Monday, December 19, 2011

Lamar Lovin'

The blizzard in Lamar has me craving snow. Nevermind that I wouldn't be snowboarding at seven months pregnant, I still wished to be in mountainous Park City instead of snowless Peoria.

Years ago I stressed over the perfect snowboard. I found one that I love, it's beautiful and brought many days of joy and bruises. But had I known about LaMar Snowboards things may have been different...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Hairy Situations

This story should have come out when it happened, in October near Halloween, as it was an on-going nightmare and ended with me holding a razor menacingly to my hair. My vanity prevented me from divulging the secret then, but today's overcast gloom lends itself to the telling of such misery and woe. Actually, I did tell a handful of people what happened and they all laughed, for days.

For most my life I've been minimally concerned about my hair. It's a little too fine and slick for funky hair styles (which I've tried and have awful family photos to remind myself that a pixie cut doesn't suit me), so I usually let it grow out and pull it into a twisted knot throughout the day. Simple. And then the terrible awful thing happened.

As a child my white-blonde sisters convinced me I'd been adopted. How else could anyone explain my brown hair. While this accusation brought tears to my eyes I reminded myself that both my parents had darker hair at the time. By age 7 my hair had gone from brown to raven and I hypothesized that my hair was experiencing a rapid aging process. It seemed everyone in my family (parents included) had white-blonde hair that gradually darkened. Now They all have some variation of sun-streaked brown. My hair? It continued it's rapid aging and at the all-too-young age of 21 I began to notice strands of white.

I pulled them out, cried to my roommate Tracie that life was over and she should push me off a bridge and put a hold on that year's birthday celebrations. Then something miraculous happened. I found a strand that had gone from black to white to black. A fluke! I wasn't aging horribly fast and life continued.

Three years later driving home from St. George with my cousins, Laney commented on the crown of white I had poking through my part. I immediately burst into tears. After many attempts to console me Kellie and Laney offered to help me dye my hair. And so began the lengthy search for the perfect hairdresser.

Sidenote: Every so often my spontaneous side catches the better of me and I allow friends to chop inches off my hair. Usually this ends badly. I never kept a hairdresser for this reason. Also, I was too cheap to pay someone good.

My cousins gave me a referral to the most beloved hairdresser. Kristi tamed my wild inclinations and tastefully added fun colors and an anime hair cut. I loved it so much that for the first time in my life I went back, and back, and back. It was love. And then I moved. To the Midwest. Where hairstyles scare me.

I refused to have anyone touch my hair for a little too long. The first girl I went to did fine. Just a little blunt cut trim, lacking imagination, style and grace. I longed for Kristi and her magic scissors. Nearly a year later, my mom and sisters commented that my ends looked a little dry and perhaps my personal appearance could use a boost. The truth stung. I asked around for some recommendations (which I had done the first time) and was given the name of a trendy salon in cute Peoria Heights.

The deliberation process took a couple weeks and then I recklessly agreed to an appointment with the first stylist available.  It felt good to know that someone else would dye my hair, trim off the straw ends and recreate my image. A fair trade for the protruding belly I had since acquired.

The lady seemed nice enough until she attacked my head with a paintbrush. I'd only asked for a touch up and that somehow translated to "stab my head with a poky brush and stinging dye". Noted. What I failed to note was the increasingly larger perimeter she maintained on my hairline. Maybe no one told her that to dye eyebrows you don't have to dye the forehead. Oh, and I wasn't getting my brows done...

I kept telling myself that she would use the magic wipe cloth and fix me up. And she did. But it didn't fix anything. I had a dark black line the width of a pudgy forefinger around my hairline. ON MY FOREHEAD.

At home I furiously scrubbed at the dye with soap, nail polish remover, anything I could find. It worked a little and soon I was left with a faint brownish stain, you know like dried blood on your favorite white shirt. Fine, really.

I figured everything would be back to normal after I took a shower in the morning. The dye did fade more after my shower and I wasn't so freakish looking. Two days later I realized that I was no longer looking at dye on my skin. No, she had managed to dye any facial fuzz I had giving me sideburns. Skip was jealous. Or would have been had he been home when I made the discovery. He was not and I courageously took a razor to the sideburns.

This foolish act created a clean-shaven effect right up to the point where I'd neatly chopped off my wispy locks by my hairline. Legitimate 12-year-old boy sideburns.

I am no longer allowed to touch my hair without husband supervision.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bean Loves Golf

Years ago I wrote a post about the Poons trying to teach me to golf. I had new clubs from some stint I did as an editor of a luxury magazine. Those same delicious Chocolate Moda golf clubs made an appearance this past spring as Skip departed some wisdom. Blue and plaid checkered golf bags and accessories...dee-lish.

"You have these great clubs, but you suck at golfing. We can't go together until you learn. Let's sign you up for some community lessons."

And so we did. I went to weekly lessons and listened to a golf pro and then came home to share my new knowledge. I wore cute skirts and bright outfits I bought just for golfing to make it fun. That knowledge was then tweaked by the man I married who claimed to know more than me because he's played on elite courses around the world and was editor of Luxury Golf & Travel. Whatever. I vaguely remember him looking quizzically as I summarized lessons and then politely telling me I'd misunderstood.

