Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Not the the Sharpest Tool in the Shed

Alright, was anyone else so embarrassed for Paula on American Idol last night that they had to fast forward? I did. Couldn't take it. If you missed it the first time you can see it here. I'll close my eyes if you don't mind.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Poetry Day

Another busy day, so I will post a poem I wrote for my niece's wedding in 2004.

The Beginning: Page One
May 2004 for Erica and Justin's Wedding

where we stand,
is not the culmination
of a romance
but the beginning
of a love story.

The end--unknown.
The pages--empty,
waiting for our mark.
We, the authors of all our tomorrows,
in this moment,
begin the first page.

What joys or sorrows
are only paragraphs away,
I know not.
But this I do know:

I love you
my friend,
my delight,
my companion.

And now--here--
I irrevocably join hands and hearts
with you.
We shall travel
line by line
enduring whatever is to come,
for I have found a safe harbor.
You are now my home.

And from this moment until forever,
I shall have the holy blessing
to see you
through Heaven's eyes
and reflect His love,
Happily ever after.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Just Another Friday Night in the Rabbit Hole

On Friday Mr. Wicke and I took the kids to see the daughter of a friend in a dance recital. One might naturally assume that it was during the nearly two hour show when things fell apart, but that isn't so. Everything considered, the kids behaved themselves very well; only afterward did we fall down the rabbit hole.

During our long journey to the parking lot I noticed Griffin looking a bit upset. "What's the matter, buddy? Are you okay?"

"I don't feel good."

"What's the matter?"

Logan interrupted. "Mom, can I run down that hill?"


Griffin suddenly perked up. "Can I go, too?"


Funny how kids turn on a dime. The sudden highs and lows of childhood constantly amaze me, and they just keep coming. After Logan returned from her brief hike she wailed, "I have to go potty!"

"Logan! Are you serious? Why didn't you say something inside?"

"Because I didn't need to go potty then."

"Well, look around. There's no potty in sight."

"I could go in a bush or something."

"I think you are getting a little too old for that," her daddy quickly explained.

"Can you hold it until we get to the restaurant?" I asked.

"Um...I'll try."

Minutes later she is in the back of the van doing the potty shuffle. "Logan, are you doing okay?" I'm familiar enough with her walnut-sized bladder to worry.

"I'm trying to hold it."

"We're almost there."

"Daddy, can you stop somewhere?"

"Honey, I don't think she's going to make it," I agree.

Thomas finds a Circle K, and Logan and I run inside. Too late. She's already peed her pants. Ugh. I pull off her underwear and throw them away.

"Mommy! What are you doing? Those were my favorite!"

"You have favorite underwear? C'mon."

"But I love those."

"Logan, they are soaked! I'm not carrying around pee-peed panties in my purse."

"I tried to hold it!"

"I know, but honey you can not wait until the last possible minute to tell us you need to go potty."

"I didn't!"

"Logan, you wait so long that you can't hold it. You need to tell us sooner--the minute you think you might need to go--so we can find a place without you peeing in your pants." I never seem to make myself clear in these conversations. I did not major in Potty Education, and I am pretty certain I am missing some key elements of the course. I just can't seem to communicate the basics.

Finally we get back in the car where Griffin has been contentedly watching The Incredibles. "Well, she didn't make it," I inform Mr. Wicke.

"Oh, no."

"Oh, it's alright. Let's just get something to eat. We're all hungry and tired."

By the time we drive to Cafe Rio, Griffin has fallen asleep, or at least I think so. It's hard to tell as his current favorite activity is pretending to be asleep so we will carry him.

"Oh, brother. C'mon, little man," I soothe as I pick him up to carry him inside. "Let's get something to eat and then we'll go home, okay?"

"I don't want to eat."

"What? You don't want a quesadilla?" They are usually his favorite. "Would you like a taco instead?"

"I don't want anything."

I can't seem to catch a break. "Griffin, I know you're hungry." By now we are up at the counter and next in line to order. Suddenly he picks his head up and says, "I don't feel good," and the next moment I'm covered in vomit. It's down my shirt, inside my bra, in a giant puddle on the floor and splashed onto my shoes.

I hear a couple of patrons gasp and the man behind the 5 foot counter says, "Is he alright?"

"No..." Thomas has left, I assume to find something to help, but Griffin is gagging again. I cup my hands below his mouth and he vomits into them. It seems everyone in the restaurant is frozen looking at us. Griffin begins to heave again, and all I can get out is, "Give me something!"

The man behind the counter thrusts an aluminum tray at us just in the nick of time, although at this point there is not much left in the poor little guy's stomach. When he has finished none of us knows quite what to do. Griffin looks up at me with those sad, confused eyes. "It's okay, buddy." I then look to the customer next to me and the man behind the counter. "Sorry about that."

Much to their credit they are both very understanding and kind. "Oh, that's okay. It happens."

