Monday, March 12, 2012

It's Really Going to Happen, So Am I Excited?

After 18 months of silence from me on this blog, I'm sure some of you figured I'd just lost my focus and fizzled out on my plan to coupon to Italy.  I don't blame you.  That could have so easily happened, but I'm happy to say that it didn't. 

I have couponed my guts out and saved a ton more money than we need for this trip. 

We are really going to Italy!

Suffice it to say we are leaving very soon for a 16-day trip to Italy which will also include a couple of days in Paris as well.  It's really going to happen! 

Several people have asked me if I'm excited.  I'm having trouble with that word right now for some reason.  I can't quite wear it yet, and I find that situation quite fascinating.  Perhaps it has something to do with the following:

First of all, our dear friend, BH, has planned every second of this trip and has done a spectacular job of sorting through the maze of possiblities.  I can only imagine the hours he has put into those plans.  We have had regular bi-weekly meetings since the first of the year discussing each city and the wonders they hold.  MH has provided wonderful art lessons and we have had numerous discussions about the ins and outs of traveling. 

It is at these meetings I feel faint puffs of excitement, but not the all out excitement one would expect. 

My husband, on the other hand, needs to calm down.

In our near 30 years of marriage I have never seen this man as pumped up as he is for this trip. 

He is a stranger to me. 

So here is the deal...I'm gonna tell you what I think is the problem.  However, I have to contrast this with my husband's reaction to each of these things. 


I have had a few nightmares that I get BH off track on his well-planned itinerary.  In those dreams, I've pretty much been totally uncooperative and late to every single activity that was planned.  Along with that, I am always lost.  I can never keep up with my husband.  For some reason he is always on a train and I am somewhere wandering the streets wondering where my tour guide BH is and how ticked off he is at me at that very moment.  I am certain now that my happiness and enjoyment on this trip is no longer his concern.

So has my husband had any such slumberous concerns? 


Not even awake ones for that matter. 


Everytime we have one of our little meetings he is scoping the pictures for something he can CLIMB. 

Oh, puh-leese! 

He scans every tall building for a hidden tower, and he is determined to go to the TOP of the swaying Eiffel Tower.  I, on the other hand, will be perfectly content with the middle level.

Just last night he said, "I don't remember hearing anything about the Spanish Steps.  Is that on the itinerary?" 

No wonder I have anxiety about keeping up on this trip.  I'm traveling with Tigger.


I have abnormal thoughts about someone taking all our stuff and leaving us stranded, penniless, naked, and hungry in a foreign land.  I am now the proud owner of an antitheft shoulder bag, secret pockets, and hidden pouches.

"They" are never gonna find my stuff,  much less steal it!

So does my husband have such concerns?


Only an eye roll or two occasionally.

I did get him to agree to wear a hidden pocket though.  He is entirely too trusting. 

In all honesty, he is more focussed on the FOOD he will get to eat.  This is new.  He does not eat out.  When I cook he will eat anything I put in front of him.   Food is just food to him.  This new man I am married to can't wait to scope out the menus in search of something amazingly different and scrumptious, and he is not talking about the pasta.  He wants something exotic, strange, and weird on his plate.  He wants something he can't pronounce, much less interpret.  It is an understatement to say that he is pumped about the food. 

Perhaps my anxiety about being penniless and hungry in a foreign land has been totally misplaced.  I probably should be more concerned about being able to afford my husband's palatal desires than those danged conniving thieves.

In all honesty, though, his excitement is fascinating to me. I wish I had such an adventurous set of taste buds.  He is already having more fun on this trip than I am.


On the day we discussed what to pack, BH announced he takes 4 pairs of pants and 4 shirts for a 16-day trip with no plans for doing any laundry unless you HAND WASH it.

BH insists we will stink and that we won't care what we look like.

Excuse me.

You should have seen my internal panic button go off that day--I may not care much about looking fashionable, but I've never been able to tolerate stink. 

NO way, NO how.

I remained very cool, calm and collected in the moment but my mind was already churning on how to sneak more clean stuff in my suitcase to prevent said stink.  Thankfully, MH says she takes 4 pairs of pants and 8 shirts. 

Okay, that is starting to sound much more tolerable.

As a result of this packing advice, I have spent entirely too much time obsessing about which shirts I am going to take.  I purchased those bags you squeeze the air out and make your clothes look like a pancake.  I'm hoping I will be able to cheat and sneak a couple of extras in there if they are thin enough.  I have had practice runs to see which shirts wrinkle and which ones don't.  I still have no idea which shirts will make the cut.  I've spent too much time thinking about such nonsense and trying to imagine what I could possibly need and how to pack everthing efficiently and yet not leave anything important out. 

I already hate my suitcase.

