The Day I Won the Award for Most Patient Wife Ever

Notes from the Shallow End

It’s an immutable law of marriage: The amount of time you have left before an important event is inversely proportional to the likelihood that your husband will choose to perform a completely unrelated task.  Like choosing to vacuum the car when you’re supposed to leave for a parent-teacher conference. Or cleaning out the basement just before your entire extended family arrives for dinner.  Meanwhile you’re running around trying to do the things that actually matter, like preparing food and making sure all of your children have pants on. Hypothetically, of course.  I’m sure your children always wear pants.

One recent cold and rainy weekend,   I had the kids loaded into the car to leave for a morning soccer game. (We have hit the age where games aren’t necessarily cancelled due to rain. Good times.) In typical fashion, we had, oh, approximately five minutes to get to the field. I put up the garage door, started the engine, put the car in reverse, and started to back out of the garage… when suddenly my husband came running out of the house clutching a bag and waving at me frantically. I rolled the window down to see what the big emergency was.

“I just want to put your new windshield wipers on,” VP said, stepping to the front windshield and prying up one of the wiper bars.

In an act uncharacteristic of me, instead of shouting, “Are you kidding me? Now?!” I chose patience. I put the car in park, engine still running, and clamped my mouth shut while he went to work.

I waited patiently until he removed the old wipers.

I waited patiently while he tried to put the new ones on.

I waited patiently as he couldn’t figure out how to put the new ones on.  And I waited some more. The time for us to be at the field came and went.

Finally, he gave up in frustration, and started trying to put the old ones back on. After a while, he gave the thumbs up and I backed out of the garage. As we drove down the street, though, the sound the windshield wipers made told me something was amiss.

Screeeetch thwack.  Screeeeetch thwack. Screeeeetch thwack. The rain wasn’t terribly hard, but just enough that I had to keep the wipers going.

We screetch thwacked our way to the soccer field. I parked the car. Unloaded the kids. Started to walk toward the field, and promptly encountered a wet referee walking the other way.

“Game’s cancelled,” she said. “Field conditions just got too bad.”

We turned and walked back to the car, as it started to rain harder. Relieved that the game was cancelled, I loaded the kids back in. Started the car. Turned on the windshield wipers as the rain turned to a downpour. Screeeetch thwack. Screeetch thwack. Screee…BANG! And then I watched one of my windshield wipers skitter across the parking lot.

As I climbed out of the car in driving rain to retrieve it, I cursed under my breath. Also I may or may not have called VP a few choice names.

Knowing there was no way I could drive home without windshield wipers, I struggled reattach the errant blade. Rain dripped off of my baseball cap as I tried it one way, then another. You’d think it would be simple, intuitive maybe, but it’s not.  Imagine being throw out in the freezing rain with one of those metal tavern puzzles, and being told you couldn’t come back in until it was finished. My fingers went numb from cold. Peeved, I considered calling my husband to drive over and help me, but what kind of an example would that have set for the children? No. Rain be damned, I would prove I was capable.

It took twenty minutes, but I finally out the right angle and the blade clicked perfectly into pace. I flung my arms into the air in triumph.   The Rocky theme echoed through my head as I jogged around to the driver’s side to climb in and drive home.

When I got there VP asked what took us so long to get home. “The windshield wiper fell off, and I had to fix it,” I said cheerfully, still kind of proud that I figured it out.  I needed the reminder that I can handle things on my own, for the next time we’re expecting people for dinner any minute and he decides to reorganize the workbench. Ahem. Hypothetically of course.

And as for fixing the windshield wipers, it turns out that all of those years of wrestling my kids into pants has paid off.


We Go Together, Like Rama Lama Lama Ka Dinga da Dinga Dong

The Blogger Idol challenge this past week was to do an interview… and the twist was that we were paired up with another contestant to do it. I was paired up with Lea Grover from Becoming Supermommy.  At first, I was nervous. How was I going to write a post with someone who appeared to be my polar opposite in every way? Her blog deals with some heavy subject matter, and mine? Well, a heavy day for me is an eye-cream mishap, or getting stuck in a wedding dress. But it turns out we were perfectly matched.  The blogging version of peanut butter and jelly. Lea is  a delight to work with, and after tossing a few ideas around, the subject of the Mommy Wars came up. Ridiculous, right? But… wouldn’t they be so much more interesting if they were actual battles, like The Hunger Games? Thus an idea was born. Enjoy!

