Monday, June 30, 2008


I didn't intentionally misquote my son in this mornings post about his social snafu.

Today, however, I was so proudly reminded of what he actually said to last night's guest, because HE SAID IT AGAIN TO SOMEONE ELSE! (A stranger, thank goodness, as we walked into a store).

"Mommy, she's not having a baby. She has an extra tummy."

To my son, the world is made up of camel's.

Gag Order

To all parents who have listened with horror and embarrassment as your child made a comment, boldly and directly to a guest, about their body type, and handled the situation with grace and dignity . . .

I salute you.

I'm quite sure that my response to Zane's comment last evening would NOT be described as graceful, as I'd describe it more as bumbling and stumbling around an awkward silence, and yet I do have to give myself some points for at least maintaining my physical composure, even if my verbal response was a bit clunky.

In 7 years of parenting I have never had to respond to a child's truthfulness gone tabloid.

"Mommy! She's having a baby!"

Silence. Some type of waving gesture with with my hands to communicate,"he's nuts", in lieu of actually attempting to speak, and then a carefully placed, "No, no Zane" and a quick shift onto another topic.

Harper sat there drinking warm milk with her big, blue eyes bulging out of her head.

She knew we were in dangerous territory and thus remained completely quiet.

As my guest was heading to leave, having not given any response to Zane, and seeming just fine, HE DID IT AGAIN . . . this time whispering in my ear at a volume of an overacted stage whisper which could be heard by an entire house of audience members, "MOMMY! SHE'S NOT HAVING A BABY?"

My guest bent down and was very gracious while she shared that she had already had her babies and that she wasn't having anymore.

We said our goodbyes and I set out to attempt to explain to Zane that we don't ask people about the babies in their tummies. I'm pretty sure he didn't quite get the point. But, I had to try. His only response?

"Oh. Some people have double tummies?"

Harper's head dropped to the counter. Thunk.

Yeah, sure. However, let's not talk about the double tummies that we see either.

I realize that discretion is not necessarily a trait of 3 year olds, and that one can overlook this social hiccup, seeing as it wasn't made by a 7 year old . . . or a 39 year old . . . but rather a boy of 3, but it's still uncomfortable.

Harper never entered this territory when younger.

This one, however? I'll have to watch. More new parenting worlds to forge!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Gee, Thanks Barnes & Noble!

I used to buy all my books.

When the stunning new chains of bookstores opened years back while George was in Seminary, we spent many a Friday night date combing either Barnes and Noble or Border's (which was conveniently located across the street) for deals on the sales tables. It was a luxury to buy a new book, although in all honesty, I've always preferred used books over new.

For awhile I read a ton about book collecting and even have a few 1st editions of books I treasure. Every Saturday that George worked at the coffee shop, would find me exploring used bookstores for rare titles and finds that I wanted to claim as my own. I couldn't then (and still can't now) afford a 1st of "To Kill a Mockingbird", but I do have a First Edition Truman Capote and a full set of Chaim Potok's books, my favorite author after Harper Lee.

I like books.

Although, now, I am more apt to borrow from a friend or from the library rather than plop down coin for a book. There is the rare purchase at, but gone are the Friday night browsing sessions where time didn't really matter - other than closing time.

So, it was kind of a big deal when I walked into Barnes & Noble the other day to find a book on PR. Something light . . . like, Public Relations for Dummies. Which is just what I chose. Proudly, I purchased my book and left. I was pretty high. Having just gotten hired to write, I felt good about purchasing a "text" for this new phase of my life. A purchase that can now be considered a write off as well. It may not have been the best book on the subject (I also purchased a used PR text off of on the recommendation of a friend who actually teaches PR) but it certainly met my goals of finding a simple course.

I then come to find out that my gem of a sister also had Dummies on the mind . . . um, thanks? No, seriously, she too purchased a book for me, Public Relations Kit for Dummies, which upon researching it had a much better rating in terms of helpfulness to those starting out in the business.

Not being able to find my receipt, I went back to B&N, knowing that in the past they have just scanned a book to prove it was from their store and then given credit. My plan was to just treat myself to something else.

Well, apparently they've changed their policy.

I was told that without a receipt there would be no return and no credit. Zilch. I am now left with a book I don't need. What's up with that?

Wouldn't scanning it show the SKU number for their store? 'Cause, well, it sure did used to!

What happens now when I receive gifts without a gift receipt? Regift?

Is there seriously no way of returning an item without any sort of receipt? Are they losing money on returns? Is that the reason for the policy change?

I do understand that store's get taken with fake returns, but I really did buy it there and a simple scan would have revealed that truth.

But, nope.

I now have a book that I don't need. I'm annoyed.

So, gee, thanks, Barnes & Noble!

If I do happened to find that receipt, I'll be back.

But not to purchase books.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pool Boy

Get your mind out of the gutter.

Today I spent 25 glorious minutes lounging on a deck chaise at the pool while holding my son, my no longer a baby-baby boy, who was wrapped head to toe in monkey towel.

He almost fell asleep with his head nustled against my chest.

I was hoping he would fall into a slumber while I held him.

It's a feeling I miss.

Sorry if this wasn't the spicy post that you were hoping for.

Zane's not that type of pool boy.

Right Field

From "Right Field" by Peter Paul and Mary
(Italicized comments are mine. All mine.)

Off in the distance, the game's dragging on,
Because in this league, the pitcher just keeps on going until the batter manages to hit the ball.

There's strikes on the batter, some runners are on,
No strikes allowed in this league, but yes, runner's have managed to get on base.

I don't know the inning, I've forgotten the score.
Third inning. There are only three. No score-keeping. But . . . we are crushing them.

The whole team is yelling and I don't know what for,
Harper is too busy playing "Opposite Day" with Lucy and telling her that she smells, which isn't true, but rather the opposite of the truth, as it is Opposite Day. Get it? So she can't even hear the yelling from the stands.