My husband, on the other hand, has already done a practice packing session with the smallest suitcase we own.  It took him only 10 minutes and that included the decision making process too.

His packing includes 3 pairs of pants, 3 shirts, toiletries, underwear and socks. 

That means his list (which is only hypothetical since he never actually made one) would only contain 5 lines. 

Total weight:  22 pounds.

He says he is not even taking a carry on--says he can't think of anything to carry on.

I can't even breathe now I'm so dumbfounded at the absurdity of what I consider to be his naive lack of foresight and planning. 

He can't be serious. 

Oh, but he is, bless his heart. 

He is quite excited too because he has some old underwear and socks he has been saving for this trip so he can throw them away along the way in order to have less to carry home.

So what is my take on this minimalist's 10-minute packing situation? 

Well, I'll tell you.

He WILL stink.  Oh yeah.  He will. 

I wonder if there is such a thing as nose perfume because I will need some for sure.


Notice I did not announce on this blog the dates of our travel or the exact amount of my savings for this trip.  Well, who knows who might be lurking on this private blog and want to come and ravage our home or steal all the money out of our savings account while we are gone!!! 

I know, it's crazy.  Total paranoia. 

But just in case someone reading this is tempted, let it be known that there is someone living in my house while we are gone who knows how to use a real GUN with real bullets and has a few on hand.


Other anxiety producing moments have been when my boys have mentioned the word PARTY a few times in my presence.  I just breathe deeply and hope we have a home to return to.  Thankfully there is a sweet baby living here whose sleep is most precious to her sensible mother.  That is my insurance.

Speaking of insurance.....(blush) yeah, that came up too.  Not entirely out of paranoia though--our policies were set to expire next month so we bought new ones. 

Oh, and while we were at it we slipped in our last will and testament just in time for the trip.  Yeah, I know... I'm a mess.


So here you have it! -- the reason for my problem with the question, "Are you excited?!"

I tend to over plan, over think, and pre process so much that I can't even get in touch with the joy of this trip yet. 

I appreciate my husband so much for being able to avoid all this silliness and mirror back to me through his uninhibited excitement the absolute fun we are going to have together.

One thing I have learned about marriage is that when you do something together that is out of your normal everyday routine or different you find out new things about each other. 

If his pretrip behavior is anything like his actual trip behavior then we are in for a wonderful time. But I'm telling you right now that I'm determined to smell good while doing it!

I'll let you know how it goes.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

You've Got to Live A Little

I have been AWOL for a while.  Let's just say, some times you've got to LIVE a little.  Then you can blog.

Indeed, I've been engaged in doing a little living this past month or so, and much of it has been wonderful.  There have been some once-in-a-lifetime-memory-making kind of things that I would not trade for anything.  My daughter and her husband moved back to town for a while, at least until she gives birth to our first grandchild.  Seeing my daughter's lovely silhouette as she carries this new life is a perfect picture I never want to forget.  It occurs to me that she does not have a full knowledge of all that lies ahead of her as a mother, as living it is the only way to understand it.  I could tell her but it would not be the same.  She is well prepared in every way for what lies ahead, so I have no particular concerns or worries.  She has been showered with gifts at her baby shower and congratulated by friends and family.  We have heard the heartbeat, felt the baby move, and love it already.  We have even practiced pushing the new stroller around the house and pretended to remove the sleeping baby quietly from its car seat.  Yesterday I brought out all the special baby clothes from my daughter's past.  She gently handled each piece as I told her about them.  She really liked much of it, but she made a comment that genuinely surprised me.  She stated that the clothing is dated and old fashioned.  It was very interesting to hear for the first time that what I dressed my babies in 25 or so years ago is now out of date. Has it really been that long?  I had to let that soak in for a few minutes.  I now have a defining moment to mark my entry into old-fashioned-hood.  It was such a casual remark and went by unnoticed by anyone in the world except me.  It is hard to put into words what comes with the torch passing of one generation to the next and the dawning of a new one.  I wonder if I'm the only one who notices that my world will never be the same.  Neither will my daughter's.  I stop and think about it and marvel at how surreal it all feels  as the rest of the world goes about life as usual. It occurs to me that I never really noticed whether or not my mom felt such things when I was at the threshold of motherhood.  I would not have appreciated it then.  I do now. 

Speaking of my mother...she and dad turned 70 this year.  We had a little get together for them last month to celebrate.  It was great to have all of our children home for the occasion and to witness my parents as they interacted with the people who care about them.  I spent a good part of the month gathering and sorting pictures from their childhood and beyond.  What an experience to look at a person's life from beginning to the current day and see the same things I've seen in my own lifetime. As babies and children they possessed the same sweetness and innocence as my own children did when they were young.  Their teenage pictures hint at their hope for a bright future.  I loved seeing pictures of their interaction with my grandparents and great grandparents and the same love evident in those pictures as the ones I take today with my own children.  I witness from a different perspective the life they devoted to me.   They have lived life beyond my current experience.  One day I will take their place and my children will take mine.  It is fascinating to me that this pattern has been repeated over and over for thousands of years. How often do we really stop and notice and consider the wonder of it all?