Exclusive Interview With The Mommy Wars Champions

In the strangest pairing since Oscar and Felix, Lea and Lisa joined forces in The Mommy Wars, a battle to the death between parents. Lea is a tattooed, liberal Jew who longs for professional acclaim; while Lisa is a conservative, Lilly Pulitzer wearing Catholic who was deliriously happy to escape the corporate world. They were able to overcome their differences and vanquish the competition. We caught up with the champs after the dust settled, and they agreed to sit down for an interview.

How did you become the most fearsome duo in Mommy Wars history?Notes from the Shallow End

Lea: I heard a mom panicking when she couldn’t load Wikipedia on her phone. I asked Lisa, “Why doesn’t she read a book?” Turns out Lisa shares my love of reference materials!

Lisa: I just sensed a kindred spirit. We both spend summers in the Northern Michigan wilderness, and we’re not dependent on electronic devices to get by. Trust me, there’s nobody else you want with you in a survival game than someone who can recognize poisonous hallucinogenic mushrooms on sight.

How did you find yourselves in the Mommy Wars?

Lisa: It was accidental. I clicked on a Huff Post Parenting article,  there was this giant sucking sound and everything went black… then Whomp!  I landed smack in it. Weird!

Lea: A post from my blog was picked up by HuffPo, and I read the comments. When one mom snarked that I shouldn’t have had kids, I grabbed my emergency Zombie Apocalypse hatchet and dove in. I just wanted to make everyone stop playing! It didn’t take long to learn the best way to stop to it was to win.

What special skills contributed to your win?

Lisa: Being judged doesn’t rattle me.  Plus I can do everything one-handed. With three kids, I can cook dinner, help with homework, and sew a Halloween costume, all while holding a baby. Those other moms had nothing on me when it came  to survival.  But I think it was the chateaubriand I whipped up out of squirrel meat that really gave us the strength to go on.

Lea: I’m a vegetarian, but when times are dire you do what it takes. Lisa made that squirrel delicious.  I don’t Notes from the Shallow Endknow what to do with a rodent carcass, but I’ve got no problems milking wild animals. Turns out raccoon yogurt is delightful.

How did you deal with the physical challenges of the Mommy Wars?

Lea: You’ve got to cope with pain. I sewed up a nasty gash on Lisa’s calf after some stay-at-home dads caught us. Man, they were tough. When Lisa started to fade I threatened to write, “Her body was found in a ditch,” in her obituary. She came back strong!

Lisa: I fought them off. Wimps. I mean, who brings a Cuisinart blade to a knife fight? And I hate needles…but Lea’s suturing skills are those of a surgeon, due to years of  costuming. What was it you used, Lea?

Lea: Hawthorn trees have spiny twigs… better than metal. All you do is boil out the bacteria.

Lisa: Take that, Bear Grylls.

Lea: Bear Grylls would probably use duct tape. Such a noob.

Any regrets about what you did to win?

Lisa: I kind of regret telling that group of PTO moms there was a 90% off sale at Kohl’s, and pointing toward a cliff and yelling “That way!” Man, they stampeded over there so fast, and then just dropped off the edge one by one, like lemmings. I feel bad about that. There’s gonna be no one left to run the bake sale next year.

What was your biggest challenge?

Lea: Lack of childcare. It’s no picnic, shimmying down a tree to plant a hatchet in somebody’s skull- especiallyNotes from the Shallow End with twins plus one on your back. We left our kids in a cave with some goldfish crackers and Kindles. When we finally went back all they did was ask Lisa if they could make cookies. And the baby said “Batman.”

Lisa: Trying to talk Lea off the ledge every time she saw a spider. Attachment parents coming at us with nunchucks didn’t phase her, but I had to use the entire supply of Xanax after she found a daddy long legs in her sleeping bag.

Lea: Come on, it was at LEAST a tarantula.

Lisa: For God’s sake, woman, you survived a uterine rupture! That alone gives you the street cred to kick spider ass!

What was the worst part of the competition for you?

