Friday, October 7, 2011


I haven't posted in a million years, but my mind has been working.  I think about people I love all the time, but I lack the ability to sit still long enough to put those thoughts on paper (so to speak... who uses paper?).  I was pleased when my mind started to drift toward an old friend... I felt absolutely compelled to tell her about it.  

Janice Colvin,  do you know that I think about you all the time?  I bet you don't.  I have started to send you messages on Facebook about 5 times now and somehow I always get distracted by the kids or by life and I have yet to even let you know that I am planning to get back in touch with you... and at this rate I never will, will I?

If you dont' know Janice, I wish you did.  So much time has passed since she has been a day-to-day part of my life, and I do miss those days.  Janice is a bright spot.  She is a ray of sunshine.  She is walking laughter and all kinds of warmth.  When I think of her I smile... the ear-to-ear kind of smile that not everyone gives you.  I have had times with Janice when my face hurt from laughing, and I have had a time with her when I cried my eyes out.

I know so little about her life right now.  I do feel like a bad friend so much of the time.  So much of the day I spend doing my own thing and getting lost in the details of the day that, while my mind drifts over fond memories of people I love, I never spare the seconds to simply reach out and tell them.

So Janice, I miss your laugh.  I miss your sense of humor and the way you used to brighten my day when I saw you.  And once when I didn't know who to turn to for support over a break-up that seemed, at that point, to be the end of the world, you listened to me.  I hope you know I would always be there for you, even if I'm not the best at reaching out.

I love you, and I hope you're well.

Friday, August 19, 2011

August Top 10

I have been slacking.  With a million and two things going on in my life lately:  getting engaged to the greatest man alive, raising 4 brilliant children, being an auntie to the cutest cuties in the world, planning a wedding, babysitting a sweet little munchkin... just to name a few.  So, I'm stealing my friend Becky Day's favorite format, and once in a while I want to do a top 10.  The top 10 ways that my life has been touched by the people around me, and the people I'm grateful to for reaching out to me. 

1.   Brian Menz.  For wanting to marry me:)  For loving my kids like a daddy, for making me feel loved and accepted for all of my imperfections day after day... even when I don't deserve it.  He is the most faithful and loyal man I know.... with endless patience for me:)

2. Mommy (Barb Schiefen Scott).  For everything.  For this house.  For countless nights of babysitting.  For gardening.  For talking.  For listening to me complain and cry.  For drinking wine with me.  For loving me all the time:)  I love you.

3.  Meg Scott.  For making me remember that there is a comical side to everything.  For forgiving me for being a jerk sometimes.  For breaking the ice when we're in a fight by saying, "We're fighting" with funny arm gestures.  For already being the coolest Matron of Honor a girl could ask for.  She is the best sister a girl could have, and keeps me on my toes every day.

4. Cindy Bushey.  For making me feel like a sister, always welcoming the kids and I into her home like family and being the most excited shopper in the known universe for my wedding.  For the examples in patience and parenting that you give me every day.

5.  Becky Daye.  For keeping me focused on God when the times get tough.  Her council has helped me in times when I felt hopeless and helpless.  For moving to Rochester just to live near me... well, there might be other reasons for that too but I am unaware of them:) She is showing me what it means to trust in God, and I appreciate her example.

6.  Elliot Saks.  For sending me a message out of the blue to say he cares.  For making my heart happy and for understanding my Korean.

7.  Meghan O'Brien.  For re-kindling an amazing old friendship with me, one that I've grown fairly dependent on in the last few months. Dinner and margaritas soon?

8.  Holly Downs.  For making me mow the lawn barefoot.  She makes me remember that (and this is totally unrelated to the barefoot lawnmowing) it's alright to be yourself and to march to the beat of your own drummer:)  She is inspirational in every way.

9.  Cristina Johnson, Jeff Hawkins and Gris & Johnny Watts Jr.  For keeping me connected to my Army family, and never forgetting about me.

10.  Noah, Jack, Avery and Sawyer Lauer.  For their smiles, good looks, charm, overall silliness and for making my life worth waking up for every day:)

Shoot... 10 wasn't enough!!!!  Well, the rest of you will have to be on your guard:)  You might pop up in here soon!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Take Me To Your Leader

There are days that I feel like an alien that's come from outer space, landed on this planet and is wandering around looking at all the strange beings I'm surrounded by.  There's no one like me.  No one knows what's in my heart. I look at everyone and wonder what they're thinking when they look at me... how they judge me when I say I'm a single mother of 4.  No one knows the pang I feel when I say I'm divorced.  No one understands that although I feel relief about being on my own now, away from the pain and difficulty of my first marriage, how odd and surreal it seems to say that my husband left me. I know some of it is in my head, but I also know, by the look on peoples faces, that it's not ALL in my head.  I wouldn't say I feel alone, I have amazing support from family and friends.  I have the most wonderful and beautiful children that have ever existed.  I have love again.  I have a strong relationship with God.  I have more now than ever before. 

