Friday, August 28, 2015

How Going to the Dentist Reminded Me of Marriage

I went to the dentist yesterday.

The hygienist asked if I’d noticed any “issues” with my teeth.

I decided to admit that I’d had some pain in the lower gum area by my jaw teeth.

I was also quick to confess that Monte brought home 
a big bag of taffy and a few boxes of Bit o’ Honey 
and I’d been hitting both pretty hard.

He was so proud of his purchases, he sent me a picture from the store.

I was ecstatic.
It’s the little things, people.
Especially when the little things are sweet and sticky and chewy.

Back to the dentist chair…

The hygienist, who is the most cheerful, bubbly personality ever,

seriously, she could make Santa seem like a dry wit,

let me know that with my history of dental work, 
my days of sticky, chewy candy are over.

[Insert sad music here]

Then she told me stories of people pulling out their crowns with candy.

Some less fortunate ones swallowed their crowns,

sifted through their own waste to find their swallowed crown,

then brought the crown back into the dentist so it could be 

I’m pretty sure my jaw hit the floor when she told me that last part.

“Oh, we sterilize it before putting it back in.

She said.

Matter of factly.

Like digging in your own ka-ka for your tooth 
is something that can really ever be scrubbed clean
from your memory
or your soul.

I .

Luckily, everything was just fine and I had no cavities or permanent damage, just a slight pulling away of my gums from my cow-like chewing.


I called Monte on the way home to tell him of my new taffy and Bit O’ Honey-less diet.

I told him under no circumstances 
would I EVER 
put something in my mouth that came out of my behind.

I didn't care the cost!

He assured me that he’d spring for a new crown if such a need arose.

Good man.

You know, it’s this type of situation that needs to be brought up in premarital counseling.

Like flash cards presented to the betrothed:

Quick! If your wife pulls off her crown and swallows it 
with some salt water taffy do you:

A) Buy her a new crown, no hesitation?
B) Wait it out and see if the crown “turns up”?

Because knowing how frugal Monte was (and still is), 

before we were married, his stance could’ve easily leaned toward 
pushing me to pull on the kitchen gloves 
and dig for my lost crown to save several hundred dollars.

And I am here to tell you, 
this is KEY information a bride-to-be needs.


Along with:

Who will clean up the vomit when the kids are sick?

Who will plunge the toilets when things are shoved in it 
that don’t belong?

Who will pull the ball of hair out of the drain that is so big 
you will think it’s a mouse for just a second?

Who will empty the mouse traps?

Who will go see what the noise is downstairs at 4:00 am?

Who will tolerate being awakened in the middle of the night 

Who will call the fire department when there’s a 
strange noise coming from your fireplace?

Who won’t make the other feel bad when the 
strange noise was just her microphone toy?

I think I’m on to something here. 

Giving an engaged couple a flash card deck of “Who Will…?” questions BEFORE the I do’s are said will show them important sides of each other that they didn’t know existed.

But most definitely NEED to know exist.

That is unless you want to risk it and 19 years later
be forced to go through your own waste 
and literally become a “potty mouth”.

Just saying.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Taking a Breath

It’s been hard to keep to any sort of writing schedule these past few weeks.

We’ve had text book pick up days.

School pictures.

Journalism Camp.
(Yes, it’s a thing.)

Mentor training.



Checks to write.

In the midst of it, we took off for my parent’s house for a VERY ABBREVIATED (thanks to the above list) Camp Indiana.

Yesterday and today the girls started school.

McDaniel pointing and laughing at Ellie who had to start
school an entire day earlier than her.
We’ve been walking them to school since

Waiting to pick up Ellie from school.
I don’t know how the flag figured in but McDaniel
felt the need to wave it out of the sun roof until Ellie
got into the car.
 This morning, McDaniel started school.

Claire and McDaniel.
Neighbors and buddies since diapers.

Just a week ago, we were doing fun things like this at Camp Indiana:

McDaniel playing basketball at my old elementary school
with a corn field across the street.

