard and threw them in the back of his beat-up pick-up. The chairs, though? Apparently too butt-ugly and broken to even touch.

But, Nickels? Practically pulled a stunt of Hollywood proportions trying to nose dive out of the car, onto the pile, to save his precious chairs***.

I'll never understand his obsession with chairs, of all things. But, I am grateful that it isn't something more difficult to find or too expensive to purchase or just downright odd to own.

Because if that child goes on a rampage and decides dead animal heads are in style, starts combing the bulk trash piles for them, and tries to use any he finds to decorate his room?

He'll need to find a new room to occupy.

*Tex, on the other hand, had found the home to beat all homes. He was cozy in someone else's bed, which is a no-no in this house. I'm not sure for the word for a cheating dog, but it described him that night.

**Made me scratch my head, too. Composting was my best guess.

***If it had been 2011, I would have lost $1 for yelling at him about "staying in the car when it is moving."

Monday, December 20, 2010

Grocery Store Conversations

I have done just about every job in the world you can imagine. Most, in my pre-college and college days, were decidedly unglamorous, left my brain screaming "Food! I need mental food!", and did little more than pay the bills. Among those jobs: vet assistant, waitress in a dive, overnight "wrapping technician"*.

The one thing I never had the privilege of even applying for was anything involving a grocery store.

However, based on the recent experiences of a friend of mine** and today's experience at a grocery that will remain unnamed (but slightly rhymes with "Parakeet Meat"), I'm beginning to understand the type of questions that must be on the application.

Questions such as:
1. Has your Momma ever covered your mouth with her hand while you were making a comment? And while her hand was over your mouth, did you keep talking?

2. Has anyone ever knocked you out with their fist in the middle of a conversation? Did you sue them?

3a. Do you believe every thought that crosses your mind must be expressed?
3b. Do you believe "filtering" what you think before it comes out of your mouth is censorship?

You get my drift. Basically, if you answer "yes" to most of these, you are HIRED!!!***

One of the things that bugs the snot out of me is the policy of this grocery store that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, must be accompanied to their car by another store employee who is either pushing the cart I just finished using or carrying my bags.

Gosh, guys, thanks for thinking of me, but once I purchase the groceries, they are MINE. I can dump them in the parking lot if I want. I can use them for arm lifts, if I choose. I get a little, shall we say, like the seagulls in "Finding Nemo" once my credit card is processed: they are "MINEMINEMINEMINEMINE". And, I would like you to take your cotton pickin' hands OFF THEM.

And, Me, Myself and I will act as my escorts to the car. Thank you very much.

Anyway, I got the teenage kid on Christmas break from the long line of baggers today. My kids were all over the store, bouncing with anticipation at a birthday/slumber party later in the day, and they were in rare form.

Once I corralled them at the checkout, we all started walking toward the car.

Since it would be totally awkward to completely ignore this young man while 1) we walk to the car AND 2) I try to round-up the boys AND 3) I try to find my keys, I attempt to carry on a conversation between the punctuations of "STOP!", "GET OVER HERE", and "MOVE" while digging in my purse like a dog unearthing a bone.

I discovered he was glad he was past the age his Momma had to yell at him. STRIKE ONE. I'm not yelling, I'm correcting.

And, since I figured I must have misheard him, I asked "So you are old enough now that there's NOTHING your Mom has to yell at you about?" It was a hopeful question, in that I would love to have one day where my voice isn't raw by 8pm from having to use it so often for "loving" correction.

His reply: "Well, maybe about homework." DANG. Fourteen more years of this.

Anyway, he returned the line of questioning by asking how old the boys were. When I answered "11, 9 and 5", things got dicey again.

Initially I thought I misheard the chap when he commented "DANG. The oldest is SHORT for his age, isn't he?"

I was really rather surprised at this comment. Not that I am comparing sacker-boy's stature, but I'm a pesky five three on a good day, and I wasn't exactly craning my neck to look up at him.

I said "Really?", mostly because no one has ever made this comment. Sure, he seems tall in some situations and short in others, but it's never crossed my mind that the kid is "vertically challenged" for life.

Thank goodness we reached the car at that point. He put the groceries in the back and was off to verbally engage the next lucky shopper. All the while, probably pondering and feeling sorry for the "short" kid he just left in my car.

I just wonder if, someday, this kid will be escorted to his car by a much younger bagger who will comment that his child has some physical anomaly, like an enormous, extraordinarily large melon of a head. And, I wonder if this comment will come while he's yelling at big head to simmer down.

