Look Kids, We’re on Uranus!

My family spent a couple of days in Kansas City for Spring Break. It was wonderful.

We rented bikes to peddle around downtown. The bike path took us one block off of Main Street, so we could still see the sights, but not be in direct competition for the road with drivers who have no time or patience for tourists.

We came to a red light, and I noticed this sign:





I yelled, “Hey, guys! We’re on Uranus!” and then laughed hysterically.
They both gave me the stare that kids give when their mothers try to make a dad joke.




The “you’re not funny” stare.

They peddled away as I mumbled to myself reassuringly, “It was funny. Uranus – your anus. That’s funny. They’ll get it later.”



As to date, they haven’t acknowledged that it was a super funny joke, but it has given me a summer project idea. I just need to find a two-mile stretch of road that is safe in Memphis.


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A Weekend to Remember: Part 2

Attention: This the second part of a series. To read the first part of the story, please click here.

Day-after photo

Day-after photo

The day after my car had the unfortunate pleasure of running into a deer, I began the arduous task of dealing with the insurance company and making plans to get back to Tennessee.


I called the insurance company, filed a claim, ordered a rental, called the body shop for an estimate, and waited for the inevitable pronouncement of “your car is totaled” from the insurance company.

It all seems so easy, except it wouldn’t be a good story if things went easily.

Rising Action: further complication add to the main character’s struggle 

Our policy only covers $20 a day for a rental car. The agent happily informed me that would cover a Kia Rio, and for $6 a day (out of pocket) I could rent a Nissan Versa. Apparently, they didn’t know that I have was supposed to bring home a 5 foot long picture that my sister bought for me a month ago. It won’t fit in a Rio, nor could we and all our luggage.

For $6 extra, I actually got a sweet little Chrysler 200s that had keyless entry, pushbutton start, and a knob for a gearshift (I nicknamed it Sweet Little Thing). But there was one stipulation: the car was not a one-way rental. It had to be returned to the Nebraska location. This complected matters. If my car was deemed fixable, then I could drive Sweet Little Thing home and then return once my car is fixed. If my car turned out to be a total loss, then I was stuck driving Sweet Little Thing back to Tennessee, only to drive it back to Nebraska once I bought a new car in Tennessee.

The claims agent sent the rental request to Enterprise in Memphis instead of the Norfolk, NE. No wonder no one called me within the hour.

Our insurance carrier doesn’t have an adjuster in Northeast Nebraska, so I was given the task of getting an estimate from a body shop I trusted. Good thing I was in the town I spent the first 40 years of my life in, or that would be a difficult task.

Both Z and I got head colds. Snotty, coughy, droopy headcolds. Yay!

Saturday afternoon we attended my niece’s wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony in a beautiful church on a beautiful summer day. My kids I visited with grown ups and other kids we hadn’t seen for a few years. My sister who I was co-cake cutting with had been smart enough to call and reserve a room a few weeks before I had, and took the kids to The Lodge’s pool to go swimming. Two of my other sister’s and their grandkids joined them later in the evening and had a swimming party until midnight.

wedding 2wedding 1

Everyone slept in Sunday morning and then met for an early lunch. It was relaxing and enjoyable 3-hour lunch with lots of sister chatting and smatterings of children interrupting. We left each other after giving hugs, sending our love, and speaking safe travels to each other.

When the kids and I headed back to Uncle Ed’s and Aunt B’s to transfer our belongings from the Scion to the rental. In the middle of doing just that, I sent Effy to the kitchen to get a plastic sack. She came back looking very forlorn and apprehensive.

After a few moments of her insisting that I was going to be mad and me insisting that if she doesn’t just tell me what was wrong or I was most certainly going to be mad, she finally told me what was wrong. Actually, she had to show me. She took me to the Chrysler’s driver’s side windshield, and I looked to where she pointed.  A softball-size spider web of cracks stared back at me. It was smack dab in the middle of the driver’s side with one long crackly leg reaching midway across the windshield.

“What. Did. You. Do?” came out of me in a deep, serious tone. My kids know that the slower (my attempt at self control) and deeper (my overcompensation when trying not to scream) I speak the angrier I am.

