Friday, December 23, 2011

My Best Christmas Present Ever

I was asked to speak in church this past Sunday. I may as well been told the end of the world was near. You see, I don't particularly like to talk in church, but I do it anyway. Kind of a type of self torture, I guess. But I told this story in my talk and decided that it would make a good blog post. And since I haven't written a whole lot lately I figured I would post what I have written. So to those of you who didn't have to hear me in person, you get to read it minus my shaky chipmunk voice and trembling hands. And to those of you who suffered through it already, I'm sorry and God bless you.

When I was growing up our family had a paper route which had to be completed every day, even on Christmas. I should say especially on Christmas, as the papers were very large due to the fact that they were stuffed with the ads for the sales to occur the following day. 
The massive amounts of ads caused the paper to be delivered in two parts requiring us to assemble the paper before trying to stretch a wimpy rubber band around the massive girth of those Christmas papers. Needless to say, many a rubber band broke making the delivery process even more tedious and lengthy. 
 Oh, how I loathed delivering those papers on Christmas morning.
It wasn’t just the process of getting the papers delivered, but the fact that we couldn’t open any packages or see any of our Christmas until all of the papers were done. The time came that the paper route became my responsibility after being passed down through all of my brothers and after 6 years of helping, I would be delivering the Christmas morning papers alone. 
I dreaded the very thought.
Christmas morning came and I could hear my parents upstairs rustling around and I knew that soon they would be coming for me. So true to the lazy teenager that I was, I pulled my covers up closer around me, clinging to the warmth and comfort that my bed offered and quickly drifted back to sleep. 
When I woke up some time later, knowing that my parents usually woke us around 6:00, I put off looking at the clock not wanting know the minutes left before the impending doom would occur. And that’s when it dawned on me that the light beyond my closed eyelids was a little too bright for 6am. I stole an glance at the clock- it was 9:06! The papers were late!
I rushed upstairs questioning my mom along the way. 
“Where are the papers? How come you didn’t get me up sooner?”  
My mother just smiled and said, “Merry Christmas! We got you a sub.”
Over the years, I have been asked about the best present I have ever received and to this day it remains the time my parents arranged a sub on Christmas morning for my paper route. This gift was nothing concrete that I could hold in my hands and only lasted the length of a morning, but the feeling and sentiment behind what others hands had done for me that morning has stuck with me for the last 20 years.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Back From Black

It has taken me over a month to get this post written due to computer complications (who knew a little light bulb could cause such a ruckus) and it isn't even what I really wanted to convey to you. But honestly, those feelings are hard for me to put into words. By the time you get to the end of it, I hope you understand and forgive me.

If the whole wedding reception tradition hadn't been so formal when I got married, I would have had two Bridesmen along with my Bridesmaids standing in the reception line. One of them would have been this guy, my friend, Digger.

Obviously, Digger is not his real name, but it is what he has gone by as long as I have known him and he still answers to it today. He is one of my best friends from high school who let me drag him to early morning Seminary Morningsides and kept Mr. Trimble's Spanish class, down right bearable. He could make me smile on the worst of days and took me to Senior Cotillion, when my R.M. boyfriend (Richard) had no interest in attending a high school dance. Although, I know Digger would have rather taken the girl that is now his wife.

But that life seems like a hundred lifetimes ago before we traded in the responsibilities and fun of high school for those of grown ups with families of our own.

Over the last three months, as I have gotten my children settled in to a new school year, Digger has watched as doctors at PCMC settled his little girl, Gracie, into a medically induced coma. As I have shuttled my kids to and from basketball, football, and other lessons, he has watched as Gracie has been shuttled to and from the operating room for various procedures to stop or slow down the seizures that have taken hold of  her little 9 year old body. Over the last month, as I woke my children to each new day Digger and his wife, Mindy, have wondered if this would be the day they saw their daughters eyes again as the doctors brought her slowly out of the coma.

Sometimes life seems really unfair.