Yes. Yes, it does. I am becoming very familiar with the rabbit hole by now. It's one kooky place to be. You never know what's going to happen from one minute to the next, but if there is one thing you can count on it is this: It will probably happen in public.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Horse For Lease

At the beginning of the week I couldn't put my finger on what was wrong around here. The children seemed unusually cranky and difficult, and I felt my patience slowly deflate. Well, not actually slowly. Not like those wilted balloons the day after a party. More like the balloons you take a pin to. That kind of deflate. The kind that explodes. Finally I said to Logan, "Look. I do not like the way you are talking to me lately. It's rude. What is going on with you?"

"I'm tired," she whined.

"Well then, go upstairs and take a nap, and don't come down until you can be nice."

At the bottom of the stairs she fell in a heap and cried, "I'm tired of school."

In truth, she loves school. She has had a terrific year. And then it hit me. Here at the Tea Party Place we are ready for summer. We are ready to get off the merry go round for a little while. Ready to put away the constant schedule pressure. Ready to lay back, take it easy and even be still; but old habits are hard to break.

A couple of days later I was talking to a few moms who were signing their kids up for a two-week musical theater summer workshop. My ears pricked up, and I felt that old horse pulling at her bit. I LOVE musical theater. I want my kids to LOVE musical theater. (And to you haters that think it's disconcerting when someone randomly bursts into song, don't even bother trying to change my mind. I'm hooked. If I could I would burst into song right now just to really make that clear.)

"Ooh. Maybe I'll sign Logan up. She would probably love something like--" Then I caught myself. No. Not this year, my little inner voice said.

This summer we are just going to be. We are going to do the things we want to do as we want to do them. That may mean we randomly burst into song once in a while, or maybe it will mean reading loads of books, or maybe it will just mean hanging around the pool a lot. The point is, I don't have a plan. And I'm going to make as few of them as possible. I'm going to listen to my inner voice and the voice of my children and give up my favorite horse on the merry go round for a season. Besides, I think they'll probably give it back to me in the fall anyway.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Gone for the Day

Will return tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mothering: Not for the Weak or the Proud

Today is setting up to be a a little hectic, so instead of writing a new post, I dug into my old correspondence. This letter was written in 2003 to my dear friend Deanna whom I've known since high school. She has an amazing way of making me feel normal. God bless her for it. This story is for every woman who has been or will ever be a new mother. God bless them for hanging in there. And for any man who loves them. God bless them, too! You know they need it.

Dear Deanna,

I thought you'd get a kick out of the day I had. We've all been there--or at least I hope we have--if not, I may have a demon child. Logan has begun a new phase in her life; she has learned the power of fit-throwing. I am not happy about it, but it does make for a good story. Here goes:

I went to Target--you know, that easy little errand trip that used to take just a few minutes unless you had time to kill and browsed the whole store? Well, those days are long, long gone. Logan won't sit in the cart. If I even try to approach it she screams like a banshee and does the back arch thing that drives me nuts. It's really amazing how strong she is for her size! But I try to get her in anyway, which simply results in a lot of looks and arched eyebrows from passersby. So, I let her walk, which means running most of the time--away from me. "Uh, lady, your little girl..." Yeah, half way down the aisle before I can just grab that book I came in for. Another arched look from a fellow customer, which assures me that she thinks I'm a bad mother.

By now, I have given up the idea of getting anything I really came in for, but I figure we'll grab some food so there is one less thing to do when I get home. I'm pretty tired by now, you know. In the next moment, I'm sitting in the food court of a Target thinking, "I am now one of those beat-down, tired, disheveled mothers that let their kids run back and forth across the bench because I don't have the energy to say no one more time. I'm the mothers I used to walk by and think, 'Wow! It's too bad they can't get their life together!' Yup! That's pretty much the way it is today...and strangely I'm okay with that."

That is until an older gentleman walks over to set his hotdog down on the table next to us and totters away to fill his drink. Logan takes one look at that dog and makes a bee-line for it before I can grab her. It's like a nano-second and she has it in her hands. I begin to say, "Logan, no!" but that sucker is tossed in the air, does a half-gainer and lands with little aplomb on the grungy floor. It was one of those moments when the other shoe has actually dropped but no one knows it yet; no one except you anyway.

Across the food court is that poor little man with his back to us, just finishing with his drink and looking forward to a simple hotdog that is now lying bunless on the black and white tile floor. How tempting it is just to put it back on the table! He hasn't seen a thing...but that guy in the corner would probably rat me out! Oh, face it! I could never do that anyway. But wouldn't it be nice if he never had to know! However, right at that moment he is walking toward us.