Maybe, just maybe, by then, someone in the grocery store business will have figured out that hiring employees without any verbal filter actually DOES reflect on your company.

Or instituted a class on "Small Talk 101" or "Verbally Smacking-Down Customers is a No-No".

Or, better yet, developed an employee choke collar that will send a shock every time the conversation starts to turn lethal.

Regardless, even then, when I'll be old and gray and I'll look like I should want help with my bags, I won't.

So, please sell them to me and let me figure out how to get them to my car. OKIE DOKIE?

*In college, my roommate and I decided, for extra coin, we'd work in a shipping plant that packaged together printed materials, such as company receipt pads, credit card receipts--the old type, with three copies, that the machine ran your credit card across, and order sheets. Based on that experience, when I see something shrink wrapped in plastic, it catapults me right back to college, when I was young enough to attend school in the day, work an overnight shift, and STILL have energy for Friday night frat parties.

**Who was told her kids didn't know how to behave...can you imagine the restraint needed not to slug THAT employee?

***EXCEPT the lawsuit question. If that's a "yes", you are too hot to handle and your app goes straight into the shredder.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Estate Planning Before Its Time

On the way to school today, The Babe piped up with the following question:

"Mom? When you die, can I have the house?"

My brain: "HELLO? I'm 44! Estate planning isn't even on my radar screen, kid!"

I let out an audible "HA". It was the same sound you hear when you are in mixed company and someone tells a blatantly sexist joke and you can't believe you just heard what you did. And now you have to decide if you are going to call that person out or deck them. But, you pause, hoping someone else will do the dirty work.

The only other person in the car was Hooman. He had the same reaction except he was laughing.

After a second or two of processing this I said: "Geez. Don't you think you could have asked a little more politely?"

Hooman: "Yeah. She's not even close to dead. Yet."

My brain: "Great. Yet. Implication: soon, old woman. Your day is coming, soon."

And in almost the time it took me to draw another breath, The Babe responded, cool as a cucumber: "Mom? When you die, can I have the house? PLEASE."

Now Hooman and I are laughing so hard we are both about to cry. The Babe is totally confused, but laughing, because the two big buffoons in the car think what he said was funny, but still doesn't get the joke: "I said it nicer! I said 'please'."

"True. But that's not exactly what I meant."

I launched into a relatively vague conversation about what generally happens when a Mommy and Daddy are old, with great emphasis on OLD and IN THE FUTURE and NO TIME SOON, and they have a house to leave to children.

I explained that the house will be theirs. And that's when Hooman said the sweetest thing: "We won't ever get rid of it, Mom."

I told him how much I appreciated him wanting to keep the house but that Daddy and I would understand if all three boys would prefer to sell it. I didn't want to create guilt when I finally do keel over a la: "When I was 8, I told Mom I'd never get rid of this house, so we can't."

But, mostly, this conversation reconfirmed to me that our wait for this house, with all the missteps and "almosts" on other houses and even the 'You're STILL remodeling?' comments, was the right one.

We worried that the kids would be too bonded to the old house by the time we moved. But this little statement by Hooman told me that a new bond had been formed. Our new house had become a home. A haven. And that is exactly what we looked for all those year we looked, prayed, looked again, prayed again, and waited for the Lord to lead us to "the one".

Thank you, Lord, for funny boy comments and a house so cozy it has become "home".

And, Babe? I have my eye on you. And I know a cop. I expect to be around a good, long time, so don't get any ideas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010


So, today, I let an issue get to me. The comment I read probably wasn't directed at me but, regardless, it got under my skin.

So, I sat down, prayed to God and asked him to tell me what He thought about the situation.

You know, sometimes God is just so honest that it stings. And this one did.

I'm issuing a kleenex alert because I know that there are many out there that probably deal with similar issues. And, if even a bit of this hits close to your heart, it will hurt. And it might make you cry. And, I hope, like me, is speaks to you in a way that opens your eyes and makes you think twice about how sensitive you are and how you need to build relationships instead of tearing them down.

I need, and have asked for, forgiveness from God for my behavior over the years. I am passive-aggressive. I don't like conflict, though I will go headlong into a situation to try to resolve it. But, I find this hardest with people I love, respect, and want approval from. So, please forgive me, Lord.

