Friday, June 29, 2007

He can't wait

My kid just called. He'll be home a month from today, if all goes well, for a 2-week furlough.

What does he want to do while he's home? I asked him. His answer:

"Roll around in the grass."

Excuse me, while I go water my lawn.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Not-so-secret double life

Boy, that Toys for Troops has been taking up my time in a wonderful way lately. I've so much to tell, and have redirected the telling to a new blog. It was previously on Wordpress, but I didn't have time to learn no steenking wordpress.

So, from, the blog button will now link to

All of the comings and goings will be reported there, from here on out. G'won over and look at the first "Story of the Day." Then subscribe, there's going to be a lot of good stories there. Chicken soup for the beanie baby, and all that jazz.

And now I'll see if I can carry on a double life, keeping the TFT blog separate from my own personal blog. Doubtful, but it'll be tidier this way.

Therefore, my "This Just In" post for today starts HERE. Right there, I mean, on the next line. Down.


I recently signed up at, because I have an extra 3 minutes a week on my hands that I just didn't know what to do with.

If you liked playing that "Minute in Time" photo game, you might like this one. Each week the site sends you a "theme" and you have to run about and take a photo that represents that theme.

This week the them is Noun: rain. And here's my submission:

If you're looking for a creative kick in the pants, this is one easy outlet, and it's fun to see what others come up with. Come play with me, a'ight?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I Hear Things

You all know things have been crazy-exciting around here lately. It's Beanie Bonanza, and I could tell you a story a day for the next year, wrought from the last 2 weeks alone. I'm taking notes.

But the rest of life does not come to a screeching halt, does it? There's still an enormous amount of stuff going on in the wings of my life. My sister remains hospitalized. My mother requires extra care. And my son...

My son drives up and down roads, all day long, and he tosses beanies to Iraqi children. That's his job.

That's the story I get.

It is, kiddies, rated "M," for "Mom."

But THIS Mom knows about MySpace. THIS Mom still drops in on her son's friends in their workplaces. THIS Mom has their phone numbers in her contact list, from 5 years ago, when they were all just acquiring their drivers licenses.

THIS Mom is tuned in.

She hears...THINGS. And THIS Mom will put you up against a wall, and demand of you, "what is he not telling me?"


I am a Soldier's Mother.

He does not want me to know.

But I understand.

I pick up my own mother, for dinner. She asks me, "How is Brian?"

And I look my Mother in the eyes, and I say,

"He's fine, Mom. He's handing out Beanie Babies."

Monday, June 25, 2007


Taste is over, and I can finally get back to the computer. Dozens (if not hundreds) of e-mails to respond to. Names and Numbers to sort out. Photos to manipulate. Thank you notes to write. Website and blogs to update.

The laptop crashed again.

How inconvenient.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Taste of CU

Rained out by 5:00, but a successful, if short day. Hundreds of beanies rolled in.

For more photos,

Story to come. I have to go dry my hair now

Friday, June 22, 2007

3rd International Blog Nekkid Day (if you believe everything you hear)

A former coworker once sidled up behind me in my cubicle and whispered, "I was sleepy, so I just went into the bathroom and took all of my clothes off, then put them back on."

Amy. I was just thinking about funny Amy, when I got a notice from Matt, reminding me that Today is 3rd International Blog Nekkid Day. I'm sure he wouldn't make that up.

In light of all that, I took off all my clothes, wrote this blog, then put them back on.

Don't believe me?

Nyeh! Toldja!

Of course I've protected my own identity! You never know what might happen if this gets circulated on the internet. There are a lot of crazies out there.

A girl can never be too careful.

Taste & Toys

The Toys-for-Troops troops will be at Taste of CU in Westside Park, tonight, and through the weekend. Come out and see us, ok?


Alright then.

You can win $100 if you guess how many beanies are stuffed into the back of the Dean's Blueprints Scion.

You can write a note to a soldier.

You can drop off beanies.

You can get a free hug.

And, Flickr's up! Only a few so far, but we're building, building!

Thursday, June 21, 2007


This guy zoomed past me on Windsor Road yesterday, ears flapping in the wind.

And look at the back of his little carry thingy:


These things look hilaaaaaarious on the road, I had quite a giggle over them. When I got home, I googled "motorcycle helmet ears." Inquiring minds, eh? I found, in which you can buy any number of suction-cup ears to stick to your helmet. They'll stay on up to speeds of 175 mph.


Woof's got a birthday coming up....