I want to tell you Digger and Gracie's story because of a video I saw the other day. It was delivered to our inbox from a radio talk show host that we regularly receive mass emails from. It was a video where a toddler, about the age of two, is hit by a delivery van in a Chinese marketplace and how many minutes elapse before anyone helps the crying baby. It was honestly, the most horrific thing I have ever seen. The horrifying part not being seeing that child cry out in pain, but to watch 18 different people walk or drive by, obviously notice the child and not do ANYTHING! I didn't, because I couldn't, watch the whole thing.

The talk show's host intent on sharing the video was to show what living in a communistic country, under heavy rule by the government in all aspects of their lives, does to the charitable and basic humanity of its inhabitants.

 I guess he got his point across because I started to think about Digger's little Gracie, her situation and how the people of the communities in Utah (and I'm sure other places as well) have handled it. Here is a little girl and her family who have spent over 100 days in Primary Children's in the fight of their lives, just like the toddler laying in the street. This fight has taken a heavy toll on their family- both emotionally and financially. Instead of walking by and hoping that the next guy will do something many people, some that know Gracie and even more that don't, have stopped to give aid to a girl and her family in need.

People have organized and carried out a 5K and carnival with enough participants to catch the media's eye. Neighborhoods have held yard and bake sales. Friends and family have participated in special fasts. Restaurants have held dinners in Gracie's honor and donated the profits. Accounts have been set up where annoymous donations can be made. It has blown me away to see how people have stepped up and poured out all kinds of charity simply because of the goodness of their hearts.

This is the world I am thankful to live in.

A world where, thanks in part to those friends and strangers who have not only supported Gracie financially, but also with positive thoughts and prayers, she opened her eyes after 11 weeks in a coma on 11/11/11. And now a month later, she has been moved out of the ICU to a Neuro Unit and is making miraculous strides in her rehab and recovery.

Isn't it amazing what a little compassion, coupled with hope and prayer can do? It saddens my heart to think of children living in worlds where compassion is crushed by the fear of  "getting involved" and hope and prayer are nonexistent in a God-less society. Now I know the video is not indicative of all Chinese people as a whole, so here is my hope and my prayer that the baby laying in the street was afforded a miracle, just like Gracie .

Saturday, November 5, 2011


*The pictures in this post are courtesy of my old laptop and my very first digital camera- which by the way, leaves a lot to be desired, since my good laptop and all recent pictures that have been captured are in the shop. Again.*

Dallin Said...

"I don't like this's weird. It stares at me."

The Sunday morning before the Primary Program Presentation- "I have my faith filled boxers on, so I'm going to be just fine."

"I don't think it's cold enough to get ammonia yet..."

"My bladder's gettin' ANGRY!"
Boxer Boy?

"Mom, you know what? Cleats are like high heels."

"If Orcs come to the U.S. I'm gonna join the Army with my cross bow and take those suckas out!"

"Mom, we should get an emergency kit in the car."
"That's a good idea, Dallin."
"Yeah, we should put things in it we might need like bottled water, food, deodorant, blankets, flashlights...."
Look at those brown eyed boys loving their new sister who would end up with their same beautiful color of eyes.

Dallin's comment after the large mirror that hung in our living room was broken recently and taken down- "Mom, I miss that mirror because now I can't just sit and look at myself..."


To Richard while he's handing out foreign money to the kids for their collections after returning from a business trip to the Philippines, with stops in Tokyo & Hong Kong- "Come on! That's only ten cents in Japateens."

"You know what kind of meat is my favorite? That kind of chewy, Chinese meat, that almost chokes me. It is soooo good."
What real happy nappers look like.

"Dad, do you get money for your job?"
"Well, yeah."
"Oh. I thought you just got hotel points."

Ben appears in the kitchen dressed in nothing else but his underwear. With his chest puffed out and his hands planted firmly on each hip he declares- "I'm underwear boy and I feel POWERFUL!"
Ben- "Let me be the baby."

Ben turns to me after about 10 minutes of nice Saturday morning cuddling and says, "I love to cuddle with you, Mom. Especially since you don't seem to mind I keep farting on you."

And one for all of the Parke family who read my blog-
"Dallin's going to be on the weird side of the Uncle Jim."

A joint effort by Dallin & Ben at writing lyrics for a song-
When you're sitting on the john 
and all the paper's gone,
be a man......use your hand. 