 With the pressure of girly looking clubs and professional lessons I invested in a golf outfit: skirt, shoes, shirt. Then I waited for our cold May to warm up. My perfect outfit never made it to a golf lesson, but I just knew that mid-June would be filled with golf dates. I even prepped some of our couple friends for Saturday outings. When June came my dates were with the toilet and standing in the unbearable heat, impossible. Who knew pregnancy would come so soon? And with such utter disregard for my summer plans. 

I didn't make it for golf dates in July, August or September. In October Skip found camo more appealing than pleats and it wasn't until a cold November weekend that we finally had a golf date. I enthusiastically laid out my perfect golf outfit and addressed the cold weather with some long johns. The first layer went well, but by the second all the tugging and adjusting didn't make up for the fact that my stomach was three sizes too big. Pretty soon I was in my goose down snowboard jacket and beanie. But we had a grand time and on the 18th, I ripped one with my eight iron that actually looked remarkedly like a decent ball strike and Skip was shocked.

Our golf date turned into our first family outing.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wicked Chicago

Since moving to Illinois we've joked about how corrupt the state government. In all fairness I haven't paid much attention, but I was sidekick to a mugging my first trip to Chicago and the state tax went up by some ridiculous amount (I want to say 50 percent...).

So I conned my family into visiting by tempting them with the perfectly named Broadway show Wicked. The twins followed that up with a plan for some indulgent spending in Chicago. Sorry boys!

Amber, Heather, Mom
Somehow I left my camera at home for the weekend, and as a family we must not be tourist minded because we constantly thought of cool pictures we should have taken afterwards. Amber and Heather did manage to get a passing shot posed in front of a Windy City bus stopped at a red light. I took a handful of mobile shots. Yep, that photography class is paying for itself.

Would it be small of me to blame my professor? He told me I had shaky hands. We refer to it as the Hall shakes and what kept Travis from surgeon stardom. Crushed dreams.

Regardless, it was wonderful to have a girls and Pa weekend. We all loved Wicked and it wouldn't surprise me to find my little nieces singing Popular this holiday season. Thanks for the visit!

Monday, October 10, 2011

X or Y

On Friday we find out if Bean is a sweet little Breezy doll or a hyper little Gripper. Based on the lack of movement today I pick girl. Until recently I was pretty sure it was going to be a boy. Now I've created a pro/con list for each gender based on said gender exemplifying the parents same characteristics. And Skip wonders what I do when he's gone.

The XX                                             The XY

Huge blue eyes                                Will inherit many hunting accessories

May out-cute Mom (and she            Will have to fight older brother for
would have to come up with new      hunting gear
ways to get out of trouble)    

Tendency to the dramatic                  Will constantly be playing in the dirt

Lots of fun outfits                              Decor from old blinds

Crazy flexibility, no muscles             Abs by age four but unable to touch toes

Austen, Dickens, Clark                     Hemingway, Vonnegut, Wildfowl

A tendency to create messes             A tendency to break things

Now imagine that they are flipped and the little girl turns out to be an outdoor loving hunting fool and the little boy is a shy bookworm. That's probably going to happen.

Make a prediction!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Parenting 101

A couple of nights ago Skipper and I fell into a discussion about how we will raise our child.

"What rules did you? When was your curfew?" Skip asked.

I launched into an explanation of no boys in my room, early curfew on weekdays and a slightly later curfew on weekends...

"Like you were home by?" Skip probed.

Midnight? Or maybe that was just my senior year. To tell the truth I can't really remember. I do remember being home a few minutes late from time to time and "owing" my mom time the following night(s).

"Midnight?! When you were a senior right, not before? No good comes after eleven," Skip exclaimed.

Well, that's probably true. What is also true is I didn't try to get into trouble. My mistakes were for the most part mistakes, not well planned out events. With a raised eyebrow I asked Skip about the rules in his house.   According to him he had a much earlier curfew, and he also remembered pushing limits and trying to break the rules.

So there we were, the innocent girl being reprimanded by the textbook badboy for her "easy, lenient" upbrining. At this point I'm sure I had a smirk on my face (you know being the rebellious one in the relationship it's hard not to mock the saint). And then he hits me with this:

"I'm going to be like Mr. Rogers in front of our kids. Just you watch."

I laughed hard. It turn my stomach.

The next morning as the saint studiously studied his television lines, I lazily prepared my cereal. I poured the milk with an extra flair to embodied the new image of rulebreaker. Suddenly Skip calls me over to look out the window. In the side-street behind our house four little neighborhood boys stood in a circle waiting for the school bus. Four little juvies between the ages of 12 and 8 smoking! These are the same boys who helped me carry boxes when we moved in.

Skip opened the window and called out, "You boys having fun out there?"

The boys jumped and ran back to the bus stop, our front yard. I laughed hard. Milk shot out my nose.

"See! I can be Mr. Rogers. I'm a great dad." Or Skip said something to that effect, milk was running down my robe, I can't remember the details.

What Mr. Skip Rogers failed to realize that in his attempt to discipline and maintain a friendly voice he actually sounded suspiciously like a dude with a white van asking kids if they want some candy. Combine that with the dark corner his voice was coming from and I'm pretty sure he gave the boys nightmares.

At least we've established our parenting roles early.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Checking In, Passing Out

Not every day can be as exciting as the tabloids, unless you are squeamish and faint around needles and blood. Then at least every doctors visit ends with an intense scary memory that you can almost actually remember...but not quite...because you aren't actually conscious.