Lisa: The Judgement Smackdown, when contestants hurled insults at each other over parenting philosophies. You should have seen the showdown between breastfeeders and bottle feeders. The rage… the spittle. I still have nightmares.

Lea: I saw one anti-vax SAHM tear off a Lean In-er’s nipple. And I don’t even remember what their subject was! Co-sleeping? Circumcision? When to introduce solids?

Lisa: Fortunately we brought some common sense into the fray. Lea stood up and quoted her blog when she said, “Breast is best, absolutely, but NOTHING is better than a functional parent.” It was like a light went on for them.

You’ve won the $1,000,000,000 prize- will your decision to stay home change?

Lisa: No. I love being with my kids, and where else can I find a job besides blogging where my bosses are amused by my ADD and total aversion to routine? As for how I’ll spend the money, I may get a new car… one that doesn’t smell like sweaty socks and old cheerios.

Lea: I’ll stay home. All that money is going to groceries. I’ll eat morel and sunchoke frittatas for breakfast every day. Also, I’ll finally follow my dream to sing. Lisa’s going to be my back-up!

What would you like to see in future Mommy Wars?Notes from the Shallow End

Lisa: I think just ending it would be good. It’s run its course.

Lea: Fighting over parenting details is absurd. We all love our kids, we’re all doing our best, that’s what matters.

Lisa: Agreed. But I think we made an impact, didn’t we Lea?

Lea: I hope we improved the tone. If not, the sack of psychedelic mushrooms I dropped in the well should shake things up next season.

Mostly Dead All Day: A Tale of the World’s Worst Phone

Notes from the Shallow End

It was a quiet day. Nothing out of the ordinary was happening. I was doing some writing; the dog was licking his own nether regions. You know, the usual.

First, let me say I am always near a phone. I have three kids, and one of my fears is that something will happen to one of them at school, and the school won’t be able to reach me. I’m usually at home during the day, and if I’m out, I have my cell phone with me. Otherwise it’s turned off to save the battery.

But then, somehow my plan went to pieces. My kid got hurt and the school couldn’t reach me.

We have been having problems with the downstairs cordless phone, in that it won’t hold a charge for more than about a minute.  Conversations on it often go like this:

Person: Hello?

Me: Hi, it’s Lisa. I was just calling about the… hello? Hello? Aaaaaggh! Stupid phone!

So most of the time, the phone is nearly dead.  We’re talking gather the relatives, because it’s on life support. And sometimes it’s completely dead.  That means a mad dash up the stairs to grab the second floor handset phone every time it rings. Because it only rings four times before it goes to voice mail. (All of these years and I’ve never been able to figure out to change that. Time Warner, I’m looking at you!)) So I was typing away downstairs, enjoying a delicious second cup of coffee, when the phone rang. By the time I got upstairs, I had missed the call.

“Oh well,” I thought. “If it’s important they’ll leave a voice mail.” And I returned to my hot coffee downstairs. Priorities, right?

But when the phone rang again five minutes later, something told me I should move faster to answer it. I sprinted up the stairs two at a time and grabbed it on the last ring. And Thank God I did. It was my husband, calling to tell me that the school had just called him. It seems my son had fallen, cut his head open on a metal coat hook, and was bleeding profusely. They thought he needed stitches.  My husband, I should mention, was out of town on business.

So my husband, who was in Orlando, had to call me in Ohio to tell me to go to school and pick up my son. And I should mention that the only reason the school was able to reach him is that his morning meeting had been pushed back, otherwise his phone would have been turned off.

The good news is that my son is fine. He got to have a Popsicle in the school office, and when I brought him home and washed the blood off (head wounds… gaaahhhh!) it didn’t look as bad as we thought. He got to spend the rest of the day wearing his jammies and robe, snuggled with me on the couch.

So, phone? You’ve been unreliable for way too long. I hate to tell you this, but you’re fired. Pack up your things and security will escort you out. I’ll be shopping for your  replacement this weekend, because the school couldn’t reach me in an emergency and that is a feeling I never, ever want to have again.


Lessons for My Children

It’s that time again; time to vote for Blogger Idol. And by that I mean me. Vote for me.

This week’s topic was hard for me. The assignment was to write about a time you ended up doing something you didn’t want to do. Those of you who know me, know that I’m not prone to doing things I don’t want to do. I have had my share of difficult, painful life experiences, but I don’t look at those as choices so much as things that happened to me.