I know that I am not (by any stretch of the imagination) the only person that has ever been divorced.  I know that I am not the only one that has suffered a heart break.  I know that I am not the only single mother, I even know and admire some myself... but sometimes I feel like I am the only one of my species.

Then I met someone through a friend and all the sudden I felt like I had run into someone from my home planet.

Imagine being in Beijing, China and running into someone that grew up on the same street as you.  Unlikely?  YES.  Possible?  yes.

Sometimes you don't have to know someone at all for them to touch your life.  My lovely friend Becky
had told me she has a close friend who, coincidentally, lives in the same area that I do.  She said we had some similarities.  She said I would love her.  She was right:)

All of the sudden I don't feel like the only alien.  So Cass, I'm sorry you're from my planet... but meeting you and seeing your absolutely perfect (and all-together sassy) daughter was an absolute joy.  Your smile, your determination, your success (as I see it), your struggle... I am in awe of you.  I haven't stopped thinking of you since we met and I hope to meet again soon.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Twisted Trista

So I have had a slump lately.  I want to write but I have had bunch of people on my mind but nothing has been sticking.  I think I was spent for a bit after the post about my dad.

Then I had some friends come from out of town and they're the type of friends that come into your life, you grow close to them quickly and you know automatically that they have been put there by God to fill a certain role in your life. Realizing that put someone in my heart.  I have another another friend that fits into that description, Trista Coyne. So Trix, just like the rest of world, it's all about you today:)

Would you believe I stared this entry on June 23?  All of the other entries took me a day.  I say this because on June 25th I had a bad day.  I was deep in depression and I could not shake it.  This doesn't happen to me often, if you know me well you will seldom find me without a smile on my face.  For some reason I could not shake this oppressive sadness that was burdening me that day.  I was smothered.  I felt like I was trying to tread water in some kind of thick goo that was making it impossible to stay afloat.  I could break the surface and get a breath (thanks to my kids) but then it would quickly take me under again.

I hadn't talked to Trista in over a month, but when I texted her that afternoon to ask her if I could call her that night she texted right back, "yes please".  I knew she would be there for me.  I knew she was the life raft that would carry me out of the goo, back to dry land.  I was right.  When I called I tried to small-talk and she would have none of it.  She said, "you need to talk".   She said she was happy to know that I needed her.  I do. 

I have said before (although, this might be the first time that Trista has heard it... from me), that the world revolves around Trista.  This might sound bad to some of you.  I don't mean it the way you think I do.  Trista is not self centered, she is not egotistical.  Trista is captivating.  If you walk into a room that has the privilege of containing Trista Coyne, I promise you will find a gravitational pull toward her.  You will feel like the floor is on a slant toward Trista and you're like water, helpless to flow in another direction. 

Halloween of 2009 is our friendship anniversary.  I will NEVER forget the day I met Jim and Trista Coyne.  Because they were dressed like vampires and Trista teased her hair and gave herself some pretty impressive bangs.

I wondered if that was how she normally styled it (I am pleased to announce that she does not).  I was introduced to them by my "Bestie" (which is a term that Brian Menz is trying to replace BFF with... make a mental note), Holly Downs.  She told me, "You have to meet Jim and Trista.  You are going to love each other".  Holly is usually right.  This was no exception.

We connected pretty much on the spot.  It turns out that Trista is married to a man that is the identical twin (minus a decade) of my dad.  Naturally there was not a minute wasted, wine was poured, chit-chat commenced, laughter was in abundance.  I left hoping to see them again, tomorrow and every day after that.  I lived 40 minutes away at that time, and my ex-husband was in Iraq so I was alone with the 4 kids and when the snow storm of the century was forecasted, I packed up the kids and the dog to go be snowed in with Holly and her family (who will undoubted receive a chapter of their own in the near future, so I won't go into all the good they did me at this moment). It was the most memorable 4 days of my life.  We walked from house to house (did I mention that Holly and Trista are next-door neighbors?) each night for dinner.  I fell in love with the neighborhood that weekend, the way that everyone looked out for each other there.  One woman (Julie) pulled her daughter over in a laundry basket with a rope attached for the community dinners that were prepared.  We all pitched in with shoveling.  When someone was able to navigate the roads they would stop and ask if anyone needed anything.  It was magical.