I went to my second pregnancy check up and they informed me that they wanted to draw blood to look for the usual suspects:  blood type, anemia, HIV, et al. For them a routine ordeal, phoning it in. For me a blood stopping torture.

At my first appointment Skip was there and mentioned to the nurse that I have a tendency to pass out. The nurse fussed at me and said, "You should always tell people that so you don't fall to the floor." Skip then held my hand and blocked my sight and began our lamaze classes early, breathe in, breathe out. After 28 years you'd think I could manage that on my own. I can not.

This round I let Skip handle the magazine and I ventured to the doctors on my own. Foolish. As the nurse prepared me for the vampire moment, she went from vein to vein.

"Actually the first one you tried is the best," I said. "I have bad veins. I think it's to discourage drug use."

The nurse laughed and agreed with me, my right arm with the barely there blood rivers would get the prick. She went back to my right arm and prepped it. A little alcohol swab for sterilization. She gets the needle ready. I turn my head, focus on the wall clock and start chanting breathe, breathe, breathe.

"Oh! Let me just check your hand, maybe that would work better."

Breathe, breathe, breathe...WHERE IS MY MOTHER?!

My mom is a registered nurse and spent many years excusing me from school shots. She'd give them to me in the comfort and privacy of our home bathroom. She is amazing. Fast and calm and she also told me to breathe. Then as soon as the needle came out she'd lay me out gently on the cool counter top until color came back to my cheeks.

Now I was being forced to sit up straight (even when I mentioned this whole fetish I have for fainting the nurse still kept me in the chair, the previous nurse, a veteran, had me on a hospital bed ready for a quick lie). The nurse grabbed another alcohol swab and washed my original puncture sight on my right arm. I admit I was quite proud of myself. Normally I'm a shaking mess with tears streaming down my face before we even get to this point. This time I was rationally explaining my job. There just happened to be long pauses while I fought off the looming darkness in the corners of my eyes.

"Look at me! Over here! We're all done. How're you feeling? You okay?"

I nodded.

"Okay, I need you to keep telling me about your job."

Job...I had a job once...and you hear ringing? The nurse's mouth continued to move and I think I answered, or at least nodded my head. I'm very agreeable in such moments. She slapped a cool damp cloth on my forehead. Ah, yes! I work with children who have autism and I'm going to school to get my masters.

What class am I taking? It's got A doctor walks in. She grabs a binder and starts fanning me. "DON'T CLOSE YOUR EYES! DO NOT close your eyes! Over here! LOOK!"

The ringing in my ears subsides a little but I'm pretty sure a monster covered in black fur is speaking to me. The nurse thrusts a cup of water in my hand and helps me hold it up to my mouth. I take a couple gulps and feel my head sway...

Eventually everything comes into focus and I understand what people are saying. I guess technically I didn't pass out, I fought through it as I have every time I get my blood drawn, but really how functional was I? The nurse and doctor gave me more water, examined my purse full of snacks and told me to sit in the waiting room. And then they checked on me to make sure I wasn't leaving and definitely was not trying to drive in such condition. So I ate dry cereal and sipped water until I got the okay to leave.

A pretty good excuse for missing an appointment with a client right?

I'm glad I survived and it's better than having your teacher catch you after you volunteer to have your blood sugar tested (yep, that happened), but they also gave me a note to get my tetnus shot and a flu shot:  Rounds two and three to come. In high school you can coerce your lab partner to prick their finger for a blood sample under the microscope for you:  In the real world there are no substitutes.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Silence is Rotten

I've been quiet and it's mostly because this whole pregnancy thing took over my brain. To be more exact it took over all functions of my body and my days have consisted of easing nausea with food, candy and drinks. And when those all failed I did the only respectable thing left-lots of McDreamy reruns on computer TV. That was one show I could convince Skip was in our best interest. Watching his look-a-like brought me closer to him, even when I refused to be touched.

Now that the worst of this has passed (fingers crossed) and I my energy levels inched past a sloth, I've got stories. Unfortunately I've also got my Roman Civilization and Law History class starting in five minutes. Here's a shorty to keep you laughing.

Skip and I had a dinner and movie date with our friends on Saturday. We ate some Greek food and settled in for a long western. Of course I brought snacks, of the sweet and salty variety and convinced a gorgeous little 4 year old to sit beside me. As we popped candy corn and peanuts into our mouths she looked up sweetly and smiled. Ahhh the bean inside my tummy should be so adorable. I took a small drink break and tried to pace myself with the goodies.

My pint-sized friend started to hand me candy corn. Apparently she did not like the defects missing the white top. I too like the white tops but am just as happy eating what she deemed weird. After a few I looked over at her prepared to address the importance of loving all candies, not just those that are perfect. She looked up at me and kindly said in her British accent, "I just eat the top parts and give them to you."

Sharing. It comes with spit.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Boy and His Shirt

A couple months ago was some guy's birthday. Said guy received a beautiful flannel shirt, perfect for his week long camping adventure following the birthday celebrations. Some girl lovingly wrapped the flannel shirt and presented the guy with the present early on the morning of May 12th.

Some guy blinked and waivered between ecstatic jumping and forlorn crying. While the guy appreciated the thoughtful gift he could not be convinced that baby blue looked manly. The girl lost the debate and repackaged the shirt so it could be returned.