One experience stood out, though. One experience where I had to leave my comfort zone, and take a big risk. Or at least it felt that way to me at the time. Am I glad I did what I did? In the end, yes. But it was one of the hardest decisions as a parent I’ve ever had to make. I’d really appreciate it if you’d hop on over to Blogger Idol, read my post, and vote for me. My continued participation in the contest depends on every single vote. Seriously, last week the elimination came down to just a couple of votes.

There are lessons to be learned, both from the experience  I wrote about this week and from my participation in this contest.  Has my life turned upside down in the past few weeks? Yup. Have my kids eaten take-out Chinese and Indian food more than usual? You bet. Is my house in need of a cleaning? Yes.  Was it that way before I made Blogger Idol? Um, yes. But I’m pretending the cobwebs are festive Halloween decorations.  Overall, this had been really great for my family, and my kids in particular, and here’s why:

10 ways my Blogger Idol experience is great for my family:

  1. I’m showing my kids that they should go for their dreams. You never know where it might lead. And this year, for me, is all about shaking things up.
  2. I’m showing my kids that constructive criticism is a good thing, because every week I learn from it and use it.
  3. Taking a risk is sometimes necessary. My kids have seen me step out of my comfort zone by making my blog more public than ever before.
  4. My husband has stepped up to the plate beautifully, filling in for me with homework help and driving to soccer practices when I can’t. His support means the world to me, and the kids get to see a great example of true partnership in marriage.
  5. If I get eliminated, it’s okay… it won’t devastate me. I will be proud of what I accomplished. (But, see above. Vote anyway, please.)
  6. My kids are really taking an interest in their own writing now. One is working on a memoir and one has started her own “blog” (unpublished). I really hope they continue to write, especially into the teen years, because I know how cathartic it can be.
  7. Every week, there’s opportunity for improvement. They are seeing me excited about learning new things, even though I’m “old”. (Ahem. Their word, not mine.)
  8. My kids are seeing me look forward to the challenges, even if they’re out of my wheelhouse.
  9. My kids still come first, even if that means that I stay up until 2:00 in the morning to finish an assignment. Because even though this contest is a huge deal for me, I won’t write until they go to bed.
  10. I’m teaching my kids to work hard, do your best, and after that whatever happens, happens.


Thanks for reading!  Now please go vote, and make sure I get to the next round.  Happy Wednesday everyone!

Notes from the Shallow End

Paris 2012. And a hint as to my Blogger Idol post for this week.


Local Woman Damages Mall, Pelts Police with Pumpkin

The Blogger Idol challenge this week was to write a newspaper article about a fictitious crime we have committed. Despite my law-abiding nature (seriously, just thinking about getting arrested for something gives me hives) I took the opportunity to go deep, and find my inner criminal. Turns out I actually might have one after all! Note to the person at the Dunkin Donuts drive through: For the record, I DO NOT want a pumpkin flavored iced coffee.  Stop trying to make pumpkin iced coffee happen.


Cincinnati – A Cincinnati woman lead police on a high speed chase yesterday and caused extensive damage to several local businesses in a bizarre case of what police are calling “Pumpkin Rage.”

Lisa Packer, age 44, of West Chester, was arrested and charged with  aggravated fleeing, eluding, assault, destruction of property and un-American activity after going on a violent, destructive rampage on Wednesday night, apparently triggered by her hatred and mistrust of all things pumpkin.

Butler County Sheriffs deputies say the trouble started when, after becoming increasingly angry about seeing “pumpkin everything” in every store she went to, Ms. Packer apparently snapped upon arriving at a Starbucks and seeing seasonal pumpkin-spiced lattes on the menu. Witnesses say she started yelling that pumpkin is a “vile, disgusting fraud” before she leapt across the counter, knocked over some equipment, and used copious amounts of spit to wash the phrase “Pumpkin Spiced Latte” off the board. Several baristas attempted to apprehend her, but they were all too weak and flaccid.

“I… I tried to stop her, but my ironic glasses got all fogged up from the latte machine she kicked over,” said one traumatized barista, who wished only to be identified as Paul.