Suddenly everyone's looking at me,

My mind has been wandering, what could it be?
Well, considering that Harper's focus med's wore off about 2 hours ago, it's no wonder that she's out there dancing and groovin' in right field.

They point to the sky and I look up above,
In this case, we point to the ground, and she squats down.

And the baseball falls into my glove!
Harper shuffles a bit to land the ball in her glove!

And there you have it. The one, true, error-free play of the Orange Tiger's season. Made by Harper.

And while it wasn't a pop fly to Right Field, it did indeed make a course straight for Harper, and she responded by fielding it with ease. Crouched low, she caught the grounder, and then hurled it to First. Batter was out at First.

The crowd went wild.

Basically, because up until yesterday, we'd yet to see a "play" of any kind.

This was quite a different game than Harper's last when upon missing a few catches at Third Base she stormed off the field refusing to return.

After a long talk about sportsmanship, teamwork, and not abandoning one's teammates, we told Harper that she was not allowed to just pick and choose which portions of the game she would play, and thus, if she abandoned her team again in a fit of frustration, she would sit out the batting order.

Or, she could play the entire game and we would celebrate with Steak and Shake.

Guess which choice won.

And may I also add, that upon getting out a First, (deja vu from two games ago when Harper was tagged out 3 times in a row due to batting line drives directly to First Base . . . and consequently losing it after each one), Harper left the field without incident, glancing over at us to make sure we were watching her cool as a cucumber reaction as she returned the dugout.

Awesome game.

Awesome growth.

Awesome girl.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Grow Up!

I was sharing the news about my new gig at Smarthinking PR with a good friend of mine the other day. She is a writer as well, and thus, I knew she would understand my utter euphoria about being handed this opportunity. I also knew that she would be able to grasp the intense fear I have about Mucking it up . . .

Her words were few. Simple. And yet profound.

"Joline, you are an adult. So you're scared. So what. Just learn how to do the job. And then do it."


Well, that makes sense.

I'm an adult.

My children rely on me help them solve their problems.

They are young. They need direction.

And while I also need direction in the world of PR, it is really up to me, THE ADULT, to learn the trade. No one is going to spoon feed me or make me a chart to check off and track when I've completed my PR homework. There are no jelly bean's or stars being handed out for studying everyday. I have everything I need to research, educate, and implement these new skills. I already know in what direction to head. I can either sit and worry and fret and whine and doubt, or

I can pick up a book and learn something new.

I'm an adult. I have all the abilities I need to learn new things.

Even a new trade.

I'm an adult and I'm thankful for my level headed adult friends. Good word, Joan!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Comforting Thoughts

Zane's Date with Mommy: Conversation 1

Zane and I like to frequent Blind Faith Cafe on Friday mornings for hot chocolate and coffee. It's our date. He loves dating.

As he sipped his hot chocolate today, he began to rub his tummy and sigh,

"Oh, this is comfortably good."

What a sentiment to hot chocolate, right?

And then,

"Mommy, I want to go into an air balloon with you. I'd like to go in the basket with you. We'd be very safe. Not like in the Wizard of Oz." From this point on, a new conversation was launched, which you, the reader, can check out in the post below.

But for now . . .

My son is such an old soul at times. Frankly, some of his phrases and responses to questions sound as if he's decades older than he is.

"Zane, how did you nap?" is met with "Very well, thank you."

"Zane! You pooped! Yeah!" is met with "Please mommy. Lower voices please."

"Daddy, they are playing Tigerlily music." In response to a piece played by the Grant Park Orchestra Wednesday evening.

So when he exclaimed that the hot chocolate was "comfortably good" I sat back and really stared into those baby blue's of his. There is so very much going on in his beautiful head. His beautiful, can't kiss him enough, head.

I'm sorry that you've been having nightmares about polar bear monsters chasing little boys.

Think of those "air balloons", Zane. The "very safe" one's.

I'd be glad to join you in the basket.

Wicked Coincidence!

Zane's Date with Mommy: Conversation 2

Zane begins a discussion about The Wizard of Oz out of nowhere.

"Mommy, what is the witch's name in Wizard of Oz?"

"Well, we now know her name is Elphaba."

"She's not nice. And that girl, um, what's her name?"


"Right. Dorothy kills the witch."

"How does she kill the witch, Zane?"

"Um, with steam."

"Well, what does she pour on her?"

"Oh. Water. She was not very good."

"No, Zane, the witch was evil."

"That is a scary movie."

"Yes, it can be."

A customer enters the store and orders a coffee.

Just keep reading. The fact that this guy entered is important. Wait.

"What is the name of the witch's army?"

I had to think on this one.

"Well, she had flying monkey's. Is that who you mean?"


"No? Well, they were like an army, but didn't have a name other than Flying Monkey's. I think."

It's at this point that the male customer who is fixing his coffee turns to us and says,

"I think he means the witch's guards."

"Oh! That makes sense. Do you mean the guards, Zane?"


The man continues, "They sing 'Oh ee oh . . .'"

I then sing the guards chant to Zane.

The customer continues, "It actually means 'We serve her and only her' backwards."

I look at him blankly.

"I'm one of the Executive Producers of 'Wicked'".

That explains that.

But can anyone explain how my son and I can be having hot chocolate and coffee while randomly discussing The Wizard of Oz only to have one of the producers of Wicked, of all shows, enter the shop in the middle of our conversation?

Seriously, does anyone find that interesting?

Come on! Have a little fun basking in the mystery of coincidence.

"A" Words



While these words have certainly been uttered several times from Harper's mouth over the past few years, we've never witnessed an rocket firing onslaught of these "A" words as much as we did last week.

"AMAZING!" Was her review of Prince Caspian.

For even though my Sprite guzzling pixie had to take two bathroom breaks during the film, (a reminder to me, who HATES missing any portion of a film, that drinks are now prohibited during a trip to the movies), it didn't stop her from exclaiming, "This is AMAZING!" at least two dozen times.