The guy camped without his flannel. The girl hung her head in despair. A birthday gone awry.

One week passed. Then another. The girl found a familiar package in the mailbox. She recognized the awkward tape job and saw her name peeking beneath a few labels. Inside the package was the rejected flannel shirt. A jumbled return brought the flannel home. The girl presented the present with hesitation and a solid compliment.

The guy conceded and wore the shirt to work.

Beautiful. Fantastic. Amazing. swooned his coworkers. Some guy went home that night and kissed his wife for the the best shirt of the year. Said guy abandoned his own sense of fashion for life, appointing the girl his personal shopper.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Miss Fire

Skip decided I needed a Daisy Red Ryder to improve my shooting stance, tone my arm muscles, and reign in my target spread. Apparently we like small scatters on the target, not holes in the neighbors garage.

Also, Skip wanted me to want to go skeet shooting. While I'm not opposed to shooting skeeters it seemed a little excessive and hard to do. I prefer bug spray. You laugh, but skeet shooting felt like trying to smack a mosquito. Awesome if you hit one, frustrating when you don't and it left an itch I couldn't scratch. I really did not like missing the skeet. The gun experts told me to lead the target and shoot when I couldn't see it. OH, and keep your head down, lean forward, stand on one leg, and sing the national anthem. I was trying not to tip over or drop the gun. Thanks guys.

That first trip out left me annoyed. I hit three by accident and the rest of the time shot blindly. I would have done just as well to have my eyes closed. The only thing I felt good about is my fast reflexes. Instead of taking time for things like aiming and breathing I yelled "pull" and and flicked the trigger. My coaches complained that I was shooting ahead of the target, when most beginners lag behind.

Enter Daisy. Skip determined I needed practice. He bought me the gun and a pack of ginger ale. We could quench our thirst and my queasy  stomach all in the name of target practice. I became a quick and accurate shot when the pop can was a mere 12 inches away. A natural. Then I learned an old western trick and made the pop can dance. As it flipped and turned my shot distance grew. Soon I was hitting at 80 percent and 16 foot distance.

This translated well over the weekend when I battled the skeet again. True to my style I fired quickly, but this time I heard a reassuring smack and ducked as the broken skeet sprayed around me. I even endured my first misfire in the middle of my round. While loading the case I drove a bullet into the ground. My sleuth of a husband determined there was no way possible I touched the trigger based on the two handed hold I need to load the bullet. The guys jumped a little, I jumped a lot, and then they welcomed me into the club of official gunsmen. If you haven't had a misfire, you haven't shot much. Or so they say. I say you're lucky.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sweet Little Nothings

In case you wondered what it's like to live with and be loved by a writer, here it is:

And zoomed in...

And for those of you who don't read with mirrors I quote: "Love U so much, makes me sick!"

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Girl Dating

For the record I have been on exactly two dates this week and my husband's out of town. Before he left he hooked me up on a semi-blind date with his co-worker. And I think he may have told another co-worker to have his wife call me. I feel like a sympathy project.

However, I enjoyed both nights out. Date one involved a 3-hour walk through a park and the historic district of Peoria. We dished on clothes, travel, pets and boys (or hers at least) and that's when I discovered one of those Aha! moments. Married people want to talk about dating drama because it's fun.

I always thought that the marrieds were bored or believed everyone should be just like them with their house, dog and 2.5 children. Now I realize that between work drama and work drama and work drama, it's nice to be swept up in the love affairs that daytime dramas envy. I will be taking applications for all single or dating girls in the area. You can gush about a new crush, first kiss, or stupid boy at any time. If you'd like dating advice I can Ann Landers you.

On to Date two. A friend and I met for dinner to plan a bachelorette party. We dined on sushi and schemed up new games (preview: Laney and a trip to Costa Rica inspired my idea for a high-fashion makeover game). Looking around the room I saw multiple girls out conspiring in groups of two. Sushi is the perfect place for a light dinner and you don't feel as awkward stuffing large uncuttable pieces of rice and raw fish into your mouth when it's another girl sitting across from you. They understand your mouth is small...well most of them do.

Girl dating is kinda fun, but I'm glad Skipper comes home tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

8 3/4

Inches that is. More specifically that's 8 3/4 inches lost, by me after an intense Houdini wrap and a mini facial.

Last week a coworker asked me if I wanted to go with for a body wrap. It was a special herbal concoction that would pull out all my toxins resulting in a slimmer version of my former self. If we went together we could get a free facial. Detox, facial and some girl spa time when my husband was out of town? Sure.

It didn't even matter that the whole thing sounded suspicious. Like why the promoting words were inches not pounds. Why it was for mere pennies (ok dollars, but in spa terms and cosmetics it translates to pennies). And, once we arrived, why only one door could be used, but there were three ramps and three doors. We tried every one too. Plus, she failed to tell me my measurements.

The mud mixture hailed from the great and glorious Dead Sea. The herbs were the unmentionable secret ingredient. The way I lost 8 3/4 inches? The intense mummification I endured for an hour. Spagirl wrapped me in multiple ace bandages tight enough for me to gasp. Tight enough that after I laid down for a couple of minutes I felt pins and needles pricking my foot. Then I felt my foot go numb and no amount of hitting or repositioning allowed relief or blood back to the appendage.