An eyewitness who preferred to remain anonymous said Ms. Packer then scooped up armfuls of baked goods and ran from the store before driving away. With police close behind, she began speeding down I-75 while flinging muffins out the window at pursuing law enforcement.

Notes from the Shallow End

Some of the innocent victims of the slaughter.

Interviewed at the scene, where the remnants of the walnut-studded carnage was still evident, one of the officers whose vehicle was struck said he feels lucky to be alive. “You can’t understand what it’s like to be targeted by projectile muffins until it happens to you,” reported Deputy Alan Kipps. He wiped his eyes and continued, “Nothing at the police academy could have prepared me for this. Nothing.”

Notes from the Shallow End

Local law enforcement was able to capture this photo of the perpetrator in the getaway vehicle.

Local law enforcement deployed stop-sticks to disable her wildly careening minivan, but Ms. Packer was able to escape on foot. After stealing an excavator from a construction site and driving it to a nearby mall, witnesses watched in horror as she used the claw to demolish an entire Yankee Candle store.  She was overheard shouting, “I’m tired of pumpkins getting all the credit! It’s a squash, dammit! Who wants a candle that smells like squash? Die, mother  f*^#ers!“  She then turned her attention to a Bath & Body Works, where thousands of dollars’ worth of pumpkin body butter, pumpkin shampoo, and pumpkin perfume fell victim to her wrath.

Twelve year old Brittany Shaunessy, shopping at the mall with her mother Eileen, was witness to the atrocities. “She was yelling something about pumpkin body lotion not even making any sense,” said Brittany. “Does it make sense? I’m so confused.”

Ms. Packer was eventually apprehended and taken into custody when the excavator got stuck in the doorway of Williams-Sonoma.

Notes from the Shallow End

When reached at home, family members declined comment. Neighbors, however say that this was a long time coming. Ms. Packer was known for angry diatribes against all things pumpkin flavored, and often professed a deep resentment that her favorites, apple and cranberry, weren’t given the special treatment enjoyed by the undeserving  squash cultivar. “Every year around this time she’d go a little nuts,” a neighbor said. “She just didn’t get how a vegetable that needed that many spices to be palatable got all that attention. And I guess it just built up until she blew.”

Calling Ms. Packer “deviant” “unpatriotic”, and “anti-squashite”, the Pumpkin Farmers of America quickly derided her actions. “Subversive behavior such as this simply cannot be tolerated, or the very foundation of this country is at stake,” said a spokesperson. The North American Nutmeg Foundation, however, was quick to counter. “Pumpkin has been stealing our thunder for way too long. Isn’t it time the real heroes, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger, be given their due?”

“She just really hated pumpkin. I’ve never seen anything like it before.” Said one sheriff’s department official. Choking back tears, he continued. “It’s the muffins who were the real victims here Let us never forget that.”

Interview with My Kids

Sadly, the bear's suggestion that the dancer take her shirt off, whip it around her head, and yell "Whoooo hooo!" was ignored by the director.

Sadly, the bear’s suggestion that the dancer take her shirt off, whip it around her head, and yell “Whoooo hooo!” was ignored by the director.


Okay, business first. It’s Blogger Idol voting time again. The assignment this week was to “write an article about a fictional crime you’ve committed”.  Let’s just say I went to town on a seasonal favorite. And possibly offended an entire segment of the agricultural population. Who knew I had such a dark heart?

The voting is now live, folks. Click here to get to the Blogger Idol page, read my submission, and cast your vote. I’m going to need your help to remain in the contest for another week, because your votes count heavily toward the overall score. If I don’t get enough votes, a trap door will pop open and I’ll slide down the chute to the incinerator just like Veruca Salt.  Do you really want to be responsible for depriving the contest, and the world, of my witticism and mirth? (surreptitiously checks the definition of “mirth”. Um, close enough.) I’ll wait here while you go vote. Take your time.

Okay, did you vote yet? Don’t worry, if you want to read this post first, I understand. I’ll helpfully provide the link again toward the end. I’m a giver.

Now, on to today’s post. Some of you may remember the job interview that I did with my son last year, which took some strange twists and turns. Don’t trust him with the good silver, is all I’m saying. And now, taking my inspiration from bloggers extraordinaire Jenn over at Something Clever , Meredith at From Meredith to Mommy, and Tracy at Crazy as Normal, I’m interviewing my kids about me. I kind of took the Vanity Fair “Proust Questionnaire” and turned it on its ear. The answers were… well, just read for yourself.