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Beanie Babirazzi

The fallout from the TV spot has been amazing. You would not believe the number of phone calls I've received!


Ok, it's 1.

Actually, the call went to Michelle, but hey! the caller asked for me!

Michelle kindly took a message, and fielded it to me.

That's right. Only I can answer the question the caller wanted to know. All Important Me.

The question?

Where do I get my hair cut?


P.S. has been beautifully updated by the kind folks at Areawide Technologies, in Champaign. Go check out what they did for me, out of the kindness of their hearts.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

It is 4 days later...

Since I wrote last, my mug has been plastered across the front page of our local newspaper:

I've answered 100 or so emails. Again, if you haven't heard from me, you will. I'm a bit bottle-necked on the emails.

And I went camping for the weekend. I haven't been camping for about 20 years, but Jeff loaned me his laptop with Aircard, so that I could still be connected to civilization, and I went out, as planned.

This morning found me lounging around in a folding chair, with dusty feet and yesterday's same old sweaty shorts. No makeup, of course, and having no hair dryer or curling iron for the weekend, looking pretty much like this:

Only with glasses. And, I'll just say it, no bra. I mean, I was L-O-U-N-G-I-N-G-G-G-G.

It was a PERFECT time, then, to get a phone call from Jeff, informing me that WCIA Channel 3 wanted to interview us, early in the afternoon.

I had 2 hours to get back in to town and no time to stop at home. I had a touch of makeup in my bag, and the best outfit I could scrap together from my backpack. I left town like a bat out of hell, screeched into a Walmart, grabbed an eyeliner pencil and a curling iron, and darted to my Mom's house, to take the world's fastest shower. There are no electrical outlets in my mom's bathroom, so I did my hair in the living room, (no mirror), and we raced back out the door, to tv land at Jeff and Michelle's house.

How exciting! A real, live TV announcer, and a real live camera man!

For the record, I have run from such scenes my entire life. Crews on the streets have asked me "do you mind if we ask you a few questions?" GAH! NO! Run, run, run.

I got cotton mouth the minute I figured out that I'd really have to talk. Dustin and Emily ran for gum for me to gnaw on till interview time. But I did it. I don't know what I said. I didn't feel particularly articulate, and, at the end, when the Matt asked me "How does it feel to be doing something for your son in Iraq?," my answer caught in my throat and I teared up. If I could do it over, I'd say,

"It feels good to do anything."

Jeff had his turn, I think he was more comfortable in the bright lights than I was.

And while Emily preferred not to talk, Dustin did a great job, and I got all choked up all over again. God. Don't you wish Brian could see this?!!

After the crew left, we went outside and spilled out 600 beanies that Jeff picked up from one donor in Ogden, just to sort through them a bit. We read through the names, and laughed at a lot of them. Here's Emily, Michelle, and Dustin, doing some sorting:

And we hooted and hollered when Jeff matched these two up:

This one's for you Brian!

In summary,
  • This is really taking off. You have stepped up to the plate in more and bigger ways than I ever expected.
  • A microphone in your face does not relax you.
  • Never, EVER go anywhere without your makeup.

P.S. The website has been taken over by professionals, and should be up tomorrow afternoon, sometime. Can't you just hardly wait?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I don't know where to begin

I am, tonight, at a loss for words. I am flabberdy-floored. Dumb-jawed. Hyper-ventil-awed.

Today, you have made me smile until my cheeks hurt. Laugh. Shake. Weep.

I am getting around to responding to over 100 of your e-mails. If you haven't heard from me yet, keep checking. You will. I just want to take a minute to tell you what you've done today.
  • I have appointments to pick up beanies.
  • I'm making appointments to deliver boxes.
  • I'm cheesing it up with a reporter and a photographer, at 2 p.m. tomorrow afternoon.
  • I've mailed names.
  • I've received names.
  • 2 radio stations have highlighted the project.
  • I'm still counting the bloggers that have, as Fightin' Mad Mary puts it, "Paid it Forward." I'm making a list.
  • I've received heart-stopping letters from a couple soldiers. I will share these if I get permission.
  • 2 coworkers have appointed themselves Local Donation Box Ambassadors, and baby, I'm going to let them have at it.
  • We are linked up to colleges, universities, hospitals, police departments, fire departments, and more. I'm sorry if I forgot you.

Thank you.

Just thank you.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Toys-For-Troops (dot)com

(If you don't have time to muck through this, quickly, quickly, skip to the end. I implore you!)