I stop him before he sees for himself what has happened. How does a person start this conversation? "Hi, you don't know me, and it doesn't really matter, but I need to buy you another hot dog. My little girl just threw yours on the floor. I'm really sorry. Oh no...Please...I'd feel a lot better if you'd let me take care of it....really. Was it the regular or all beef hot dog?" Somehow I stammer through it and try to behave as if I have some shred of dignity left.

That impression is soon shot, however, when we attempt to leave and she throws a screaming fit and hits me in the face, leaving a short bleeding scratch on my forehead and a longer red scratch down my nose. There are days when you really should not leave your house.

Fortunately, these outburst of Logan's are few and far between. Unfortunately, they seem to happen in the most public of places! Motherhood is not an occupation of pride.

If you have any good stories of your own, I'd love to hear them. Hope you are well and happy, and I can't wait to hear from you; it always brightens my day.


Proud Mommy and Friend

Monday, April 21, 2008

Look Who Got Paid

Today I am celebrating a paycheck. When I was teaching (for peanuts) and I would tell my parents about a success with a student or a compliment from a parent my dad would smile and say, "That's a paycheck, isn't it?"

The life of a mother is not full of paychecks every moment. Putting a pullup on my son at night because he's suddenly wetting the bed and dealing with his rabid "I want it off" fit is not a paycheck. Having a daughter snap at me and roll her eyes is not a paycheck. Pulling mushed-in play dough out of the carpet, again, is not a paycheck. Just so we're all clear on that.

But they do happen every now and again. Like last night when we were working on Logan's "All about Me" poster for kindergarten. It had all the regular questions: How old are you? Six. What is your favorite color? Yellow. What is your favorite food. Bacon. Then we came to __________ is my favorite place.

"Mukutu's Island, of course," she quickly replied.

"Wow...I thought it was the beach," her dad said.

"Or the zoo?" I added.

"Hmmm...That's a hard one. Let me think about it. We'll come back to that."

"Okay. The next one is 'When I grow up I want to be..."

"A mom."

"Really? That's great."

"Well, maybe I ought to say something else because I AM going to be a mom no matter what."

"Then why don't you put a mom and something else?"


"The other night you said you wanted to write stories. You could put an author."

"Uh, no..."

"Well you used to want to be a rock star, or a teacher--"

"Or an animal doctor," her dad added.

"Okay, I know. A mom and a zookeeper." (I didn't tell her that it's kind of the same thing.)

"Yeah, that's a good one. Okay, so what is your favorite place to be?"

And without another thought she lit on the perfect answer, "Home."

"That's a paycheck, isn't it?" my dad's voice rings in my head. He's right. Those are the moments I'm living for. Those are the moments that matter. Maybe all that eye rolling doesn't mean a thing, after all.

Just So You Know

Here's a bunch of Fundamental Latter-Day Saint women I don't know.

Here's a bunch of Latter-Day Saint women I do know. Can you see the difference?

On the Today show I heard the polygamists in the Texas Ranch fiasco described as members of the Latter-Day Saints. Just for the record: Today got it wrong. The members of that group call themselves Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday-Saints (yes, the Mormons.) It is a minor name change but a big, BIG difference.

It is important to note that the FLDS was founded in 1935 by two excommunicated Mormons: John Y. Barlow and Joseph White Musser. Having been excommunicated they were already living in opposition to the tenants of the LDS religion. It is no wonder that the religion they established now looks nothing like the one they opposed.

Here is a post I wish I had written to clearly delineate the differences between them and us.

And just so you know, the closest I've ever come to polygamy is when I was home visiting my mother one summer. She sent me to the grocery store for a few items. On her list was, of course, bread, and knowing how she loves good, homemade bread I picked the best looking loaf on the shelf.

The next morning as we were making toast for breakfast she snapped, "Laurel! You bought that polygamist bread!"

"What?" I laughed out loud.

"Oh, there's a group of polygamists that live out of town and they make this bread as one of their jobs. I do NOT buy this bread!"

"Well, geeze, Mom. How do you think I was supposed to know that? It's not like it has, 'Made by some Polygamists' written all over it. Besides it looks like really good bread."

At that moment Mr. Wicke interrupted, "You know, I thought it was kind of funny. After that second piece of toast, I had a hankerin' for another wife."

Yup. That's as close to polygamy as I've come. And, while I don't mean to be vain, I think I have better clothes and hair than the women on "The Ranch," so can you blame me if I get a little peeved when I get thrown in with them? They look pretty freaky to me, too. Just so you know.

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Few Thoughts on Mr. Right

"So why do you want to marry him?" I've asked a few girls in my time.

Inevitably they say with a dewy look in their eye, "Because I love him."

I nod and smile...and then respond with "So?"

Honestly, I can't think of a worse reason to get married. I know they say that love is strong, but I find the emotion a little harder to pin down. Love can be strong. Certainly it's strong enough to provide some initial heat and make us a little crazy, but after that, love can be very fragile indeed. It can wither, and thin, and sometimes disappear altogether. I don't think you can really count on love alone.