Apparently, my ADHD baby saw a bug on the Chrysler’s windshield and decided at that moment it must be erradicated from the earth by slamming it between the windshield and the heel of her hand. Really hard. Twice.

I didn’t know I was the mother of Hulk-tress, but it looks as though I am. Good gracious.

Amidst her insisting I was mad, I continuously repeated, “No I’m not. I’m frustrated. It’s fine” until I got into the house where I burst into tears and cried to my sister, “What else can go wrong?!”

Don’t ever say that. From me to you, you’re just inviting more trouble.

That evening, to give Effy and myself something positive to think about, the three of us went to Jurassic World with Aunt B and Uncle Ed. Nothing like watching an island being ripped apart by wild, angry dinosaurs after having your car torn apart by wild and (assuming) angry monstro-deer, or maybe it was a pterodac-deer – after hitting us, it just flew away. It would explain why it seemed to just disappear.

About 10 a.m. Monday morning, I returned Pretty Little Thing to Enterprise, explained what happened, and exchanged it for another car. I was held responsible for the damage done to Pretty Little Thing. It cost me $185 to replace the windshield, but the good news is the replacement car is a one-way rental.  At this point, I just wanted to be home, so I didn’t argue the fact that the windshield must have been faulty if my 11-year-old daughter could break it – with her hand – and fained a smile and said “great” to being able to drop the car in Memphis if need be. I just didn’t care. They gave me a Ford Focus (which was a wordless scolding equivalent to “you can’t take care of nice things, you won’t be given nice things”), and off I went.

I then called Bob, the body shop owner, to arrange for my car to sit on his lot until the insurance determined it was fixable or totaled. He informed me of the estimated amount it would take to fix the damage, and I really thought it would be totaled. So did Bob.  If it was fixable (which both of us highly doubted), I would return to Tennessee until the repairs were made at which time I would return drive back to Nebraska to collect my Scion. If it was totaled (which both of us thought it was), i would arrange for the insurance company to pick it up there.

With smoke rolling off the engine, I hobbled the Scion to Bob’s and then walked back to my sisters to begin packing the Ford Focus. Halfway through loading the car, I realized that I had left all of our belongings from the Scion in the trunk of Pretty Little Thing which was now tucked away somewhere in the Enterprise parking lot.

Crapolio, I thought. I just want to go home.

Around 1 p.m. on Monday, we finished loading the car and getting our snacks and all the odds and ends into the car and set off to retrieve our belongs from Enterprise. We stuff the extra cargo into the trunk of the Focus, grab a bite to eat at Runza, and head East on Hwy 275. The kids’ conversation quickly turns to debating the pros and cons of driving back to Nebraska to pick up the Scion.

“Only if it’s fixable,” I quickly add. “The insurance company hasn’t called back, so I don’t know what’s going to happen.” I was starting to hope that they would just total the car. That would be the easiest thing to do

The insurance company didn’t call back for another 4 hours. We were just outside of Kansas City, MO (sounds like the beginning of a Western) and had gotten back into our traveling groove – me listening to my Audible book, and the kids playing games and watching shows on their Kindles – when the claims adjuster called. I got this hopeful smile on my face when I heard it was the adjuster with his determination. “After examining the estimate and running the numbers,” my smile got bigger in anticipation to his ending the sentence. “Our preliminary decision is that it is financially feasible to fix your car.” The smile left my face, quickly.

“You’re going to fix it?” This was a question mixed with astonishment, so “fix it” came out about two octaves higher than the first part of the sentence. “Yes, ma’am,” he said. “Your car is fixable.”


















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A Weekend to be Remembered: Part 1

The weekend of June 13th, my great-niece married the love of her life, and the kids and I attended the lovely ceremony. It was held on a beautiful summer’s day in a quaint, pre-1900, Catholic church in a tiny town in Northeast Nebraska.

St. Mary's Catholic Church, Osmond, NE Photo courtesy of Monica Hessner

St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Osmond, NE
Photo courtesy of Monica Hessner

It was supposed to be a quiet trip, but it wasn’t. Murphy’s Law – or Nincompoopery – ensued shortly after trip planning began. This trip played out in a perfect elemental plot fashion.