I have more Beanie Baby updates for you all. This really has been one exciting, albeit inadvertent, endeavor. I confess that I was a little nervous there, at the numbers of beanies that were being shipped over to my kiddo. I hadn't heard, until a few days ago, that Brian and his buddies were able to handle the volume of your oh-so-generous contributions.

There have been a few days when I've felt like an absolute lunatic for shipping boxes and boxes of beanie babies over. I've found myself thinking, "What am I DOING? Those guys are over there, working, and fighting, and they're dirty, and exhausted, and I'm sending stuffed toys? Those boys must think I've taken absolute leave of my senses; I am surely "The Crazy Mom."

But now I know.

I know, now, that though we might not be stopping the insanity, we are putting a smile on more than a few faces. Children are laughing because of us. Soldiers are looking for your packages. They WANT your boxes and beanies on THEIR trucks. There ARE dusty, sweaty, exhausted boys over there, that are having a bit of fun and a laugh.

Because of you.

All the way over there, on the other side of the world. You are touching our American boys, and their Iraqi children and parents.

If world leaders can't come to terms, at least we can, as mere citizens, shake one another's hands, hand a few toys to their kids, and put smiles on their faces. If that's not one step toward world peace, I don't know what is.

It is what we can do.

And NOW, without further adieu, I present you the half-baked, incomplete, under-construction, I-have-no-idea-what-I'm-doing website:

Yes, it's come to all that. It is TIME to raise the roof and GET THIS PARTY STARTED.


Blog this. Send the link to everyone you know, and ask them to send it to everyone THEY know.
I swear. I'll fix you spaghetti, too, if you do.

—My heart.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

City Mouse

On Sunday afternoon's stroll to the coffee shop, Mom and I happened across a young girl taping a sign to the wall, while her mother waited. You know I have to check these things out:

Click to enlarge, and you'll see the sign asks you not to step on a baby mouse. Sure enough, there was a tiny little thing no larger than a cherry tomato tucked into the corner. C'mon, even if you're afraid of mice, you had to rally for this little cutie:

I've since discovered that the little girl's name was Isabella. While I took pictures, I told her mother that I'd e-mail the photos to her for a little souvenir of her life saving efforts. While Mama ran for a business card, Isabella gave her mouse a little rub on the head.

We thought the fun was over at that point, and Mom and I took our leave. When we strolled back by, though, there was a crowd. People were absolutely delighted with the mouse and the sign.

This little one offered up a bite of cookie:

Mom and I milled about for about 20 minutes, finishing our drinks and watching the crowd wane and grow again, everyone cooing and smiling. I couldn't help but wonder about how one very observant and very caring little girl managed to put a smile on what would had to have been more than 100 faces that afternoon.

I e-mailed the photos to her mother, and got back a thankful email the next day. It read, in part,
I am grateful that you were there with your camera, now she will know that what she did mattered. God always puts angels in our lives, I believe sometimes we are just too busy to notice.
Funny. I had been thinking the same thing.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Want Some Spaghetti?

Who Are These Guys?

I have no idea.

Does that stop me from loving them?

No, mon.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

You Had to Be There

I had a moment of hysterical laughter last week, when Mom and I went to see my sister in St. Louis. I'm sure it was partly due to stress and exhaustion, but I couldn't get a grip on my laughter.

At day's end, Mom and I went 4 flights down the elevator, across a walk-way, down an escalator, and down another escalator into the parking garage. As we got back to our car, Mom said "I think I should pee before we leave."

Ok. Back up the escalators, across the walk way, into the main lobby, whereupon mom missed the last step in a small stairway. I turned to see her stumble along, grasp the rail, and recover her footing, without falling. I grabbed her arm, and said "are you all right?!!" "Yes," she said, very seriously.

And then, "I have to carry my purse in front of me now though, because that made me pee a little."

It was her matter-of-fact tone that did me in; I started laughing, and I could not stop. I laughed all the way down the hall, sent Mom into ladies room, stood outside laughing, and was still laughing when Mom re-emerged. She began laughing, then, too, and while we were buckled over, trying to catch our breath, she said "What are we laughing about?"


Several years ago, my friend Shy Smiley and I walked from downtown to Kamakura restaurant, after sharing a few beverages at the Esquire. When we got to the parking lot, SS ran into some friends she knew, who in turn, introduced her to someone else. There was a bit of confusion over his name though, one of those "you can call me John, or Jack, but not Johnathon" scenes. SS popped off, "but just don't call me late for dinner, eh?"