Ellie not mowing the grass but just driving
the mower around. For fun.
The girls love going to the farmer’s market/petting zoo.

This year they added a 9-hole miniature golf course--right by the chickens.

McDaniel and Ellie posing by the miniature horse named Meg.
You can’t tell by this picture but she was having a bad hair day.

Noah the llama wouldn’t look at us. Seriously pouting about something.

I just realized that today is Nigel’s birthday.

He’s 8.

And terribly excited about it.

So I hope to get back to some sort of routine soon.

Today, I’m filling in the calendar with too many things,
taking a much needed deep breath
and enjoying a wonderfully quiet house 
all. by. myself.


Monday, August 10, 2015

15 Seconds of Fame

I’m going to interrupt my regularly scheduled Fripp Trip recap to bring you this fun little tidbit.

My husband, Monte, got mentioned on 
The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon!

He did!

He really, really did!

Let me explain.

Jimmy does this thing on Wednesdays where he tweets out on Twitter a hashtag to invite people to send in their best stories that correspond to that hashtag. Like, #mydadusedtosay or #worstdateever.

Jimmy reads the best tweets on the air.

Monte and I always talk about tweeting in something but ultimately we each forget to check what the hashtag is for that week and we rarely stay up late enough to watch The Tonight Show each night.

We just watch clips of it on You Tube.
Doesn’t everyone?

Well, Monte was sitting in a hotel room alone in Pittsburgh for business all last week and found out that the hashtag prompt for the week was #worstsummerjobs.

Monte instantly knew he was going to write about 
his job at Chuck E. Cheese.

He wasn’t even sure how to tweet something that included a hashtag.

But he did it.

Then he forgot about it.

He casually mentioned it to me when he got home on Thursday.

I read it, thought it was funny and forgot about it too.

We pushed the limits of our bedtime by watching the Republican debate.

When we did go to bed, we flipped on The Tonight Show but it was already into the interview portion of the show so we turned it off and fell asleep.

We both forgot that Jimmy would be reading 
the best tweets on Thursday night’s show.

The next day, Monte noticed at lunch that his Twitter account had all kinds of activity going on.

So he went to The Tonight Show website, found a clip of the #worstsummerjob responses that were read and 

what do you know,

Monte’s was the first one read!

It’s been fun to hear from people who actually watched Monte’s tweet being read thinking,

“Hey! I’ve heard that story before.

The very next night, the girls were teasing Monte about not being cool when Monte replied,

“Jimmy thinks I’m funny!”

Then I heard him at church tell someone,

“Karmen’s the writer in the family, 
but Jimmy read my tweet on television."

That’s when I realized that Monte is going 
to ride this horse until it dies.

And then maybe a little bit more after that.

Friday, August 07, 2015

More of our Fripp Trip

On the Monday of our vacation, Ellie turned 13.

We celebrated her 1st birthday at Fripp (I remember seeing a double rainbow that year from our balcony)

so it seemed so fitting that we usher in 
her teenage years at Fripp too.

We’ve celebrated more of Ellie’s birthdays 
on that island than not.

We always decorate whatever beach house we are in after she’s gone to bed so she’s surprised on the morning of her birthday.

My brother thought the pearlized color of the
gum balls looked like mermaid eggs.
 There were chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast.

Monte decided at the last minute to buy Ellie a selfie stick.

It ended up being the hit of the week.

Mimi and the girls.

Gramp and Monte.

The dunes on the beach are protected and wild in parts.

We went on a walk one night and this deer kept following us.

I am not much of a baker. So when Ellie mentioned wanting cookie cups for ice cream instead of a traditional birthday cake, I felt up for the challenge.

I had to throw away the first batch because Pinterest said to put the dough on the UNDERSIDE of a muffin tin to form them into bowls.

Didn’t work.
Pinterest FAIL.

Not sure if that had to do with 
the gluten-free cookie mix 
I bought by mistake.

Putting the dough in the bottom and sides of the muffin tin (like a pie crust) worked much better!

Ellie’s creation. Isn’t it beautiful?

I forgot birthday candles so my dad came up with a solution.

