Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year

I love a new year. A fresh start. A blank slate. I've been spending a bit of time this week gutting out some old and outdated stuff from my office, some of it not even mine. Last week I multitasked, deciding to call up the friend the dusty box of 10+ year old documents belonged to and chat with her while I purged, separating metal clips from the recyclables.

Today's stash took me back even farther, to a time predating my current position, but the hanger-onner, ever prepared good girl that I am, I had not turned loose of a binder full of reference material. I quickly thumbed through its contents before committing the pages to the shred can. I flopped the sheets open on a blank note page containing a quote at the bottom. I sat for a moment in silence at the message, so fitting for today:

Yes. So much yes. I was returning to this thing...this binder full of information from 2006 and it was absolutely telling me how I was different and didn't need it anymore. It also reminded me that Nelson Mandela died this month one year ago. He was still alive when I was using that reference material. The second notes page came with another quote that made me laugh. First, because it was a little serendipitous that these quotes just popped up today of all days in my office that is otherwise pretty devoid of inspirational messaging. Secondly, I thought it funny because someone must have thought the subject matter at hand, which at the time was a fairly big change for some staff, might be met with some resistance and they might need to be made to feel better about embracing it.

And I do look to the New Year with hope. I also don't ever discount the old year because we must acknowledge what we did before we can move forward. I'd like to take this time to do that thing that some people do in their Christmas cards where they give a rundown of their year in a way that will inevitably annoy some people, piss people off for being omitted as a highlight, or otherwise aggravate or agitate folks. Ready? OK.

  • I failed to renew my free trials of OnStar and XM Radio, and have somehow survived without both.
  • I watched the Olympics. I retained zero info about anything except the clothes.
  • I learned a new haircutting technique for those "Heather's House of Handsomeness" days at the Lee house.
  • I sent my kids off to a rock concert and they came back alive and without any tattoos.
  • I schlepped to the school several times for character kid assemblies.
  • I made four birthday cakes. Maybe two turned out OK.
  • I managed to get myself and the toothed children to the dentist when appropriate.
  • I stood up to the Parks & Rec Board. I stood up to the City Council. Neither of those things worked out but we all know it was still the right thing to do. I helped stand up to the Port of Lewiston and that DID work out (temporarily).
  • I discovered TED Talks.
  • I read a ton of fantastic books.
  • I watched a ton of TV. (This sounds bad but I'm also counting all the great, heartbreaking, and informative documentaries on Netflix).
  • I got a FAB new roomie at work who doesn't even make me want to punch her in the throat, even on Throat Punch Thursday.
  • I got a new boss, and I don't hate his guts yet.
  • I cleaned paint out of the carpet.
  • I cleaned gum out of the carpet.
  • I helped a friend get her sweet daughter's story out to the world on (Read it here: Crista and Alex's story)
  • I enjoyed another week with the Boyles clan.
  • I got to reconnect with the classmates after 20 years and have bonus fun with the planners.
  • I lost 30 pounds after the class reunion so nobody there would feel bad about themselves. (Just kidding. No, really I did lose the 30 pounds.)
  • I became an ordained minister, just because.
  • I watched proudly as my #2 kid played football for the first time and his team went undefeated and took the championship. I was equally proud that he shamelessly wizzed on the sidelines in his Auntie's town like he owned the place.
  • I became a Hockey Mom. Well, I mean...I don't have the sticker on my car or the bedazzled hoodie yet...but I do wear my vintage Persian baby curly lamb fur coat to games like a crazy person.
  • I successfully kept the magic in the Christmas season for my children for another year so they could keep the magic alive for me.
So there you go. We can now close the books on 2014 and look ahead to a shiny fresh new year, not yet smudged by sticky peanut butter fingers with excitement for what life might bring and who might come into our lives at THIS right time for us to have them.

That is my wish for everyone this year, that you welcome whatever comes with an open heart and an open mind, and embrace YOUR life. Share it with the rest of us. Fun, boring, shitshow, whatever form it takes.

PS: One last thing for the year to my list: I'm updating the tagline of my blog today from "A random collection of thoughts and observations about and from my kids and family" to "From rainbows to reality in a heartbeat" because 1) it's time to change things up, and 2) Kris Tanory totally gets credit for pointing out that this descriptor one random day in a CarVersation with Clayton essentially sums up how things go down in the Lee house. As much as we'd like life to look like a Pinterest board, it just...doesn't.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

HUMP DAY! (And, Even Better: BACK TO SCHOOL!!!!)

Everyone knows what today is.

Yes, Camel. That too.

One need only look at their Facebook and Instagram feeds to be inundated with adorable pictures of shorties headed off for the first day after Summer ended for them, including mine.

Of note, this is Esten's favorite "thinking rock".

Aww.  Too bad, now get your fannies on that bus.