Don't misunderstand. I love Mr. Wicke. But that funny little fluttering feeling that I had 16 years ago when we first met? It's long gone. It's been replaced by something better. Something safe, and peaceful, and solid, and deep. Really, really deep. Sometimes so deep that it nearly turns my stomach inside out. But it's taken a lot of work, patience, effort, forgiveness, compromise, and understanding to get there. Oh, and some love, too.

They also say that love is blind, and how true that seems to be, especially at the beginning of a relationship. That's why relying on love alone to make the most important decision of your life is just too dangerous. After all, you can be absolutely besotted with someone who is very bad for you.

Twenty-something women seem particularly prone to such poor judgement. In my early twenties, my friends and I were inexorably drawn to the charismatic charmer, the life of the party, the guy whom everyone wanted so he was ever so much harder to get. Whereas the good, solid, stable guy just seemed so boring. The problem with the life of the party, though, is that when life is no longer a party, he usually turns out to be far less charming. How sad it is to come out of that initial love haze to find that your partner is one you can not respect. I'll tell you what, now that my friends and I are in our thirties with a baby or three on our hip and our shoulders heavy with responsibilities, that boring, stable, rock-solid, noble man is absolutely dripping with sex appeal.

When I ask, "Why do you want to marry him," what I really want to hear is: "Because I love him, AND..." because I think you should marry for love. Just do yourself a favor and choose someone to love who is good and kind. Kindness can heal a lot of wounds the world will inflict. Choose someone who is loyal, faithful, and trustworthy--for your own good and your own peace of mind. Choose someone who brings out the best in you because no one will influence you more, for good or ill. Choose someone to love who shares your vision for life, unless, of course, you are looking to get far offtrack. Choose someone you would want to raise your children because he will. Choose someone you can live with just as they are; odds are he won't change that much. Choose someone who, in those moments when love is fragile, will be your friend and safe harbour.

Oh, yes. Marry for love. Just be smart about it. Life is full of twists and turns. Like I said, I wouldn't count on love alone.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Look, I know I promised a post on love today, but do you mind if I hijack my own blog? Something else is on my mind today. (Let's discuss love tomorrow, shall we?)

Poor Suwanne, GA. I think I've chased her away forever, and all I wanted to do was say hello. I like people--well, most people. I did not like the nasty woman at Costco yesterday who reprimanded me for allowing my four year old to accidently walk in front of her cart--eegads!--but that is a whole other story. In my experience most people are pretty cool, and that is why I am curious as all get out about Suwanne, and anybody else who stops by. I'm not scared, nervous, bothered, freaked out, or worried; I'm just curious.

I've always been like that. As a kid I remember lying back on the grass and, seeing a jet pass overhead, thinking, "I wonder where all those people are going?" I remember the world suddenly opening up, and I realized that as real as my life was to me, theirs was to them. They were living a whole different set of cirucumtances that I would never understand, and, except for this brief moment of passing, we would probably never meet. There were thousands--millions--of others who loved and hurt and worried, laughed and lived their lives in counterpoint to mine; the thought was so large I felt that it pressed me to the earth.

Since then I've had an incurable compulsion to note people, to watch them, to discover what might lie behind their behavior, to conclude their circumstances, because for a moment our lives bump one another, we inhabit the same space, but we experience it differently. That idea fascinates me, which is probably what leads me to be a notorious evesdropper.

I'm not the kind of evesdropper that sneaks up on people, picks up another phone extension, or listens at keyholes, but if you are a stranger having a conversation at the next table in a restaurant, I'm probably listening in. Especially if it gets animated or emotional. The details of other people's lives intrigue me.

However, I'm the most compassionate evesdropper you'll ever meet. Like the other day when I was in the waiting room of the infertility treatment center. A woman hurried in obviously wrapped up in her own personal experience. She was a bit impatient and a little terse. I heard the woman at the front desk say, "Don't tell me you're having a bad day already." To which the woman responded, "Well, I started bleeding this morning, and I don't know what's going on..."

As she was rushed inside, I began to cry for her because as different as we may be, I understand her. I can relate to the fear and the disapointment. I can empathize with her journey of broken dreams. I wanted to hug her and say, "You are not alone."

Perhaps all this curiosity is, in fact, a search for the points of connections with everybody else on the planet. Maybe that's why this whole blogging thing has taken off. It allows us to take a glimpse of the world through someone else's eyes, and on a good day we can say, "Yeah, that's how I see it, too." Then we don't feel so alone. So to Suwanne and anyone else who has taken the time to see the world through my eyes for a minute, I thank you. I don't feel so alone either.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I Have Some Quetions, People; And One Big Opinion (Yes. Another One.)