And, if you are my friend, please forgive me, too. Even if I don't remember saying unkind things about you or gossiping or whatever, I need you to know that I cherish all of you so much and I want to be the most awesome person that God sees in me, so I can build each of you up, not tear you down.


I am talking to you today because I think there is something that needs to be brought to your attention.

Over the years, you have developed an extensive group of friends. All have something in common: they’ve dealt with you and the issue you have with passive-aggressiveness.

It is difficult to be your friend. You don’t accept criticism at all. You don’t like to be wrong. You sulk and pout when you don’t get your way. You talk about people behind their backs and don’t bother to think about how your behavior is affecting others until someone points this out to you. And that’s when the passive-aggression starts.

You don’t deal, head-on, with what is bothering you. Instead, you take the issue to the court of popular opinion and let your group of family/friends help you bash the person who hurt your feelings.

Have you noticed, when you take a complaint to your friends, that they rarely disagree with you? That the end result of your ranting is a friend who says you ARE right? That’s because, and this is really important, they are afraid to tell you the truth. Because, when they do, you get angry with them and turn around and talk about them behind their backs.

You have surrounded yourself with “yes” people. People who will shake their heads as you complain about the latest “insult” or disagreement or travesty of justice. Sure, there are a couple of people you love who will be brutally honest with you, and sometimes you turn to them for direction, but they are usually your last stop because you prefer to go to the “yes” people first. Because they make you feel better than the “honest” people do.

You might also take note of how much you complain. It’s almost constant. Have you stopped to consider that maybe, just maybe, it’s because you are using other people? When you find yourself angry at someone, you complain and use whomever you are mad at as your punching bag in front of your other friends. You drag that person's name into a conversation where you verbally, and repeatedly, punch them because you don’t like something they said, did/didn’t do, wrote, or otherwise communicated.

And here’s the twisted part: you’ve said so many mean, negative, ugly things about other people over the years that nobody trusts you much anymore. What you thought was going to build you up has actually torn you down.

Life shouldn’t be that way. Sure, life is about struggle and hardship and tough decisions and conversations. And it’s not always going to go your way. Nor should it. Life should be about building relationships that are full of honesty and trust and mutual sharing, even sharing that leads you to examine your own heart and discover you are wrong.

Because, there are going to be times that people let you down. They WILL hurt you. They might tell you something about yourself that, at first blush, you disagree with but, yet, is the honest truth. And, sometimes, those comments might really, really hurt you. But, you have to consider, if someone loves you SO MUCH that they are willing to lay your relationship on the line, that person is worth having in your life. They are a “keeper”.

I am going to challenge you to stop assuming you know what people are thinking. Stop assuming that you know they were targeting you with the comments they made. STOP ACTING LIKE THE ONLY WAY TO BUILD YOURSELF UP IS TO TEAR OTHER PEOPLE DOWN. BECAUSE THAT’S NOT HOW IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE.

You are precious. You are unique. You are special. You are loved. You are beautiful, just the way you are. You are smart, wonderful, and fearfully made.

But it’s not me that needs to believe this, it’s you. And, if you will make one little step in the direction of changing the way you relate to other people by giving them the benefit of the doubt and clarifying issues when you feel hurt and stepping up to keep wounds from destroying the love you share with family, friends, and neighbors, I KNOW you will find the person you were made to be.

Go. Today. Discover what we all know about you: you are awesome.

And you are going to be even more awesome when you figure that out.


Last week, I joined about three billion other people in watching Barbara Walter's in another one of her specials.

Featured were the cast of "Jersey Shore". I have never watched this show and don't intend to, so all this was fairly foreign to me. And, after watching those "celebrities", I'm glad I haven't been sucked in.

It's like watching gingivitis and body odor become a happenin' trend sometime in my lifetime. NO THANKS.

Anyway, one of these kids was talking about "smooshing". My ears perked up because, you may recall, The Babe and Hoooman have been discussing smooshing lately.

And, up to the point that this over-tanned, Jersey-accented, muscle-bound bonehead used the word, I was under the impression that my sweetums had come up with a nice, new word for kissing*.

Turns out, Jersey-boy uses the word smooshing to refer to "hooking up" with random girls. I'm pretty sure that's when Snookie** further defined it as "friends with benefits."

GOOD GOLLY. My kids are joking around about having sex with total strangers or their good friends*** and I think it's "cute"!!

Leave it to Barbara Walters, whose like 174 years old, to teach this 44 year old Mother something new.

*Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. That's the sound of the jerkoid who taught my kids this word.

**If that is her real name, her parent's should be in jail.

***OH! And my kids are no longer using that word. Under penalty of a good butt whoopin' or an old-fashioned grounding.

Do You Have Hope?

So, today, I am going to let you stand in awe of a writer who is amazing in her message and wonderfully understanding of what is lacking in our world.

Her message made me question what side of the fence I tend toward: hope or hopelessness.

I hope, for your sake, reading this will do that same for you....

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

This is Who I Want To Be When I Grow Up

Secret Santa Spreads Joy, Disbelief in Kansas City--AP story

Secret Santa II hit the streets Tuesday in a long-standing Kansas City tradition of handing out $100 bills — sometimes several at a time — to unsuspecting strangers in thrift stores, food pantries and shelters.

Some people gasped in surprise. Some wanted to know if the $100 bill the tall man in the red cap offered was fake. Others wept.

Secret Santa II has seen a lot of reactions since taking over where his mentor, Kansas City's original Secret Santa, Larry Stewart, left off when he died in 2007 at age 58. Like Stewart, who gave away more than $1 million to strangers each December in mostly $100 bills, this Secret Santa prefers to stay anonymous.

A fake white beard taped to his face, Secret Santa II handed out about $10,000 in total Tuesday. Recipients included a police officer with terminal cancer, a homeless man pushing a rickety old shopping cart, an 81-year-old woman who had recently told her 27 grandchildren she wouldn't be able to afford any Christmas gifts, and Bernadette Turner, a 32-year-old unemployed mother of two.

"It's hard to come by," Turner said looking in disbelief at the $200 Secret Santa had given her.

Then one of Santa's "elves" — another tall man in a red cap — sidled up to next to Turner, asked a few questions, and handed her an additional $100. Turner, whose children are 3 and 8, was overcome.

"I can only afford one gift for each child. But now ...." she said, wiping tears from her cheeks and reaching out for a hug.

"Do you believe in Santa Claus?" Capt. Ray Wynn of the Kansas City, Mo., Fire Department, asked from a few feet away. Wynn had followed Stewart on many "sleigh rides" around the country and now follows this Secret Santa, providing stories, memories and amusing sound effects.

"I do now," Turner said. "I do now."

Secret Santa II took over from Stewart about the time the recession hit and the economy went into a tailspin. Like Stewart, this Secret Santa doesn't talk about his own finances, where those $100 bills come from and if — like for so many people now — they've been harder to come by.

Come December, he just fills his pockets with money, dons his red cap and heads out looking for people to make really happy.

He will likely hand out about $40,000 this December. He says he'll go "till the money runs out."

"The recession, unemployment. This is the time you don't want to stop. You don't want to back off," he said.

He walked up to Peggy Potter, 59, of Kansas City, Kan., who was looking at some framed prints at a thrift store. He made some small talk, put his arm around her and within minutes she was crying. Her son died about a year and a half ago. Her husband died in July and her daughter died soon after that.

"I'm just ... today's been a rough day for me, just thinking about my loved ones," she said. "I've been having a hard time paying for all the funerals."

Santa gave her $200, listened more, hugged her, and told her the poster she was holding had special meaning. It was a photo of two hands, one large, one small. Words printed at the bottom could have been written by Secret Santa, the original or the current one.

It said: "Kindness in giving creates love."

12/14/10, Kansas City, Mo
Romans 12:13--"Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hatin' on Facebook

It took me awhile, but I finally figured out why I hate Facebook.

Cryptic messages and pointless updates.

If you have more than just your regular posse of friends "friended" on Facebook, you are bound to become a victim of this.

"Cryptic" starts when someone posts a message that can only be interpreted by two of the fifteen-thousand "friends" that person has on Facebook. The other 14,998 of us? Clueless.

That's generally when one person posts a reply, a "please clue me in message", as in "I have no Earthly idea what this post is about but I feel like I should because this was posted for mass distribution and now I am a) worried about you b) confused c) feeling like I should be in the loop yet you left me out."

And the general response to such a message? White noise. Crickets chirping. Nada.

BECAUSE, and this is the key: the original message is an inside job, meant only for those two people, and you've just been drug into the middle of something that you will not be given the key to unlock.


And it makes me wish every single message was about sunshine and roses and pancakes, things every man can relate to without having to interpret, guess or otherwise figure out.

But that leads me to the pointless update.

