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February, 2011:

You Think You Know Someone

I have a good friend that I’ve known for over 10 years – I met her when I worked with her husband. I always knew she came to America from Vietnam when she was 18. I also knew that her father is an American, which made life for her very difficult in Vietnam. That was about the extent of my knowledge of her childhood. What I have always know is the person she has become – a smart, successful, driven woman who is a wonderful mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend. And after reading her story, what she’s made of herself and her life is simply amazing.

She wrote a short version of her story for CNN. Please check out her story here and vote for her if you are as moved by it as I was.

I’m Calling A Do-Over

A do-over – for the entire week.

Last Thursday I ordered a new laptop because the DVD drive on my old one had quit working – the laptop was 4 years old anyway. Well, apparently my laptop didn’t like that . . . because from that day forward, it gave me the finger every day and died just a little bit more inside every time I turned it on. I caressed it and talked sweetly to it and begged it for forgiveness. Just last until Wednesday – my new laptop comes Tuesday and I can relieve you of your duties. I thought we had a deal.

Until Monday came around. This week at work is a big and busy week – last week to finish the deliverables for Phase I of our ginormous project. “The They” are here all week looking over our shoulders to make sure we’re doing what we’re supposed to and that we’ll be done on time.

So I show up at work on Monday, turn my laptop on and start to . . . um, not work. Freezes. Hard reboot. Open file. Freeze. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

My hard drive died. On the day the people were here. On the first day of the week that we were planning on working many many extra hours. So I drive home to get my new external hard drive and scramble to get my dead laptop to the IT place and beg and plead for them to please please please recover my data . . . but please please please recover just these two specific files ASAP and email them to me so I can have a chance at finishing this project on time without losing my entire weekend’s worth of work.

I love the IT guys. They did it. Got my files within 10 minutes of me returning to work and sent them to me. The rest of them – not so easy since my external hard drive didn’t work. Ask me how pissed I was to hear that! So I had to buy one from them – same drive, just not teeny tiny and portable – unhappy – but really had no choice. While they’re getting my files, I’m finding a computer at the office that has the software I need so I can work with the 2 lovely files the IT guys have sent me. I find one – yay! I also get an email that says my new laptop shipped a day early and is supposed to arrive that night – woo hoo! It didn’t arrive until Tuesday afternoon, so I was still using the loaner.

The weather has been a bit iffy with the cold and the snow and you know, winter . . . it IS February in Colorado afterall. They’ve been cancelling and postponing school and Hubby leaves on Wednesday . . . so I call QT and set up for her to work at my house if school is closed Wednesday and the kids are home. When I get home, I walk to the neighbor’s house to see if there is a 2-hour delay, could they please call my kids around the time they should be leaving for the bus and make sure they’re leaving the house? Of course (I have awesome neighbors and friends!) I go home, start working on getting my laptop up and running. It’s bedtime and I can’t find my phone – anywhere. I call it . . . we walk around the house looking and listening. Nothing. I go search the Jeep – under the floor mats and seats . . . in the snow around the Jeep . . . in the kids’ backpacks . . . nothing. Then it hits me – the one step I forgot to retrace – the walk to the neighbor’s! So I grab a coat and a flashlight and tell Hubby to call my phone . . . lo and behold I see a blue light shining under a snowbank! I bend over to pick up the phone and it’s stuck – it’s been run over and is frozen into a block of ice. I can’t believe it’s still working! I pry it out of the ice and try to press Answer . . . it just laughed at me. Completely frozen. So I take it home and wrap it in a warm towel and caress it and comb its hair and tell it I love it. It starts warming up . . . thankfully it was working great Wednesday morning! I lost my camera when I left it on the bumper in Breck a couple weekends ago . . . telling Hubby I needed to buy a new phone in addition to a new camera in addition to the new laptop I just bought wasn’t high on my list of things to do 😉

So fast-forward to mid-Wednesday when I finally take a breath and realize that wow – I feel quite crappy! My ears hurt, my sinuses hurt, my throat hurts more than it did yesterday, and I’m coughing more. Great.

Thursday I wake up and can’t see out of my left eye – it’s matted shut and watering constantly and – pink. Wonderful! So I email the office and tell them I’ll be working at home because I did indeed get my laptop working (one bonus for the week!). I get an appt. with the doc . . . and at 1045 a.m. he asks me if my ears hurt – I say not as much as they did earlier in the week. Sinuses? Yes – they’ve gotten worse. Cough keeping you up at night? Not really – just fits every now and then mostly.