There's this little thing at the bottom of my blog called a site meter. Maybe you've noticed it; maybe you haven't. Basically it means that I can pretty much find out how many people visit my site, how long they stayed, their referring URL, where they live, how many children they have, and their hobbies and interests. (Okay, I'm joking about the last two.) Does that freak you out a little? Well, it does me because I am left with a lot of questions. Like who in Suwanee, Georgia is visiting me every day. (Whoever it is may have choked on her Wheaties just now.) Because I'd like to know a little bit about her...and pretty much everyone else. I'm just curious that way.

I can also see what google searches lead people to my blog, and I always feel a bit sorry for those who are, in reality, looking for information about actual tea parties. They must be severely disappointed to stumble onto me. Sorry. I don't actually know much about tea parties or tea party invitations, but I can tell you a great story about poop and my four year old's birthday. No? Okay, I understand.

My top two google searches include: 1) my recipe for snickerdoodle cookies. That I get, and I can proudly hold my head up there.

But number two confuses me. #2) is my list of 37 reasons why I love Mr. Wicke. Many people are going to google and typing in "reasons i love him" to generate a search, and then they come to see me and probably many others. (As it turns out a lot of people are making such lists.)

Here's my question, though. What is the searcher's motivation? What is he/she looking for exactly? Is she trying to determine whether she is truly in love herself? Is she holding her significant other up for comparison? Or maybe she is trying to figure out what she should be looking for in a companion.

If that's the case I have something significant to say on the matter, and this is it: Love alone is the worst possible reason to commit completely to another human being. Yeah, you read that right. And tomorrow I'll tell you why.

Today, tell me whether you agree or disagree. Yeah, I'm talking to you Suwanee, Georgia. (Tee hee. I love doing that!)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Dad's Answer for the Most Important Meal of the Day

Some things could be counted on as sure as the sun would rise every morning. Grandma Peterson would never say goodbye after a telephone conversation, Grandma Doty would always insist we eat the apples off of the ground first, and Mom would always make breakfast before sending her children off to school. Like the Earth circling the sun or the ebb and flow of the tides, we took it for granted: Our rights included breakfast.

That’s why when Mom was called as an early morning seminary teacher, she nearly said no. She still had a child at home, someone who needed a good hearty breakfast before school. Who could do that if she weren’t there in the morning?

“Dee Ray, you have to promise me that you will get up and make sure Laurel has breakfast before she leaves for school every morning.”

I’m not sure how much faith she actually had in his abilities to accomplish this feat as he was not a morning person nor did he possess any culinary skills, but he did give her the Boy Scout’s Honor and that meant something. Her first day was not, however, free from worry, and rightly so.

Just as I was ready to leave the house, Dad came stumbling out of their bedroom dressed only in his underwear and without his toupee. Still trying to get his eyes to focus, he firmly said, “Wait! I promised your mother I’d feed you breakfast.” He had opened the refrigerator and was examining the inside.

“Dad, I don’t have time. Besides, I’m not hungry anyway.”

“No! I promised your mother,” he said, eyes darting around the room. “Here! Eat a cookie.”

Nothing sounded more revolting than a heavy dose of pure sugar at eight in the morning. “No thanks. I don’t want a cookie.”

“Eat it.”

“Dad, I—“

“They have eggs and milk and flour. That’s all breakfast stuff.” He was getting desperate.

“…Okay, thanks for breakfast, Dad.”

“Have a good day,” he said as I walked out the front door holding the chocolate chip cookie in my hand. Mission accomplished.

Turns out there were some other things we could count on: Dad would never do his best work in the morning, and he’d never make breakfast, but he’d always try to keep his promises.

Tit for Tat: Is that too Much to Ask For? Just Once?

Mr. Wicke and I are in the process of infertility treatment. In our twenties we went straight to adoption because we desperately wanted some kiddos and weren't interested in playing the odds of science. 50-50 chances rarely swing in my favor, let alone 70-30 or whatever other numbers were thrown at us. Adoption was absolutely right for us, and man! We have two of the best kids on the planet. However, we've also never ruled out trying treatment at some point. Now that we are pushing the upper limits of our thirties, it is sort of now or never, so we are going to take a crack at it before we're through and see if we can get a baby to grow in that there tummy of mine.

There are at least a thousand and two posts regarding infertility and the treatment thereof in my brain, most of which I am not interested in writing because it's too doggone exhausting. Besides, I'm not sure how to write about that without including lots of talk about menstruation, cycles, ovulation, and way too much information about my hoo-haw. (I think I just heard my three male readers pass out.) Sorry, fellas. But I have endured more poking and prodding in that general vicinity as of late than any girl should have to, and here's what I'll say about it:

I don't want a gynecologist to say, "Nice to see you," or "Nice to meet you." Because while he/she may have "seen" me, I don't really want to talk about it. And really, he/she didn't meet me at all. Then again I'm not sure what I would like my gynecologist to say. Silence would be awkward, but it would be better than some scenarios.