So you can see where my thoughts and head have been since my last post. I've been doing a little living and soaking up as much of the good stuff as I can.  September also brought with it a few annoyances, like car problems and the central air conditioner needing to be replaced...all a little hard on the wallet.  Early October brought an unexpected surgery for my youngest son (he's just fine).  There was also some heartbreak crammed into these past few weeks as well.  The heartbreak is just a little too personal for a blog, but it's what happens when you love people.  In my view though, love is worth it.  Our hearts get stronger the more we practice.

So life is good...and there is much to look forward to.  I am reminded of an old song that captures quite well our varied experiences as we live our lives.

You've got to give a little, take a little
And let your poor heart break a little
That's the story of,
That's the glory of love

You've got to laugh a little, cry a little

Until the clouds roll by a little
That's the story of,
That's the glory of love

As long as there's the two of us

We've got the world and all its charms
And when the world is through with us
We've got each other's arms

You've got to win a little, lose a little

Yes, and sometimes have the blues a little
That's the story of,
That's the glory of love

So to end this post I'll just add my own little verse to the song.  

You've got to live a little, blog a little
Take some time to ____________ a little
That's the story of,
That's the glory of love

You fill in the blank!  

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cut It Out!

 Bell pepper plant from our garden, 2010
 First, let me say that it is not my intention for this blog to be about my husband, but my girls insist that they only enjoy my blog when I write about their dad.  If you've ever seen a Tyler Perry movie you know that they are never very interesting unless Madea shows up.  Then they are hysterical.  My husband is the Madea of my blog.  (Sorry honey, but you are so much funnier than I am, and I know you'd do anything for your girls.)  Okay girls, this is for you...

Some people think my husband is very serious, and he definitely can be at times.  But sometimes he just does the funniest stuff.  Like the time he put cooked bacon in foil and placed it on my youngest daughter's pillow so the boys would not eat it before she got some.  He was serious, but we found his choice of "hiding places" amusing.  Somehow bacon on a pillow is just funny.

Of course, some things are not funny until years later when the shock has worn off.  This is especially true if he gets some instrument in his hand that has the ability to CUT things to pieces.   Let me give you a little background....

Daughter  #2 was recently asked to describe her dad.  She pretty much summed it up when she said, "He'll serve you to death."  Yep, that's true.  He'll run errands, fix stuff, feed you to the gills, and just about anything you can think of that involves a task.  He shows his love to us by doing.  It really is quite remarkable and his willingness to help and serve makes us all very proud of him.  But, as daughter #2 once said, "We pay a price."

Yep, we do. 
Early in our marriage I had no idea that I had married such a helpful man.  It started to sink in the year my grandmother ordered some nice Jackson and Perkins roses to add to the landscaping in the front yard.  Those roses were a lot of work.  I did all the feeding and dusting and watering.  I was constantly on the lookout for the dreaded mold that could spell trouble for those pricey little things.  I remember the day the first one bloomed.  I had noticed it earlier in the day and just smiled inside knowing I had helped grow something so beautiful.   Later while I was cooking dinner my husband walked into the kitchen and in a romantic gesture handed me that beautiful pink rose.  I was stunned.  He cut my rose.  I could not believe it.  He cut my rose!  My first rose!  He thought I would be happy.  I was not.  I told him I knew he was trying to be sweet but that if he wanted to give me flowers he should buy some at Kroger.

We enjoyed a beautiful summer of blossoms and I eventually became a little less uptight about them.  Sometime in about September or October I was heading out the door to go to work.  My husband was seeing me off.   He stood on the front porch as I casually commented on  my way to the car how the roses were about finished blooming for the season and would need to be pruned.  All I can say is be careful what you wish for.  No one could ever accuse my husband of being slow to act.  When I returned home that evening he had pruned them.....right down to the bud union.   I don't know who was more shocked, me or the roses.   They never recovered.  Thankfully, I did.  I hope I was nice about it.

Unfortunately, it took one more time of saying something casually as I was leaving for work before I learned my lesson.  Summer was getting close and I commented to him that daughter #1 would soon need some new shorts.  That day I came home and there were at least 6 pairs of shorts laying on the kitchen counter.  Did he go shopping for new shorts?  Of course not, especially since there was an obvious solution right there in the kitchen junk drawer.  Scissors.  Yes, he had taken every pair of jeans she owned and cut them off above the knees.  He was so proud of himself for finding an "inexpensive" solution.  We then had to buy new jeans.  I think I was nice about it.