Exposition: Introduction of characters, establishing setting, and main problem

In April, my great-niece, Ali, had asked me and one of my sisters to attend the cake table at her wedding. Although I didn’t like the idea of being old enough to be considered the aunt that cuts the cake, I was excited to have family and friends all in the same building, so I could get to visit with everyone at least for a few minutes.

Although I had said yes, I waited until 5 days before the wedding to book the room. This is northeast Nebraska I was travelling to, not Omaha or Lincoln. County fairs are the only major happenings in that part of the state. Those do not begin until late July and are finished by the end of August, so I thought I was pretty safe waiting until a week before the wedding. I wasn’t safe. The Lodge (and all area hotels) was booked solid by the time I tried to make reservations.  The Christian Cross Festival has grown to a two-day, free event that apparently attracts people from afar who inevitably need lodging. Even with ample free tent camping at the lake, every available room was booked. Luckily, I have family in the area that still like me. My kids and I were to bunk at my sisters.

I had downloaded some new books onto my Audible app, and the kids loaded their Kindles with movies, music, and shows. The plan was to leave no later than 10 a.m. Thursday morning. We were an hour and a half late leaving our house in Tennessee, putting our arrival time to my sister’s house at a little past midnight.

Even with the late departure, the trip was going so smoothly: the kids were watching movies on their Kindles, and I was listening to either the radio or to Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle on my Audible app. We were each in our own little worlds and traveling a route we knew like the back of our hands.  It was quite a peaceful seven-hour journey across Missouri.

We were in Omaha by 11 p.m, and once Effy and Z spotted the big train engines at Kenefick Park that welcomes visitors crossing the bridge from Council Bluffs, IA. the kids fell asleep by the time we reach Boys Town.

I had driven another peaceful hour when my travels were rudely interrupted by a deer the size of a horse trying to play chicken with me in the middle of the dark highway. Nebraska deer are so rude! and huge!

In an instant, Monstro-deer (or rhino-deer or Jurassic-deer as my friends have now taken to calling it) was challenging me to a 70 mph, head-on collision: I was going 70 mph; he was standing still, shocked, as if I had been the one to appear out of nowhere.  I slammed on my breaks and yelled, “NO!” hoping that he’d regain his wits and, with a harrowing leap, jump to safety. It wasn’t to be. Instantly after yelling, I felt the deep thud of impact, and my car stopped dead in it’s tracks.

I don’t remember closing my eyes, but I must have because I remember opening them only to see the entire front end of my car smashed in to windshield.


 Rising Action: Main character battles crisis

Z woke screaming “What did we hit? What did we hit?” which woke Effy, who wondered what we were doing stopped in the middle of the road. She had slept right through the whole thing. Bluntly, I said, “We hit a deer,” and then began to audibly walk myself through the next steps:

“Are there any cars around? Check my mirrors. Look over my shoulder. Nope, no cars.”

“Car is still running. Car is still in gear. Pull it off to the side of the road.”

Pulled car to the shoulder of the road.

“Turn car off.”

Effy begins to ask questions Gatling-gun style.

“I don’t know. I don’t know. I DO NOT KNOOOWAH! I can’t answer any questions right now. Sit there and be quiet, so I can think.”

The car is silent for 15 seconds.

“And I need to think out loud. Who do I call first? 911? Dad? Road-side assistance? Claims?”

“911 and then Road-side assistance.”

While I waited for the deputy sheriff to find me in the dark at a not-so-certain point on Hwy 275, I got out of the car to inspect the damages. It was bad. And the deer ran off.


I then called Roadside Assistance. The young man on the other end of the line tried to be helpful, but stranded out in the middle of nowhere, the closest tow truck was 45 minutes away, and then I wasn’t guaranteed a place to stay or a replacement car to be able to continue on to my sisters that night. My husband was 10 hours away and asleep in Tennessee, and I couldn’t think of anyone near my wreckage that would be able to tow a car.

While I was talking to Roadside Assistance, the county deputy sheriff arrived. He looked over the car, noted that the deer had run, or limped, off, and that the car was not to be driven. He could have called the tow truck but confirmed that it would take 45 minutes for them to arrive. He did say that he was able to stay with me until someone came to help or until he had another pressing matter.