Then he says . . . “Well, the good news is you don’t necessarily have pink eye. But you do have a double ear infection and a sinus infection that has basically outgrown your sinuses and is spreading into your eyes.”

Great! At least I got some meds for it . . .

But I’m still calling a Do-Over.

The Good Ol’ Days

We had a couple snow days this past week – actually, not snow days – cold days. Yes, they closed school because it was cold. What (pause for dramatic effect) EVER! During those couple of days, the neighborhood kids got together and did whatever they wanted while us parents worked at home. Every now and then we’d see the kids come in to warm up or get a snack or make hot chocolate, but for the most part, they were free to do whatever they wanted all day for a couple days. I love that my kiddos are old enough that I don’t have to know where they are every minute. And I love that they all play together and check in at someone’s house every now and then so all we have to do is call around to see who’s seen them lately and make sure they’re still OK.

It got me thinking about my childhood and the freedom my parents let us have. We had lots of friends, but our best friends and those we played with most often were our cousins.

I remember Sundays when I was little. Every single week we’d go out to my cousin’s farm. So would a bunch of other people (my mom has 6 siblings). All of us cousins would play outside doing any number of things. We’d hang out in the ginormous machine shed playing hide and go seek on the farm equipment (I was never the seeker. I was too small and could always hide in good spots where they couldn’t find me!). Or we’d have races to see who could go from one side of the shed to the other the fastest without touching the ground (I never won. I was too small and my legs couldn’t always stretch from one piece of equipment to another, so I always ended up falling to the floor). Or we’d go to the corn bin, climb the ladder as high as we could, and jump off into the corn like a missile to see who could get themselves stuck the furthest in the corn (I never won. I was the youngest, the smallest, and the only girl. The boys were bigger, heavier, and would climb higher).

Raise your hand if you’ve ever run from a machine shed to a corn bin in the pouring rain, then gotten inside the corn bin and played around and gotten so full of red corn shucks from head to toe that your mom and aunt made you stand outside in the pouring rain at dinner time until you got cleaned off. Just me? Oh – carry on then…

We would walk or ride the 3-wheelers down to the back field. I always rode with my cousin Scott, who always scared the crap out of me because he’d speed up right before the railroad tracks and we’d FLY over them and off the drop off on the other side and land forever away and bounce and bounce on those hugely inflated 3-wheeler wheels. Never once wiped out. Amazing. We’d spend hours down there exploring the woods and climbing trees and pretending we were eating poisonous mushrooms.

Raise your hand if your daily ritual after a day playing with your cousins involved sitting on the floor while your mother picked through your hair checking for ticks?

Or we’d take brooms and rakes and anything else we could find with a long handle in the shed and run through the corn fields down the rows not knowing where we were going. And when we got too far that we were lost, we’d stick the handles up above the corn rows – surely someone would come get us when they saw us in the middle of the field!

Raise your hand if your parents got sick of your little come find me in the corn field game and you ended up choosing the wrong way to walk down the corn rows and ended up miles and miles from the farm and had to walk all the way back home. Just me? Oh – carry on then…

Or we’d ride our bikes down the gravel road to the State Trail (the old train tracks that is now a nice trail). Then we’d ride the State Trail for miles and miles and miles until we came to the railroad yard. Then we’d all grab our pennies out of our pockets, stick them on train track, and wait for a train to come by and squish them.

Raise your hand if you ever got yelled at by a train engineer because you were standing too close to the tracks trying to watch your penny get squished and almost got your head taken off by one of those giant handles on a train car? Just me? Oh – carry on then…

In the winter, we’d take the snowmobiles out for hours and hours and hours. We knew all the secret ways to get to the lake without having to go on the roads. We’d go spinning around on the frozen lake around all the fish houses having a blast. One of our favorite things to do was have one of us lay down behind the snowmobile on our stomach and hang on to the back of it. Then the driver would take off and go as fast as he could and turn and curve and go in circles trying to fishtail us enough that we couldn’t hang on anymore. The one who hung on the longest was the winner. No goggles. No helmets. And apparently no common sense . . . how did one of us not lose an eye?!