I strongly believe that the joy she felt was partly due to having read the book, as she knew, at all times, what was happening throughout the course of the film, even though the sequence of events was different than the written word. I sensed a real satisfaction in her for having read the actual novel.

But to our amazement, Harper's most animated reactions came during the battle scenes.

Our daughter loves battle scenes.

No, really, she scared us a bit with how much she loves battle scenes.

In fact, they are "AMAZING!"

George and I weren't quite sure how to respond to Harper's laughs and cheers at the enemy's expense. She would turn to Bradley (our wonderful neighbor across the street and guest for the evening) and say, "Oh! He's going down!" or "Isn't this incredible?" or "YEAH!" thrusting a triumphant fist in the air.

She definitely made her enthusiastic presence known in the back seat of the theater with her chuckles and hoots and hollers.

The character of Susan was her favorite in the book, and the movie only heightened her impression of this female child heroine wielding her bow and arrow.

I see archery and fencing in her future.

As long as she doesn't end up on the Renaissance Fair circuit.

Oh yeah, that's a mother's dream.

"AWESOME!" was Harper's reaction to being on the El this week while traveling down to Millennium Park to hear our friend, Mike Myers, play trumpet with the Grant Park Orchestra.

My girl has had a love of trains since she was two, and although she's abandoned Thomas the Tank Engine and the train table, her interest in trains is still alive and well. We caught the Purple Express to Grant Park on Wednesday night and Harper was in happy, happy, joy, joy land.

A train would pass us traveling in the opposite direction.


A train would pass sporting Ipod advertisements.


We'd make a jerky turn.


The concert was wonderful. Harper and Zane both loved the "bean" and our picnic. The weather couldn't have been more perfect, even if a tad chilly. Grams and Gramps were champions throughout the adventure. The evening was synonymous with memorable summer night.

Until the train ride home.

We didn't catch the Express.

And Harper learned how to stand on the train holding on for dear life. We were cramped. Hot. Tired. Zane was calling to me in George's arms from across the train, hand's outstretched as if I could save him. I wanted to yell, "Stay alive! I will find you!"

We had to switch trains twice.

We made it home and stumbled inside.

We were all wiped out.

But happy.



Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Thinking Smart

My desire to combine my passions into a work at home structure is becoming a reality! Yesterday, I accepted a Part-Time writing gig with Smarthinking PR, a company run by an Evanston mom who has seen a surge of new business and thus developed the need to bring a writer on board.

I'm that writer!

Um, I'm that WRITER!

Her business is soaring.

My Mary Kay business is soaring.

My desire to write, which has been soaring, has now evolved into an actual position in PR.

I recently received a card from my friend, the always encouraging Trish Harwood (and new Mary Kay Sales Director and car driver) that says,

"SOAR! Life is full of new beginnings -may this year be your most successful Mary Kay Year ever! Happy Anniversary!"

And you know what? For the first time in awhile, I feel like I'm soaring. As I exited my car yesterday for the interview, I felt a familiar tug in my gut. It was the same surge of adrenaline I used to feel when getting out the car to head into O'Connor's Casting for an audition.

I knew at that point that the thrill of writing does indeed mirror the thrill I once had for performing.

I'm loving my Mary Kay business. Check.

I spent yesterday beaming after an incredible meeting with Smarthinking (throughout which my nerves were fluttering between "YES!" and "CRAP! Can I do this?"). Check.

Upon sharing the new gig with George, he asked, "How does this affect your Mary Kay business?"

Wrong question.

The question now is, "How does this affect my other quarter-time job?"

The answer is . . . I'm not ready to come down on a solid answer for that one yet.

Right now, my goal is to book MK appointments, keep current customers happy and satisfied, continue growing my customer base and my team, and CRAM PR . . . I have a few things to learn. Quickly. Like now. Today.

And dear, dear, Melody also knows just how to rev me up for this "new year" in my business life. With a gift card to Starbuck's.

I have such amazing friends.

Friends who encourage me with words.

Friends who encourage me with cards.

Friends who understand my addiction and choose to just give up the fight to sober me up from my caffeine bender by giving me free money with which to buy more coffee.

Thus, enabling me to SOAR even faster!

And she's off . . . well, first she needs an incredible overhaul of her home office.

Does TLC's "Overhaulin'" do home offices?

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Zane's sleep habits resemble a bear in hibernation.

Regardless of the temperature, and here in Chicago it's finally hot after skipping Spring and entering Summer right on the tail end of Winter, Zane can be found in fleece pajama's, wrapped up tightly in fleece blankets, with his head nestled in the corner of the crib, up against the slats, womb like.

His blankets of choice are always Melody's superman cuddle (folded into a rectangle and used as a pillow), Michelle's creation (truck side up please) as the "cave", and two blue square blankets received at birth (one as a gift and a duplicate found on Ebay) which flank his head.

It's quite an elaborate setup of fabric.

He NEVER sleeps at the head of the crib, and thus underneath the attic door which may or may not, in his mind, contain owls, preferring the foot of the bed as the place to make camp for the night.

Zane is still in a crib by choice. Sure, he's three, almost 3 and a half, and we've had discussion about moving Harper's bed into his room (and getting her a loft), and redoing his baby cowboy themed room (and to think I chose this theme before the release of Brokeback Mountain which came out (ha) the year he was born . . . ) into a Superfriends Hall of Justice. And yet, there doesn't seem to be any reason why we need to do this.

He doesn't climb out of his crib.

He feels incredibly safe in his crib.

He isn't dry in the morning, warranting the need to get out of his bed in the middle of the night to hit the head.

He hasn't outgrown his crib.

My cub sleeps just fine, cozy and sound in his pen.

He has always been an incredible dozer. In bed by 8:00, and by the looks of this morning, up by, well, hopefully 9:00 am.

There he is, wearing fleece pajama's (which on some days he decides to change into at nap time, as he just loves his pj's so), burrowed under his cave of fleece blankets, zonked. Out. Dreamland.