I decided to call my brother-in-law, who was sound asleep, warm and cozy in his bed an hour away from me. Within the time a tow truck could arrive, so could my brother-in-law with the added bonus of delivering me to my destination. So I called him, and like the good guy he is, he came to our rescue.


The passenger-side hood shot from above.

The deputy, Ed, and I decided I would hobble my car 8 miles to the gas station in next town. Ed would pick us up there.

Nebraska in June is not the same as Tennessee in June. It is cold and windy in Nebraska. The kids and I were dressed for Tennessee’s hot and muggy. When Ed arrived, I stood out in the cold wind shivering like I hadn’t spent the first 40 years of my life there, trying to assist him with tethering my Scion to the car trailer.

We drove the hour back to his house, unloaded my crumpled car, drug our suitcases into the house, and went to bed.

The next morning I call the insurance company, filed a claim, ordered a rental, called the body shop for an estimate, and waited for the inevitable pronouncement of “totaled” from the insurance company.

It all seems so easy, except it wouldn’t be a good story if things went easily.

To be continued…

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Why Turn Off Apps While on Vacation?

My daughter G and I recently took a mother/daughter vacation to New York City. We tried to take in as many sights as a leisurely week would allow. We had no schedule, no time table, and it was glorious.

One bit of advice I will pass along is to turn off your phone apps before depositing said phone in any pocket. Here’s why:

G and I were walking from Park Ave and 5th to the American Museum of Natural History on 80th and Central Park West. A pretty straight shot, but I used my Google Maps app to help navigate in fear of getting sidetracked talking and ending up at the Hudson River. For easy of retrieving the map, I just left Google Maps on and clicked the screen off before depositing my phone in the back pocket of my mom capris.

I assumed that would work for me because it has worked for everyone else. It could be that I just suppose it works for everyone else when, in fact, there is a step of which I am not aware – or my cellulite has a mind of its own and acts like fingers – because I ended up with a bunch of butt screen shots!

It all started at 11:48 a.m, as you can see, when I thought I had shut the screen off. Instead I somehow hit Google Play Store and found the Google earth App.

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Writing Challenge Day 10: Best Trip of My Life

When I first sat down to pen this post, I couldn’t recall a “best” trip of my life. We traveled every summer of my youth and there are several that stand out to me as remarkable vacations. Since it was too taxing to pinpoint the best, I thought I would tell the tale of the worst trip of my life, which was hands down in 1991 when my father, in a rage, deserted my husband and I, newlyweds, in Nashville, TN to find our own way back to Nebraska with no transportation, two tickets to Opryland, and $300 to our name.

BUT! As luck would have it, while refreshing my memory concerning the finer points of Mark Edmundson’s essay “Pink Floyd Night School” in order to teach my students narrative writing,  I remembered that I had, in fact, had a “best trip of my life.” Edmundson, in hopes to persuade his students to “take it slow” after graduation and enjoy life, tells a story about his being a stage hand for a Pink Floyd concert, and had he went straight into grad school, he would have missed this particular life event.

Edmundson’s essay reminded me of my very first concert and the very, very bad decision that ends up being one of my best stories.

My folks didn’t allow any of my siblings and I to go to rock concerts while we were in school, not even during the summer.  While my friends were taking off to Omaha and Lincoln to see Van Halen,  cassette playerRUSH, Foreigner, KISS, Aerosmith and the like, I was left at home pretending to be at the concerts, but listening to my brother’s cassettes on my dad’s mono-speaker cassette player that I had to sneak into my room.

The summer between my Junior and Senior years in high school, my boyfriend bought 4 tickets to the Iowa Jam in Des Moine, IA, two for him and me and two more for whomever I wanted to include.  By some stroke of luck, my parents were planning a trip to Indiana that week to see my grandparents, and I somehow talked my way out of going.

My boyfriend didn’t have a valid driver’s license (loser) and neither Amy, Lori or I had a car, so we put our heads together and decided that since it was only an overnight trip we would take (steal really because my parents had no idea what was happening) whichever vehicle the parents didn’t take to Indiana. My dad had a ’76 brown, 3-speed AMC Gremlin that was his pride and joy at that time – the Lord only knows why – and a Chevy station wagon. We ended up taking the station wagon. All I can say is it was a smooth ride to Des Moines that Monday in late May.