Most kids are all decked out in their fly new threads.  Mine opted for old holey shorts topped with the ONE new shirt I let them pick out themselves (the other new clothes were my selection, because I am THAT mom).  Esten managed to plop a blob of toothpaste right into the mouth area of that creeper, while Clayton forgot to push his hoodie sleeves up and ended up with wet wrists and elbows.

I know....this "brushing our teeth every morning" thing is going to be super difficult.

I even addressed it, absentmindedly, on the sheet I was tasked with filling out in order for Clayton's teacher to get to know her students more quickly.  Two sides of questions, I grumbled as I settled into bed with a cup of tea once all the littles were tucked in.  I was already drained from the evening's ice cream social/bring your crap supplies to school/meet your teacher event where I, pushing the giant jogging stroller down the crowded hallway, dropped a full 32oz cup of ice water and the lid busted off.  The one emergency diaper I had stashed in the basket almost sopped up the slippery puddle, but another parent came to the rescue with a rag before I single handedly injured anyone before they even had a chance to do so on their own.  Esten's bestie's mom watched and laughed, her armpits already perched on crutches from a knee injury.

I eyeballed the book calling to me from my nightstand to carry on my bedtime reading routine, but I held fast and completed that paper.  At the bottom I included an asterisk:

*Please do not let the principal read this, thanks! ~ H. Lee

I remembered having completed similar forms in the past, but I just was not ready this year for homework the night before school started.  Since Clayton was in a looping class the last two years, I hadn't filled one out for him since first grade.  I reread my response to his teacher asking: "In a million words or less tell me everything I need to know about your child - favorite foods, hobbies, strengths, weaknesses - anything to help get to know your little one":

Clayton Lee - lover of apple juice, follower/fan of big brother Esten. Still hangs onto his lisp a bit more than others. Throws an uncharacteristically perfect spiral football. Claims to be a "non-reader" until pushed harder, loves Mrs. Brockmann [the librarian]. Pushes the extremes between loving inappropriately heavy metal music, instigating unwanted wrestling matches with his older brother, and soaking up his dwindling months as the "little brother". Was adamant about Mrs. Purcell [this teacher] being his first choice, was overcome with glee to see the class list, except when he noted his bff's Jordan and Cole would not be joining him. Loves crafts and painting, recently proclaimed that "when you clean out the purple from our brush it does NOT taste like grape". Never met a corndog he didn't love, he will occasionally take breaks from food long enough to play video games. Enthused over water parks, especially loves Kellogg and Silverwood, gets in a major funk when plans change. Has been resilient and helpful at school and home, is sometimes sad that Grandpa just died in the middle of August, who lived with us for the past 2 of Clayton's short 6 years. Still convinced his cop dad is a superhero and that mommy is magic because I can spread Nutella on a graham cracker. Has spent the summer on the tube behind the boat, telling us to crank up the music, flashing us the two-handed devil horns and insisting that we make the ride "more extreme". Will show anyone who is interested his ninja moves. Remembers like a savant if you tell him a reward or fun day is coming and exactly how old he will be when he is due for shots again. Cannot hear or remember being told to pick up dirty socks. Is excited beyond words for this school year.

Suffice it to say, his lisp is gone (and I secretly miss it), and he has added to this list, but it's still pretty much him in a nutshell.  I suppose it was easier to describe him "in a million words or less" than it was here, with these specific questions staring at me.  Fortunately, he inherited Esten's 3rd grade teacher, and I love her to pieces and she has an awesome sense of humor.  Perhaps this was my downfall in knowing I could phone it in on some of the responses.  I tried to stay purposeful and grownup about all these questions about strengths and weaknesses and optimum learning environment, but when asked, "What are your concerns regarding your child?" all I could muster was:

I am concerned that my "brush your teeth every morning before school" demands will not be met after about the 4th day of school.

To "What kind of teacher would be ideal for your child?" I responded:

Isn't this a trick question at this point?
  1. One with a certificate.
  2. One who isn't homeschooling him.
  3. One whose name rhymes with "Mashley Wreckenpaugh"
Thank the Lord Baby Jesus that he DID end up in Ashley Peckenpaugh's class, because I'm sure the other teacher is a super lovely lady, but it takes a TEAM of good-humored individuals to take on helping me raise these boys, and to be honest, acquainting myself with ONE new teacher a year is enough.  The other one being old hat for our family is so helpful.

This is why my friend pool is a foot across and a hundred feet deep instead of 50 feet across and 3 inches deep.  I just don't have the inclination to invite that many people into my planet, and then try to explain to all the new people why it's so weird on my planet.

So to all those moms (and dads) who captured this morning's send off in whatever manner that happened; ala Pinterest props, with signs, toothpaste blobs on new shirts, pouting glares, tears, toothless smiles...all of it, know that I enjoy every one of them just as much as I like sharing mine with you.  To those who didn't happen to catch them?  No biggie.  Life happens.  We aren't required to document everything to enjoy it.