Perfection at rest. 

And last of all, how do you know when you use coupons maybe a little too much? When you are driving home from a shopping trip at Wal-Mart where you bought some Halloween decor along with your normal groceries and your 4 year old asks, \
"Mom, did you have a coupon for that Halloween stuff?"
"Then why did we buy it?!"

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I Byte

All of my trouble started with a virus that hijacked my laptop and held it hostage for 3 days. Fortunately, it wasn't anything that a simple system restore couldn't handle....or so I thought. Because of a series of events in the last 3 months, I think that virus didn't only invade my laptop, but myself as well. You see, at my house we have a new solution if ever anything that runs by electrical current won't work or isn't working correctly, and it goes something like this, "Did Mom touch it?" If the answer is "Yes" then you have your solution. It is either broken for good or broken badly enough that it will cost you a significant amount of money to make it ever work again.

Apparently, I have the touch of death for any and all electronics. Take a look at my list of casualties:

-Laptop fan
-Left front turn signal
-New cell phone
-Left rear turn signal
-Van automatic door latch on passenger side
-A crashed hard drive... for which I weep. Nothing was recoverable. In the technicians words "it is fried". A company in California tells me that they have a clean room where they can open it up, take the platforms out and retrieve the information for $755 for jpeg files and up to $2800 for any other files. (Sniff, sniff.) And yes, it had to die the day I had the external hard drive out ready to back up files.
So the lesson learned through this ordeal is for all of you procrastinators (like me) out there, I suggest you take the route I did and shell out $59/year to Carbonite. $59 beats $2800 any day and the best part is that I don't even have to think about it.
-Van door signal. Try driving around for 3 days with that constant "ping, ping, ping" ringing throughout the confined space of a car- I about drove up the road to the State Hospital and committed myself.
-Playroom DVD player.
-The replacement DVD player for the previous playroom DVD player.
-Van radio
-Refridgerator ice maker. It is amazing what a misplaced plastic bag can do. Just trust me on this one.
-Richard's ipod touch
-One of our phone handsets
-And this weeks victim, my good lap top's screen.

I wish I knew what a system restore for me would entail. I'm sure it involves an exotic location, lots of down time, and large quantities of delicious foods, so in other words, it's out of the question. But seriously, this is getting to be ridiculous, not to mention expensive, and I'm running out of ideas to cope with my new condition.

 Do you think the Amish would take me?

PS- I am not liable for anything that may happen to any electronic devices used in the commenting on this post. Please, comment at your own risk. ;)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Scout Camp

Last week, Ashton went to Camp Tifie to attend Scout Camp for the first time. Like a good mama, I helped him pack a change of clothes and underwear for each day, a towel, wash cloth and soap, various treats and snacks, and $30 in cash for items he needed from the Trading Post. Would you like to guess what came back virtually untouched after being gone for six days of camping?

I'll give you a hint- it wasn't the the cash or the snacks.

FYI- Boys are gross.
I love this photo of the Menagerie. All personalities on display.

Monday, August 1, 2011

All Thumbs

Two Thumbs Down- For those whom celebrated Pioneer Day by enjoying what had to be a mighty impressive display of fireworks in the church parking lot and leaving the mess behind.

Two Thumbs Up- For the youth who stepped up with rakes and brooms in hand and spent a good portion of a summers afternoon, on hot asphalt, sweeping up a mess they did not make.

 Two Thumbs WAY Up- For those who were in such a hurry to help that they showed up without shoes! They swept that blistering asphalt until they couldn't stand it and then borrowed shoes that were sizes too small from a younger brother and mom so that they could finish the job.

Two Thumbs Way Up & Bless the heart- Of this little one who wanted to help and hurried so fast that this is the way she showed up to help...

Now that is dedication.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fourth of July Photo Shoot- Our Caboose

When I found out I was expecting our fourth child I was terrified. Not terrified about childbirth or any of the normal things that usually trouble pregnant women. No, I was terrified because what if it was another boy? I love my boys- don't get me wrong, but at the time, I just didn't know if I could handle another one.