CUTTING INCIDENT #4 (and 5 and 6 and 7 and....)
Shrubs.  I always get nervous when he gets out the hedge trimmers.  We agree they need to be trimmed, but he and I have never seen eye to eye about just how much to trim off.  As far as he is concerned, more is better.  I'm a little more conservative.  What makes this more comical is that once he gets that trimmer buzzing he can't hear a word I'm saying (or maybe he just pretends he can't).  There I am yelling stuff and waving my arms and he just proceeds to haphazardly chop the crap out of those things. His favorite comment is, "Aw, it'll grow back!"  I can only hope.  In the meantime it looks hideous.  He says it "looks good from the road."   Oh my word.   I am usually nice about it though.

CUTTING INCIDENT ....# (lost count)
We bought a hair trimmer.  Big mistake.  I don't cut hair, so there is only one other person who would even use the thing.  You guessed it.  My husband.  He waited until I was not home, and the boys found out the hard way what a haircut looks like if you don't use a guard on your trimmer.  The boys looked like they had cancer.  ("Aw, it'll grow back.") I'm sure the boys were wondering what my reaction would be. After what I am sure was a totally spontaneous exclamation of shock and awe, I did the only thing I could think of.  I just let it go.  The boys then decided it was cool.  At least we were nice about it.

In order to provide a little produce to supplement our grocery budget we planted a garden this year.  We planted 4 tomato plants, 2 cucumber plants, and 2 bell pepper plants.   One day while heading to my car I  was on the phone with my mom when I stopped to look at the garden.  There were now 4 tomato plants, 2 cucumber plants, and only 1 bell pepper plant.  This time I totally bypassed shock (no longer physically possible) and went straight to acceptance. I told her that my dear husband had no doubt chopped it down with the weed eater.  She empathized.  I know this time I was nice because I didn't even say a word to him about it.  He just thought I hadn't noticed. He got caught 2 days later when he told my parents what he'd done and not to say anything to me since I had not noticed yet.  Oh, I knew....and so did my mother.  Oh well.

There is a definite pattern here, don't you think?  If you ever need something cut, trimmed, chopped, annihilated, destroyed, or shaved.....you know who to call.  He is always more than happy to help.  The only thing I ask is that you be nice to him. 

The bottom line is that I always knew my husband had the best of intentions in every single situation, so that made it easier not to get mad at him.   Besides, I prefer laughing anyway...and he sure makes me laugh.

Thanks honey.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Coupon Update -- They are paying ME now!

I just added 91 cents to the fund!

Why am I excited about 91 cents?  Well, let me tell you....

I went into Publix last week and bought
--2 rolls of Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil
--5 bottles of Kraft squeezable mayo
-- a 10-pack of Capri Sun

and they PAID ME!                   

I thought I would owe them about $3 and some change but I figured wrong.  They handed me 91 cents. That was a first for me. I was shocked they'd give me money to take stuff out of their store.

I do have a more substantial deposit to make into the Italy fund soon, but I thought this was worth a mention.

NOTE:  Several of you have been asking me about couponing and how to do it.  I have added some links to my favorite coupon sites. They have a lot of "how to" information.  Just dig in and start reading. The key is to find coupon sites for your state and city.  The reason for this is that sales and coupon inserts in newspapers vary by states and regions.  I live in the Nashville area so the sites I listed are mostly for that region.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Low Energy Club

Many years ago a close friend and I started a little club called "The Low Energy Club"   It was great.  She was the president by default since we had no energy to debate or even take a vote.  That would have required us to lift our hands or something.  She thought of it so she had to be the president.  I was the vice president.  And that was pretty much it.  We had no official meetings and never accomplished diddly squat.  The extent of our leadership in the club consisted of deciding who was in and who was not. We only had to move our lips.  It went something like this...

Me: (with an ever-so-slight tilt of my head in her direction) Did you see her?
President:  Uh huh.
Me:  Too much energy.
President:  Yep.
Me: Can't be in our club.
President: Nope.

Meeting adjourned.

Between the two of us we had about 7 or 8 kids and that pretty much explains our lack of energy.  We were pooped.  We wondered how in the world other women did what they did.  There was one particular woman in our circle of friends who had 10 children.  She was perpetual motion.  We always marveled at how rich we would be if we could bottle that woman's energy and sell it.  She ran circles around us.  Even her lips moved faster than ours.  We never figured it out.

Low energy aside, I do enjoy seeing people accomplish great things. I admired the energetic woman with 10 kids. She was awesome.  I also like reading books about people who overcome hardships and use their passion to leave a mark on the world. One thing I've noticed though is that when you condense someone's life into about 200 pages anyone could look high energy and accomplished.

