just a small puddle

Several weeks ago, I wrote about how my fourteen-year-old son broke his arm snowboarding.  A few days later I described his incessant begging to be allowed to snowboard despite the cast on his arm.

Last weekend, I caved completely, and he spent the whole day on the slopes.  We woke up Sunday to piles of fresh powder, and I simply couldn’t take the pleas a minute longer.  He spent half of Saturday whispering, “YOLO, Mom.  YOLO.” (You only live once).

He returned Sunday with a giant grin on his face.

“How was it?” I asked.

“Today was the best day of my life,” he said.

“Really?” I laughed.

“Seriously, Mom.  Someday I will tell my grandchildren about the day I shredded the BC gnar pow with a broken arm.”  (BC=back country.  gnar pow=gnarley powder)

My son’s back country experience occurred eight days ago, but yesterday I let him snowboard again.  There are times in my experience as a mother when I simply can’t ignore my child’s unbridled enthusiasm, and the past couple weeks have been an obvious reminder of that.

Around noon my son met up with me, and asked if I would head over to the west lodge and sign a release form so he could enter a snowboard competition.

“What type of competition?” I asked.  “Is it a race?”

“No,” Cole replied.  “It’s not a race.  You have to snowboard down the hill and make it across this man-made puddle.  They are giving away Lib Tech Boards.”

My son covets the highly sought-after, highly expensive Lib Tech boards.  Still, I needed to know more about this competition.

“Do you have to do a trick or jump across the water?”

My son became increasingly elusive.  He employed all his powers of persuasion without actually describing the puddle he would be boarding across.

We headed over to the west lodge so I could take a look myself.

The man-made PUDDLE!!!

The man-made PUDDLE!!!

The puddle was the length of a swimming pool.  I spoke to the man putting the finishing touches on the water feature.  “Is it hard to get across?” I asked.

He shook his head.  “It’s pretty easy to get across,” he said.  “Of course some people dive in on purpose.”

“Why on earth would anyone dive in on purpose?”

“There is a prize for biggest splash,” he said.

At this point I glared at my son who refused to make eye contact, and I knew without a doubt he was planning to attempt biggest splash.

We bickered, but in the end, his twinkly eyes and winning smile got the best of me.  Cole, broken arm and all, went for biggest splash yesterday and was beaten by the only little girl in the competition who crashed completely and had to be saved by ski patrol.  Still, he loved every minute of it.

Cole, soaking wet after his biggest splash.  Afterwards, he spent several hours with a hair dryer attempting to dry out his cast.

Cole, soaking wet after his biggest splash. Afterwards, he spent several hours with a hair dryer attempting to dry out his cast.


my sisters

Years ago I celebrated my girlfriends in an article I wrote for www.MomsRising.org.  Today it was re-published at www.womenforone.com.  You can see it here.

Deb, Me, Krista, and Alex.  I love all three of you, my sisters.

Deb, Me, Krista, and Alex. I love all three of you, my sisters.

leprechaun poop

Leprechaun with rainbow

Leprechaun with rainbow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Years ago I started a tradition at our home.  On the night before Saint Patrick’s Day, I place a handful of green gumdrops in the toilet.  In the morning, my children are delighted to find a pile of leprechaun poop in our bathroom.  It makes them feel special, chosen in some unique way.

The first time I did this, my oldest kids were five and three.  Cole, my early riser, found the gumdrops in the toilet and returned minutes later with his sister in tow.

“What do you think it is?” he asked.

“I think it might be leprechaun poop,” Meg replied.

“Let’s take it out of the toilet.”

“Eeeww,” Meg reacted with disgust.  “I’m not touching it.”

The ever-persistent Cole replied, “We could use a spoon.”

“I think we should flush it,” Meg said.

“YEAH!!  Let’s flush it.”

After depressing the handle on the toilet, both kids came running into my room.  “WE FLUSHED LEPRECHAUN POOP!” they shrieked.

Yesterday, my youngest woke to find the gumdrops.  A very proper four-year-old, she was most concerned with the leprechaun’s bathroom etiquette.

“Oh my gosh!” she exclaimed.  “He didn’t flush after himself, and he didn’t even turn on the fan.  That’s DISGUSTING!”

dear pope

I was raised massively Catholic.  In the 1970s, being massively Catholic meant you had to have several statues of the Virgin Mary, crosses in all the bedrooms, and multiple sets of rosary beads.  When you lost Barbie’s go-go boots, you prayed to Saint Jude to help you find them.  You believed wearing a Saint Christopher medal would keep you from getting kidnapped, and  if you ate meat on Friday, you wouldn’t necessarily go to hell, but you would tick God off.

With all this in mind, I have been watching the election of the new pope with interest.  The Catholic church has a lot of issues it needs to address:  a serious decline in qualified priests, allegations of child abuse and sexual misconduct, cover-ups at the highest level.  Yet, it is still the largest charitable organization in the United States.

I have read a few interesting facts about Pope Francis (AKA Father Jorge Bergoglio).  He is a trained chemist, fluent in three languages, and known for his care of AIDS patients. He is the first non-European pope since Gregory III was elected in 731.

Pope Francis the First

Pope Francis the First

I suspect that Jorge will be phoning me any day now to hear my take on the current state of his church.  I plan to give him two pieces of advice.