Raise your hand if you ever got so wet and muddy doing this that you detoured to your grandma’s house on the way back to the farm, broke in the basement window, threw all your dirty wet gear in the dryer, and ate cookies before you headed back home. Raise your other hand if you got caught (and grounded) because you were stupid kids and forgot to clean all of the mud and gravel out of the dryer? Just me? Oh – carry on then…

During the fall, my cousin Chad and I would ride our bikes out to the field to find my uncle in the combine. We’d give him his sack dinner and ride back to the house to eat dinner with everyone else. It was always special when you got old enough that they trusted you to ride your bike to the field to give Porky his dinner (even though you’d been riding your bike much further to try to get run over by trains for many years now).

Raise your hand if you ever decided to ride around in the combine for a couple hours rather than go back home, and by the time you got back home there was nobody there because they were all racing their cars up and down the harvested fields looking for you because you didn’t come back and there were no cell phones to call and they’d never told you that you shouldn’t ride around in the combine. Raise your other hand if you didn’t know everyone was panicked looking for you, so you sat down and ate dinner and had a blast because it was just the two of you and that had never happened before. Raise your foot if you got grounded. Just me? Oh – carry on then.

Or we’d walk down to the slough and play around down there, playing in the weeds and picking cattails. In the winter, we’d walk on the thin ice.

Raise your hand if when you were 4 your twin cousin ran to the farm house to get his mom, telling her Jodie was in the water going up and down up and down. Raise your other hand if your Aunt ran barefoot through the snow all the way to the slough because she thought you were drowning. Raise your foot if you got spanked and grounded when she discovered you’d only lost your boot in the snow and were going up and down up and down trying to free your boot from the wet, icy, slough.

So there’s a little glimpse into my childhood . . . a small town city girl who got to play on the farm with the boys all the time J

What are some of your favorite childhood memories?

Football Flashback

So how does a girl from MN become a Packer fan? Grab a coffee or beer or whatever and sit back while I make a short story long . . .

I certainly wasn’t always a Packer fan! I remember Sundays when I was little. Every single week we’d go out to my cousin’s farm. So would a bunch of other people (my mom has 6 siblings). All of us cousins would play outside doing anything we could find to do that didn’t involve sitting inside watching stupid football.

At half-time, we’d magically show up at the door. It was kinda weird how we always knew when half-time was even though none of us ever wore a watch, and we would be so far away from the house playing that even a shouting dad couldn’t be heard.

Everyone would go through the buffet line, get their plate of food, and sit down to watch the 2nd half of the game. Go Vikings! It was always go Vikings. It was Sunday; and it was MN. One particular season, I spent my Sundays scratching off these goofy little game tickets. My dad was a pop salesman (yes, I drank more sugar in my youth than you could ever imagine!). Every Saturday, I’d go to the grocery store with him to ride the little hand-truck loader thing and stock the shelves and arrange the cases of pop all nice for the customers and put the little discount tags inside the 6-packs of bottles and make deals with the chip guy across the aisle . . . he’d give us his outdated bags of chips if we gave him our outdated cases of pop (yes, I ate more not-quite-stale chips in my youth than you could ever imagine!). Dad knew all the weekend checkout girls . . . so they always gave him STACKS of those scratch off cards. It was Saturday, after all, and there was no way they would give out enough to the store customers that actually bought enough to earn them.

So we’d go home and on Sunday morning before the game, my brother and I would get a quarter and lay on the floor and scratch off a bazillion game tickets. Each one had a score on it for that weeks game . . . if the game ended up being that score, you won a new car! Or maybe it was just $100 or a case of pop or a bag of chips or a plastic football or something like that. But it sure was fun! That season, we’d take those cards to my cousin’s farm and everyone would draw one (and we got to keep the rest) and see who won the game.

15 years of my life. Good times. Good times.

Then, suddenly overnight, all of us cousins got older and started having jobs. I worked at McDonald’s. One of my best friends and I were the Saturday and Sunday openers, which meant we got to be at work at 5:00 a.m. . . . making biscuits (back in the day when you actually had to make the biscuits, not pull them frozen out of a bag) . . . mixing up pancake mix, stocking milk in the cooler, getting the coffee brewing. We worked the open to 2:00 p.m. shift.

The manager that opened with us was a HUGE Packers fan. And boy did he dislike missing the Packers games on Sunday while we were at McDonald’s. So he got this bright idea . . . he brought in a teeny tiny little TV so he could watch the games. And since he liked us so much, he said that if we promised to cheer for the Packers when they were on, he’d always put us on the grill rather than up front with the customers on Sundays so we could watch the games with him.

Done.

I guess you could say it became a habit to cheer for the Packers.

And that’s how a girl from MN became a Packer fan.

GO PACKERS!