Maybe even me.

Leonardo Da Vinci did a lot of cool stuff.  We mostly think of Da Vinci as one of the greatest painters of all time.  Therefore it is quite surprising to learn that he was also an engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, sculptor, architect, cartographer, musician, scientist, mathematician, botanist, and writer.

Whew!  NOT low energy.

Of course, he never married and had no kids so what else could he do? Even then, one gets the distinct impression that even Leonardo was spread too thin.  I'm not so sure that painting was even his true passion, even though he was undoubtedly one of the best. He did do a lot of it.  It may surprise you to know, however, that much of his work was abandoned and never completed.  It is true that his brain seemed to race faster than his performance.  He also had some failures along the way. As a matter of fact, one might consider The Last Supper to have been a near failure. His outlandish experimentation with a never-tried-before mixture of oil paint and tempera on wet plaster caused the painting to peel away almost immediately.  Leonardo also had a habit of spending slow hours observing nature or people as well as viewing and contemplating what he had already done.  This frustrated many along the way.  They thought he was wasting precious time.

Wow!  Leonard Da Vinci is actually beginning to sound a lot like a possible candidate for my little club!

I hope you know that I do not take pleasure in Da Vinci's lack of perfection.  I use him as an example for a couple of reasons. First of all, everyone knows how amazing he was, so there is no danger that one will think less of him.  The other reason has to do with his interesting evaluation of the life he lived... 

"He felt he could have used his genius to better advantage; he should have worked harder when he was a young man; he should have accomplished more.  He wished he hadn't played so many pranks." (Artists of the Renaissance by Irene Earls)

Surprised, aren't you?

Maybe not.  I get the feeling that regardless of who we are and what we've done, we'd all say something very similar  Already, I look back on the family I loved and cared for and see things I wish I'd done better (I could have... I should have ... and on and on.).  Well, at least I was not much for pranks, so no regrets there (sigh of relief).

So, what are we to learn from all this?

--Maybe that we probably become the most accomplished and recognized for the things we do most often...where the seemingly mundane, everyday tasks turn out to be our most polished offerings since that is where we were most consistent.  We just have to make sure those daily tasks are of the greatest value.

--Not being afraid to try new things, even if they seem to fail. We may be surprised who appreciates it. 

--We can only do so much...yet there will always be so much more we could do. That keeps us striving.

-- Time spent in observation, contemplation, and review may be the among the best use of our time.  We can ignore those nagging voices that urge us to merely "stay busy."

-- Our minds will probably always stay at least one or two steps ahead of us and we'll probably never achieve our idealWe can keep trying though.


When I look at this list, I think even a low energy person could do all of the above. Perhaps living a hyperactive life is not the highway to success.  As a matter of fact, it has long been a belief of mine that what we DO is not the point of life.  Rather, it's what we BECOME as a result of what we do that is the measure of a successful life.  It was Leonardo himself who said, "You can have no dominion greater or less than that over yourself."           

The Low Energy Club has long been inactive (pardon the pun).  My friend moved away and our kids grew up.  I do have a little less on my plate these days...hence more energy.   However, in the spirit of my inner low energy self, I say to all of you kindred spirits to hang in there.  I think we may be onto something.

My greatest masterpiece is my family, even though I know it seemed like a huge experiment at times.  In the process I learned to love more than I ever dreamed possible and I'm still amazed at their impact upon my heart.  Thanks to them I learned some things... mostly about myself.  I am better because of them.

This meeting is now adjourned.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Follow the Script!

Despite getting older, I never tire of things romantic or a good love story. You'd think as women age and lose their "blossom" they would tire of all the lovey dovey stuff, but I'm telling you it just doesn't go away. There is something magnetic about witnessing young love unfolding or watching (and rewatching) a good romantic movie. Even this portrait entitiled "The Kiss" (painted by Italian painter Francesco Hayez) captures my attention and conjures up dreamy thoughts of heartfelt bliss. I keep wondering if I'll still be as captivated when I'm 80. I'll let you know.

I've never been one to read romance novels, but I do enjoy a movie where romance is depicted in a chaste and noble fashion. As I write this, there are scores of young ladies (and some not so young ladies) hitting the theaters to see the new Twilight movie. I, for one, am not one of them. Edward and Jacob are too pale and melancholy for my taste and their lines don't send my heart in a tailspin as they do some. I'm more of a Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford, Richard Geer, and Colin Firth kind of girl. Tom is every man, Harrison is just macho enough but still human, Geer is dignified and has that cute smile, and Firth is Mr. Darcy (nuff said). You know, it's really not a lust thing for us ladies. Tom is not really that handsome and neither is Colin. Harrison Ford is an old man. Richard Geer.....okay, maybe he's kind of cute.