So naturally, I bought the house across the street as soon as I could.  Then around the time I was closing on that perfect house my world crashed down around me.

I won't go into any detail except to say that whey your husband of 8 years leaves you and you suddenly become a single mother of 4 with no income you go through a bit of a soul searching time in your life.  Some people channel the anger and sadness into a wrath of a divorce case and hurl all of their energy into punishing that person and arranging a new life. I shut down.  And my new friend took care of me.  She insisted that I get my own band account, a feat I couldn't seem to imagine.  She forced me to get a lawyer when I wanted to roll over and pretend it just wasn't happening.  She took control of my future when I wouldn't.  She found my lawyer, she took me by the had and went to the first meeting with me, and when I felt like I was signing my life away and I needed a minute to breath, she kicked that lawyer out of his own office to give me that minute.

Trista is the most feeling person you have ever met.  She feels your pain as if it's her own.  She will shed tears with you, for you, she will get mad with you and when you experience joy hers will bubble over and her infections laugh and smile will make the possibilities seem more endless and the happiness deeper.  She might say it's a fault. I would say it's a gift.  If not to her, then to me and everyone that can call her a friend. 

I can't imagine what it must feel like to be Trista.  She suffers from rheumatoid arthritis.  She is in constant pain.  Today she might be limping because her knee is flaring up.  The minute that heals she'll show up in a wrist brace.  I have witnessed her crying from the pain.  Can you imagine trying to raise 3 beautiful children, being and HR manager for a large electronics dealer and suffering the pain she suffers?  I can not.

I admire her more than most people.  I admire her strength, her security, her passion, her compassion, her professionalism, her positive outlook, her perseverance and her sense of humor.  I admire her commitment to her marriage and to her children.  I admire her way with kids, the obvious love she has for her kids and for mine.  She is raising 3 wonderful people (one of them is my "best friend kid"... a term coined by her daughter, Millie, when she described me as her "best friend grown-up).

I do a killer Trista impression too... maybe is my wish to emulate her more that makes it easy for me to impersonate her.

Thank you, Trix, I don't know if you know the depth of the impact you have had in my life.  

Thank you, Trix, for your friendship.  I will love you forever:)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Happy Fathers Day


Well, clearly today (or yesterday) is the day to think about my dad. In my opinion he's the reason they came out with those "World's Best Dad" mugs and T-shirts:)  The guy may not be perfect (sorry dad), but he's pretty much the best dad a girl could ask for. 

When anyone that knew me growing up talks about the old days, they'll pretty much tell you I appeared to have the "Leave It To Beaver" life.  I thought I did too.  I had parents that loved me, a roof over my head, a pool in my yard, nice clothes, involved parents that truly cared about what I was doing and gave me the trust and freedom to become the person that I was meant to be. In honor of Father's Day I want to focus on my dad today (you'll hear about my lovely Mommy in the not-so-distant future since she pretty much inspires me on a daily basis anyway).

My parents married young, and I was pretty much conceived right after the honeymoon (I've done the math, their story checks out... I was born 10 months after they got married) and my dad set to work to support his family.  He worked as a salesman for the Campbells Soup company, and he didn't make much.  His story goes something like this, "I made enough to cover the bills and put away 5 dollars a week to save up to buy a tent so that we could take you guys camping". Wow.  And right off the bat, he did get that tent and I have amazing memories of camping as a family when I was a child.  One of his other favorite stories to tell was that I used to watch Sesame Street on our old black and white TV and one day I pointed at something gray and said, "ORANGE, Daddy".  He decided that day it was time to get a color TV. 

Every night, when he came home from work, he could come in the door and the 3 of us would bum rush him.  We would all go up and jump on the bed while he changed and my mom made dinner.  We would roughhouse and laugh and that was the best part of the day.  I felt like I was the most important thing in the world because after a long, hard day nothing made my dad happier than seeing us and spending time with his family.  I can see it vividly still, the smiling and the laughing.  I remember he would put me to bed and the chore of getting into my pajamas turned into a game that I called "the hardest part of the night".  I would make it as difficult as humanly possible for him to get my clothes off of me in order or don my pajamas.  I flexed my feet with all my might and made my knees as rigid as I could.  I would shoot my arms out to the sides and extend my fingers out as far as I could spread them to keep that shirt from coming off.  Then I would make him "watch me sleep".  As a mom, I can NOT believe he put up with this!  But  he would stand at my door and just look at me while I fell asleep.  And God forbid he tried to leave before I was asleep, "Daddy, I'm not sleeping yet"... and he would resume his post at my door, guarding me from monsters, sinister shadows and bad dreams. 