We had just made an international move from a place that we loved to a place we weren't sure we would end up loving just as much. We had purchased a home, accomplished various improvement projects, finished the basement, replaced all of the flooring, and painted until I couldn't see straight. All of this we did within six months of moving back to Utah.

I was tired...and pregnant on top of that.

It was time to have another baby that much I knew deep down, I just wasn't very excited about it like I had been about the others. My only hope was that I would have a girl.

At our ultrasound appointment I was sure the technician was going to tell us it was going to be another boy- 99.9% sure, so when she announced it was a girl I about went into shock. Apparently, I wasn't the only one. Ashton got really upset and started saying nasty things like the boys were going to pull her hair and lock her in the crawlspace. We managed to leave the office without DCFS being called and it hit me again- I was going to have a girl!

I was relieved. I was elated. I was back to being terrified again.

I had three brothers and no sisters. I have three boys. I have always naturally gotten along better with boys than girls. Boys were easy, girls on the other hand....well, honestly, I didn't know much about girls- even though I am one! But I needed to find out quick because we were going to get a girl even though I kept asking myself, "What would we ever do with her?"

Well, almost four years, and one beautiful baby girl with big soft brown eyes later, I still ask myself questions regarding what we should do with her- only now the questions have changed slightly. Now I ask myself, "What would we ever do without her?"

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fourth of July Photo Shoot

Ben wasn't the only one in our family who had the opportunity to get in on the fun at the Fourth of July photo shoot, in fact, the whole family had a chance to get in on the action...

Including my parents, who were down visiting for the holiday.

One of the things I love most about Jason's style of photography...

Is his ability to capture my kids how they really are...

Or a look of how they used to be...

And sometimes, perhaps, how they long to be again.

Now tell me, what is better than that?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Belated Birthday Wishes

I love the month of July.

Not the sticky heat of summer or the mosquito laced nights that July brings, but the reverent and patriotic feeling for the country that I love that garners the hearts, homes, and streets of our nation.

And in Ben's case, his face.

Happy Birthday America!

 I'm a little late, but better than never.

Thanks to Jason at Backroads Photography for the idea of such a fun photo shoot and, of course,  for sharing the fantastic images captured from it.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

How I Stack Up

Can I tell you that going camping generates a lot of laundry? And can I also tell you that so does being gone the week before at Girls Camp? Especially when you come home to find the one load of laundry that had been started still sitting in the washer...two days later?

We've been inundated with dirty laundry here at the Parke home.

More so than usual.

The other day I decided to hit it hard and plow through as much as I could. In between loads I was running children back and forth between various lessons, so the loads came out of the dryer into a giant mound just outside the laundry room door waiting to be folded and put away later.

After about 3 loads, the mound was starting to look like a small mountain and it got me thinking. So I asked Richard if he thought I could  get the mound to be as high as I am tall...a whopping  5 foot 3 1/2 inches, let's just round that up to a massive height of 5'4".

Richard laughed and told me the stack would topple before it would reach that height.

The challenge was issued.

I was up to the challenge.....

....or should I say that about 3 or 4 loads later the challenge was up to me?

It's the little accomplishments in life that make me happy.

 I know they will be a wrinkled mess, but I like to think of it more like my family will just be showing off the wrinkles of my success.

If they don't like the wrinkles of my success, they can learn to iron.

And, no. That is not the end of my laundry quandary. There is still plenty more where that came from.

Seriously, who needs a service project?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Where Sasquatch Really Come From

It had been a long day and it was barely six in the evening. I had already been up for over 12 hours and a jam packed 12 hours they had been. It started with setting up and then holding my first yard sale from which we went immediately into the season's last T-ball and Coach pitch games. From there a hurried hour drive took us to a baby shower for my niece Katie, who is expecting her first bundle of boy in September.

After basking in Katie's pregnant glow and gorging ourselves with lemon bars & various brownies, we pulled back onto I-15 to make our way home with a clear docket for the rest of the night. With the radio playing some of our favorite songs we settled in for the ride and I found myself lost in the hypnotic turning of the wheels when from behind me a chant began,


At first, I wondered if I was so tired that I might actually be dreaming, but after stretching and shifting in my seat, the chant continued,


I concluded I was very much awake.