The thing is we just love it when a man knows the perfect thing to say to a woman at just the right time, even if he is saying it to someone else instead of us. One thing to note though is that there is one huge difference between these actors and my husband. Those actors have the benefit of good script writers. They know what to say at just the right moment because someone else told them what would work. That is cheating and not true romance. Therefore, it is very unfair to compare such pretenders to my husband, a good man who doesn't have the benefit of a skilled script writer.

To my husband's credit, he has mostly figured out what NOT to say in most instances. However, from time to time I do wish he had a really good line from a script when I am hoping for a romantic tidbit rather than a totally male response to a situation.

An incident that happened the other day is a classic example of not exactly getting the response I'd hoped for.

Our current bishop from church dropped by Sunday afternoon and handed me an envelope our former bishop's wife found in her husband's office when she was cleaning out some of his things. That man was our bishop when we first married, but unfortunately he passed away a couple of years ago. In the envelope was the first tithing my husband and I had paid after getting married almost 28 years ago! Apparently our original bishop had mistakenly taken the envelope home in his coat pocket and it never made it back to the church to be recorded and deposited. Therefore, inside the envelope was $24.25 in cash with the tithing slip filled out in my husband's handwriting and dated Oct 31, 1982.

My husband was not home at the time and I could not wait for him to return. I just knew he would really enjoy this little surprise. I could not help but think about how simply our lives began as husband and wife. I was working full time but he had been laid off of his job for months. He was doing some work in a friend's business as well as participating in medical research studies at the teaching hospital in order to make a little extra money. This envelope of money represented our commitment to God and to each other as we began our marriage. How sentimental! Even the original bishop's last name was LOVE! How cool is that. This is the actual money we touched and placed in an envelope a little over a month after we married. I could not help but remember how young we were and how far we had come in our years together. This was something special indeed! I imagined that he would hold the envelope of money in his hand and get a little smile on his face as he looked into my eyes and told me about his memory of the young girl he married and maybe even say something about me still being beautiful or something cool like that. This was gonna be good!


When I handed him the envelope he grew a furrowed brow of confusion on his face as he reached for my glasses so he could read the piece of paper. "What!" he said with a tightly wrinkled and bespeckled nose, saying "Huh!" as he cocked his head mechanically to the side.

Not romantic.

I explained the whole thing to him and waited for his tenseness to ease as recognition and understanding finally crossed his loving and adoring face.

Instead he tossed the envelope forward out of his hands as if it were a HOT potato straight from the oven! He could not understand why I would have kept it and not shoved it back into the bishop's hands immediately! Lord's money! Not ours!

Even when I told him I planned to keep this "special" money but write a check for the $24.25 next Sunday, he still did not have the reaction that I had scripted in my head. I asked him if there was even a tiny piece or speck of him that thought this was just a little sweet, and he responded with a statement about the whole thing being disturbing.

You know, you just have to laugh at this stuff (and my daughter who witnessed the entire thing did just that). I totally get his reaction because I have lived with this man for 28 years and know how important commitment and duty are to him. That was all he saw in that envelope. Duty to God that had not been taken care of properly.

The label "Italian" comes with many expectations. From the days of Casanova, those Italians have had a reputation for charming women the world over. I've heard it said that an "Italian man flirts like other men breathe -- regularly and naturally." I wonder where they learn that stuff?!

Even though I sometimes imagine my husband caressing my cheek or playfully twisting my hair as we relax on the beach (he hates the beach), I mostly know that I am loved and cared for very well. We laugh a lot and get along quite nicely. He rubs my feet at night and runs to the store for an Icee anytime I mention I'd like one. There are plenty of ways love is expressed and I have been married to a man for 28 years that is 100% devoted to me. Some of the most romantic words that have spilled from his lips are these...

"Is there anything I can do for you today, dear?"

Now who can complain about that?

The Italy fund just got $24.25 richer. I think spending that money together in a romantic place like Italy would be just the perfect thing.

I'll bet those professional script writers could not come up with a better idea.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Mamma Mia!

First of all, yesterday was Father's Day. It was a nice day with four of our six children able to be here for the occasion. My parents also came and we had a nice dinner. The dads were loved on and fed well and it was a good day.

My husband and I have six children. Our youngest son, who has been away for the summer, was home for the week. We also have another college-age son who lives at home. We have four daughters. Two of them live in town and the other two live out of state. Three of our four girls are married and we are expecting our first grandchild in November! That is pretty much our family in a nutshell.

Now lets crack open that nut and let me explain a couple of things before I get to the point of this post.

One thing you have to know about my husband is that he is a rather task oriented kind of guy. He is hard working for sure. Relationships are something you do after the work is done. I am totally opposite. If the relationships are going well, then I get some work done. If someone needs tending, then by all means drop everything and worry about work later. Needless to say, my husband and I are quite opposite, but that is probably good for a balanced life.