Like when my friend went in for her exam as a senior in high school and the doctor actually said with surprise, "Well, look at that! You're a virgin!" No, thank you. Or how about when I was home from college and mid-exam my doctor asks if I've seen his son (whom I dated once or twice) lately? Can you say awkward?

But what is the most appropriate thing to say in such a given situation? That's a tough one.

Maybe to even the playing field they could reveal something incredibly personal about themselves, like: "You may not realize it, but these are actually hair plugs," or "My dentist just diagnosed me with receding gums and gingivitis," some little tit for tat that I could tuck into my mental purse and say, "Okay, we're even." Maybe that would make me feel better?

Yeah, you're right. I doubt it.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Do They Sell Self-Edit Buttons on Ebay? 'Cause I Need One.

Why do I say some of the things I do? For sure there are times when I get nervous and then my mouth gets way ahead of my brain. I wish I could be like those people who shut down when they feel uncomfortable. Nervousness just gives me verbal diarrhea. You wouldn't believe the number of times I've gone to bed after a party saying to Mr. Wicke, "Why? Why couldn't I just shut up? Do you think I talked too much? I did, didn't I? Why did I say..." Mr. Wicke is very patient.

Then there are times that I just like to be funny. And saying the things that everyone thinks but won't say is pretty funny. So there's that.

And maybe, at my most sadistic, I like to shock people--but only a little.

I don't know which of those things was in play last night at our women's group at church. Initially I let it slip to some women in the kitchen that although yesterday was our 15th wedding anniversary, I had actually forgotten until I woke up to flowers on the breakfast table. I know. It's horrible. I felt and still feel terrible, and their reaction didn't help.

"What?! You forgot your anniversary? I thought it was the man that did that sort of thing!"

I got nervous. "Well, I didn't actually forget our anniversary. I mean I knew it was coming," I said in my defense. "I just forgot what day it was today. I didn't realize it was the 10th when I woke up. I'm bad with dates."

"So you didn't do anything?"

"Well, not yet. He's done all sorts of romantic things all day, and I don't have a thing to give him," and maybe that's where I should have stopped. I didn't. " I'm just going to have to go home and put on some lingerie. That's what they really want anyway, isn't it?"

One woman burst out laughing, a couple turned away uncomfortably, and one poor girl couldn't even look me in the eye.

...Are we not supposed to talk about sex at church? Oh. Well, in that case, "Why? Why couldn't I just shut up?" Like I said, I find myself saying that a lot.

When I came home, I said to Mr. Wicke, "Do you think it's bad that I announced to some women at church that you and I were going to have sex tonight?"

He laughed out loud. See? I told you Mr. Wicke was really patient.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Concerns of a Corn Flake

I'm afraid I'm Cornflakes. Not that there's anything wrong with Cornflakes, per se. They're still around after all these years; they are a solid standby. It's just that there isn't anything mysterious, exotic or alluring about Cornflakes. They're not colorful or unexpected in any way. Once in a while I even ask Mr. Wicke, "Who wants to eat Cornflakes day after day when there are hundreds of other options out there: Apple Jacks, Trix, Frosted Flakes, and Captain Crunch Peanut Butter Crunch, for crying out loud. "

Deep down I think all women share this concern. Attracting our mate may be the easy part after all. How do you keep someone interested when they know all your bad habits, your beauty secrets, and your dumb jokes? What is there left to talk about when they already know all your best stories? One day won't he just get tired of the same old thing?

As of today Mr. Wicke has hung in there with me for 15 years. That's a lot of Cornflakes for one man.

And he doesn't seem to mind. After fixing Logan's hair this morning I walked into the kitchen to find this:

The note read:
A thought over breakfast as the day dawns on our 15th anniversary:

The best things in life are those glorious constants:
A crisp sunrise promising a new day;
Home that is always warm and familiar;
The quiet peace of Sunday;
Times and seasons of days, weeks, months, and years.

And then, of course, there are Cornflakes.
That delectable food that is so satisfying
I would eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
And sneak an extra helping for dessert...

Ode to my wonderful, delicious, lascivious...*
My very own, one and only heavenly helping of Cornflakes.


(*some parts were ommitted to protect said Cornflakes' sense of modesty and privacy, what there is of it.)

Turns out Mr. Milk likes Cornflakes. He even thinks we were made for each other. I guess that makes being Cornflakes just about perfect. (But I hope he doesn't mind if I get a little crazy once in a while and throw some banana slices in, just to spice things up!)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The No Joke Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie

I have a near monogamous relationship with chocolate chip cookies. Other cookies have to work really hard to get me to pick them up. Look, I'm just at the age where I know what I like. I've been around the cookie block a few times, if you know what I mean. Oh, there was a time when I experimented a little, but I now know my type: I'm an all-American, give-me-a-bag-of-Nestle-Toll-House, chocolate chip cookie kind of girl. I've even found the best of the best cookie. Are you ready for it? Cause this one isn't interested in playing games. It's one serious cookie, let me tell you.