"Ate at Macaroni Grill. BURP."
"Going to the MAVS game with my bud, Rodrigo."
"So drunk last night I threw up on my cat."*

SERIOUSLY? Is this news? Maybe in your world, but not in mine. It's utterly, completely irrelevant to life as most people know it because we didn't a) enjoy dinner with you b) get invited to join you at the MAVS game or c) get the privilege of busting your butt for stupid behavior right in the big, fat middle of it.

Maybe what this really means is that I should just unfriend several people. But, the weird thing is, I've been REALLY selective in choosing who to add, so do I just take FB back down to those I can count to really share something logical and not all hush-hush or ridiculous? Still pondering this one.

But, at least for now, I have the ammunition to explain why Facebook is like The New York Times crossword puzzle** to me: It seems I am drawn to things that should bring me pleasure but do nothing but frustrate me.

*For illustrative purposes only. Not intended to reflect ANYONE I know, knew, or might know.

**I love words. I love defining words. I love synonyms/antonyms and etymology. But I can't do these stupid puzzles to save my cotton-pickin' soul.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Santa IS real, Darnit!

Nickels asked tonight: "When can we tell The Babe about, you know, Santa?"

Me (a little snappish*): "You can't!!! He has to figure this one out on his own. Got it?"

What I was really thinking:
"If you out Santa at this point, I've entered another phase of Motherhood, for which I'm not prepared. I already have you and Hooman who are basically one step shy of hair in places I refuse to acknowledge, discuss, or, heaven forbid, accidentally see**.

And I just want one more good year of someone in this house getting really excited to stand in a longer line than necessary to sit on Santa's crotch for two minutes and spill the beans about our greediness.

Besides, if you decide to out Santa now, it's not outside the realm of reason that Daddy could reverse his vasectomy, I could get pregnant, and you could end up with a baby sister. Just so we could start this whole Santa charade again.

SO, if you value my sanity and yours: SHUT YOUR MOUTH."

*OK. A LOT snappish.

**Please burn my eyes out before I have to see my boys as naked men.....

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Mistakes of Others

If you watch movies and TV with a somewhat questioning mind, you'll notice that many shows are about the ugly underbelly of our society. The bad behavior. The murder. The cheating and lying and stealing.

If aliens from another galaxy were to land in America today and watch 24 hours of the boob tube or a day's worth of DVDs, they'd think we thrived on those things.

It got me thinking: why do we really like to watch other people screw-up? Make mistakes? Fall flat on their faces?

I think the answer lies in what other people's mistakes do for US.

When I hear of that famous (or not so famous) preacher admitting to an affair, do I feel a bit smug? After all, I would never do that. In a million years.

When I see that someone ran down a young lady walking down the street because he had been drinking and didn't see her...well, I would always appoint a designated driver.

When I hear two people arguing on a TV show and saying ugly, mean-spirited, hateful things to one another? I feel just a bit superior. I don't do that.

Or, do I?

Sure, the affair thing is off the table. But, I'm not in a position of power, surrounded by people of the opposite sex, many of them emotionally needy, looking to me for their security.

No, I don't drink and drive in my 40's, nor did I in my 30's. But my teenage and early 20's years weren't the same story. There are times, I have to admit, that I am quite unclear about how I arrived at my destination. Not only was I blessed to be alive, but those in the path of the car that I was driving/riding in were, too.

Arguing. Well, if you read this blog enough, you'll know that I have a teensy problem called "yelling". I'm just fortunate that nobody is paying me to record my life for a TV show. Otherwise, I'd probably sinning on TV, within eyeshot of some housewife in backwoods South Dakota who would be all smug because I was getting all yelly at the kids and Mike.

Pick your poison. We all have faults. We all sin. We all fall short.

I have to consciously quit comparing myself to those who mess up to make myself feel superior. Instead, I have to look to God to forgive me for all the countless daily errors I make. Because comparing my sins to other's sins is just a losing proposition.

When I hear of a public official/celebrity falling short, I should be grateful that my life isn't in the public eye. That I can stumble through life making mistakes without every blunder being criticized. And I should say a little pray to God to help the person receiving all the media attention. After all, they'll receive the same loving grace as I receive, even though my mistakes aren't the subject of blog posts, Facebook updates, tweets, mini-series, feature films and magazine covers.

How about you? Have you ever stopped to consider the implication of other people's very public mistakes and how you respond?