What is my idea of perfect happiness?

Lucy, age 12: Um, probably like, a quiet room where there’s a big bed where you can nap forever.

The Boy, age 6: Me cleaning the whole house? (Based on my job interview post of last year? Not likely to happen.)

Magpie, age 9: Italian dinners. Clean rooms. Everyone not ignoring you when you say, “Clean your room”. And Flowers. And Sleeping.

What is my greatest fear?

Magpie: Spiders? Oh, and stepping in gooshy things.

The Boy: Being attacked by ninjas.

What living person do I most admire? 

Lucy: Me. (The child obviously has no self-esteem issues.)

Question: What is my greatest extravagance?

Kids: ….

What do I spend too much money on? 

Magpie:  Organic things! Fancy perfumes! Plates! (Okay, now you’re just swinging at anything.)

Lucy: Stuff at Whole Foods. (Guilty.)

The Boy: Makeup!

VP: Yes! She spends too much money on makeup! (Note to my husband: Hush. You’re not the one being interviewed, INTERVIEW STEALER!)

What trait do I most deplore in others?

The Boy: I don’t know what that means.

It means name something that other people do that I don’t like.

Lucy: Rudeness.

The Boy: You don’t like it when people take off their shirts and whip them around their head and yell “Whooooo hooo!”

Um, okay. What talent would I most like to have?

Magpie: Spinning plates on your fingers!

Lucy: Singing!

The Boy: Taking your shirt off and whipping it around your head and yelling, “Whooooo hoooo!” (Anyone sensing a theme here, or at least a frat boy in the making?)

Which words or phrases do I most overuse?

Lucy: Bad words.

Magpie: H-E double hockey sticks.

The Boy: Dog Nammit!

Okay, okay, forget that one. What is my most treasured possession?

Magpie: Me!

The Boy: Me.

Lucy: Me. No, your laptop! (Um, the first answer makes me look better, so we’re going with that one.)

What do I consider my greatest achievement?

The Boy: Growing tomatoes!

Lucy: Having children.

E. (family friend): I know, I know! Making  it into that contest thing or whatever it is.


Which brings us neatly back around to where we started. I totally didn’t fudge the order of the interview questions to make that happen, either. (Okay, I did. It’s all about flow, people.) If you haven’t already, please take a second to vote for me for Blogger Idol. Because spinning plates on my fingers is not a career option for me, as far as I know.










My Weekend: Fall Foliage and Poop

I’m back! After a brief hiatus that involved a trip out of town with very little internet access, and working on this week’s post for Blogger Idol, I have rejoined the world. Blogging and otherwise.

Yes, you heard that right. After this week’s elimination I’m still safe. I appreciate everyone who voted for me. The check is in the mail. Okay, really, it’s not, but you have my gratitude that you helped me make it this far.

So, on to other news. We had a trip to Michigan planned for this past weekend, which almost got derailed because of two sick kids. My youngest kid started the morning with a bucket by his bed.  But they recovered in the nick of time, and we were able to go. Here’s a brief synopsis of our trip to Northern Michigan this past weekend:

Me: Oooh, kids! Look at those gorgeous leaves!

Kids: Mmmm.


Me: Oh my gosh, those leaves are amazing!

Kids: (unintelligible grunt)


Me: Wow! I have never seen such incredible leaves. Kids, you’re missing this!

Kids: …

So, the kids weren’t too impressed by the fall foliage. And it rained the entire weekend. And I might have broken my nose when I accidentally smashed my face into a nightstand. (Long story.) And the trip home that was supposed to take us six hours actually took us nine. In more driving rain. And do you know how many times poop is referenced when you travel with four kids? I think I lost count after 426.

But any weekend at the lake is a good weekend, and we were able to take a couple of road trips to escape the rain. And so one day this happened:

Notes from the Shallow End

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Because of a helpful parks employee who told me that, while the National  Lakeshore was technically closed due to the government shutdown, “You can’t put gates up blocking 35 miles of lakeshore. The parking lots are closed, but you can always park somewhere else and walk in. You didn’t hear it from me, though.” we had miles of lakeshore to ourselves. And the most spectacular day imaginable.