 Ellie not sure how this is going to play out while we sang to her.

My brother, Kwin, my mom, me and the girls with our cookie bowls.

McDaniel “hammocks” now. It’s what she does with her friends all around town. They go to a park and set up their hammocks and literally “hang out”. 

While I don’t get “hammocking” in a gazebo in Ohio, I truly do get “hammocking” between two palm trees while vacationing at the beach. 

I’m pretty sure that’s how God 
and the makers of hammocks 
intended it to be.

McDaniel, Ellie and my dad have taken a picture on this gator statue since they’ve been old enough to climb up on it.

This is what McDaniel and I thought of Sharknado 3.

I love this picture of the girls, although it’s dark. It’s on one of Fripp’s golf courses that we sneak onto at dusk to peak at one of our favorite spots.


It’s a fuzzy picture but these trees house numerous egrets. They make the most interesting sound. 

I have to come here every year. It’s one of my happy spots. I have many happy spots on Fripp.

Dad and Monte before their morning walk on the beach.

This is a marsh view. It smells amazing. The pluff mud has a distinct smell.  I roll my windows down to breathe it in when we drive onto the island for the first time each trip. 

It’s the smell of relaxation. 

Put that on a t-shirt.

Ellie wasn’t as excited to pose by the pirate in the food court this year. She used to LOVE it.

Nan taking a shot in the park.
In flip flops.

Stay tuned to hear about the baby turtles we saw on the beach.


Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Fripp Trip

We got back from the beach over a week ago but had to hit the ground running with our lives so I’ve had precious little time or energy to post anything.

My dear sweet sister-in-law, Gretchen, texted me that enough was enough and it was time to blog again.

Since I received her text while Monte and I were singing our karaoke best of
Prince’s “Raspberry Beret” I couldn’t argue. 

Or was it “Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia?

Doesn’t matter, 
we totally nailed both songs.

But Gretchen had a point.

Time to get back to it.

She even gave me the topic:  vacation.

Can you tell she’s a teacher?

We really felt like we left an entirely different weather season for awesome summer temperatures and sunshine once we left the state of Ohio.

It was just the pick-me-up we all needed to start to air out our stinky moldy souls.

On our drive to the beach we made many stops at those truck stop/fast food/convenient store/mall plazas. They are Monte’s favorite.

The girls and I walked out of the bathroom of one such place to this:

I almost didn’t recognize Monte.

 The girls did immediately.

Ellie started to walk right back into the bathroom.

Which was not a great environment 
if memory properly serves.

I must have shook my head at Monte because a guy who’s name HAD to be Bubba, walked by and said,

“Don’t you worry about it, buy it anyway. 
In fact, buy two and give me one!”

 His fist may have been raised as he
 walked into the men’s restroom.

Monte felt empowered to do just that until he saw the jacket was $69.

So it has now been determined that Monte is more thrifty than he is tacky.

Thank you, Lord.

Later that evening we stopped at our favorite southern chicken restaurant, Zaxby’s.


Monte felt we hadn’t made good enough time on the road, so he announced that we would be eating our food in the car.

The girls and I always get the house salad with grilled chicken.

It sounds boring but I assure you it is not. 
The crunchy fried onions take it to a whole new salad level.

I asked the lady taking our order if the vinaigrette they served was raspberry and she said it was not.

I found out in the car once we were back on the road 
that she was mistaken.

It was very much a raspberry vinaigrette, 
which I very much do not like.

I placed the open dressing packet back into the bag as neatly as I could.

On stop 1,473, Monte dropped us off at the front of a very crowded gas station so we could unload all our dinner/snack trash wrappers.

Ellie got stuck with the paper sack that contained my now leaking raspberry vinaigrette packet.

As she walked around the front of the car, the bottom of the paper sack gave way, soaking the front of her shorts and legs with salad dressing.

A full unused packet of dressing fell on the ground next to the car.

I was laughing at Ellie’s mess as McDaniel and I 
shoved our stuff into a full trash can.