My friend Megan makes them all the time. If I lived by her I would talk her into making them every day and then I would sit in her kitchen, milk in hand, until they were done. I think she got the recipe from her sister, Katie, and maybe she got it somewhere else--like the top secret file of the culinary CIA. It's really that good. So without further ado, here is the recipe for my all-time favorite cookie:

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 lb butter, softened and at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs, at room temperature
2 C sugar
2 1/2 C brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
5 C flour (depending on your climate. You made need 5 1/2.)
4 C chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat butter until smooth. Mix in vanilla and eggs for about 3 to 4 minutes. (You will see a distinct change in the consistency when it is appropriately mixed. Cream sugar and brown sugar into butter mixture, then add baking soda, salt and flour. Mix. Add chocolate chips.

Bake about 9-11 minutes. Do NOT over-bake, even if cookies do not look done.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Bad Habits, Stupid Reflexes, and Other Things that are Not Funny

I have a bad habit. Well, I have a few, but the one that caused me the most discomfort recently is this: Should an item fall, whether dropped, knocked, or bumped, I instinctively try to reduce the impact with my foot. That sounds stupid, but I've saved many a glass bottle that way and protected my wood floors from numerous dents and gouges at the same time. And it's not like I plan it. It's a reflex of sorts. One which, after last night, I have determined to curb--at least while wearing open-toed shoes.

Last night, as I was hurriedly finishing up the dinner dishes and putting pots and pans away, I clumsily dropped a lid, which I instinctively tried to "catch" with my big toe. While that is not possible, I did discover that it is possible for it to land directly in the soft bed of my toenail and send shooting pains the likes of which I have not experienced in some time.

"Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhh!" I screamed, grabbing my foot in one hand and steadying myself with the other as I hopped and danced on my single good foot. "Sonofa--Oh...Geeze...aaaahhhh...c'mon!" I was in that long dark tunnel of pain when I actually heard snickering behind me. Snickering, I tell you!

Well, there is only one appropriate reply, and I delivered it through clenched teeth like a fired-up nine year old: "Griffin! It's not funny!" Thank heavens for Logan who offered to get me a bag of ice and ran for Mr. Wicke. (Both of which can fix everything in her book.) But I can't get over my snickering son.

See, I have some experience with funny, and I can give expert testimony that it was not, in fact, funny. It still isn't funny, especially if I lose my big toenail for my summer pedicure. That is no laughing matter, people! Even if it is my own dumb fault. Stupid reflexes!

Reflection on Mortality

37 will go down in my personal history as the year aging officially began. I hate to say it, but it's true. This year I've begun to realize that I am not, in fact, going to live forever. I know. It's a surprise to me as well.

It's not like I've contracted a major disease or anything. It's just that Thomas now has ear wrinkles. You know those little vertical lines where the ear attaches to one's head? The ones that indicate that gravity is winning? Yeah, he has those. I probably do too; I just can't see them. (God is good in some ways, isn't He?)

But I do have the beginnings of old lady face. You know where the last traces of baby fat (or adult fat for that matter) have left and the bones begin to protrude grotesquely? I saw a picture of myself the other day that proves I am beginning down that path. I suppose that wouldn't be so bad if the said fat hadn't taken up new residence on my waistline. My waist may altogether disappear in the next few years. I'm trying to stop it, but it doesn't seem to care.

The point I'm making is that I am seeing undeniable evidence that my physical body is not immortal, and it's kind of freaking me out. It's also causing me to behave irradically, which, in turn, is sort of unsettling to my spouse. One night as Mr. Wicke and I lay curled up on the couch watching a movie, my head resting comfortably on his chest, I became acutely aware of his heartbeat in my ear, that rhythmically ticking machine that is our life force. And with each beat I wondered, how many are left? There is a finite number of beats in a heart. Boom, boom, boom...three more gone. I wanted to grab them and stuff them back inside to stop the unstoppable march toward the end. Instead I began to cry. Just two quiet little tears that would have gone unnoticed if I hadn't accompanied them with, "Don't leave me, okay?"

This new realization is frightening, but perhaps, too, it can be enlightening. The other night as I read Madeleine L'Engle's book The Summer of the Great-Grandmother I found this:

"Our lives are given a certain dignity by their very evanescence. If there were never to be an end to my quiet moments at the brooke, if I could sit on the rock forever, I would not treasure these minutes so much. If our associations with the people we love were to have no termination, we would not value them as much as we do. Human love is an extraordinary gift, but like all flesh it is corruptible. Death or distance separates all lovers. My awareness of my husband is sharpened by impermanence. Would we really value anything we could have forever and ever?"