Notes from the Shallow EndAnother hidden benefit of the National Lakeshore being closed? No one there to enforce leash laws.   Hey Congress! Just so you know, my dog ran free for two hours, had a blast, and may or may not  have pooped on one of your sand dunes.

The weekend also featured a very entertaining conversation with my husband about his Grizzly Adams-esque notion that  he could get by without plumbing. Lets just say it involves buckets, and leave it at that. Looky there! Multiple  mentions of poop in one post! You dropped in on the best day ever.

There’s all kinds of fun stuff coming on the blog this week, so be sure to stop back by. It’s BYOB. Bring Your Own Bucket.


Bury Me in My Red Vinyl Vest

Last week, the Blogger Idol assignment was to write our own obituary. It forced us to get introspective, and to really examine how we’ll be remembered, and how we want to be remembered. It turns out I learned a lot about myself from reviewing my life. Namely that I’m sort of awkward and have very little fashion sense.

Sheesh. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

There was some good stuff too. I embraced my introvert-ism. Introversy? Whatever. anyhow, here it is. I’m not actually dead.



Lisa Packer, writer, blogger, wife, and mother of three, expired today after a short but particularly grueling battle with a writing assignment. A coffee overdose is suspected; Toxicology results are pending.

Lisa was by turns considered funny, strange, awkward, introverted, and somewhat clumsy, although she would have preferred “delightfully eccentric” or “lovely”.  She once accidentally dumped a glass of water in Dan Quayle’s lap, and on another occasion got trapped in the balcony during a funeral.  However, since she was able to embrace her own imperfections and misadventures by finding the humor in them, and also enjoyed telling stories, becoming a writer seemed to be a natural fit.

It's probable Lisa's dress is on backwards. Note the tag. And also the home haircut.

It’s probable Lisa’s dress is on backwards. Note the tag. And also the home haircut.

Lisa’s early life was blissfully carefree; her days were spent playing in the fields or the creek of her grandfather’s farm. Little heed was paid to fashion, as her mother made a lot of her clothes herself. A particularly snazzy favorite was a shiny red vinyl vest, which gave her the semblance of a large wet Jolly Rancher.

A move with her family at age eight to an upscale, old-money suburb that contained actual people named Biff and Muffy changed her life and upended her self-esteem, as at the time Lisa owned neither an Add-a-Bead necklace nor any grosgrain ribbon belts. Those were dark days; the advent of corduroys embroidered with little whales was a particularly trying time in her life.  Seeing as that her mother cared little for fashion, and continued to dress her in strange hand-sewn jumpsuits, tube socks, and Sears Toughskins instead of the printed turtlenecks, Lacoste shirts, and kilts that were favored, she struggled to fit in.  The struggle to fit in anywhere would dog her for the rest of her days.

Soon she discovered that despite not having the right clothing, simply by being funny she could win friends and score coveted invitations to sleepovers. Her re-enactments of Carol Burnett sketches during slumber parties became legend, and she grew to love making people laugh.Fortunately Lisa eventually also began making her own clothing decisions, saving herself from the adolescent humiliation of wearing a patchwork dashiki to school.

As an adult, one of her greatest pleasures was to cook, and to share her cooking with others.  She never shied away from butter, and believed that anyone who couldn’t make a decent biscuit had no business being in the kitchen. Also, she never forgave her brother-in-law for ruining her gravy on Thanksgiving ’09.

She read obsessively, and had zero self-discipline when it came to putting a book down and going to bed. A side effect of reading so much was that she had an extensive knowledge of medical conditions, so that whenever she exhibited any symptom she was convinced she was dying of the very thing she had just read about.

Schedules and routines bored her to tears.  She also despised stick-on Christmas bows, faux-painted anything, Miracle Whip, high heels, unloading the dishwasher, the mispronunciation of “Valentine’s” as “Valentime’s”, and drivers that block the intersection.

Family was important to Lisa, and she loved the idea of a large, multi-house compound where her entire extended family could live together.  Unfortunately her family didn’t share her vision, and would mumble something about “Branch Davidians” every time she brought it up. Because she valued time with her husband and children over any other commitments, a Friday night spent at home was cause for rejoicing and celebration. She took pleasure in being “not busy”, and she could proudly count on one hand the number of PTO meetings she attended.