Now for the point. I hope you're ready for this. I am about to explain to you what I call,


Basically, it goes like this: Moms are like toilet paper and dads are the toilet paper roll. Here is the evidence to support this theory.

1) When is the last time you really gave any thought about toilet paper? We all use it every day and it is always around. Common stuff, that toilet paper. However, if you are honest in your answer you'd probably say that the only time you think about toilet paper is when you need it and it's not there! Moms are around a lot and yet we don't really notice her unless she's not around and we need her for something. Then it becomes an emergency!

2) We all know what we do with toilet paper and its various practical uses. Same for moms. She takes all your crap and loves you anyway. She can even multitask just like the toilet paper.

Good toilet paper has several layers and is soft against our skin. Moms are usually a soft place to land when the business of life gets to us. She can be counted on to lend an ear or a helping hand, whichever is needed.

A roll of toilet paper is comprised mostly of the paper. Only occasionally do we see the roll in comparison with the actual paper. A toilet paper roll can be used for making a pretend telescope or used in a craft project to build a rocket or some fun toy. Granted, without the toilet paper roll the paper would be in a heap on the floor. That roll is a vital component for sure. So are dads. Moms are usually around a lot more than dads. She is usually the more commonplace part of the day. Dads often show up for the fun stuff like watching your ball game or playing a quick game of Mother May I on the front porch before dinner. His presence is usually more occasional than mom with all of his responsibilities outside the home. It's a good thing dads do what they do or the quality of our lives would be a mess.

Having said all this, I have noticed so many times how I can put hours and hours and hours (and more hours) of time and energy into listening to a child with a problem or having a late-night chat about big decisions for the future. In comparison, my husband can literally walk through the room (not even stopping to sit down or make eye contact for that matter) and say ONE SENTENCE and my girls just gush about how amazing and wonderful he is. (What am I, toilet paper? I just sat here for 2 hours and gave you my undivided attention. He's been back there watching TV!).

Just yesterday my youngest son received a birthday card from me and my husband. We each wrote a personal note. I put a good deal of thought and time into saying just the perfect thing. My husband maybe spent less than 2 minutes and wrote his part. My son must have liked it because when he opened the card he said, "Oh Dad, how sweet! Aww. I love you!" and on and on. To my husband's credit, he said, "What about your mom?" My son said, "Oh, she says that stuff all the time." (toilet paper!)

One final example is that last year I planned a trip out of town to visit my newly married youngest daughter. It just so happens that my second daughter's birthday was going to occur during my absence. Second daughter was just flabbergasted that I'd leave town when it was her birthday (she was turning 26!). I offered to have the celebration before leaving town or after my return. Not. the. same. I was told. It was sweet that she wanted me there for her special day and believe me I'll never do that again. Somehow, though, I think her dad would have gotten a pass if he had something going on (if the toilet paper is not there when we need it then it becomes a national emergency!).

So what is the Italian connection here? Oh, believe me! I've got one for you.

One in three Italian men sees his mother every day. Seven out of ten unmarried men over 35 live with their parents. The average Italian son spends around 15 minutes a day with his father as opposed to more time with mom because of all the fussing she does over her children, boys in particular since they often live with their parents well into adulthood. In Italy you don't EVER criticize someone's mother, no matter how intrusive and annoying she is (Marie Barone just passed through my mind). In Italy, mothers are somewhat of a holy figure.

All said and done, I guess I don't really mind living my toilet paper mother lifestyle. I like it when my children love on my husband and appreciate him. Being a mom to my children has been awesome and I like it that they are independent (that means I'm probably not Italian). I don't really need them to fuss over me all the time. I know they love me.

So hang in there moms. Squeeze your inner Charmin!

And by the way.....you're not gonna believe this (and I'm not lying)...

I'm out of toilet paper!

Com'รจ il tempo?

The question of the day (and week) is...

"How's the weather?"

The high today is expected to reach 103 degrees here in Nashville (with a "real feel" temp of 112), and I'm debating on whether to even check the mail today. That would involve going outside for at least 1 full minute and I'd probably have to take another shower. With the forecast over the next week it could be Thursday before I make it down to the mailbox. It is supposed to cool off to a "nice" 99 degrees that day with a possible thunderstorm. If I time it right I can head out when the clouds begin to gather and make it back inside before I have a stroke.

I was not so fortunate to avoid the heat this past weekend, but I had it a lot easier than the men in my family. My son came into town for a few days to work on a fence-building project. The heat was brutal and all the young men and a certain older man (my husband) exerted themselves for a total of about 10 hours in the blazing sun. I, on the other hand, sat under a nice little tent-like shelter and did practically nothing but do some paperwork, babysit cell phones, and offer moral support. I did manage to do a little cooking on the grill to feed this hungry work crew. The heat just sucks the life out of you around these parts and I am now pretty much on life support. Will someone please pull the plug.