My next thought went to the possibility of the 5 Hour Energy shot I downed earlier and the Diet Coke I was currently sipping had created an overload of caffeine and was causing some sort of auditory hallucination. Because really, how would my almost seven year old know the word puberty? And why, in heaven and earth, would he be chanting it?

Certain my ears were deceiving me, I turned to Ashton sitting in the passenger seat wearing an amused look on his face as he shattered my theory.

"You know he's chanting puberty..."

Figuring I had to say something I decided on the blunt facts.

"Ben, you don't even know what puberty is."

The chanting ceased. Silence ensued. Wonderful, non-questioning silence.

Until Dallin in the far back decided to chime in.

"What is puberty, Mom?"

My mind shifted into high gear as I noticed Ashton stiffen a little in the seat next to me.

I decide to go with blunt facts again.

"It's when between the ages of 11-14 when your voice gets deeper and you start growing hair on your face, under arms and swimsuit area."

Agonizing groans erupt from the very back seat.

"Oh, NO! That should be illegal!"

Laughter from Ashton beside me.

Ben innocently asks, "So puberty is all about hair?"

Dallin, having suddenly become an expert, answers with, "Yep! Hair, hair, EVERYWHERE! Puberty pretty much changes you into a Sasquatch."

I turn the radio up a little louder and figure that would least, for now.

Monday, June 27, 2011


I heard the keys in the door shortly after 8:00 a.m. I ran down the stairs and threw the bolt back. There, after spending a week in a typhoon and tropical storm ravaged Philippines, stood Richard- exhausted, jet lagged, and wanting nothing more than to go to bed. But there were the little people. Little people who had a week full of adventures to fill daddy in on. Little people who talk a mile-a-minute and crawl all over daddy like a jungle gym. Little people simply bursting with excitement that daddy is home.

I think it wore them both out.

I'm so glad when Daddy comes home
Glad as I can be
Clap my hands and shout for joy
And climb upon his knee.
Put my arms around his neck,
hug him tight like this.
Pat his cheek and give him what?
A great big... NAP!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Few More...

Just a couple of Kid-isms that recently happened and one that I forgot in the last batch.

Ben- "I wish I had really long, puffy hair."
Me- Why in the world would you want really long, puffy hair?"
Ben- "Cause then I'd have a built in pillow."

Ben trying out what really long, puffy hair would be like with Richard's travel pillow.

A conversation with Dallin after he listened to me tell a neighbor about a time Ashton got lost and I thought he'd been kidnapped.
Dallin- "I remember when that happened. I must have been really little, but I still remember it."
Me- "Sorry, dude, you weren't born yet. You were still in my tummy."
Dallin- "Well, then I must have been watching through your belly button 'cause I remember it!"

A bit of info you need to know about this next one- I am not a fan of the really tight T-shirt trend. They are all well and fine if you have the figure to wear them, which about 90% of the population do not- including myself. I don't really want to look at my own rolls and bulges and figure that more than likely, no one else does either. So the majority of my shirts are loose and probably unfashionable, but I don't care. The other day I pulled out my flag T-shirt to try on; it's one of the clingier shirts I own, but I was feeling pretty bulge free and thought it was loose enough to get away with .

I thought wrong.... according to Emma.

Emma- (While patting my tummy) "You look like you're going to have a baby!"
Me- "Are you saying I'm fat?"
Emma- "Yep, really, REALLY fat!

I guess I need some more core work and a new flag shirt.

Or perhaps just a new daughter.

 Just kidding...kind of. ;)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


If you are reading this then my gamble was successful. I have been experiencing technical difficulties with my computer that involve weird noises and smoke! Obviously, I have been hesitant to use it, and have been using my e-reader for the majority of my electronic communication. But, as amazing as it is, it can't do everything (or at least very well) so if I successfully post these few kid-isms you'll know that my computer worked without creating a campfire in my lap!

Yeah, I'm still going to have it checked out. Sorry, no smores for you.

Dallin Said...