She was also known as a hair-trigger crier. Weddings, baptisms, first communions, school plays, or that Johnson & Johnson commercial with the baby getting a bath in the sink could instantly turn her into a weeping mess.

Lisa considered life a gift, and wanted to live to be 106. Her great grandmother, the quintessential family matriarch, was a shining example of how she wanted to live her later years: with a cocktail her hand and a story to tell.

Despite her beginnings, she was a preppy girl at heart who came to believe Lilly Pulitzer should be canonized, knew “summer” could be used as a verb, and that a strand of pearls is a girl’s best friend. She prided herself in her ability to whip up an hors d’oeuvre in nine seconds flat if unexpected company was coming, thrived on the chaos of kids and dogs running through her house, and lived by the philosophy that everything is replaceable.

An introvert to her core, she was shy and nervous about approaching people to start a conversation. As a result she was often mistakenly thought of as snobbish or aloof.  What she wanted everyone to know is that the person standing in the corner alone often just needs a friendly greeting to bring them out of their shell, and that it’s often the quiet ones who will surprise you. Later in life, she often made it a point to go talk to the person in the room that was standing off by herself, and usually ended up meeting someone great.

So today, in honor of her, here’s what she would like you to do. Wear the shiniest red vinyl vest you can find. Have a cocktail and watch the sun set. Listen to some music with a three part harmony and an acoustic guitar. And extend a hand to someone who looks like they could use a friend. Because the most beautiful gems are sometimes hiding in plain sight.

Oh, and her family requests that in lieu of flowers, you vote for her blog, Notes from the Shallow End, posthumously on Blogger Idol. She would have wanted it that way.

Notes from the Shallow End

Lisa and the three most amazing children ever created.

And Away We Go

Blogger Idol


Voting  for Blogger Idol is now live. Please vote, and share this link with as many people as you can , because I won’t survive the week without your votes. Pretty please. By the way, did I mention I love your new haircut?

Blogger Idol


Blogger Idol

It’s here.

Today is the day. The day voting for Blogger Idol starts. The day I am going to have my work judged for the world to see. I’ll put the live link up at exactly 1:00 CST. Get ready.

This is no small feat for a person like me, who up until a few months ago wasn’t really even comfortable with telling people I had a blog, let alone putting myself out there for criticism. It was… a stealth blog. A double-secret blog.

Don’t get me wrong, I expected the internet trolls to sound off. Commenters, after all, can be the lowest form of life. No one listens to them anyway, though, and here’s a dirty little secret: behind the curtain in the blogging world we actually have a lot of fun with the trolls.

But I have stayed under the radar, in my safe little hidey hole, and really mostly associated to this point with other bloggers. Most of the people that comment on my blog are other bloggers, who by the way are the most supportive group of people on the planet. Does this give me a false sense of security, allowing me to frolic along, day after day, basking in positive comments and adoration? Abso-freakin’-lutely. But. There comes a point when you realize you can’t get anywhere by standing still. If you stay in the safety of your own backyard, all you’re going to see is… your own backyard.

So what did I do? I auditioned for Blogger Idol, to expand my horizons, blogging wise, and to sharpen my writing skills.  And I made the cut.

Did I mention that I don’t exactly have nerves of steel? My nerves are more of a wispy, cottony-fluff nature. Like dryer lint. I have nerves of dryer lint.

And now today, those nerves are being put to the test like never before. Help me be the Carrie Underwood of the blogging world, not one of those people they have to call security on because they’re trying to lick Mariah Carey.

Voting starts at exactly 12:00 CST, which for those of us on East Coast time means (let’s see… carry the 2, rationalize the denominator, blah blah, something something radicals…) 1:00 PM. For those of you in Hawaii, that will be 7:00 AM. “Waahh waahh, that’s too early!” you say? Hush. You live in Hawaii.  Suck it up. (And also send me your address and a plane ticket.)

(Shameless begging begins… NOW!)  Vote for me. Tell your friends to vote for me. Tell your grandma and her aqua-aerobics group to vote for me. If you don’t, that means the terrorists will have won, and the government might shut down or something. What’s that? Oh. Well, vote for me anyway, so I can stick around for another week.