My mini-facial was pleasant but while trying to relax and enjoy it a sharp pain in my bound waist brought the gritty reality home. I was wrapped up in some fairly nice flowery clay by ace bandages looking like a leper of old in a decrepit mobile home. My body ached to be free and I toyed with the notion of ripping the bandages off and fleeing. It was just like turning 16 holding pliers up to my teeth trying to grasp my braces. Something had to be done.

"I'm going to get some warm towels and then I'll unwrap you."

Finally! I breathed in shallowly and twitched in anticipation.

She remeasured my various body points and happily announced the shaving of a 1/2 inch here and a full inch there until finally the inches lost totaled 8 3/4. I believe that for those two minutes I had lost those inches. I also believe that 5 minutes later when I gulped down a jug of water and took a full deep breath all 8 and 3/4 inches came back. The popping sounds in all my joints verified it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Royal Pains

Maid of Honor in this year's royal wedding? Pippa. Name of my first born. Not going to be Pippa. I'm expecting plenty of Pippas to pop up in the next year or two. It's a beautiful name, one I'd had my heart set on since reading a Dickens classic, Great Expectations. I fell in love with Pip and wanted one of my own. My sisters ridiculed me enough over that idea until I came up with a compromise--Pippa.

An old English nickname for Phillipa. I figured I could justify that easily enough as Philip is a family name. I'd just need to have girls and no boys. Done. A cute name fairly unknown in the States but not entirely made up, nor a medical term.

Then I ran into an old college friend at BYU graduation (I was supporting my brother Travis). She happened to be pregnant and naming her daughter Pippa.

"I know. We're crazy," she said in her southern drawl.

I laughed and assured her it was the perfect name, one I'd wanted for myself. The problem with having great taste in names is your friends will have it too. Since she was married and pregnant she got the name. I graciously told her it was beautiful. She laughed at me and said I should also use it.

I would too. Well, I would have. Now that Britain's newest next of kin to Princess Kate is named Pippa I expect a huge surge in baby girls named Pippa for 2012-2020. On the other hand I'm checking to other family names I can use...Travelina? Danielle?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Third Wheel

Yes, growing up I was the third wheel. Amber and Heather moved in sync and beyond the capacity of normal "friends". My grandma called it twin power, which I enjoyed on the merry-go-round. They would push me, and sometimes Travis, until we were sick or screaming because we could barely hold on. The twins just smiled triumphantly speaking mind and eye twinspeak.

A couple of days ago Skip sent me a link with twin boys babbling a deep discussion. They gesture and mimic each other, pause, listen, answer--everything any of us do when advising a loved one. It's emphatic. My first thought was it couldn't be real. I run social skills groups every week and we really push for a hint of the engagement and awareness that these video twins have. The video twins can't articulate but they communicated to each other clearly. Then I thought of my sisters and concluded the video was real.

Skip and I laughed and joked that Amber and Heather did that and would understand it. I emailed it to my mom and sisters. Here are their responses:

It does to me. I' not sure about the twins. Isn't that fun---

Happy Easter. Love Mom

Yes it does - and i know exactly what they were saying. Amber

Memories?  Of course.  And it should come as no surprise you that I knew exactly what they were talking about......Heather

I'm not saying that my sisters were wearing matching green capris, white tank tops, blue flowy shirts and baubles on their wrists as they typed those lines, but I also wouldn't be surprised.

You can watch the twin phenom at:

Friday, April 15, 2011

Ladies Night Extended

Last night I attended Ladies Night at my local bike shop. My reason? To make some friends and plan some rides. I soon realized that this was a night for road cyclists. Not a problem, but I don't own a road bike. I mountain bike and I don't really need crazy nutrition supplements for my rides, I need a partner in case my head meets a tree. While I didn't make friends I did win a new pair of gloves. Whoooo! This was not the end of the excitement.

I went home and feel asleep in the living room a couple hours later. A couple hours after that I woke up and stumbled to my bed as I worked out the crinks in my neck. What I didn't do was check to make sure the sliding glass door and the door to the garage were locked. And now for the pattern. A couple hours after that Wiley (we're dog sitting for the month) starts barking wildly by my window. Before I opened my eyes I thought it must be morning and Wiley was barking at the children who use our front yard for the bus stop. When the barks continued but moved further from my window I slowly opened my eyes. Now he was locked into the back corner terrorizing something. And it was pitch black. Only 2:30 am not 7:30 am.

Probably just a rabbit or the famed deer I'm always hearing about, I told myself. A few minutes later I'm more awake and a little freaked out because I've decided that a deer or rabbit would not be loitering. Wiley continues to bark. I wearily climb out of bed, full of dread for what I have to do. Best case, I'm chasing after Wiley trying to get him into the garage and quiet. Worst case, Wiley's got something or someone cornered and I'm going to have to sort it out. Aggressive children would seemed blissful at the moment. So I throw on my robe and debate if I should grab a gun. Wiley, who had stopped barking for a moment starts again and I can't quite tell where he is.

I grab the closest gun from behind the bedroom door. Then I realize I don't know what kind of gun it is. Skip keeps various guns around the house, including my new Daisy Red Rider. At this point I'm tempted to grab the bb gun because I know it's loaded, but it's in the kitchen and won't really scare anyone. So I get the security gun from the other corner of the bedroom. Why not grab it to begin with? Because to do so I had to walk past the window near the street. Two windows actually. I grab it and feel more terrified that I'm lugging a heavy gun around and I can't quite remember how to use it.