Why that undid me, I will never know. I'd never heard anyone say that before, and I thought she'd taken leave of her senses. Turned out it was me who'd lost my mind. I exploded with laughter on the spot, and once again, couldn't stop. Smiley accompanied me on into the restaurant, and then ushered me into the foyer, where we laughed off every bit of mascara we had on, before composing ourselves for dinner.


I know you're all sitting there with a blank stare on your face. But I also know you've had your own "had to be there" moments.

And I want to hear them. Tell me, about your funeral giggles, your inappropriate laughter, your complete hysteria.

I'm sure I'll think it's funny.

Or, I'll think you're nuts.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


I've got a lot to tell, and little time to tell it. In the meantime, friends, don't forget about our "Great American Photo Campaign," essentially a call for photos and messages for my kid and his buddies. There are some rolling in, I've started an album at Walgreens. I've gotten a few e-mails with messages addressed to Brian, and have printed them out and put them in the box; your photos will be attached to your message.

Brian's other mom, Michelle, has signed on to help me with this, she is collecting the same from their friends and family. I have to throw out there that I feel blessed on so many levels that we are friends. She has cared for, disciplined, fought with, fought for, and loved Brian since the day she walked into his life. The term "stepmom" is too cold and detached for what she is in his life, and in mine. She is his other Mom, and that is that.

I digress. Michelle and I are gathering pictures and cards, letters, or emails for the GAPC.

We'd love to stuff that box, and are waiting for yours. Send me an email or a photo or both to, and I'll make sure you're included. There will be a slideshow later. Here are a few that will be in his box:

Mary Poppins & Miss C, from Puerto Rico, baby!

Nephew Dane, tackling friend Chris, on Christmas day, at Grandma's house

Friend Sarah, taking a spin in Walmart

Monday, June 04, 2007

A Minute in the Life

I know, I know my blog entries are going to be hopping around like crazy these days. One minute laughing, another crying, and next moving forward. It's merely what my life IS right now: one precarious day after another. Hey, I told you back in March that it was time for you to hold my hand. Thanks for the tight squeeeeeezez you've been throwing my way.

Above is my "Simultaneous Photo Project" photo. Taken at Red Roof Inn in St. Louis on Saturday afternoon, where I met my sister's hubby and kids, along with a few other family members, before we convoyed over to the hospital to sit with her for a day.

We had fun with this project. I was determined to take as many photos as I could in 1 minute. I had the cell phone alarm set, and, waiting in the hotel room, had 2 cameras on me. My niece was also ready with hers.


A pic of the family all sitting around the hotel room, eating the food I'd cooked and brought in a cooler. CLICK! Out the door, to the balcony to take a photo of construction across the street, with stormy skies in the background. CLICK! Raced down the stairs and grabbed a picture of the housekeeping kart, CLICK! and TIME! My nephew called TIME. One minute was up. I had three to choose from.


My freakin' pants fell down when I ran down the stairs and out into the parking lot for that photo. While I was racing around like an idiot, my niece calmly stepped outside, and caught a photo of me, camera in one hand, trying to hike up my drawers with the other. I'm not saying nothin' about nothin' but those pants took my underwear down with them. If I had a more Cindy Crawford-esque physique, I met have let Brandi use the photo for HER Simultaneous Photo Project Photo. As it is, I talked her into deleting the photo.

Thank God.

Can you imagine what would have happened if that had fallen into the hands of my Brother-in-law? Holy shit.

Have you ever seen my Brother-in-law, by the way?

Tonight's Bedtime Prayer follows:
Our Father in Heaven,

Please let that photo REALLY be deleted off of Brandi's camera.


I got an e-mail from Brian this morning. It read, in part:
hey! the phones aren't working right now so i thought that id drop you a line.[...] things here are good. something different everyday. the kids love the beanies. we go through however many you guys send in about one missions time. Other trucks in the convoy ask for them too so that they can throw them out.
I was so relieved to hear from him. I'd missed his last phone call, and have been missing him like crazy. We have, in this community, been rattled by the death of another one of ours, last Thursday. PFC Robert A. Liggett, age 23, graduated with in the same class with Brian, at Fort Leonard Wood, last July.