I started to walk over to pick up the fallen dressing when a woman walked up and said, in a less than grace-filled voice, that my daughter was a mess and I needed to clean her up.

I was going to kindly ask her what possible business it was of hers,

but I was laughing too hard.

Just then, Monte drove off slowly, running over the dropped salad dressing packet causing it to projectile explode like a gun shot.

Sounded like it too.

A LOT like it.

I screamed when I saw it about to happen thinking I could get him to stop.

Monte thought he ran over a kid 
or there had been a drive-by 
and slammed on the brakes.

The snarky lady just kept on walking, not at all grateful she narrowly missed smelling like raspberry vinaigrette for the rest of the evening.

The girls and I collapsed over the trash can in laughter.

Then we went to clean up Ellie which involved strategic positioning of the hand dryers in the bathroom on her shorts.

There was a limit to what we could do in a gas station bathroom so she remained sticky and smelling like raspberry the rest of the night.

We always stop in Beaufort, South Carolina for lunch and shopping before getting a week’s worth of groceries and pulling onto Fripp Island.

It’s 18 miles to the nearest grocery store from Fripp. We have it down to a science how to buy for the 7-10 people that usually go on our Fripp trips.

This year, Monte decided that he needed a holder to fit onto his prescription sunglasses so he could wear them around his neck until he needed them.

Translation:  a necklace so he wouldn’t lose his sunglasses.

He looked all over the stores of Beaufort and only found one purple sunglasses holder. Thus, cementing to all of us that he was indeed looking for a necklace.

He found one at the grocery store.


They were inseparable at the beach and on the way home.

Since I haven’t really even gotten to our vacation yet, I will break this up into a few posts.

It will be worth it, I promise.

I have an entire post brewing in my head 
about the baby turtles we saw.

To be continued…

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Our Moldy Souls

The title pretty much sums up our last week.

Except you know it doesn’t.

There are more details 
and background 
and possibly a few pictures.

It has rained A LOT this summer.

Like, so much that my soul is starting to mold.

I just heard that out of the past 30 days, 28 had measurable rain.

28 days of rain, people!

And that does very little in the way 
of motivation for me.

For anything.

Like sometimes being patient.

Or kind.

On the bright side, our patio got finished! 

And we did a quick DIY project with these poles and lights over the 4th of July weekend.

Just waiting on the rain to stop long enough
for grass to be planted and some landscaping done.

Patio on the 4th of July.

Patio today.

McDaniel and Ellie went camping with their bible study group last week.

One of the moms has a camper and brave spirit and invited a slew of girls into the woods.

In the rain. 

God love her.

On the day they were to leave, Monte had scheduled an appointment with the cable company to fix our extremely spotty and sluggish wifi. 

Since I would know nothing more to say to them except,

“Make it go faster!”

Monte decided to come home to discuss speeds 
and routers and things that put me into a coma.

For whatever reason, I decided to take a bath that morning.

I walked out of the bathroom to the girls hollering for me to come downstairs.

Knowing that the cable guys were getting ready to ring the door bell any second and I was in my robe, I declined.

They kept hollering things up to me like,

“It’s bad!

It’s really bad!

So I went downstairs to see what was so bad.

Water was pouring out of the recessed light fixture dangerously close to the piano.

And dripping from other spots in the ceiling as well.

The ceiling that was just painted, 
in part, 
during our renovation project.

It was bad!

I called Monte and we decided that the plumbing service we had just called the week before to unclog our drains (I know, AGAIN!) may have broken something or left something loose.

Monte decided to call our beloved builder Paul and ask his thoughts.
(He was on vacation the week before which is why I didn’t call him originally.)

Two seconds after the cable guys showed up, 
Paul and Jay showed up.

We had a house full of help.

After just a few seconds looking at our pipes, Jay asked if the plumber who had been here before was a "big guy."

And not in the muscular way.

He was.

He said his arms were too “big" to fit into the tiny space and tighten the pipes fully after working on them.


**Our daily showers weren’t enough pressure to cause a leak, 
but the rush of water draining from a full bath tub was.

In case you were wondering.