Better yet, what about the impact on those who look to you as "the Christian" in their lives. This may be a co-worker, a relative, or your own children. Do they see you wrapped up in the ugly side of life on Earth or do they see you making an effort to avoid that type of jazz?

These are tough questions. And there are tough answers. But, if we are honest with ourselves, making the right choices not only seems to make sense, but it is good for us.

Best of luck wrestling with this one. I'm on the mat, too, trying to figure out how this whole thing works.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Safe, From a Distance

Things I've been noodling:

1. When Jesus decided to stay behind in Jerusalem with the teachers while the rest of the folk and his parents traveled into the desert, and Mary and Joseph searched for him for four whole days, his response to very worried but relieved Mary was equivalent to "MOMMMM? Of course I was with the teachers. DUH."*

But, when I read on, the next part of the verse says they went to Nazareth and he was obedient to his parents.

I just want to know: who spanked the child of God? Or, was it a good tongue lashing instead?

2. Why didn't God create cold, flu and allergy season to attack us during the summer, when we'd rather stay inside anyway? Why ruin the BIG holidays with all the coughing, vomiting, and blowing?

3. If I can get zits at 44, just like when I was a teenager, why can't I eat like I'm still a teenager? At my age, any zit should be a bargaining tool: one zit = an ice cream cone that won't cause me to gain an ounce or bloat like a dead animal.

4. If I had been Eve, pre-snake-encounter, and lived in THE GARDEN, would brussel sprouts have tasted as good as carrot cake with cream cheese frosting?

5. Why do people always say "Fine" when you ask how they are doing, then launch into a long sermon on how horrible their lives have become? Isn't saying "My life is crap" from the get go a little more honest?

6. Does it bother anybody else that some of the kettle ringers for The Salvation Army act like your best buddy when you walk in the store and your worst enemy when you leave without contributing? Shouldn't it be "Merry Christmas" regardless?

7. It bugs me to no end when the carhop at Sonic thinks my change is THEIR tip, without even offering to give it back. One time, the carhop started to turn away and I asked for my change back. Even her skates gave me a DIRTY look!

Hello? There is a Salvation Army ringer across the street I'm trying to get off my back and I have to have SOMETHING.....

*With the obligatory eye roll.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Strange bedfellows definition: unlikely companions or allies.

Politics and strange bedfellows aren't the only who got together. And, frankly, they've got nothing on me this morning: I woke up with a zit in the middle of my crow's feet.

I don't think any further commentary is necessary.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Santa's Naughty List

IF my older two believed in Santa. And IF Santa really kept a naughty list. And IF they'd only receive a lump of coal if they were bad.

My budget for Christmas would be in cherry shape right now.

"Why?", you ask. Well, because, within the past few days, the following has occured:

1. An entire can of anti-perspirant was discharged, by a brother who had been caught by yours truly when he was originally walking around the house with the can and a roll of tape. He was turned away from his brother's bedroom and told to return the stash to its proper place.

Apparently, when I went to finish a couple of errands, the entire bomb making operation was re-mantled by my domestic terrorist in training. Tape was used to hold the spray trigger and ALL the clothing in the closet was "painted", the side of the desk took a shellacking, and the floor became a canvas.

I noticed the piquant smell of off-brand baby powder in the air when I returned. Since no one but me should be using something so femininely scented, I inquired to the source of the smell. Mike, I found out, had already begun the "airing out" process, but the duct system was now distributing the odorific funk to every room in the house.

The big discovery of the evening was that the powdery portion of anti-perspirant can travel. And land in the most odd of places, such as the kitchen, atop drinking glasses. I became keenly aware of this truth when I took a big swig of my drink and TASTED Arrid Extra Dry Regular Scent.

This whole operation occured somewhere between 2-3pm. It is now almost 8pm and I still can't go near the room without my eyes starting to itch and water.

2. Since our house was almost completely uninhabitable, we decided a family outing was in order to keep us all from developing "Arrid lung".

Since we had adopted five senior citizens from a local nursing home, we thought it would be a good idea to go shopping for them. All was going well until our last stop. We managed to make it through the 99 cent store and the mall without incident. Finally we were in Target*.

This particular store was designed in 1545 by someone with no sense of direction. To get to the electronics department to buy Mr. Weaver the radio he requested, we had to navigate grocery, stationary, doggy goods, and, finally, toys.