"We had a substitute in library today, so we went outside and drew pictures with sidewalk chalk. But she wouldn't let us write words- not even Jimmer or BYU, so I just drew a bunny with 2 chainsaws."

"Dad, did they even have cars in Spain when you were on your mission?"

"Mom, I need a picture of myself to put in my room."


While hiking up the mountain on the trail to the 'Y'- "Why don't they get rid of all these rocks?"

*Singing what he learned in Primary* "Praise to the Man who commuted with Jehovah..."

Emma's Three Sense

"I think Daddy should be the prophet when he grows, no, the ice cream man!"

Emma: "Have you always been a mommy?"
Me: "No. I became a mommy after I grew up and married daddy."
Emma: "And then you moved here and I came to your porch?"
In my head- "Yeah, something like that. Something just like that...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Serenade of Support

Sometime in January, our family sat down to set some goals for the year just like we always do. I didn't have to think very hard of what I wanted to work on and I only had two goals in mind. First, to do better with my personal scripture study and prayers (this is #1 every year *sigh*), and second, to run Ogden's Half Marathon beating my time from last year.

As hard as number one seems to be for me to perfect, getting ready for number two  has seemed like the most insurmountable of tasks this year. Thanks to schedules, weather, sickness, some right hip pain and a great big heaping dose of self doubt, training for Ogden has just seemed too big for me. But I've done it. I've put in my time.  But over the last few weeks, as I have completed my longer runs, I have come to an awful realization- I won't reach my goal of beating last year's time. It hasn't been enough. I just can't get my pace where it needs to be.

I know...I hear you, "Oh WAH!" And yes, I know that I am lucky to be able to at least run it even if I'm not as fast as I would like to be. But I think that the human spirit has this innate desire to improve, after all isn't that why we feel compelled to set goals and make resolutions in the first place? So not improving is somewhat of a blow to me. This doesn't mean I'm not going to try my darnedest and hope that the downhill nature of the course and the adrenaline rush that race day brings won't provide some sort of miracle, but I'm not counting on it.

I love to run and I love that I get to run this particular race with my brother and his wife, even though, they leave me eating their dust. I also love getting to the home stretch, physically and mentally exhausted, and hear someone yell my name followed by some sentiment of support. It is an incredibly amazing feeling and makes the finish line come that much faster. This brings me to blow #2-
This little band, my little band, of cheerleaders won't be there at the finish line to cheer me on this year. There are other things going on at home Saturday that are more important for them to attend, which means I will also lose my biggest cheerleader (he will hate that I'm calling him that). So I was wondering if you would do me a favor. Would YOU come cheer me on?

Ha! I almost had you there, didn't I? I mean, I wouldn't discourage you from coming, but it is in Ogden about an hour and a half away, it starts at 7:00 am which is really early for a Saturday morning, and I realize that all of that is a lot to ask. Plus, I'm sure most of you are involved with some of the things that are keeping my own personal cheerleaders from coming.

So can I ask you to do me another favor instead? Would you support me by choosing a song to put in my play list that I will run to? It can be whatever you want it to be- just leave the title and artist in the comments section. It can be that song that really inspires you, the one with the really great beat that helps you clean the house when you really don't want to, or just whatever you would run to if you were running a half marathon. You've never run a half marathon? Well here's your chance. For 3 to 5 minutes, or however long your song lasts, you will be my sole running buddy and supporter.

Please, don't worry; I like pretty much any music, unless it is twangy-wangy-tear-in-my-beer country. Last year, I had Frank Mills playing The Music Box Dancer in honor of my parents and AC/DC's Thunderstruck, for my three older brothers with a little bit of everything else sprinkled in between. Believe me you can't go wrong because I believe that most of the magic that music holds is in the memories and the people it is associated with.  So give me some awesome music to serenade me with support and let's go make us an incredible memory this weekend.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

I'm A Sasquatch

Photo Credit
Don't tell anyone... this was really me. ;)
I am abnormally hairy. It is just a fact of life and to prove it, I have had several instances through out my life that have done nothing but solidified this fact.

Instance #1- Since I was a little girl, whenever I have my hair cut the hairdresser has 99% of the time commented on how thick my hair is.