Friday, August 8, 2014

It's Been 20 Years and I Can't Breathe


It's been 20 years and I can't breathe.

Maybe it's because I just really can't believe it.  I've been involved in the process, unhelpful as I may have been throughout, offering little more than snarky remarks and moral support and reminders that our drinks are almost empty.  But I can't really believe it's today.  Like today - today.

Maybe it's because this weekend is upon us, this weekend of hundred plus degree weather that's been dragging on forrrrevvvverrrr and seems like it will never end.  The heat is like Satan's-testicles-in-pleather-pants-hot.  I'm not a fan.

Maybe it's because my Spanx are too tight.

I entered this 20th class reunion idea very reluctantly.  It took long reflections and purging of baggage and dealing with the inevitable responses I got from both The Hubs and The Bestie, which were, essentially, identical:

"But...I thought you hated high school."

Yes.  Sort of true.  So to not only resign myself to attending but to also helping to plan this event was way outside my comfort zone.  To be fair, it began with a bit of a distress signal, one that suggested we might not have one at all unless someone stepped up and made it happen.  Those who did made sure that the "committee", if we can call it that (my throat closes up when I say that) merely represented anyone who chose to show at the designated time and place to make that night's decisions.  Nobody more important than another, you could come or go as you wished.

And somehow, this ragtag bunch of bitches has managed to put together what seems like might turn out to be three days of something worthwhile.

I'm shocked.  Except I'm not.

I certainly don't deserve to lump myself in the same category as those who have put in more effort, but I'm glad to have participated, for sure.  It was like "exposure therapy" in psychotherapy world...where I could slowly get used to the idea before jumping in headlong, an idea that it's now becoming evident as we get closer that not everyone is on board with.  Had I not joined in with this group, would I have been one of those who are left thumbing their noses at this gathering, still schlepping around their harbored hatreds and issues from two decades ago?

I might have had some not so great memories, but the good really do outweigh the bad, and the people?  Let's talk about the people.

They're the keepers of our secrets, the only ones who really understood us when our lame-o parents just didn't get it.  They loved us through terrible skin and piece of shit cars.  We duked it out for first chair flute, first string quarterback, head cheerleader, and first place for the science projects nobody wanted to do.  They've been our backup singers, our personal stylists, our heroes, our shoulders to cry on.  They shared their lunches, their clothes, their books, their hairspray, and their hearts.  They have the most embarrassing pictures of us, and they never judged us.  We watched a Space Shuttle fall out of the sky together and they took on the bulk of cat dissection when the teacher wasn't looking so we wouldn't have to.  Sometimes, they made us cry.  But for any tears, there was a thousand times more laughter.

Whatever life had to hand us, these were the people that were there during some pretty important years.

That's why I'm taking my shorties along to help out with some festivities.  They are at that age where they just.cannot.imagine. a time in life where they don't see their friends all.the.time.  Our neighborhood is crawling with kids from their school, or summer would be just.too.unbearable.  Seeing them and their daily hookup with buddies takes me back to the days when weekends were just too long to go without seeing my friends, the ones who lived, you two whole blocks away.  Torture.

I'm so glad for the FB world and the ability to reach those same two whole blocks away friends who live MUCH further away today, because deep down we're just the same geeky kids that were awkward and lived too far away from "town" for anything fun except to hang out with each other and crimp our hair or trying not to maim ourselves taking shortcuts through barbed wire fences, because...well...two blocks in the Orchards is a LONG WAY.  And I still love the bajonkies out of those people.

So, to honor those THIRTEEN years (and not just two or three), we will converge tonight upon this town, not nearly enough of a representative group for the size of our original class, but my hope is that when those who are there get word out about what a great time they had reconnecting with each other, the rest will want to show up in another ten years.

Or not.  Either way..."The Committee" is officially done and due a drink or two for their efforts.  Cheers to that.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Some Concrete Is Best Suited for Headstones

***Apologies now, I realize this is an old topic, but it never posted***

Moving on now.

I really am.  I'm not interested in whether anyone "believes" my position or someone else's position on any given subject.  It's obvious that I deal exclusively in facts and that hurts people's feelings sometimes.

They need to get over it.

The dude that owns the Clippers made some racist remarks.

And people....people that I KNOW?  They got all kinds of upset that people close to that old wrinkly nutsack set him up and coerced him into saying the N word.  And now we're supposed to feel BAD for him because....he has CANCER.


I digress.