There are days when we have to wake him. On some days, he'll roll over and look at us and just say, "I don't want to come out yet." He'll then take another 20 minutes to look at books or draw on his magnadoodle while audibly muttering stories to himself.

And then there's Thursday. Upon waking him from his nap so that we could head to the pool, he rolled over, shot a finger in the air and proclaimed, "A butterfly comes from a cocoon and was once a caterpillar!" What a beautiful dream he had apparently just had. The proclamation continued with, "Harper should have Egypt books."

These dreams completely trump the one's he has in the past which have included lions roaming the house (I saved Zane by putting him in the car and driving away) and the presence of those pesky owls in the attic.

Glad to know my slumbering cub is having pleasant dreams.

And while we do plan on taking this summer to reinvent his baby room, it's a little bittersweet. For with pottytraining almost complete, sippy cups gone, stroller's put away, and the remainder of all things "baby" being handed off to friends who are just about to begin their chapter as parents, disassembling the crib and moving to a real bed seems to be the last step in Zane's graduation to big boy.

Could it really be time for my little man to leave the cocoon of babydom?

For, in my mind, he will always be my cuddly bear cub withstanding sweat from an overabundance of fleece, facing lions, and outsmarting owls while he slumbers under the stars on the ceiling.

Some may say, "You can't take it with you", however, I'm quite positive that as my Zane soars upon those newly sprouted wings of his, they will also be carrying a load of four, very loved, fleece blankets.

Pleasant dreams my snuggly big boy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Sorry for all the philosophical posts. Yeah, my head has been spinning lately.

So to make up for it, here's some news about the kids:

  • Harper is officially a second grader now.

  • Zane can pee standing up and his aim is quite good.


August 11: Non-Busy Day?

Think of how many times you rattle off the phrase, "It's a busy time."

I often wonder if those of us who use the "it is such a busy time" line are either truly over scheduled, or simply guilty of using the busy excuse to relieve ourselves from commitments in which we honestly prefer not to engage. "Busy" has become so overused that I, for one, often doubt the truth behind it being stated as a reason for not being available.

Why can't we just say "No, thank you"? And leave it at that?

I'm in the art of getting "No's". In fact, I know that I'm working my Mary Kay business when I actually reach a live person on the phone to ask whether they would like to try our products and they respond with "No". I prefer it much more to a blubbering excuse about being busy. "Busy" is a curtain behind which many hide.

Straight up is better with me. A "No" will make my day. It frees me up to move on, rather than calling that person again "when things slow down". After all, have you ever asked a person who responds with "when things slow down" as to when that might be? Do you think they actually have a solid date for "when things slow down"?

Look at a calendar. Every month has either a holiday, or memorial, or deadline, or Hallmark Card inspired event to keep us busy. Except August. So, in theory, one could then gather that August is not busy. Wrong, my friend! August is the month of vacations and back to school preparations.

See, there's always something.

But, this post has gone on much longer than I intended. And it wasn't supposed to be about getting "No's" in sales or an evaluation as to the busyness factor for each month of the year. When I clicked "New Post", I merely wanted to type:

Being busy is a choice.

Now before you get all defensive about responsibility, and obligation, and service, and availability, just stop for a moment, and ask yourself why you are so offended by my blurting out that being busy is a choice.

Let me be clear as to what I am NOT saying. Mother's are busy. All day. Everyday. Taking care of one's children, one's husband, one's home, etc. is pretty much a non-negotiable in my opinion. Our jobs and careers also create unavoidable busyness with deadlines and projects and traveling. Students are busy with classes, and finals, and extra-curricular activities. Of course we all have stuff. I realize that those non-negotiables to which we must give our time, attention, and effort are a legitimate part of the human experience.

The busyness to which I am referring is the hyper over scheduling of every member of the family in activity after activity, serving on every committee possible, running around with one's arm and leg and hand and foot entangled and stretched in every direction, not unlike a game of Twister. The result being that the main areas of life, Faith and Family, suffer under the weight of all the other activities taken on, the pressure causing you to crumble on to the mat flat on your ass.

Yep. I said ass.

Just reflect for a moment.

And then purge.

I'm no gardener, but I do know that pruning is essential for growth and beauty and strength.

So, while all I really wanted to say is that being busy is a choice, I guess I just happened to have the time to embellish on the thought a bit.

Guess I must not be all that busy.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Well, I'll Be!

Apparently, Normal does exist!

Which comes as a shock to me, as I've been painstakingly trying to locate Normal for about 3 years now, without success.

Little did I know that Normal was right in front of me, or rather, south of me. In Illinois no less. Here I'd given up any hope of finding it, only to be surprised at how close I've actually been to touching it. Smelling it. Basking in it. Normal is my neighbor!

One would think that Normal's true personality would be more like that obnoxious kid on the block who is always playing cruel jokes and crouching behind the bushes, ready to pounce and yell, "Fooled you, sucker! Didn't see me, did you?" Only, Normal hasn't pounced. Instead it hides quietly, out of the spotlight, masking its presence like an ideal on a permanent vacation. Next door to Bloomington.

Can you believe it? After all the time I've spent "waiting for life to return to Normal" and looking forward to a life where "things are back to Normal", I come to find that Normal has been here all along?

How many times did I send up the battle cry of "Normalcy! Come out, come out, where ever you are!" How much energy have I wasted searching and waiting and waiting and searching for the period in this bottomless caffeine drip called life when all the dailies of my world would align neatly with Normal?

And now I come to find out that according to this map, Normal has been lurking right down the road? For I don't get the impression that its presence is a new phenomenon, nor do I think it is planning on moving or disappearing like the island on LOST. Nope, it's been planted in the same place for some time now.

I just couldn't find it.

My problem is that I've been chasing after Normal even though my dear friend Normal has always been right under my nose. Already present. And thus, after the endless circle of begging, and yearning, and prayer to experience "Normal life", an acrobat feat which resembles the visual cliche of a gerbil on a wheel and dog chasing her tail, I've come to an enlightened conclusion.

I am currently living a Normal life.

After all, what IS Normal?

A life where each of the variables are perfectly in place at all times: spiritual life, marriage, parenting, housework, the car, school functions, career, finances, friendships, health, personal goals. Laundry?

I'm sorry. But what plane does one need to catch to crash land on THAT island?

Nah, I'm done plane hopping to find that flight. Instead, I'm adopting a New Normal. One where I observe what is currently before me and am able to state with assurance, "Why, that's Normal!". My Normal is that which I am experiencing right now. In the moment. For, whatever the Lord has doled out to me is Normal so far as I know it, right?

Come on, it's either this or climb the fence to peek into my neighbor's Normal only to compare and (ultimately) fall prey to envy over the Normal they are living. Or, I can continue to wander while seeking it, thus missing the beauty of some true Normal nuggets that may pass me by as I desperately focus on hunting down the "real" Normal. Either way I lose. With one, I become a creepy peeping Jo. With the other, I just wind up exhausted. So why go through life muttering, "Will the "real" Normal please stand up!" I should just carry my Normal like a big girl and treat each day as if I truly believe that "God's mercies are new every morning." Every morning. New mercies.

New Normal.

So what? Am I now inviting strife with this new outlook? Well, bring it on. Over the past three and a half years I've had my share of career changes, health concerns, money stress, crazy freaky church stuff, death (um, not my own), a child's pain, lot's of poop, car conundrums, lack of sleep, debt, surgery, weight gain, misunderstandings with friends, insecurities, childbirth, insurance claims.

And laundry.

And truly, laundry seems to be the only mountain we've yet to conquer.

And that, too, is pretty darn Normal.

And would you believe that just after clicking "publish" for this post, I went upstairs to find that my son has diarrhea and that it leaked out of his diaper onto his sheets?

Welcome to my Normal, Illinois.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Green Day

Sorry, no photo. Just use your imagination.

Imagine Sunday School.

Imagine myself, my friend Renee, and our assistant Emily, teaching 8 two and three year old boys and 2 little girls, about Jacob and Esau and how the Bible tells us to love one another.

Imagine my son, my beautiful snuggly boy, finding an ink pad. A green ink pad.

Imagine him taking that ink pad and pressing it all over his face and on top of his head.

Imagine my turning around to see Zane, who reveals that he is now the incredible Hulk.

Imagine Will, Zane's buddy, hiding behind his hands for fear of either Zane, the incredible Hulk, or Zane's mom, who has just discovered the incredible Hulk.

It was a photo opportunity missed.

A few baby wipes and the incredible Hulk returned to Dr. David Bruce Banner.

Hmmm . . . would I, the Sunday School teacher, be able to connect the incredible Hulk and Dr. David Bruce Banner to the biblical story of Jacob and Esau?

Um, no. There was no spiritual lesson here.

Just a kid with a huge imagination who happened to stumble upon a green ink pad.

Girl's Night Out

The Chicago Sky is totally cool.

Harper is totally cool.

Jeanne Martin is totally cool.

Last night was totally cool.

I sound like valley girl approaching her 40's.

Like totally.

Last night was Play it Pink night at the Chicago Sky game. For those of you who have no idea what the Chicago Sky is, (and apparently there are many who haven't a clue that Chicago has a professional WNBA team, as evidenced by many empty seats) you may be interested to know that the they are an incredible WNBA team in OUR city. What fun! The players are amazing. The atmosphere perfect for families. The price just right. How encouraging for little girls (and their mom's) to see female athletes on the court. And then, just when I thought they were cool, we got to see the Chicago Sky wheelchair team play also. I was in awe of the strength that all of these women portrayed on the court.

The Sky partnered with us to raise money for the Mary Kay Charitable Foundation, thus Play it "Pink". There were pockets of us wearing our Play it Pink tee's spread throughout the pavilion. Harper, who doesn't quite have a love of the color pink, did get into the spirit by wearing a pink tee. She sported a Hannah Montana pink t-shirt. Hannah can talk my child into anything.


Harper had a blast. Yelling "Defense!" and "Let's Go Sky!" and yes, even doing the Cha-Cha Slide at her seat and in the aisle. A moment that I, um, thwarted, when I attempted to bring her down onto the floor with me and hundreds of others. I, yes, I, should have known better to leave well enough alone. She was doing great until I gently persuaded her to head down to the floor. And while she didn't freak out as we inched our way closer to the cha cha'ing masses, as in the past, she did share that she just couldn't join everyone else. It wasn't for fear of people watching her, as has been her m.o., but rather, because there were just too many people.

I think I understood a little more about her last night.

She was completely enjoying the game, yelling and cheering with everyone else, attempting to get the attention of the Fly Kids, who would come around to throw balls and t-shirts, dancing in the aisle throughout the game and in the line for food, and on the way to the bathroom, and performing the the slide up in her seat with no inhibition. There was no anxiousness about any of this. It wasn't until we attempted to hit the floor that she clammed up. This was completely my misstep.

I got it. Crowds. Masses of people.

I apologized. "That's cool" was her response. The evening continued as if nothing happened. Cool. Totally.

She told me that she had the best time and would like to see another game.

The other cool part about last night was that I had the opportunity to introduce myself to Jeanne Martin. As she ascended the stairs I approached her with "I'm Joline. The writer". It felt a bit like a reunion, although we've never met. Jeanne had shared her heart at Career Conference. I had shared my heart through this blog. And thus, it is as if we'd already met, as opposed to a mere business introduction between a Red Jacket and Sales Director extraordinaire. It felt more familiar than that. She was just as warm in person as I expected and enthusiastically introduced me to her husband as "the one who writes the blog". I was very flattered. He shared that he really enjoys my writing and then said, "Keep up with this Mary Kay thing. It is really special."

Good God. Do I now have to write a blog about how he motivated me, also? What is it with these people?

No. I think that would border on "blog stalking".

Let me just say once again, that God keeps revealing the same message to me through both the Holy Spirit's nudgings and people.

Writing and Mary Kay.

It's the perfect recipe for me.

My year anniversary with Mary Kay is June 12. As George and I agreed when I began, I would try this Mary Kay gig for one year and then reassess whether I would continue. When I began, I only wanted to sell product - not develop a team. A year later, I have three team members, am considered a Star Recruiter and am working towards becoming a Team Leader. I am headed to seminar in July. I am consistently selling an average of $300 a week and am bringing in $3-500 every month as was the goal. I'm convinced. Once I reach Team Leader I have the possibility of working towards the car and directorship. This is where I stop to ponder. Do I want that? Do I really want to make this a solid career?


As long as I can write also.

Can't leave a step out of the recipe, right? All ingredients are important and play a role in the successful outcome of the baked good. And I'm baking me up a batch of scrumptious work at home pie. Thanks, Waitress. (Reference is not mean to confuse the reader. I'm not pregnant. Nor unhappily married. I simply like pie.)

Considering that I didn't even originally want what I have now, I guess I should be open to the next step.

So, Happy Anniversary to me. Moving onward and upward.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Character Analysis

Tonight, we finish Prince Caspian.

And if I had any doubt whether Zane has been listening and comprehending the story over the past 3 weeks, that doubt has now vanished.

Today, while asking me for the zillionth time if he could see the movie (which, we're not so sure about), I had the cleverest of clever ideas.

Thank you BBC for making a version of the Narnia books years ago. A quick hop over to the library and a very ordained stop in front of the children's dvd's placed me directly in front of their version of Prince Caspian.

Zane was ecstatic.

"Mommy! Does it have Caspian?"








"The mouse? Reepy Cheepy?"

Close. Yes.

"What about the children? Peter, Susan, um, what's the other girl?"


"Oh, yes, Lucy. And the other boy?"


"What's the bad King's Name?"


"Right. Miraz. And Peter fighted him."


"And this is my Prince Caspian to watch?"


Book read. Money saved. Boy happy.

We then went on a date to Panera where he ate his yogurt and turkey before his cookie.

Ah, the magic of Narnia is most certainly upon us.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

May I Have Your Attention Please!

Yeah, based on the title of this post, you're probably thinking that this new stream of thought is about my daughter and her inability to remain attentive due to her ADHD.

Well, it's not. She's not the one who needs to pay attention.

Since joining the world of those diagnosed with ADHD and the ongoing treatment for this very real disorder, Harper's life has taken a very positive turn. Where there was once a steel door that shut us out due to the neurological scatterings she experienced, there is now warmth. Where her sparkling eyes were once vacant and distant, there is now color. She is not a new person. It's just that the Harper we've always known, and yet lost for a bit, is all present and accounted for once again.

Medication, and therapy, have enabled her to enjoy her world, experience success, and even laugh again. Her twinkle has returned.

Tonight we finished the next to last chapter in Prince Caspian. My rule, being the literary snob that I am, is that I will not watch the film version of a book unless I've actually read the book. Why? Because, most of the time, the film disappoints, and thus taints any interest in reading the book. I realize, of course, that for most, this sounds completely backwards and that the book is what turns many off from even seeing the movie in the first place. To each his own.

But it saves me money.

Why shell out the $10, plus cost of food (I can't do a movie without food) for a movie when you can check out the book for FREE and insure that the storyline is even of interest to you before hitting the theater. After all, how many times have you heard or uttered, "The book was better."

So, my point?

Read first.

Tomorrow night we'll be finishing the novel. We're all very excited about it. I have enjoyed listening to Harper make parallels between moments in Prince Caspian and details she remembers from The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, which we read when Zane was a baby. I have enjoyed her commentary about Nikabrik, who according to her is just an awful character. In fact her eyes just about popped out of her head when she realized that he was attempting to talk Caspian into conjuring up a certain dead witch from old Narnia. I have giggled as we both try to pronounce Sopespian, who, because I have no idea how to prounouce the name, I just call Soppressata, which I'm almost positive is incorrect.

She has been all over this book listening intently night after night while we read a chapter at our "Bedtime Cafe", where tonight, Edwina (me) welcomed guests from Maryland (Harper) and 'Cago (Zane). At the "Bedtime Cafe" my name changes every night as does the hometown or state of the guests.

It's a magical place really. As the owner of the "Bedtime Cafe" I always know which book the customer is reading and on which chapter they left off. Last night I had some diners come through who were only on chapter two of Caspian.

Harper felt badly for them.

Anyway, in terms of her ability to remain attentive, there is no concern since our getting treatment for Harper. Upon meeting her, you would never know that she even struggles with ADHD. It is totally something I could lie about. In fact, when I share that Harper has ADHD, I normally hear "Really? I don't see that." And this is due to the narrow view of the disorder which only seems to focus (ha, ha) on the physical symptoms which turn people's heads in the grocery store. Whereas, with my child, most of the symptoms presented themselves in her head: the stacking of thoughts, the scatteredness, the inability for her brain to rest at night. In her words, her brain was "nocturnal".

But now, we've seen a dramatic turn around.

Which is why I felt so very uncomfortable today upon being interview for a research study. I offer my services to test products for easy cash (you know, to see all those movies based upon novels) and one came up this week for 7 year old girls. I spoke with the gal at Fieldwork Chicago (OK, now I'm probably banned) and the dates worked and the pay was great. $185, CASH, for two hours. The product was some sort of toy.

We got through all the preliminary questions and I passed.


"Is your child currently being treated for ADD or ADHD."

I didn't hesitate. "Yes. Yes, she is."


"Ohhhh, well, I'm so sorry. She doesn't qualify for this study." There was pity behind that voice.

Um, let me get this straight. I guess you only want undistractable 7 year old participants who will completely comply by sitting still and remaining tunnel focused for a two hour study during the dinner hours of 5-7.

Wow, that actually removes alot of kids from the study. And I'm not even talking about the kids with ADD or ADHD. I'm just talking about any 7 year old who may struggle with sitting properly for a 2 hour focus group.

I answered "yes" so quickly because I support the truth of the disorder that Harper will most likely have to manage forever, and yet, she would have really enjoyed this experience. And, more importantly, SHE'S FINE! She IS managing it! Plus, she's engaging, she's smart, she's funny, she's expressive, she's clever, she's creative! She's a great kid! She just happens to be on medication!

Had I lied, they never would have known.

It's the labeling and the assumptons as to the behavior of one with ADHD that saddens me. At the same time, I admit that I too am making an assumption that their view of a child with ADHD resembles a howler monkey leaping from tree to tree while screeching.

I do get their point. To a point. After all, if it were a study on peanut butters, they would have to ask if my child has a peanut allergy. This, I understand.

But I was hurt. I wanted to educate them on the spot with an intelligent discourse on ADHD . I wanted to tell them that my child's treatment has gone great, and that she would dig giving her opinion of this toy, and that she wouldn't be disruptive, you can ask her teacher, she is the least disruptive kid and very respectful, and kind, and so enthusiastic, and you would never peg her as having ADHD (based upon how you assume ADHD presents itself), and we are really working with her at trying new things, and you should totally take her, because my kid ROCKS!

"Um, Ma'am, are YOU currently being treated for ADD and ADHD?"


I want to call attention to the true definition of ADHD and help others expand their understanding of how different the disorder can look from child to child.

So have fun keeping all those 7 year olds entertained for two hours over dinnertime. I can guarantee you that you would have been hardpressed to see any difference between them and my awesome daughter.

Except for the fact that those kids will be $185 richer.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


In seventh grade, one of the most uncomfortable social situations I experienced was that of leaving the dance floor during the slow songs at the sock hops our school sponsored after school on certain Fridays. For, truly, unless you had Farrah hair, and actually used the comb, or the flip brush that was tucked in your back pocket, rather than, (shudder), a pick for your curly, completely non-featherable hair, you weren't dancing with anyone. That was for sure.

I know.

Unless, however, one of your friends was able to put someone, say, Don Aven, up to asking you to slow dance to, say, "Truly" by Lionel Richie.

And before we go any further, let me just add, in case you happen to Google yourself, that this post is not about you, Mr. Aven. Hope you are doing well, though! Sorry I missed our 20th reunion.

As you move in rhythm, or rather, awkwardly sway to the music, you relish with satisfaction that you are now out on the floor, with one of "the" guys, while your friends stand off to the side watching. And then you realize, that this too, is actually uncomfortable. And this uncomfortable feeling only escalates as you secretly admit that Don Aven didn't actually ask you to dance, but, rather, had to be coaxed to approach you. Not that any money or goods exchanged hands, but it's not like Don took the long walk over to you from across the room after working up the courage to approach you with an true invitation to sway back and forth to one of the best love songs of the '80's.

Nope. It's a pity slow dance.

It's at this point of revelation that your former post on the side of the dance floor is beginning to look pretty good.

When it came to slow dances, I was a "fringer". Give me some good upbeat tunes, and I'd be on the floor for several songs in a row. But, then, as the tempo slowed, there would be an exodus of sorts, as several of us who had no one to dance with, (until we were "dating" someone, which, for me, was a number of years later and a story in an of itself), exited the floor. We'd mull around on the fringe of the activity, acting as if we were cool and were choosing to take a break from the dance floor due to fatigue, all the while hoping someone would ask us to dance. Well, the right person that is. Come on, we had standards.

I had a list.

I did get to check off Don's name.

So when Harper had a Kindergarten-2ND Grade school dance a few weeks back, (I know. Reader is like, "huh?" Kindergarten-2ND Grade dance?) I wondered how she'd fair. As a child with social anxiety, and yet a love of dancing, the conflict within her body to either dance or not dance would definitely turn to a battle. I was just wondering who would win.

We'd prepped her as much as we could. Mrs. Beckstedt would be there. Kelly would be there. The Cha-Cha Slide, her favorite, would most likely be played. And Hannah Montana? A given. No one would be watching her dance, as everyone would be clumped together in groups and not actually scoping the scene.

We arrived early to help Harper get her bearings. A few mom's milled around. I made eye contact and said "hi".

No response.

Just a blank stare.

George caught it. "I feel like I've just been welcomed by the Gestapo."

Ok, that's a little over the top, but it was cold man. Seriously. We felt invisible.

We took a seat on the side of the gym. The music started. Any enthusiasm that Harper had about this event began to fade. She couldn't do it. Her friends wandered over to ask her to join them. She couldn't do it. The DJ played her favorite songs. She couldn't do it.

"I want to dance, but my body won't let me." She was not content with this.

And so, we sat on the side of the gym for the entire dance. George and I danced a bit with Zane to keep him occupied, and to her credit there was Harper's 30 second attempt at the Cha-Cha Slide, but for 99.5% of the time, we warmed the bench and watched everyone else having fun. All the children were either dancing or running about. We had the bench to ourselves.

"One in every 150 children experiences social anxiety."

I just made that up. And yet, for this night, those were the numbers.

Here I was again, at a school dance, on the fringe. Feeling uncomfortable. Acting as if all was OK, and that I could handle the pain Harper was experiencing, while on the inside my heart broke for my daughter, who was physically trapped. And recognized it. And was frustrated by it. She didn't want to be sitting and was angry at her body.

For the next hour we sat there alone as Harper's friends bopped over trying desperately to entice her onto the floor. As for the adults, I did approach two mom's I know to share a brief chat and the principal came by. But mainly, there were stares. There was eye contact and yet no contact. As hard as it is to write, we were indeed noticed, and yet went unnoticed.

We realized just how "unnoticed" we went when 4 parents stood directly in front of us while we were sitting. They turned to look down at us watching the dancers, and then turned right back around without moving aside to open up our sight line.

We got quite a view. Have you ever stared at 4 middle aged asses in jeans from just inches away?

Oh, it's something.

And yes, I did say "Excuse me" and Harper yelled, "I can't see!" But we weren't "seen" and we weren't heard, because, well, we were on the fringe. We were that group of junior high kids who hang out by the wall and play Rubik's Cube during a dance. We were the groups of girls standing in a clump watching painfully as other girls were asked to slow dance. We were present, but we didn't fit in.

That evening, all of us, well, except Zane who mimicked the boys who were attempting The Worm, experienced a different degree of uncomfortableness during that dance.

Harper wanted to dance, but remained on the fringe because her body just wouldn't release her to the point where she felt comfortable jumping in.

George watched as the adults moved into clicks (ah, just like the good 'ole days) creating little pockets around the gym, realizing that even though we live less than a mile from the school, we live on the fringe and have no real friendships with other parents at our local elementary school.

And I, was brought back to those memories of feeling on the fringe during those slow dances and yet, I have never struggled with social anxiety like my daughter does. How much harder then would a situation like this be for her! My chest was tight as I wondered how I could help my daughter in this present situation and onward as she grows up. I know school dances aren't mandatory, right? And yet, we have to continue trying to take risks with her.

When we set out that night, I had no idea how uncomfortable the evening would be for all of us.

Fringe just kind of hangs there, you know? It's different. People either love it or hate it. You certainly can't miss it. An item with fringe does tend to stand out. And yet, the fringe itself adds nothing to the structure of the garment which can stand alone and be worn without it. It's an embellishment that can be removed. And thus, while it doesn't go unnoticed, it just doesn't always fit with the personal preferences of the one wearing the piece, so they pass it by or dismiss it.

So, I guess, in this respect, the fringers are indeed unique. And are indeed noticed. And yet that's where the contact stops. At eye contact.

It's been weeks since this dance and Harper has grown leaps and bounds in her anxiety issues. She is not a shy girl by any means (which makes her social anxiety all the more peculiar) and we're just beginning to celebrate the new confidence and successes that she has recently felt and experienced in herself. And while dancing in herds doesn't seem to be something that makes her comfortable, there are alot of other new things that do, softball mainly.

Perhaps my daughter, with all her new found confidence, will have a soft spot for fringers she meets and will not pass them off with a glance, but will be able to connect with them in a really special way. She already seems to have a sensitivity for others feeling included and comfortable. I pray that she continues to recognize the needs that all of us have to belong - whether on a big or small scale.

So, thanks Don Aven and Lionel Richie for coming to mind as I entered that school gym. Memories can certainly be poignant or painful, don't you think?

My memory of fringe is both.

Monday, June 2, 2008

DWS: Driving While Stupid

Yes, I have every intention of offending you with the title of this blog. And no, this blog is not about DSW Warehouse, but rather DWS: Driving While Stupid. Just wanted to clear up any confusion before I dive in. I'm not interested in talking about shoes. I am completely focused on using this post to point out how very dangerous your actions were while driving. How very dangerous and ridiculous. If you want to talk shoes, we can do that another time.

Ok, I completely understand the morning rush. I can empathize with a busy morning full of tasks . . . getting breakfast on the table, kids dressed, backpacks ready, lunches made, maybe a quick workout and a shower (Ha! Now I'm just trying to funny and this is supposed to be a rant). I get that not every woman has the opportunity to get her "face on" in the comfort of her own bathroom without the frequent interruptions by children needing their hair brushed or the dog needing to be let out. This is why we pay big bucks for those long afternoons at a spa for a massage, mani/pedi, and a wax. Or, we hope that a gift card will magically float our way for such a day of luxury.

So, knowing that I understand the frenzy that comes with the morning sunrise, I can forgive the occasional lipstick application in the rear view mirror on one's car. I can even let the nose pickers be. Sure, sure, it was a scratch. Ok. You keep telling yourself that. And while the waving of a mascara wand while in the driver seat makes me shiver for fear of poking one's eye out, I'll step off the soapbox. As long as the mascara application occurs while the vehicle is STOPPED.

HOWEVER, do you seriously think that using an EYELASH CURLER, while your car is IN MOTION, is evidence of one using their brain while operating a moving vehicle? And do you think that by opening and closing this tiny device on your lashes while driving you are really communicating to fellow drivers that you are paying attention to the important task at hand (which, surprise, is not your lashes), and are down with the rules of the road? Yeah, yeah, throw in the argument that I talk on my cell phone while driving. I'll let you get a word in on this one.

I do NOT, however, take the cell phone and attempt to close it ever so carefully on my eyelashes a few times over in order to create the perfect curl while MY CAR IS MOVING! The eyelash curler stays home. Period. What in the world were you thinking? I admit, upon glancing back to witness your cosmetic infraction, I immediately worried about the safety of my children, and myself, and of the other non eyelash curler user's on the road . . . oh, and you.

Honestly, my first reaction to you was to yell, "Idiot!" as 1) you were using this contraption while driving, and 2) you weren't even using it correctly! I wanted to yell, "You'll poke your eye out kid!" and "You can't just press the curler onto your lash one time, you won't get the perfect scoop, but rather a bend or right angle in the lash. You need to do a series of small presses up the length of the lash! SHEESH!"

And once this initial reaction subsided I felt concern for your safety.

The car has become the powder room, the phone booth, the media room, and the office has it not?

But, I'm telling you, if I even see you plugging a heated eyelash curler into your cigarette lighter, it's going to take every ounce of me not to say, "I told you so!", when you singe those lashes right off your lids.

But, false eyelashes aren't that bad. They make really natural looking ones. So you'll be covered.

Unless, of course, you also try to apply those while driving, 'cause I wouldn't put it past you.

Beauty is a &^%$(! Isn't it?