Instance #2- My brothers would play a game with me in Sacrament Meeting where I would sit between them and they would proceed to yank out my arm hair. The object of their game? To see who could get the biggest chunk of hair. My objective- not to scream bloody murder.

Instance #3- A little leg hair growing contest between me and a so-called "friend" in high school. Let's just say I lost a boyfriend due to the results.  Yep, I had a forest on my leg, and the so-called friend had my boyfriend.

 See? I am not follicular challenged in any way possible. In fact, couple the 3 above instances with the length of the hair on my head and I, am a plumbers nightmare. That is why I want to introduce you to this little gem-

I know it's one of those "Sold On TV" products and you're thinking, "Yeah  right. Those things never work like they say they do." But I'm here to tell you this one does! It really, really does.

Our drains never drained like drains are supposed to drain ever since we moved into this home. I've plungered and dumped massive amounts of Liquid Plumber (and money) down the drain to no avail.  Then one day, I was in Wal-Mart with my boys looking at Pokemon cards that happened to be displayed by all of these "Sold On TV" products, and there was the Turbo Snake, screaming at me to buy it and beat those stubborn drains once and for all! And only for the mere price of $9.99. I figured that was the same cost of another bottle of Drano, so what-the-heck, I'd be out the money any way.

At first, I didn't think the little plastic coated wire with a simple piece of Velcro on the end was going to do anything, but I stuck it down the drain anyway. I wiggled it around, stuck it in a little farther, and then pulled it up and out....with what seemed  like the continent of Australia on the end! I won't gross you out with the gory details (Too late? Sorry.), but I will tell you to wear gloves and a mask, especially, if you have a weak gag reflex- you would not believe the goodies lurking down your drain!

So there you have it, a $9.99 re-usable miracle cure for clogged drains! If you haven't picked up your Mom a Mother's Day gift yet, this little treasure may just be your last minute saving grace. I am sure she'll love it, after all, this Sasquatch of a mom did.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

It's All in the Family

Something interrupted me in a deep sleep. Being a creature of habit, I glance at the clock- 1:42 a.m. A dark figure in the doorway poses me the question, "What now?"

Normally, dark shadowy figures standing in my doorway in the wee hours of the morning would have given me heart failure, but this figure didn't have the voice of a crazed maniacal serial killer, just the endearing voice of my 12 year old.

My mind considered his question, "What now?" and honestly, since it was almost 2 a.m. I thought, "How about going back to bed?" Instead, I think, I answered, "About what?"

"The rocket!" came the reply.

"The rocket..."

"It looked like a light bulb."

My head was reeling. Was it my half awake state or the cold medicine I had taken before bed that made this conversation so hard to follow and even harder to comprehend? I didn't get a chance to figure it out before the conversation continued.

"The rocket looked like a light bulb?" I had to ask.

"Yeah, and there's only one left."

I just sat there thankful the room was dark so he wouldn't see the confusion written all over my face. He jumped up on the bed and sat down, "So....what should I do?"

In my stupor I figured he was talking about either: 1- NASA's rockets or 2- His homemade rocket which consists of a film canister and Easter egg half glued on top and fueled by baking soda & vinegar, so I asked him point blank, "Are you talking about the government's rocket or your own?"

The irritated answer came as, "The government's!"

"Well, honey, if they are the government's rockets there's not much you can do."

He was quiet. My mind was trying to process everything in the ensuing silence and that is when it dawned on me...he was sleep walking and talking. He was taking after my side of the family!

I got him settled and back to sleep, but in the morning he could remember the last part of our bizarre conversation, so the questions began and the stories were told.

Stories that included those of my brothers mistakenly using the hamper as the toilet, how I got the scar on the right side of my forehead, and Richard threw in a few of the crazy things I used to tell him in my sleep as a newlywed. And of course, we had to tell the story to top all sleepwalking stories, about the night my brother, Nate, left the house, walked across our busy intersection to a friends home where he was dreaming he was to tell my other brother it was time to come home. Luckily, he woke up before he rang the doorbell. But the best part of the story? He did it all in his Yoda pajamas and bare feet.