We started the 3 hour drive early Monday morning and were easily at the Iowa State Fair Grounds before the concert started at noon. We listened to some unknown garage bands before the big boys took the stage: Motley Crue, Areosmith, Ted Nugent, Scorpions, and Ozzy.  The Scorpions, my favorite of all favorite bands (because 1. I’m a scorpio; 2. They’re German; and 3. I love their music (it doesn’t hurt that I thought Klaus was cute.) were right in the middle of the line up. right at that the point where day is kissing night goodbye, it began to mist a little and Rudolf Schenker (lead guitarist) begins the desperately lonesome intro to Still Loving You, but the drum kit wasn’t set up and Klaus Meine, the lead singer, wasn’t on stage.  I’m thinking, “This is my favorite song. Where is he?” After Steven Tyler was booed for forgetting the words to one of his songs earlier in the day, I prepared myself for another let down.

Klaus Meine, Scorpions' lead singer

Klaus Meine, Scorpions’ lead singer

Then I heard Klaus’s unmistakable vocals, gritty and consuming, accompanied only by the forlorn guitar. He started to quietly plead, “Time… it needs time, to win back your love again… I will be there… I will be there.”  The crowd started screaming and I frantically searched the stage for Klaus. He wasn’t there.  Then I heard the drawn out “Love…” only the ‘o’ sounds like ‘au’ in “caught,” because, you know, he’s German. “Love… only love, can bring back your love again… I will be there… I will be there.” Although, he still wasn’t there. There was only Rudolph, playing his heart-aching solo that dripped with despair.

With the stretched whine of the ending cord, there was Kaus, in the air, descending from the rafters upside down from the drum cage.

The pounding of the drums boosted the lyrics from desperate pleading to resolute determination as Klaus sang, “Fight…babe, I’ll fight… to win back your love again” Oh my god! I swore he was singing to me!

I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. The drum kit lowered into place, and while he was singing to save our love, Klaus climbed off of the cage, walked to center stage, and, I swear, sang the rest of that song to me while I was standing in the rain. With each word, I felt how badly he didn’t want the relationship to end.

At the of the song when he belted out “I’m still loving yooooooooou,” I swear my underwear fell off.

Listen to it here (the song, not my underwear falling off):

What a glorious night that was. I don’t remember who played after the Scorpions, and I don’t even care. The image of Klaus through the misty night air hanging upside down as the drum cage floated down from the heavens will be etched into my memory forever. A memory I wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for one very bad decision.

I recently reconnected with Amy and asked if she remembered that venture. She sure did, and we both at how easy-going her mother was about the whole scam. That woman kept a lot of secrets for me. Amy and I both agreed that we would probably kill our kids if they tried to do something like that.

Those were the good ol’ days – bad decision galore.

Like I told my students, if you are going to make a bad decision, you better make sure you make it memorable.





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My Project List: Screen Door

At the end of my post It’s All In My Head, I listed all the projects I had decided to do after my last huge migraine. I had immediately started on a couple of them: de-cluttering my bedroom and taking stuff to Good Will, but hadn’t finished any of them. There will never be an end to de-cluttering because no matter how many times I tell them where items actually go, no one ever puts it there, and because I’d rather poke my own eyeballs out with a searing hot stick than have a garage sale, donating stuff to Good Will is a way of life.

A few days after assembling my headache-hangover list, my family gave me the opportunity to finish those projects. They packed up and went to Six Flags Over Texas for 4 days.

I tried, but did not accomplish all of them.

Just one. *Sigh*

And then I added to my list after realizing that it wasn’t on the list in the first place, and it would to be the only one I actually finished.

I needed a victory.


Whilst my family was enjoying themselves in Fort Worth, TX, a place to where my husband has determined we will never move, I started in on my screen door project.

I had actually bought the screen door in May when the refreshing spring breezes blew. Two months later, I painted and installed it when the sticky Memphis heat blankets like a winter coat.

I cleared a space in our garage (may have to add “organizing garage” that to the to-do list), set up Tim’s saw horses (a new pair has been added to his Christmas list), removed the screen, and started painting.

Once I got it painted, I was ready to attach the hinges. When I set the door in the frame, it didn’t fit.