His dad, Jeff, Stepmom, Michelle, and I have been sickened with this news all weekend. As is the rest of the community. My e-mail back to Brian this morning, read, in part:
Well, hon, I'm home this morning, going soon to attend the homecoming procession of a fallen soldier from Urbana. Your dad is one of the escorts, and is going to call me when they leave the airport. It's so difficult to hear of these things; knocks us off our ass for a day or so, then we get back up and go help out. Your being a soldier is one of the most profound things that has ever "happened to me." I feel fiercely patriotic, and proud of anyone that has ever served our country, in a way I never understood before. I see guys in fatigues, and it takes all I have not to just go up and hug 'em. Hell, sometimes I do! I feel like they're all my son, all your brother...and I just wanna...fix 'em all spaghetti or something.

So anyway, we love you tons, and I'm glad to hear from you. I'm at Aunt Dee's right now, we're going to leave for the procession in a few minutes. She sends her love!

And I signed off, and Diane and I grabbed her flag off the side of her house, and went downtown to wait.

And I don't know what else to say right now.

My head hurts.

My heart, too.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Another...1 a.m. in Paradise

Good Morning, Friends. I *did* take my Minute photo today, but the laptop is in computer ICU right now (waiting for a new fan), and the desktop doesn't, at this time, do anything but give me internet access. That is, I can't open Photoshop. It is slated for the Computer Physician next.

Geez, my computers are like pets that I have to keep taking to the vet, to get shots, and ridden of viruses and such.

Speaking of pets (note smooth segue here), my little Minxy got out of the house Friday night, while I was grilling chicken. She'd been content, an indoor cat, until spring arrived. Now she does whatever she can possibly think of to get past me. She's most effective as "BulletCat", flying past me at the speed of light as I open the door to bring in groceries.

Friday night, she held back while I worked outside, waiting until my hands were full of a tray of hot chicken, and tongs and other grilling accessories. Barely able to turn the doorknob, she knew I 'd never catch her and drag her fuzzy butt back into the house. She was out of there like a shot.

...and back under my bedroom window, mewling, at 1:00 a.m. Tempted as I was to leave her out, I still trudged out of bed, and through the dark house, sans glasses or contact lenses to let her in. I called for her once, and she did not come in. It's pitch black out there, and I can't see 2 inches in front of my face without corrective lenses, and so could not tell if she planned on coming in or not. But finally, she flew past me back into the house.

Happy she was to be here, she ran right in and grabbed her favorite beanie baby, and began tossing it around the living room.

She loves those beanie babies. She has no idea we're collecting them for Iraqi children; she actually thinks that each and every one of them are hers, and she drags them out of the box and around the house constantly.

God, she was happy to be back in the house, with her beanie baby. Tackling and tossing the thing high into the air, and pouncing and throwing it.

Though she loves those toys, I'd never seen her *quite* so excited about them; she must have been cold and bored out there, in the back yard, eh?

And, I wondered, which beanie baby is that she's so darned fond of right now? Seriously. She's having a blast.

I flipped the light on for a second, but couldn't see without my glasses. Well, forget it, who cares? Oh, fine, I'll get my glasses and check it out. I padded back to the nightstand, grabbed my specs, and then back out the living room, where I flipped the light back on again.


My entire living room was covered with feathers.

My entire living room was covered with feathers, and Minx was still gleefully tossing a bird into the air, catching it, sommersaulting over the carpet, shaking it in her mouth, running away from it, and pouncing on it again, creating more flying feathers.

As I recall, my screaming commenced immediately.

I set about screeching and simultaneously chasing and running away from the cat, not knowing if the bird was yet dead, and if it would flap around and peck me to death.

Luckily, I guess, the poor little thing was el-dead-o. I had only to put 85 grocery sacks on my hands, and pick the thing up and dispose of it. One of those rare moments when I think "Aurgh, my kingdom for a husband that I could awaken to take care of this chore because I am entirely too Prim and Princessy."

You know, you have ideas about what you think your life is going to be like when you enter certain stages. No kids in the house! A little transition, a wide-open road, the entire world a possible new adventure!

Those things are true, for me, I guess.

I just never had any idea that my empty nest would actually contain real, albeit dead, birds, and a vacuum sweeper full of feathers.

This ride is never boring.

Friday, June 01, 2007

A Minute in the Life

Check out this project, and play along, will you? MWP has a fantastic experiment in mind: Can we all take a photo at the very same minute and send him a copy?

A photo between 2:00 and 2:01, Eastern time, tomorrow, June 2. That will be 1:00-1:01 for us CU folks (you don't have to be a blogger to do this!). Check your time zone and click-it!

For the full deal, check out:

A Minute in the Life

I'm excited to see how this turns out. If you're going to play, tell your friends too.