So although, Ashton may have gotten Richard's eyes, sensitive demeanor, and intellect, I'm happy to know he got the fun DNA from me. I will sleep better at night knowing I have passed on something worth while. Well, after last night's little episode maybe that's not true, but at least, I'll have the laughs they produce to keep me comfortable while I'm awake.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bad Habits and Best Outcomes

I have a bad habit.

Okay....I have more than one, but for this story's sake we are only going to talk about one.

I have a bad habit...that deals with my husband's wallet. And no, it is not that I spend all of his hard earned money either. Although, that may qualify under the bad habit heading too, but we are not talking about that bad habit, we are talking about my bad habit of washing my husband's wallet. If I had a dollar for every time I have exercised this bad habit it would make up for all of his money I've frivolously spent.

Seriously. It's that bad.

I know- "JUST CHECK THE POCKETS!" I know, I know, I KNOW!!! And I do...most of the time. Then there is the rest of the time where you have a mountain of laundry staring you in the face and precious little time to make that mountain transform into clean, folded, ready to put away laundry, so you just start plowing though the loads as fast as you can; there is no time to lose in checking pockets. And then there are days like today.

I checked. I promise. I really did. But when the wallet hunt started I had an awful feeling of where it was going to end up. But I checked! I removed keys, tissues (gross! I might add), and even a hefty chunk of cash that I even honestly returned. I couldn't have missed the wallet filled with all of the receipts from Richard's recent business trips!? All of the receipts that have to be faxed in order for his corporate card to be reimbursed? No, I wouldn't have washed them, because I checked.

A peek into the washing machine told me different.

It looked like Mardi Gras with all of the confetti that littered the damp clothes- a confetti that consisted of receipt paper. I wanted to crawl under the washer and co-habitate with the dust bunnies that undoubtedly live there and I could have, since I felt about that tall. I was numb. I didn't know what to do. Before being pulled away with a call for work Richard put his arm around me and told me it wasn't my fault.

I continued to pick out  pieces trying to find any that were big enough to be pieced together. Unfortunately, there weren't many. I felt awful. I felt sick. Richard came back and the arm went back around me as he quietly told me to stop what I was doing, that things would be okay, and that he loved me. Then he left to run an errand that prompted the search for the wallet in the first place.

I changed over the laundry and started dinner while confessing, via phone, the sin I had committed to my mom. Mid confession we were interrupted by the beep of call waiting- it was Richard inviting me out to dinner. Well, I figured that even sinners have to eat, so I readily accepted and ended up at Magleby's where we had a lovely dinner complete with creme brulee for dessert.

Now he could have been upset and ranted and raved, or worse, given me the silent treatment, which only would've have amplified the horrific failure I already felt that I was, but he didn't. Instead, we had an amazing evening. He felt bad that I felt bad. He realized that a true mistake was made and that true remorse was felt. And it was enough.

It may not be enough to pay his corporate card, but we'll worry about that when the bill comes. But for now, it is still enough.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Family Friend

Our family has a special friend. He has been considered a part of our family since the Christmas of 1999. He has accompanied us on many family vacations, various special events, and even a random shopping trip or two. But mostly he is just there during, and yes, sometimes an accomplice to, the day to day mayhem that is the Parke household.

At times he has been a friend to one child more than another, but only because they needed him more right then. Currently, he has become a sort of sidekick for Benjamin. Heck, he practically spent every day in pre-school with him last year and has had the opportunity to get in a few Kindergarten lesson this year as well. It is a relief for me to know that someone can be there when Mom & Dad can't.

He's never intrusive, just supportive, while sporting a pleasant expression on his face, quietly watching from the sidelines. Yep, stalwart, silent, supportive, and I might as well add "stuffed" because as you can see our special friend is Bear, a big brown fuzzy teddy bear.

So when I tucked Ben into bed the other night and he whispered to me that the next day was Bear's birthday, I couldn't say no to throwing our good and loyal friend a surprise party.

Now you may think it is silly to throw a party for a child's favorite stuffy, but I think that this smile is worth all the silliness in the world. Don't you?

Plus, I'll use any excuse to indulge in some fabulous chocolate cake any day.