Poop. I forgot to measure.

My confidence bubble lost air fast, so I enlisted the help of a couple jack-of-all-trades friends of mine. After a few touch-ups, the door was ready to be hung when Tim and the kids got home from vacation.

The upside to all this is that I’m ready for Finter – the time of year when Fall is transforming into Winter and the dry cool air is blowing again. The breeze can cool my house whilst it travels in my front windows and out my screen door.

Or visa versa.

What do I care as long as it travels through my house?

Here is my new screen door.


The spring makes that great toi-ing sound when the door is opened. But the sound I adore most is the loud clapping noise when it shuts. I’ve gone in and out of it a bazillion times just to hear it clap, and in my head I can hear my dad yelling, “Stop running in and out of the house!”

It’s wonderful.

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I have fallen in love with IKEA

I love IKEA.

There. I said it.

There are plenty of haters, but after a recent trip to Fort Worth, I’m not one of them.

Where I live, the nearest IKEA is 412 miles away in Atlanta, a six an a half hours of driving. We were in Fort Worth, TX for a week, so we decided to pop in and see what it was all about.  I simply fell in love.

Driving up to IKEA in Frisco, TX.

Driving up to IKEA in Frisco, TX.

Yes, it is inexpensive. Yes, some of the merchandise is cheaply made (you get what you pay for).

The store displays the merchandise according to rooms, and not just by rooms like some furniture stores, but they have serveral completely furnished (ceiling to floor) rooms for you to browse.  That, my friends, made my heart go pitter-pat.

Looking for bedroom furniture? There are 10 to 15 completely furnished bedrooms to browse. Looking for kitchen ideas? There are 20 to 30 completely furnished kitchens to browse.  Some brainiac even came up with the idea of furnishing entire apartments with the stuff you can buy in IKEA.  Your apartment is only 900 square feet? No problem, IKEA can show you how to furnish it.  Your apartment is only 600 square feet? No problem, IKEA can show you how to furnish it AND have a ton of storage. It is incredible!  And it’s all labeled and priced. All a shopper has to do is jot down the item numbers, hand the list to an IKEA employee, and they will bring it to you.  What is not pure heaven about that?

I’m sorry. I’m sure some of you are thinking, IKEA? Really? You get your decorating ideas from IKEA? 

Yes, and I’m not even ashamed or sorry. For anyone as interior-design challenged as I am, IKEA is a dream come true. It is really the concept that I love about IKEA. No longer do I have to pluck rooms from Better Homes and Gardens or Martha Stewart Living and search the world over for each individual piece. It is all right there in front of my eyes waiting for me to say, “I’ll take it.”  If there is an item that I’d like to swap for something of higher quality, such as a couch or mattress, I can find that item at a different store. No big deal.

But the furniture doesn’t last, you say? I’ll have to replace it in 10 years, you say? So what! I’d have to replace in 10 years anyway. My kids are 9 and 7.  What they don’t completely destroy, they’re not going to be satisfied with when they are teenagers anyway. In less than 10 years, I’m going to need storage solutions, so it doesn’t matter to me that the furniture isn’t the highest quality.

The Swedes are great at using every inch of a small space. I like that – the using every inch part, not the small space part. I’m claustrophobic. Seriously, the storage they are able to squeeze out of a small space is amazing.

I want to redo Eff’s and Z’s bedrooms this summer, and if I had a hitch on my Scion xB, I would have rented a U-Haul trailer and packed it full. Instead, I took pictures and will order online or plan a weekend trip to Atlanta.

Z picked this room. The chair he is sitting on folds out to a single futon-type bed.

Z picked this room. The chair folds out to a single futon-type bed.

Minus the TV, this could definitely be his room. He wanted to look like he was studying at his desk. :)

Minus the TV, this could definitely be his room.
P.S. He wanted to practice studying at his desk. 🙂

Shopping online isn’t the same as going to a store. Although there are pictures of furnished rooms, one doesn’t experience the feeling of the room or experience just how much storage is actually in the room. Little “check out the inside” stickers show up in the oddest of places to reviel some incredible storage solutions.  Plus, the IKEA website doesn’t include the completely furnished apartments like the showroom. The showroom is amazing. It really is a tourist attraction all by itself.