Maybe this new awareness is a gift. In my childishness I took time for granted. I didn't recognize moments of grace, assuming they could easily be repeated. I think I know better now. 37 may be the year when aging officially began, but perhaps it can also be the year I really began to live. I hope so.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Building a Genius in Four Easy Steps

Now that Logan is six AND A HALF and closing in on finishing her first full year of public education, she has taken to lording her newly acquired knowledge over her four year old brother. "You don't even know what 0+0 is!" she often crows.

She may be smart but she is not yet wise, because she doesn't realize that the Mother is bent on evening the playing field. Currently Griffin is on a rigorous schedule of Sesame Street viewing. It won't be long now!

Plus the other morning we spent some time doing french toast stick math. It went something like this:

Griffin: Mom? Can I have more french toast sticks?

Me: Sure. Here's another one.

Griff: How many have I had?

Me: (Using my fingers as the age old abacus) Well, you started with three...then I gave you one more...How many is that?

Griff: Four!

Me: That's right!!! So 3+1 is....

Griff: Four!

Me: (In Logan's general direction.) That's right! 3+1 is 4! Isn't that great?!

Griff: (Now getting tricky) What if I didn't have any french toast sticks, and you wouldn't give me any? (Alright...Wipe those Oliver Twist images out of your mind. Don't let him fool you.)

Me: Well...if you didn't have any french toast sticks--none, zero (holding up a balled fist)--and I didn't give you any--none at all (holding up my other fist)--so you had zero plus zero--how many would that be?

(Long pause...)

Griff: I know!...Eight!

(Logan dissolves into laughter.)

Me: We'll keep working on it. Who wants to watch Sesame Street?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

And The Winner Is....

Jennifer K.!!!!

You are the grand prize winner of the Laurel's Favorite Things Gift Package. This grand prize includes dinner for you and a guest at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Wicke (date to be determined) and a basket full of delights just for you! Since I know where you live, the prize will be personally delivered as soon as I get it completed.

The winner was chosen by scientific method (or rather at random out of a bowl by my four year old.)

Thanks to everyone for jumping in and playing. It was so fun that I may be inspired to do it again, so don't despair. Keep visiting, keep posting, and keep having a great time!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Me? Ridiculous?

I am laughing so hard I have tears. I. can't. stop. Here's why: It's late and it's right before I'm going to bed. Per usual, before I go to bed, I shut down the computer but not before checking my blog to see if anyone has left funny, happy, and delightful messages for me. (It gives me good dreams...well, that is if I could remember my dreams...but anyway...)

So I'm checking the blog, and--just like at Christmastime when we decorate the tree and then I make the whole family go outside to look at it through the window and pretend to see it like a stranger would (yes, I know. Weird, but it's what I do.)--I sometimes try to read my post for the day as if I didn't know me. After tonight I may stop doing that because that is when this line jumped out at me from yesterday:

"...and I got a great little package." Huh?! But it gets worse...

"...Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of it." Oh, I just keep going.

"...I'll say this about Laurel's package..." Now it sounds like I've taken to referring to myself in the third person ala Seinfeld, "Jimmy jumps high. Jimmy likes Elaine." If only I had stopped there.

"...the package will make up for it." Why?! And then the big finish.

"You don't want to miss it."

And that is what sent me into a fit of giggles so loud that I was afraid I would wake Mr. Wicke. Literally, tears pouring out of my eyes. I never cease to amaze myself with my own ridiculousness. That thought may disturb my good dreams tonight. Oh, yeah. I don't remember them anyway. Nevermind.

P.S. It's still not too late to enter for the drawing. We will pick the winner out of a hat tomorrow after school. My kids are so excited! (Yup. It doesn't take much. That's just the kind of life we lead around here.)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Paying it Forward, At Long Last

Months ago I was a winner! (Insert arm pumping and happy dance here.) No, really. I can say that because I actually did win something. The other Laurel over at Little Miss Sassy Pants payed it forward to me, and I got a great little package.

Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of it for the same reason I don't have any pictures with with my siblings/nieces/nephews. I got too excited. And when I'm too excited or having too much fun I don't have the patience or discipline to stop and take pictures. Alas, my life is full of great moments for which I have no physical evidence. So I'll say this about Laurel's package: It was full of delightful things. The theme was "Favorites", so it was full of things she loved-- all cute, yummy, pretty, and fun. It made me happy.

So now it's my turn. I've been thinking and thinking about what I could include, and I've come up with some winners! And if you live in the Mesa area, I might even invite you over for dinner because one of my favorite things is cooking for friends. If not in the Mesa area, don't despair, the package will make up for it. I'm serious about my favorite things, y'all.

Okay, so if you want to get in the drawing, leave a comment, and I'll have my daughter pick a random winner. All readers are eligible so don't be shy. I don't care if you've never left a comment before, today's the day. Take it from a winner, you don't want to miss it!