All of this has me wondering what the weather is like in Florence right now, and this is what I found out.

The high in Florence today is expected to be 71 degrees. That is about what our expected LOW temp is supposed to be tonight.

This is just one more reason I have to go to Italy.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Leisurely Stroll

A distinctive feature of Florence's skyline is the dome of Basilica di Santi Maria del Fiore, also known as the Duomo (cathedral church) of Florence. The walk from the Duomo at one end of the historic district to the other end (marked by the Palazzo Pitti) takes only about 30 minutes if you are taking a leisurely stroll. The Duomo of Florence is the fourth largest cathedral in the world (after St. Peter's in Rome, St. Paul's in London, and the Duomo in Milan). Construction on the church began at the end of the 13th century and for many centuries has been the symbol of Florence and Renaissance architecture. Woohoo!

You probably think this post is a history lesson. Not really. The most important thing to note about the previous paragraph is the word walk. Apparently, the best way to get around Florence, and many other cities in Italy for that matter, is on foot.....or should I say feet....both of them...two per person.

For a girl who has lived with plantar fasciitis for entirely too long, this is a concern, to say the least. After a year of limping around, I finally saw a podiatrist in December who gave me some inserts to use. They help, but the problem has never completely gone away. This means I have some work to do to heal these dang feet so I can stroll leisurely and gracefully down the streets of Italy. I stopped exercising soon after the plantar problem first appeared and one might say that I am now “carrying around a few more groceries” than usual as a result. There is work to do! This week I have arisen from my sedentary lifestyle! Those feet are screaming at me to lighten the load, and I fully intend to make that happen. Maybe then they will be more than willing to carry me anywhere I want to go in Italy. I finally walked into the YMCA yesterday and took a 45 minutes class that involves some Latin dance moves. Those of you who know me can imagine how ridiculous I look. I ain't got no groove, but I am undaunted (head held high). At least I am rendering service to others by helping them feel better about themselves as they move their more svelt stuff. I always like to help others feel good about themselves. I do what I can.

Duomo, here I come! I just might be that chick who skips right past you on my way to the Palazzo Pitti.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I have $50 more to put into the Italy account!

New total: $94.78

Monday, May 31, 2010

He Ain't Buying It!

Well, we are off to a good start. The amount saved from the week of May 24th breaks down as follows:

$24.93 -- amount left over from grocery budget
$18.98 -- rebates
$00.87 -- change in my wallet
Total: $44.78

The way I figure it, we will need to save somewhere in the neighborhood of $50 a week in order to reach our goal. So far, so good.

Now for the rest of the story.

I caught my husband reading one of the travel books the other morning at breakfast. That was huge. That tells me one thing.

He is interested!

I really knew I had him hooked when he interjected a factoid from his reading into a conversation.

That can mean only one thing.

He's really interested!

So when I say, "He Ain't Buying it!" I mean something totally different.

There are two somethings actually, the first of which has to do with my husband's lack of desire to be my gondolier. He is sure that those gondolier dudes are not going to turn their long, flat bottomed, money-making boat over to an American. Unfortunately, I think he is right about that, but I'm going to keep bringing it up anyway because I think it's a fun thing to imagine. I expand on this visual image all the time and find amusement in his resistance.

The second problem is more of an annoyance than a real problem. You see, my husband is one of the most frugal men around (unless, of course, you are talking about his girls, and then in that case he absolutely loses his mind). He really does not spend money. He has no expensive hobbies, drives an old car, wears simple clothes, and lives a very simple life. He prefers to eat at home and lately seems to have a thing for tuna fish. The annoyance arises from the fact that he now has even more reason to be frugal. His new favorite thing to do is throw up his hands in protest and say “Italy!” anytime I mention an occasional dinner out....and I even have a coupon! “Italy” (picture his hands raised in protest) has become his favorite new way of getting out of doing stuff he never wanted to do in the first place. It also keeps me in the kitchen making food, something I really don't want to do much anymore now that the nest is empty. Something about this whole situation stinks......

and it's not just the tuna fish.

(picture me stomping my foot in protest and pouting like a 3 year old).

On the bright side, though, I am grateful for a husband like him. His frugal ways will help make it possible for us to reach this fun goal. I think his new love for tuna fish is probably him going into survival mode and finding a way to nourish himself. He's just hungry...and he likes my cooking. What's so bad about that? I should be flattered. Right?

Okay, I'm not. But I should be.

For now, I will just take comfort in the fact that when we go to Italy I will not have to cook




for 2 weeks!

For now though, what in the world should I cook for dinner?