First, he should allow nuns to deliver mass.  Historically, only priests can bless the communion and turn bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ.  Nuns are already running schools and hospitals around the world.  These women do amazing work, surely Jesus appreciates their dedication and would not mind extending extra responsibilities to them.  Also, the majority of the allegations against the church stem from the misconduct of priests, not nuns.  The Catholic church would be wise to bring women out of their cloisters and to the forefront.  The church needs more Mother Teresa and less Cardinal Bernard Law.

Second, there has been a long-standing debate about allowing priests to marry.  I understand that the church is eager to hold onto ancient traditions and uphold historical guidelines.  Currently, there are dozens of orders of the priesthood.  For example, as a catholic priest, you can be a Jesuit, a Dominican, or a Franciscan.  You can be a Benedictine Monk or a Mercedarina Friar.  All these orders serve in different ways, some by preaching, some through education, some focus on the sick and dying.  Maintaining the customs and conventions of these groups has historic significance.  But, why not create a new order, an order that is allowed to marry.  This order could be a different group, a group of men focused on strengthening the family.  One does not need to overhaul or change all that is sacred about the current orders, simply start something new.  Isn’t it time for a different approach?

Wow!  My blog probably just saved the future of the Catholic Church.  No need to thank me.  A.T.M.G.F.G (which is Catholic for All The More Glory For God)

my marriage benefits package

I am not an entirely squeamish girl.  I don’t like blood or frogs, but I can handle poop and vomit.  I prefer not to deal with rodents, bugs, or dead birds, but when forced  into action, I can manage without too much unnecessary drama. However, one of the advantages of being married to Tim is that I don’t have to.

This is not a one-sided street.  Tim reaps many benefits being married to me.  For example, I am the one who told him that “just because you can still fit into the jeans and striped polo you purchased in 1992, doesn’t mean you should wear them.”  And, I am the one who gently mentioned that “just because you know how to efficiently kill a chicken doesn’t mean you should use those details as your go-to bedtime story.”

I believe I do my part to make Tim’s life better, and so when I find a fat hairy spider in the bathtub, I call in the big guns.  It is part of my marriage benefits package.  I get health insurance, car maintenance, guard-dog protection, and spider rescuing.  I also get heavy lifting, drain de-clogging, and chauffeur services.

Tim was recently travelling for work and while he was gone, my four-year-old found a GIGANTIC spider in the bathtub.  I got a cup and piece of cardboard and used these tools to trap and transport the spider to our porch; I confess that I emitted a rather girly shriek as I released him to the backyard.  He was massive, hairy, and pissed off.

The night Tim returned home, I filled him in on our week.  “Oh, and I captured an arachnid.  Not just any arachnid, a steroid-taking, wife-beating, prison-escapee spider who wanted to eat our baby.”

Tim was obviously impressed.  Today he sent this photo to my inbox:

House Spider by Harold Taylor.  Winner of the 2012 Nikon small world photography competition.

House Spider by Harold Taylor. Winner of the 2012 Nikon small world photography competition.


Check out the other winners of the Nikon small world photography competition.

ancient horse meat and the road-kill skunk

English: Striped Skunks (Mephitis mephitis)

English: Striped Skunks (Mephitis mephitis) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My husband has a long history of eating virtually anything:  squirrel, frog, snake, prickly pear cactus, you name it.  My children never tire of his weird food stories.  Once, in college his roommates found a can of horse meat left over from world war one in the basement of the house they rented.  Tim ate it for $50.

During his time in the army special forces my husband ate a wide array of truly gross things.  On survival training he ate skunk road kill.  Not fresh skunk; skunk he found already dead on the side of the road.

He remembers fondly dining on earthworm bacon, which apparently is worms you grill on a hub cap over an open fire.  Somehow when you are alone in the middle of the woods it is easier to find a spare hub cap on which to grill worms than a black berry bush or some dandelion greens.

Tim often travels overseas for his job and always returns home with a story of odd meals.  He has eaten every single part of a pig, various critter tails, and countless unheard of sea creatures.

This week when he returned from China, the kids asked him what he ate while he was gone.

“I had duck feet for dinner one night,” he said.

My teenagers shrugged.  Duck feet simply can’t compete with ancient horse meat and road-kill skunk.

stop touching me!

I do not like being touched when I am trying to fall asleep.  Let me be clear, I don’t mind being touched prior to falling asleep.  I don’t mind hugs, shoulder rubs, hand holding; those are all good, but in the moments before I fall asleep, I don’t like any skin touching my skin.  I like to fall asleep comfortable in my own space and fortunately for me, my husband gets that.

Unfortunately for me, my husband is in China, and my bed buddy this week has been my four-year-old daughter who does not appreciate my need for space.  When her dad is gone, she likes to have sleep-overs in my bed.  This has been a long week of glowing-blue night lights, stuffed animals, and feet touching me.

This week I have felt like the five-year-old me buckled in the backseat of our old Ford Torino with my brother on full-pest-alert.  I have found myself screaming inside my head, “STAY ON YOUR SIDE!  QUIT TALKING!”  While on the outside I am quietly telling Ella to, “Skooch over a tiny bit.”

Last night, Ella plopped herself horizontally in the middle of the bed and piled countless stuffed animals around her.  After I mentioned that I needed a bit more room, she replied, “Mom, you have the biggest bed in the house.  We could fit Meg, Cole, Daddy, and Chaucer (our dog) in this bed.  You have a million-times enough room.”

I was too tired to argue.  I curled into a fetal position in the three square feet she had left me, Ella’s feet tapping and tickling the small of my back, and screamed inside my head, “STOP TOUCHING ME!”