Much more recently my memories of my dad are more labor intensive... literally.  He has helped me move about a dozen times (sometimes single-handedly), built swing a swing set, fixed my pluming (for what feels like) a thousand times, installed fences, bathroom vanities, toilets and so many more things that I could go on for days.  Struggling through a very painful divorce this year, my dad has been there for me every step of the way, through every loop on my emotional roller coaster he has been part of the harness keeping me securely fastened to my seat.  He has walked me through difficult and scary dealings with my lawyer, with issues dealing with the sale of a house, with abusive land lords and with some scary scenarios that made me think I was fleeing for my life and living in a Lifetime Movie (in which Jodie Sweetin would play me, Jennifer Love Hewitt would play my sister and I have thought intensely on whether my dad should be played by Burt Reynolds or Allen Thicke... the jury is still out).  He has fielded my hysterical phone calls with all the strength that I needed and lacked.  He has supported my decisions even when I know it was hard for him to do so, and he has never once said anything resembling "I told you so", even though he would have been crazy not to think it after I eloped with a guy I dated for 6 weeks (and that's estimating on the high side), pretty much making every father's worst nightmare come true. 

As recently as a few weeks ago I called my dad, and after coaching myself for a few minutes on sounding tough and steady, broke down crying the second I heard his voice with a hysterical rant that went something like, "I got a mean e-mail today from Bo's fiance, the deal fell through on the sale of the house, something happened to my kitchen sink and now the basement is flooding because the utility sink is clogged and overflowing"...........  I was beside myself with self-pity, frustration, anger and sadness.  I was completely overwhelmed.  And my dad said to me, in the most cool and off-handed way, "It's funny you should call me this morning, because I was just having a conversation with my sump pump and it was wondering why I don't take it out anymore so I was just going to throw it in the truck and drive around anyway".  

That was the third time in the last 6 months that I just stopped what I was doing and thanked God for the gift of my dad.  The other times were when he drove 8 hours to help me load a trailer (by himself) and bring my things home from VA to move into my mom's house.  He did this with no notice and with not a word of complaint on how much I had asked of him.  Shortly after that he stepped in and made some calls to my lawyer when we realized that he was an old southern boy that didn't have too much respect for women.  The second my dad got involved we started seeing results.  What dad wants to help handle their daughters divorce issues?  But every time I need strength and help I call my Dad.  Does that make me a Daddy's girl?  I think it might, and I'll happily bear that title knowing my father is behind me. 

If being a man means supporting your family, protecting them and being there for them when they need you, then my dad is one of the strongest men I know.  He's wonderful in his imperfections too... like missing my baptism and the kids dedication at church because it was on daylight savings day and he rolled in an hour late (he felt horrible about this too, but it's been great material since).

Our family has been through a lot over the years, but we've held strong as a unit.  When he and my mom couldn't make it anymore they bore all of our emotional issues with love and with grace.  We have all moved on to our own lives now.  My brother has his wife and 2 boys and baby girl on the way.  My sister found her perfect partner, has a daughter and another on the way.  I have the most amazing 4 kids and I do my best every day to be the kind of parent that was modeled for me growing up.

I have always said that I don't know how my parents did it, but they managed to raise 3 normal kids that are leading happy and successful lives with families of their own.  My hope for myself is to have done half as well as they did.  To raise my kids to believe in themselves and to know without a shadow of a doubt that I believe in them... because at the end of the day, part of what keeps me going is knowing that my family expects me to and, even more, knows I can. 

Phillipians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me".  When I'm at my lowest I remember that my God is with me and will give me strength.  Sometimes, when He's working in His mysterious ways, instead of giving the strength directly to me, I think he gives it to my dad so that he can lend it to me.   Thank you Lord, for my dad.  Because I know you gave me the exact Dad I need, I know I am the exact mom that my kids need.  I will follow his example and continue to draw strength from him. 