I can't turn on a light. I wouldn't be able to see in the dark after that. I also can't turn off the light in the kitchen, there is no rational reason I just can't. It gives me a little comfort to have a low light burning. Wiley continues to bark. I check the rooms quickly and make my way to the kitchen. There I peek through the drapes. I don't see Wiley but I do see a car parked across the street. Yep, that's where Wiley had lost his mind a few minutes earlier. Deep breaths. It 's probably been there all night. But I still creep to another window and close the blinds. Then I go back to the sliding doors and look out into the night. I can't hear or see Wiley.

I begin to wish I'd grabbed a darker robe and put black paint on my face. I don't own black paint but am certain that anyone outside can see my pale face. I put the barrel of the gun next to my cheek. Maybe they can see that too. Wiley starts barking. I can't see him but his in the corner to my right and the car is in the far corner to my left. Has someone been in that corner?! Can they see me?!

I retreat to a back bedroom. I want to call the police but I don't know their number and my phone is in my bedroom. To look up the police number I'd have to go back to the kitchen. Not going to happen. My phone I manage to grab and I go stand watch at the bedroom window. I can see the car. If nothing happens after 20 minutes I'll relax and go to bed. I see someone light a cigarette inside the car. Just a flash of orange and my heart races. A coincidence. Pure coincidence.

CRASH CLANG WRRROOOOOOFFFF! That came from inside the garage. I pull back from the window convinced that I just saw someone give a signal and another person is going to barge into my house. I dial 9-1-1. I tell them I think someone is breaking into my house. I tell them I can see a car across the street. I'm speaking louder than I want to but I can barely hear myself over the pounding in my chest. I've had three people break in to my house over the years. Twice I knew them. The third time I didn't but he took my roommates computer.

I give my address and they ask me if I see anyone. No, I don't hear anything but the car is still there....And the car door is open. The gun I'm holding starts to shake and I'm worried I'll set it off because it's not the gun that's shaking but my entire body and the gun could drop. I'm now cradling a rifle, or a shot gun, or a pellet gun because what if this isn't the loaded gun. Where are my shoes?! I'll get them.

"Is the car still there? Did anyone get out of the car?" a voice asks. Wiley is still in the garage barking.

I'm still on the phone with the 9-1-1 agent. I look back at the car and the door has shut. I still can't see anyone. The headlights flash. Another signal. Then the car starts and drives slowly. Wiley's barks get muffled and from the variation in sound I know he's running around the back yard.

"The car is headed towards Sherwood," I whisper. "It's turned and heading toward IL-8."

"Ok, a police car is on it's way. Don't open the door unless it's an officer."

Dial tone. They hung up. I panic and do the only thing I can. I call my mother. It's 2 am where she's at and still she answers. I tell her just enough to give her a heart attack before the cops are calling me.

"I have to go. I'll call you later."

She either thinks I'm a dead woman or I'm hallucinating again.

Knock, knock.

I see the cop car, notice the uniform and still struggle to open the door. He's a nice looking guy. A little more librarian than hero with his wire rims but he's got a tool belt that looks like Batman's so I accept. His hands go up and he takes a step back with alarmed eyes.

"I really need you to put that gun down," he insists.

I jump and start to toss it on the ground. Luckily I stopped myself and rushed to put it in the hall. Illinois has some funky gun laws and I probably just violated nine of them. He takes my information and tells me he's going to look around some more but I should quiet the dog. Oh yeah. Wiley's barks had become familiar, something stable in that moment. I waited until I heard Wiley's deep growl. The cop was in the back yard, now I could open the door to the garage.

Wiley grinned when he saw me. Have you seen a dog grin? He bounded over to me, licked my hand and listened when I told him to sit. His owners will read this and shake their heads in disbelief. Skip will read this and wonder how I tamed the beast. Wiley won't come to anyone but his master, and me at 3 in the morning. I lock him inside and wait for more instructions.

The cop comes back to the front door and asks me more questions. Did our bedroom window always have a tear in the screen? Uhhh... Well you would have known if someone was trying to get into your bedroom window. Don't worry. We've got the car stopped. It's a female.

I listen to some cop radio garble. "We've got a serious 96 here." A 96? What is that. The officer relaxs. You didn't see anyone try to get into the house did you? No. Not really. A 96 is a psych patient. He proceeds to tell me how safe my neighborhood is and if anything else comes up they'll call me.

A mentally ill woman. Confused. Stalker. Or just wanting to be my friend? Ladies Night may have been a success.

Oh and Skip? He's hunting turkeys, the kind that gobble not park across the street.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Banishing Snakes

This post is late, at least two weeks late and even then I should have prepped you all for St. Patrick's Day. If he could banish snakes from an island, then maybe I could share a little of his story with you. Unfortunately I don't remember much more than the snakes and that he was kidnapped and taken to Ireland to be a slave. A little embarrassing considering I lived in Ireland and knew a great scholar who happened to take St. Patrick's Day seriously.