It was in the toy department that a brother "outed" the big gift for the the terrorist**. I'm guessing this was in retaliation for the anti-perspirant bomb. But, it could just be boys gone wild behavior. Times five trillion.

I'm just super glad that sound is muffled by shelving at big box stores because one of the brothers got a tongue lashing that might have caused those without children to wonder if he had called in a threat to the President.

This should have been an outing where we were focused on the joy of being able to give to others. All I could think about was giving someone a really good whack on the behind. Or banging heads together like coconuts, all Three Stooges style.

3. The anti-perspirant terrorist destroyed a neighbor's bike helmet. The cause of the destruction is no longer under investigation but we are just never going to speak of it again.

Ever Again.

Net result?

a. Two Nowell boys are on Santa's merde list

b. One young man owes the Nowell budget for a bike helmet AND a can of anti-perspirant

c. The previously instituted grounding of one brother continues on its merry way. The terrorist is joining him in the pursuit of better behavior by removal of playtime, TV, and anything that smells, feels, or looks remotely good or fun.

OH! And since writing this post, I've discovered a second aerosal bomb, in the top of the bathroom wastebasket***. This one? A can of spray starch, which was used all over the floors of the terrorist's room to create a sticky mess. I guess my boy didn't think the hardwoods were hard enough.

Looming in the near future are 1) an end-of-the-year business trip for Mike, which, I'm convinced, was perfectly planned to screw with me**** and 2) two-plus weeks of Christmas vacation.

Tomorrow, while the kids are in school, I'm going to attempt to clean the mess, decide where all the aerosals in my house really should live, and buy some preemptive wine, just in case things spiral out-of-control before 2011 arrives.

But, most importantly, I'm going to Saran Wrap the interior of two stockings, just in case Santa really DOES leave coal.....

*Target store planners: you JUST remodeled this particular location. As I was waiting in the electronics department, I noticed a MAP, created for my convenience. HELLO? If I need a map to navigate your store, I'm taking my business elsewhere.

**I knew he'd been snooping, I just didn't know how MUCH he'd been snooping. Now I do.

***The term "hiding the evidence" has never been introduced to the under twelve set in my house.

****"Hey, honey! We just finished our little company Christmas get together and I got to try a $200 bottle of Merlot! Who knew red was SOOO good? Here comes the steaming hot entree of crab fingers and Angus beef with a side of asparagus. The molten chocolate cake is coming later. What did you have for dinner?" CLICK. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Nutty Status Update

While cruising Facebook, I found this gem from someone who knows someone who I know:

"And while i'm thinkin of it, ricky martin saying that people should come out when they are ready is great and true but had he come out when people actually cared about his music, there may have been less bullying and dead gay teens now."

REALLY? The key to less bullying and fewer gay dead teens was, all along, RICKY MARTIN'S SCHEDULE?

Cripe. Somehow I thought it was tied up in that Jesus guy.

Facebook? Thanks for allowing one of your users to enlighten me.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Thank You Mr. Handel....

Watching this was most definitely the moment I felt the spirit of Christmas descend.

The juxtaposition of the food court against the beauty of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus is not to be missed. Church builders and symphony hall designers could take a tip from the person who created the perfect acoustics in a mall!

This is a God moment on Earth. Turn up the speakers and enjoy.

And a bit early: Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Caffeinated, ADD-Riddled Status Update

Instead of doing the shopping, cleaning, and cooking that needs to be accomplished in order to throw our annual mission's bash on Saturday, I'm doing the following:

1. Trying to win an XBOX360 Kinect for Christmas. My only competition? The other 3500 people who also want it....

2. Trying to win the Oprah's Favorite Things giveaway. Competition is everyone on planet Earth.

3. Trying to find the time to finish decorating the house for AFTER Christmas, when all the "extras" come down and the house looks all sad and bare.

4. Trying to figure out who I should call to say "It looks like there will be a house on the market, across the street from us, in the next few weeks. I need another good neighbor with kids." Any takers?

5. Trying to figure out if licking the beaters once the cake has been put in the oven constitutes a tea or table spoon*. Rejoicing that I resisted the urge to leave a cup of batter in the bowl and eat it.

6. Trying to figure out why December wasn't made the longest month on the calendar. With just one or two more weekends, everyone could have their party, everyone could attend all the parties to which they were invited, and we could all qualify for The Biggest Loser come 2011.

7. Trying to figure out if procrastination is genetic**.

8. Trying to determine if procrastination is my little way of thumbing my nose at time or if I just do better under pressure or if I'm just way lazy until I am backed into a wall, kicking and screaming.