Thanks Dad. Happy Father's Day.  I love you. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Faithful Friend

When I launched this blog a couple of days ago, I was a shaking bundle of nerves, wondering what what the reaction would be... no, just wondering if Joni was going to hate me for using her as the subject of my first blog.  Even after she commented and told me she liked it, for some reason I was still jumpy.  Then I got a message from a friend, "I'll be one of your faithful blog followers".  For some reason that simple sentence meant so much to me.

Did you ever have someone say something to you that was meant as an expression of support and love, but that hit you on a much deeper level?  Can I talk about Brent Curdy for a minute?

When I saw that sentence from Brent I read it in my mind all day.  Faithful blog followers.  He's faithful to me, and I know that he is. 

I have a strange history with Brent Curdy, and over the last few  years his friendship to me has meant so much. He falls into the category of friends that I refer to as "Army Family"... and if you don't have an Army family like I do I'll explain...  When you're in the Army, chances are, that no one is living near family (unless you're really lucky or you grew up in a military town) so you make your own.  We found that the bonds that we made are the life-long kind, you have to lean on the people that are in your unit because if you don't you don't have anyone to lean on.  We step into the familial roles in eachothers lives happily and easily, and when you find the family that you can cling to you hold tight to them.  Brent was part of that for me, along with a core group of others.  If you're in that group there is no question in your mind that people have your back, and you can easily rattle of the names of the others that belong to that family. 

The first few times I ever saw Brent he was wearing a T-shirt that some might find offensive (I choose not to disclose the content of said T-shirt, so don't ask ;)).  I made a comment to the effect of, "do you own any other shirts?", raising attention to the lack of variety in his wardrobe and not the message on the shirt, and God bless Brent, knowing my religious beliefs (Christian, in case you weren't aware), he thought he had offended me.  I know he didn't want to offend me, nor do I think he would ever want to offend anyone (he loves to discuss peoples ideas, so it was an attention grabber for him) but he was so uncomfortable around me for a while after that... he even started calling me, "Mrs. Lauer".  I mentioned to someone that I didn't think Curdy liked me, so I went out of my way to show him that wasn't the case. 

Well, all it took was one good night at a friends party, a couple of drinks and a card game to come to the bottom of the issue.  I told him I wasn't offended by his clothing or his beliefs... I believe I defended him in an argument with someone that WAS slightly offended by the T-shirt in question.   He told me he never wanted to offend me.  We have been close ever since. 

When I think of Brent I think of him at my house in TN, building Noah's play set.  I think he built the bulk of it, and expertly so.  We wanted to make Noah an ark swing set, and when we couldn't afford any more wood Brent went out and bought more so that he could keep working on it.  He even built a bench inside with a top that hinged open for toy storage:) 

Here's the ark... and tiny baby Noah (I think he was 3 here). It was cold... I said to Brent one day, "I'm going to Starbucks, do you want anything?", he said, "yeah, it's freezing out here.  Coffee sounds great.  I'll have a Frappuccino".   Me:  "Uh... you know that's a frozen drink. Right?".  Brent: "Yeah.  I don't really drink coffee".  hahahahah.  That exchange has always made me giggle.  Probably no one else even thinks it's funny, but I always remember it when I think of him.

Finally, I remember how Brent practically lived at my house for the last few weeks of his enlistment.

I LOVED it.  He was one of the most considerate house guests that I ever had.  He cooked

and helped me clean and we would stand in the kitchen for hours talking.  I learned more about squash during those weeks than in my whole life (interesting factoid, Brent grew up on a squash farm and can name any variety of gourde that come in those Thanksgiving assortments of tiny decorative gourds).  I think he's cooking squash in this picture. 

One of the things I struggle with in this idea for a blog is not revealing any information too personal or anything that was told to me in confidence... so I'll say that Brent didn't always have it easy.  He was made to feel that he wasn't really worth having around, and it wasn't until he joined the Army that he realized how much people really, truly do want him around.  I can attest, I miss him every day. He is one of the most worthwhile people you could ever meet.  He is brilliant, graduating from UC Berkley magna cum laude, as I predicted he would.   If you are reading this and you are within a days drive from Berkley, CA you should go meet my friend Brent, and if you do, hug him for me.

Faith is trust.  It's believing in the goodness of someone or something.  To know that you have faith that I'll write something worth reading is comforting.  To know that you have faith in me, Brent, means more than I can say. I assure you, I have the same faith in you.

For Brent I would walk through fire.  I would pack up 4 kids today and find a way to CA if he said he needed me, and I have not a shadow of a doubt that he would do the same for me.  So that's what I think about you,  Brent Curdy.  I just thought you should know.