I can tell you that it is a four or five day religious holiday over there. Rumor has it that they didn't do the whole green wearing, parade throwing, lucky shamrock festivities until other nations did that as a tribute (think over zealous Americans who love an excuse for a holiday). It had evolved by the time I was a Dubliner and a huge parade took place on the 17th in the city center. I'd intended on attending. We had green hats, wigs and sashes. At the last minute one little guy threw up (green milk?) and I volunteered to stay home with him. I'd planned to go downtown with friends later that night so I thought I'd see some crazy things anyway. That also backfired as high winds caused an early night for vendors. I did wear my "Kiss Me I'm Irish" sash, it even had red lights that flash.

Now living in Washington/Peoria, I felt like it was little Irishland for the night. I only saw the subdued version at a sports bar two blocks from our house. Everyone dressed up in a St. Patrick's/Mardi gras/Halloween style to sing old 90s grunge with a local band. Mr. Seattle was highly impressed and I loved it too. It's hilarious to see Skip's face when I can sing along to all his favorite songs. Skip also had the pleasure of seeing the Peoria Riverfront lit up in green. His office took off around four and wandered the streets. Lines and lines of leprechauns waiting to get into the pubs.

So when he came home and asked for props I had him covered. I brought out my old sash and handed him a green hat. Then things got real wild. Skip saw my glittery green eyeshadow and had to have some, as a mask of course.

Really people what do expect when the town's popular private school is St. Patricks? We'll be better prepared for next year. Maybe I'll hand out shamrock cookies to the kids at the bus stop, it's on the corner of our lawn.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Plaid Pants of 1999

As a teen my mom, and church leaders, encouraged me to accomplish some goals. I think the end goal was to make me a well-rounded self-sufficient gal, or at least more interesting. I'm not sure it did any of those things, but it prepared me to clothe my husband.

Over Christmas break Skip announced that he'd forgotten to pack pajama bottoms. I told him not to worry, between my dad, two brothers and a brother-in-law who lives in Lamar, Skip was sure to find something comfy to lounge in. He stared at me with big puppy dog eyes and a seriously doubtful look. So I started scrounging around the drawers in my room.

I went through a phase where I didn't want to have to pack to stay at my moms. Never mind my mom lived at least 12 hours away, I found pleasure in leaving clothes to wear, shampoo to use, hair brush, toothbrush, blow dryer, shoes, outdoor gear, etc. in my bedroom so my suitcase could be filled with twenty more outfits.

My hoarding abilities saved Christmas as I pulled out a pair of oversized green and red plaid pajama bottoms. Teenage Breanna had taken a regular pants pattern and made the legs wide and straight, the waist a few inches longer than necessary so it could be fashionably rolled and pockets appropriately placed (when the waist had been rolled). Teenage Breanna had no idea that anyone else would ever want to wear these ridiculous but splendid pants. Teenage Breanna had never met 40-year-old Skip who put them on with glee.

And then took them home to Peoria. So now the lounge pants I wore every Sunday in high school have become his go-to weekend wear. He won't even look at the cool pair I bought him from Banana Republic. All I can say is I used to be a visionary.

Friday, February 18, 2011

On Being a Girl

Here I am deep in behavioral analysis, when Skip sees a comercial for a Venus razor.
"Do you like being a lulu (his word for girls)," he asks.

"Yeah, I'd rather be a girl than a guy." I reply.


So I launched into the obivious. How guys stink, and they don't even care that they stink, and I'm not sure I want to regress into a primate. That as a girl I have emotional capabilities that look like science fiction to them. That I can rely on faith for things that aren't tangible and easily manipulated. Oh and did I mention the cute clothes? Plus I feel that women are the superior sex.

Skip stared at me, refuting each claim on the basis of "If you were a guy you wouldn't care about that."

I thought for a minute and concluded, "It would be cool to pee standing up, but it's nice to know that I don't have to think about sex all day every day and therefore can accomplish tasks on a regular basis. Oh, and that means I'm ready to live all by myself, just like a big kid."

Skip rolled this over in his head, forgot that he was eating and I saw a light bulb flash above his head.

"THAT makes sense," he decided, nodding his head.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Saints and Lovers

With a proclaimed day of love approaching I've been reading articles on planning a perfect Valentine's Day. Mostly this is just fun entertainment for meany real planning causes panic; I don't expect to be doing any of it. While reading these great articles I noticed how many people caustically wrote that we don't need a holiday to do something nice for a loved one. That it's a Hallmark tradition meant to bleed wallets. In general a slight disgust for the holiday they try to promote with ideas of gifts, rendezvous, date activities and romantic dinners.

I decided that in honor of my first Valentine's marriaged to Gripper, and in honor of Vegas Stacey who L-O-V-E-S this day, I would stick up for the Saint who risked his life to marry lovers. Though the Roman Emperor decreed marriage illegal during time of war (he believed men without families were better soldiers), Bishop Valentine married couples in secret, and was executed for it.

Maybe Valentine's isn't such a rip-off. Maybe it's a day to appreciate marriage, your spouse (present, past or future) and believe in a binding love.

The chocolates, candy conversation hearts and possible flowers? Party favors.

More Valentine's trivia:

Friday, February 4, 2011


I fully expect this post to blow your mind. It begins at my office on Monday morning when the girls start exclaiming, "The storm has begun."