9. Trying to figure out if brewing two more cups of coffee, sub 10:30am, will be over the top, when added to the two I've already had.

10. Trying to figure out if I've really figured anything out writing this.....

*Before you start preaching about salmonella poisoning from the eggs: I have been doing this since before I was 10 years old. 34 years of experience, IE: not dying after eating raw batter, tells me that there is a statistically valid reason for continuing this practice.

**If so, I'm packing and leaving the house today for a little 15 year vacation overseas.

Friday, December 3, 2010


"Mom? I think you are losing your hearing."

This conversation started after I commented that the new brand of coffee I was brewing had a REALLY strong aroma.

Since figuring out that, tablespoon for tablespoon, my favorite creamer has more sugar than a Coke, I've become a black coffee drinker. I've always tended toward a more mellow coffee, preferably flavored after roasting with something yummy like hazelnut or vanilla or chocolate.

In fact, I can't drink Starbucks to save my life. It's too full-bodied for me. Not to mention that paying $4 for a coffee is reserved for a nice night out with my husband at a five-star restaurant.

So, yesterday I went out on a limb and purchased a "medium" coffee. And it seemed to be brewing up strong. And, I started to get a little worried that my morning brew was going to make hair expel from my chest a la Tom Selleck*.

Hence my comment to the kids, that my coffee was rather odor-fying**.

That's when my apparent deafness was brought to my attention.

"Well, when we are standing close to you and say "Mom?", sometimes we have to repeat ourselves like four or five times."

This was the point at which I made it abundantly clear that, when people say "Mom" at me in rapid-fire succession, I hear them quite well, thank you. And I'm ignoring the behavior that appears to have been learned from the likes of a rabid badger. Or coming from the sound of a Tommy gun at midnight in front of a jazz club in 40's Chicago.

"OK. But what does the coffee have to do with this?" I inquire.

"Well, you know that when one sense starts to decline, other senses start to increase." This was a very point-blank statement, made with a scrunchy "sorry to inform you" face.


"I don't smell the coffee."

There was no comment from me. Just a look like "What in Sam Hill are you talking about, boy?"

"Hooman? Babe? Do you smell the coffee?" Hearty "no" nods from the peanut gallery.

"Mom. None of us smell the coffee." He says this last part apologetically, like he's just told me I have two days to live and, for my own good, they are putting me in a nursing home to convalesce.

At this point I'm partially rejoicing because I see my kid has learned something in science class. WHOOOHHOOOO: the intricacies of the senses!

And I'm partially mourning because I realize logic, which is a class reserved for the sixth grade and up, is really lacking. I'm standing about 2 feet from the coffee pot. If I couldn't smell this overpowering medium-bodied coffee, I'd be in the bathroom with a Neti Pot shoved up to the top of my sinuses doing some serious irrigation.

Somehow, at this juncture in our "Mom, you are getting old and we hate to be the ones to inform you" conversation, someone started to whine about his oatmeal and the entire train of deafness thought came to a grinding halt.

In retrospect, I'm glad I had another chance to lay down the important lesson in "How to reverse improper ways of getting your Mother's attention so you might actually have a snowball's chance in Hell of getting what you want."

And the coffee was great. A little on the strong side for me, but a good brew, nonetheless. I'm considering this a pioneering day for me on the way to drinking coffee that won't garner snide comments from 16-year-old baristas***.

So from now on, if you think I don't hear you when you speak to me? Just ask if I can smell the poo that Doug freshly deposited on the rug in the dining room****.

If the answer is "yes"? Just talk a little louder.

*Even my Grandmother had a crush on him back in the day. When three generations of family pronounce something good, it has to be.

**A combination of smelly and terrifying.

***Several years ago, in a Starbucks, when I asked for a really "light" coffee, a snotty teenager had the nerve to tell me they don't brew Sanka at Starbucks. She was lucky I had just been to a sushi bar with a friend and had a little saki in me, otherwise I would have given her a fresh piece of my mind.

****Now that it is 'cold' outside, he's back to his old hi jinks.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Rebel Rebel

Heard from the Hooman, as he was coming through the kitchen at 6:30am...

"I didn't take a shower. THAT'S how the bad boys roll."

He said it smugly, with a side of snark and a pure genius Elvis smile. Of course, he forgot to remember that he had bathed last night.

What a rebel I'm raising.