I can’t wait to start on the kids’ rooms. Aflutter is what you might call me, all aflutter.

Hanging this up was the first thing I did when I got home. It's perfect!

Hanging this up was the first thing I did when I got home. It’s perfect!

Meanwhile, I snagged a nifty contraption that holds all those pesky plastic bags. I love it!

Time will tell if I my infatuation with IKEA is really, truely love, or if I will find another company who is willing to cater to my handicapped eye for all things interior design.  In the mean time, leave me a comment and let me know, are you an IKEA lover or hater?

Categories: Recommendations, Vacation | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Random Thoughts Friday #29

Random Thoughts

1. I need to be more consistent with my Random Thoughts.

2. G and I were talking in her room one morning, and as I reached over to flick the light on, I said, “I’m turning your light on. I don’t like standing in the dark. Although, metaphorically, I’m usually in the dark, I don’t like to literally stand in the dark.”  “You scare me sometimes, Mother.”  “This is the type of conversation that I usually have going on in my head. Now that you’re here, I have someone to talk to and out it comes.”

3. I have high hopes for this summer.  We will be doing a lot of bowling and skating thanks to Kids Bowl Free and Kids Skate Free.  There are summer camps galore thanks to Tipton County’s School Age Child Care program, and I have already declared that Eff and Z will be attending every VBS I can find.  It’s going to be a very good summer.

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Spring Break: Pigeon Forge

Last year I packed up the kids and headed to Kentucky for Spring Break. This year, I was going to take them to Nashville to continue the search for my great-great grandfather, but my husband had a better idea.

We rented a cabin in the Smokey Mountains. It was cold and rainy, but even in less than perfect conditions the Smokey Mountains were spectacular.

The soundtrack to Les Misérables played as we drove up winding, narrow yet nicely paved mountain roads to Clingmans Dome, the highest point of the Smokey Mountains, in hopes of seeing three states: West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

This is what we saw:


We were a little less than thrilled with the view.  After watching the cloud move around us for a few minutes, G wanted to leave the dome, but I noticed that the view had changed to this:


The cloud had thinned enough that we could make out another mountain top in the distance, so I made G wait to see what would happen.

In a matter of seconds, the view had changed to this:


And to this just a couple of seconds later:


And then we saw this!!


In a total of three minutes, the clouds had opened upon this spectacular view, and I broke out in Fantine’s “So different now than what it seemed!”  G’s eyes snapped on me, “No, Mom. Just… No.”  I can see her point, but in my defense, at that moment, that particular line, taken completely out of context, worked.

It stayed clear for about five minutes, long enough for the lovely young couple standing next to us to have G snap a gazillion pictures of them with their pre-toddler,  and then the clouds gathered themselves together to keep it all from us once again.

That evening, I had this wonderful view:


It took me all of ten minutes to fall asleep.  It snowed for the next two days, blanketing the mountain in a thin layer of snow.  I don’t know if a bad experience can be had in the Smokey Mountains.

I have thought a lot about those eight minutes quite a bit in the week that has followed. What a very real illustration of how circumstances can change given time. Had G and I given up and exited Clingmans Dome mere seconds before, we would have missed a breathtakingly surreal moment.  Sometimes things in our lives do not seem to be what we expected. We know it’s there. We just can’t see it. Given a little time, the clouds clear and something beautiful happens. We just have to be willing to wait for it.

Categories: Education, Family, Holidays, Parenting, Vacation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My 2013 Bucket List

Okay, it’s really not, by definition, a bucket list, but a list of things I want to do this year.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

  • Ice skate at Rockefeller Center in New York City
That's me in the white sweater caught in the middle of a spin. Not really, but it's fun to dream. Photo Credit:

That’s me in the white sweater caught in the middle of a spin. Not really, but it’s fun to dream.
Photo Credit:

  • Identify my great-great-grandfather’s parents. I’ve tried to find them for decades, like my father before me. Genealogy is an addiction.
  • Dip my toes in the ocean. I’m not picky. Any ocean will do.

It’s a simple list, but very realistic, as long as I can talk my husband into it.

Categories: Exercise, Holidays, Vacation | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments