Fverishly hot date

Last week, Bill and I had a babysitter lined up. At the last minute, I had to cancel. Petey was throwing up.

{This reminds me of a similar situation years ago. Bill and I were going to a formal event that was hours away from our house. One of the boys got sick that day – high fever. Bill went alone. At the event, someone inquired about me, and Bill explained the situation. The person seemed confused as to why a sick child would prevent my coming. I’m still confused about their confusion.}

Today, Bill and I have a babysitter lined up. Dinner. Grocery shopping (hey, we’re an old married couple, grocery shopping is romantic…and necessary).

Last night, I told Bill that nobody was allowed to get sick. If they got sick, I would simply have to kill them. Dead bodies require less maintenance than live, sick bodies.

This morning, Bill wasn’t looking very good. He expressed fear for his life – he’s feeling a bit sick.

I don’t care if he has to excuse himself to go to the bathroom to vomit. We’re going out.

Fortunately, he’s not throwing up. Yet.

If he’s too sick to eat, we’ll save money, right?

Bloomin’ Flowers and Trees

There are about a dozen clusters of daffodils scattered on my property. They are lovely.

I am certain that the tulips I planted at my last home are preparing to bloom soon. I do hope that the family who lives there now is enjoying them as much as I did.

There is something about spring. Even a coldish day seems a bit warmer if there are sunny, smiling, yellow flowers waving at you.

The one small clump of crocuses are already gone. I am making a mental note to plant more of those for next year. It is always good to see a glimmer of purple peaking out from the snow or mud.


As we drive around, the kids are quick to point out any “blossom trees.” They are my favorite, so they say. They don’t realize that they are noticing perhaps a half dozen completely different trees. They do know that I have dragged them down to the Tidal Basin every spring that we have lived in the DC area to see the cherry trees in full bloom.

They don’t know that I regularly check out the latest updates on peak bloom and plan accordingly. Peak time is expected for between April 1st and 4th this year. It really really is worth the trip and the crowds. Really. Photos can not do the scene justice.

The kids reminded me that Billy threw up the last time we tried to see the cherry blossoms. I hope we have none of that next week.

We did drive past the Jefferson Memorial on our way to Walter Reed on Wednesday (another story). The ring of trees around the Basin had a faint tinge of pink. My heart leaped. We already have a trip to the Zoo scheduled for Monday, the 30th. It’s a few days before peak, but I just don’t want to plan to miss two days of school next week. I’ll head over there after the Zoo (it’s not too much out of the way) and maybe have a picnic dinner under a canopy of white and pink. If the blooms disappoint (even a bit before peak, I find that very doubtful), we can always go back on Sunday.

My favorite charity

With all the scandals regarding “Catholic” charities giving money to not-so-Catholic causes, I am very wary of giving any money to any organization that hasn’t been fully vetted. And when I do have extra cash (OK, that is never, but round about this time every year, I get a tidy sum from my tax return) this is the charity I prefer to give to. I’ve met the woman who started it; I know one woman who works there; they send me a hand-written thank you note; and they include my family in their rosary. It really doesn’t get more personal (or more “vetted”) than that. Bill and I were discussing if we should split the amount we were giving away between Visitiation Home and another charity – perhaps Wounded Warrior. After I found this video, I am reminded why I never need to look for another charitable cause again.

Words Matter

“I think it’s important to see that words hurt and words do matter.”

– The chairman of the Special Olympics, Tim Shriver, on the President’s poor choice of language in describing his bowling skills.

It was only last month that the President made offhand remarks about Jessica Simpson looking fat.

Senator Grassley says that AIG executives should commit suicide – and then takes it back when he comes under heat. He “didn’t mean it like that.”

If I cared to spend an hour, I could come up with probably a dozen more recent examples of careless talking.

Words do matter. I thank my father for teaching me to always mean what I say and say what I mean. Boy, would he give you the third degree. And no squirming away with a lame, “But, Da-ad! You know what I mean!” He would insist that he didn’t, and make you explain yourself. It was much simpler, really, to just say it right the first time.

I excuse people all the time for careless talking, but I admit that I do so with a condescension that I try to mask. Out of charity, I keep my mouth shut, but inside I’m analyzing why someone would talk a certain way: lack of education, lack of experience, lack of compassion. A big pet peeve? Using the term “retarded” to mean “stupid.” When I was in high school, my quick retort to that was always, “My brother is retarded, but he would never do something that dumb.” I never had someone repeat that term in front of me, and I’d like to think that they probably quit for good. After all, it is rather juvenile.

But apparently, the President never met someone like me, so he never learned that saying what basically amounts to “I bowl like a retard” is, well, juvenile.

I so want the leaders of my government to act like grown ups.

Words matter. This is why we hush our children when they say mean things and make them say they are sorry. This is why we ban “bad” words like “stupid” and “hate”. This is why we teach them to say “I don’t care for it” instead of “This food is disgusting.” This is why we we suggest “I am angry” as an alternative to “I wish you were dead” and certainly as an alternative to “You should go kill yourself.”

The lessons that the President should have learned as a child are being taught to him now. It’s a hard knock and embarrassing way to learn, but I hope he studies well. And perhaps he will consider leaving the joking to Leno.

Crossing Over

Coming-of-age genre films are not very popular in this house, mainly because they always seem to involve tears. Some people, women usually, like to have themselves a “good cry.” Not I. There is no such thing as a good cry. Crying gives me a headache. Crying makes my eyes red and puffy. Crying produces gobs of snot. And if the movie was a family film, then I have a passel of red eyed, snotty kids with headaches that I have to comfort when it’s over.

No, thanks.

Unfortunately, my life is a coming-of-age movie. I’m not the star, of course. I have already come of age, and then some. No, I am watching my children come of age. And my eyes are red and puffy.

Last night, Fritz crossed over from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts. Earlier in the day, I had, as acting Awards Chair, filled out his Arrow of Light award. It was emotionally difficult, and I told him so.

“I’m growing up, Mom,” he told me, smugly.

That he is.

At the crossover ceremony, they have a small symbolic bridge. It’s a little wobbly, and some of the boys stepped gingerly to keep their balance. Not Fritz. I think only one foot actually touched the bridge as he skipped over it. He’s ready to take on the world. The Boy Scout world, at least.

But I am left recalling how much I cried when he cut his first tooth: “He’ll never have that gummy smile again!” I want him to grow up. I want him to enjoy his life. Naturally, if he were 11 and still had his gummy grin, I would be upset. But the joy I have in watching him grow is tinged with a sense of loss.

These are one-way bridges, and I’m left on the other side.

Cookie Mobster

You might think that the Girl Scout cookie business is a pretty simple one. Some cutie in pigtails shows up on your doorstep, sweetly smiles, and the next thing you know, you’ve agreed to spend an exorbitant amount of money for more calories than your hips will know what to do with. Several weeks later, same girl comes back with a pile of boxes and walks away with enough money to feed the nation of Uganda for two weeks.

People order cookies, distributor fills the orders, little girls deliver the orders. Very straightforward.

And at the beginning, you would be right.


The distributor won’t give out boxes of cookies, they want to give out cases of 12. And then there are all those customers who don’t know any girl scouts. That’s where booth sales come in. The girl scouts know they can reach many many more people by selling cookies in front of stores.

So troops order some extra cases and round up their orders to the next case load, and then they take the extras and sell them off. Even that seems easy.


After a week or two of booth sales and parents with additional orders, the Troop Cookie Manager (or Cookie Momster, as I like to call myself) starts to panic because the supply of one or two types is dangerously low and the supply of other types is dangerously high.

And this is when the Cookie Momster turns into the Cookie Mobster and starts doing Cookie Drug Deals.

Last Thursday, just as I was beginning to feel the beginnings of the headache and fever that was to plague me for a week, fellow Mobster Rachel called me. Her sources had assured her that a local area cookie depot would be fully stocked and opening first thing Friday morning. Did I want anything?

She agreed to get me a case of Thin Mints and a case of Do-Si-Dos and would also give me 6 boxes of her own Do-Si-Do supply. In exchange, I would give her a case of Samoas. We worked out the details of the switch.

Rachel had also tipped me off about Betty who needed Samoas and Tagalongs. I had these a-plenty, so I called Betty and she agreed to take 3 cases off my hands.

The next morning, I realized I needed some Trefoils, but it was too late to have Rachel pick them up. Racked with fever (Friday was my worst day, I think), I loaded the kids up to work these exchanges and we headed out. At the last minute, I checked my email, and some woman named Colleen had Trefoils for the taking. A quick phone call secured me 7 boxes.

So, off we go. First, the exchange with Rachel. Then, the pick up with Colleen. Then I sat in a parking lot for a bit until a mom (not a Mobster, just a mom) picked up $140 worth of cookies. Then, off to Betty’s house for the final drop off of the day.

And the deals continued. Mobster Kelly sent her husband Jim to pick up a case of Tagalongs from me at our last booth sale on Sunday. After my final inventory, I sent out an email offering one last case of Samoas. Within seconds, a Mobster using her Blackberry put in a claim. That exchange will take place tonight.

And that will be my last cookie drug deal. This is no kind of life for a decent mom. I got lucky in that most of my extras were Samoas – one of the most popular brands. Next time I might be stuck with 4 cases of Sugar Free Chocolate Chips, and then what? No, much better to retire on this good note with a successful run.

And if I never see another Thin Mint again, I’m okay with that.

Lenten Crosses

I gave up meat for Lent, which really isn’t that hard for me.

I gave up cheese, which is a bit of a challenge, but certainly isn’t a Herculean task.

I gave up milk, and had to practice patience while waiting for my black coffee to cool to a consumable temperature. To this, I have adapted.

I gave up caffeine, and felt the addiction work it’s way out of my body within the first week. I was no longer yawning all day long.

I fashioned a cross that suited me, and although it wasn’t fun to carry it and Lent seemed like a very very long time, it was a cross I chose, and I was comfortable with it.

But then I got sick. I still am sick. I rarely get sick. I don’t have time to get sick.

Nonetheless, I am on Day 5 of fever, lethargy, chills and coughing. My head hurts, my throat hurts, and my ears hurt (even though the doctor says it’s not my ears that hurt, it’s my lymph nodes).

And because I don’t have time to be sick, I have spent way too much time in the cold, rainy weather shivering as I look at azalea bushes for sale or manning that last blasted cookie booth in an unheated vestibule.

I have come to understand how back in the days before we had insulated windows and draftless heat throughout the house people would catch their death of a cold. How did they ever get truly warm?

And it’s not just me. Katie started us off on this adventure, but she seems to be well on the road to recovery. Billy was so sick on Sunday morning that he was begging for Anointing of the Sick. I haven’t seen him yet this morning, but yesterday he was doing well and responding to the regular rotation of Advil and Tylenol. Even little Mary had a low fever for two days.

Poor Jenny, though, was flushed and lethargic all day yesterday. Even with medicine, she’s not gotten her temp below a hundred, and it’s all I can do to get her to sip some water.

And so, that custom-made cross of my choosing has been laid aside. Instead, I have this other one.

I didn’t pick it. I don’t like it.

But it is mine.

Thought for the day

Why does the phrase “working feverishly” mean to work hastily and with great effort…

…when in reality, working feverishly means sluggishly, gingerly or from a fetal position on the couch, preferable in a darkened room with hushed sounds?

Note to self: do not stop the ibuprofin regimen just because you woke up feeling better. Such delay in medication means you crash that much harder when the day gets underway.

Happily, Bill is either at the airport or in the air on his way home from Germany. He won’t get home until after bedtime, but perhaps having that light at the end of the tunnel will sustain me.