Me? I had no idea we were in need of a storm. Actually I was planning this whole clean-the-house-before-picking-up-skip thing. And no where in there do you read snow or storm. A couple hours later when my home visit canceled I just knew I would accomplish the cleaning thing and be in the clear. Oh wait. Did I mention that the storm was supposed to get worse and lock down loomed? I didn't because I didn't believe it. I went home, took a nap, cleaned a little, talked to Skip (whose flight was delayed a bit) and finally he convinced me to prepare for the storm.

Whoops. Everyone had cleaned out the basics. No bread, no milk, no OJ, no bananas, no potatoes, no anything unless you're a big fan of taco flavored Doritos. Those they had. So I bought some Capt'n Crunch and called it good. Then I went home, switched cars so I'd have 4-wheel capabilities and took off to the airport.

I forgot my written directions and managed to miss a turn and drive by the little airport. After a couple off-road illegal turns (one in front of a cop) I corrected my error and made it to the boy. The boy whose luggage had missed the flight. What do you do in an empty snowstorm airport when your luggage disappeared? I'm not sure but your wife sits in the car counting the inches of snow on the windshield.

Fine, it wasn't that bad yet, but I don't see well at night so it appeared to be much worse. We made it home, somehow. I have yet to take the same route anywhere here. And we laughed at the "storm". Then the morning came and we laughed some more. Two hours later we started to wonder. And then we realized that we'd have to FJ through the snow to get to WalMart (which stated that they would not close at all) to pick up a few essentials. Like some canned goods, fresh fruit, and toilet paper. I didn't want to be unprepared there. After coming home with red hots and chocolates we settled in for a good time.

The snow didn't seem like much but the wind fiercely blew and created amazing drifts around our window, cars, trees and the tree limbs that had broken off. And in the midst of Skip opening the door every three minutes to check out the blizzard we saw a bright flash and heard a long loud rumble, thundersnow had arrived. Kind of awesome. Even better that we didn't really believe it, especially me, until I read in the paper that lightening struck the emergency center and all their equipment rendered useless for the storm.

By now you're wondering if I'm writing this from the grave. I am not. Other than the lightening and thunder our street and town missed any crazy happenings. In fact the next day Skip dug out our driveway in a record ten minutes while I built a lounge snowchair on our porch. Then we FJ'd down the road and through the foot of snow at a friend's house.

P.S. Illinois snow hurts. I dove into it and the ice felt like little blasts of glass embedded in my skin. Not the fluffy fun at the ski resorts.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Self Realizations

One of Skip's favorite jokes runs along the lines of German girls looking manly once they hit their thirties. Would be funny if A) he didn't always date German girls and B) if he hadn't married one. Since he did I find myself scrutinizing the mirror looking for manly characteristics, or Skip characteristics. Turns out we also laugh at couples who look alike.

Not just laugh, but we stare at couples, think of loved ones and find those with matching noses, ears, hairlines, eyes and eyebrows. Some of you should really consider plucking. Great game until late one night we stared at pictures to find our identical traits. Skip is attracted to my well defined chin (German much?) and I'm attracted to his large nose.

Upon review I conceded that while I am ultra feminine looking and he rugged and manly, our chins are similar in shape. But I decided that the nose attraction must be my inferiority complex about my crooked nose due to an eggtooth. Simply put--I wanted to be the pretty one and needed a man with a distinctive nose so mine looks cute by comparison.

Unfortunately Skip was in Vegas last week at Shot Show where Aimpoint handed out their new catalogue. A catalogue with a couple prominent photos of me. Photos of me in camo, only my face showing. My small adorable doll face with a Tom Cruise nose protruding into the sky, lengthened by the barrel of a gun.

It's going to be a long night.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Maybe you wonder where I've been. Where the witty words and silly stories disappeared to? They are lost in the ice of the Illinois River. I hope they land in my head, flow through my fingers and magically publish on my blog when the icebergs melt. Until then it's bleak skies and dreary days in the cold. I could tell you that my nose hairs froze walking to the car this afternoon. And I did.

Here's hoping life picks up...with exciting new adventures.

P.S. I imagined I'd be sharing snow shoeing and X-Country skiing stories and photos with you. Uh, you need more than a dusting of snow to do that!

Monday, January 10, 2011


The words have stopped. They stutter from my mouth and only partially form in my head. It's as if the world truly ended once I turned 28. Or I've been lazy and busy traveling.

Maybe I should have made a New Year's Resolution to blog, but I find resolutions time consuming.

So with this new theme of negligence I thought I'd share with you an alarming fact: library closures. I recently read an article announcing a number of libraries closing their doors for good. I panicked until I looked at the map and realized these were all in the U.K.

The next day I happened to wander into my local library branch conveniently located 1.5 blocks from my home. I had some copies to make and hadn't taken the time to apply for a local library card. Why? Because I've been doing all my book check outs online and downloading to my eReader. I love it! Except the selection is limited. Some of the books on my bucket list have yet to reach the digital age.

There I stood cutting out and printing images, when an old lady hobbled up to the desk to declare that she had some books to donate. Then she looked around the empty room and asked where the patrons were.

"They must have gotten Kindles for Christmas," replied the librarian. "No one comes in anymore."

YIKES! I'm helping to end the era of libraries. I spent my youth summers riding my bike or walking to the Lamar Library. I'd check out the allotted number of books allowed and hole up in my room until the next week.

The New Year's Resolution for 2011? Check out books from the library monthly.