Luckily, it was an easy peasy fix for slender, in-shape Jay. 

The next day I happened to get a follow up email from the original plumbing service to write a review of my plumber.

I toyed with the idea of saying something like,

“Nice guy, but his love of pie almost ruined 
my newly painted ceilings!” 

But I was afraid that was just my rain-soaked, 
moldy soul talking.

So I deleted the email.

Monte and I had big plans to go out to eat, go see a movie and possibly walk around the city while the girls were camping.

But it rained.

No, it didn’t just rain. 

Water was unleashed from the sky.

Bucket and buckets of water.

So we decided to get take-out and order a movie from Apple TV.

Except our wifi wasn’t working.

Yes, the very same wifi that two people were here over an hour “fixing”.

Monte drove his VERY moldy soul right to the cable company office building.

He texted me that he was 18th in line.


The good news is, he isn’t still waiting in line, 
we have a new server 
and our wifi seems to have perked up considerably.

And no one at the cable company had to die.

Our next night with no girls at home, it rained harder.

No, seriously.

So we cooked seafood at home and brought out all the equipment we have accumulated 
through the years to eat seafood but rarely get to use because not so many people in the 
Midwest actually like seafood.

Sometimes it’s fun to use a lot of tools on your food.

It was lovely.

And we went to bed at 9:38 like we were the parents of newborns.

It was glorious.

Nigel went to the groomer on Friday.

I noticed as I was paying,

a higher price because they charged me a “detangling” fee (?!)

that Nigel kept pawing at his eye.

I thought maybe he didn’t like the way he smelled.

He often sneezes 47 times after being groomed and chews at his bandanna until we take it off.

We were having dinner guests so I busied myself cooking while the girls noticed just how squinty and red Nigel’s eye was getting.

Ellie had a friend spend the night and as I was making them pancakes for breakfast the next morning, Monte was texting from the very crowded vet office that a cat had just swatted and barely missed Nigel’s hurt eye.

And also caused Monte to wheeze, 
develop a headache 
and cement his theory that all cats are evil.

The vet said the irritated eye was either an allergic reaction to the shampoo the groomer used or a scratch from loose hair.

We got some antibiotic drops and a large bill.

I felt like slapping an eye patch on Nigel, loading him up in the car, going back to the groomer and demanding AT LEAST the detangling fee back as restitution. 

But that was definitely my moldy soul talking.

Later that night, 

McDaniel came home from a babysitting job looking like this:

She did not go to the babysitting job looking like that.

The 4th grade little girl she was babysitting watched a bunch of You Tube make up videos and decided that McDaniel would make a great guinea pig.

The little girl said to McDaniel,

“This is a casual dramatic look.”

I’m not sure about you, but I’m not seeing 
the casualness of this look.

She also said, 

“Please tell me you are going to party after this!”

Not over my dead body 
looking like that!

McDaniel feared getting pulled over by the police on the way home and having to look the cop in the eye with her overly made up face and nervously assure him that it was ok because, 

“A 4th grade girl did it." 

On Sunday, a friend of mine and her daughter visited our church.

We all went to lunch together afterwards.

As Monte was talking over one of the sermon points with my friend,

I noticed something looked different about one arm of his long-sleeve dress shirt than the other.

It was ripped.

I pointed out the rip to Monte and without remembering who I was talking to for a second, 

I told him not to rip the shirt any further.

Three seconds later and to the TOTAL SHOCK AND HORROR of our daughters, our friends and the people sitting close to us at Panera,

Monte had managed to rip his entire sleeve mostly off.

It was an Incredible Hulk moment with a Larry the Cable Guy result.

At least on one side.

That man.

My friend and I chatted as we headed to the door to leave.

She stopped what she was saying and burst out laughing.

There was Monte, by the outdoor patio WHERE OTHER PANERA CUSTOMERS WERE EATING, wearing nothing but his undershirt.

I guess we missed him not bother with unbuttoning 
and just rip off the rest of his shirt and toss it into the trash can.

I blame his moldy soul.