I simply was trying to point out that despite anyone's shining public service, their years of planning a project, devoting time away from their family, their hours of volunteering and fundraising and whatnot....there were....rules violated along the way.  There were Idaho Open Meeting Laws that were sidestepped.  There were two sides of a fence played.  There were hands that were unclean when the table was approached.  There were statements made, on the record, then promptly denied.  There have been statements made and out there IN PRINT on the interwebz just BEGGING for someone to research for themselves that absolutely are in conflict with what is being said....but's easier to just say, "That lady is being a meanyhead and acting like a 6 year old."

Yep.  That's me.  The meanyhead who fact-finds for a living, who digs up truth, gets it on the table, and THEN formulates the best, most FAIR decision for everyone.  That's me.  I don't know any other way to do it.  I'm not in any business that forces me to sell my soul to the Devil to get ahead in life.  I'm not in sales, I don't advertise on my blog, I have like....3 readers....and I'm not out to win any popularity contests.  If you're gonna drop me as a friend for calling someone out on their bullshit, don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.

I guess I got it from one of MY Grandmas...maybe because she wasn't rich...DIDN'T have a gold convertible....didn't have a car AT ALL.  But she COULD smell bullshit a mile away.

She also, likely without hesitation, fed a kid who tagged along home with my uncle, a kid who was getting the sense knocked out of him by his own grandma, his grandma who took him in when his impossibly heartbreaking parent situation left no other option.  My grandma did it up until my great grandpa heard the kid's grandma was looking for him and, that, along with his patience running thin at the already full-of-kids dinner table, ran him off one night, and I'll say it's likely her only regret was not standing up to her own father that night and keeping the kid there.

That kid didn't go home.  He hunkered down by the creek that night.  But not all night.  Hunger kicked in and he found himself, like other children of The Great Depression, a sudden burglar, breaking into the local store for something to put in his belly.  When the noise rousted the owners, events of that night turned south, and that kid cowered in a hiding place, pointed the gun borrowed from a friend's house out into the dark and squeezed, its bullet landing in the skull of the local Sheriff who'd come to check out the ruckus.

Oh, how influential we are if only by accident on shaping the path that children will follow.  How infinitely more important that influence is than any measure of self-important influence we may wish to have around our business associates or social circles.  How differently things could have been for everyone involved had one more adult been a bit more understanding, compassionate, patient.

I wasn't there, I can't imagine the hollow feeling that crept through everyone who'd had a chance to do the right thing and didn't.  But that was a different time.  Lucky for us, THIS is a different time.  We have a chance to stand up to those who don't really have the best interest of our children at heart, who have lost sight of the real cost of not taking care of our youth.  Because if we can't do that, and nobody uses that pristine chunk of concrete, it's essentially a monument, and in my book, a pristine chunk of concrete used as a monument is better known as a headstone.  It seems that those decision makers we have selected to run our show are more interested in having a facility serve as their own personal legacy landmark than they really are having it be a community spot for growth and recreation for our youth.

And if you look through history and what happens when we turn our backs on our youth, I believe the results speak for themselves.

Would it have killed you to let them have fun?

On a sidenote, if you're curious to know how things played out for that kid or you're just into local history, I really recommend you pick up a copy of The Boy Who Shot The Sheriff by Nancy Bartley.  Let me know what you thought of it, or if you've already read it, tell us what you think.  It's a great look into how our nation learned to face its deficiencies in facing youth crime and how ill-equipped we were to nurture the children they still remained despite their actions.  Anyone in the periphery of CASA, juvenile probation, foster care, or even our school system is well served to observe and learn from this piece.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Night Clayton Helped Volbeat Rock Spokane

Most people know that we don't so much allow our kids to participate in things like organized sports because we have such crazy schedules and unless the boys happened to both end up wanting to play the same sport and be on the same team, logistically it's just not happening for them.  Instead, we opt to cram in concentrated family fun times, like Spring Break, where for a few days we enjoyed an indoor waterpark where Esten accidentally showed everyone his genitals and Clayton made quick friends with an online child predator who claimed to be an 8 year old girl named "PuppyLover" who was playing MineCraft and who wondered if anyone "was going swimming" that day.

They returned to school, but didn't finish out the whole week before I had to send a reminder email to both teachers that they'd be out on Friday as well so their father could take them to a concert:

Subject: Esten/Clayton attendance 4/11/2014

Hi Ladies,

As an official reminder (since I'm sure the boys have been nice enough to let you know) neither of them will be in school on Friday, 4/11/2014.

Their FATHER is taking them to Spokane to a real-live rock show at the Knitting Factory to see Volbeat.

I have been assured that there is some sort of child-friendly alcohol-free area and he's made arrangements with the management to get them in and settled early before the crowd arrives.

:\ I'm not sure how to feel about this. Anyway, please let me know if this email is NOT sufficient and if I STILL need to call the office in the morning, I'm happy to do that.


I expected some backlash. A little bit of....something. No. This is what I got:

Esten has most definitely informed me of his SUPER FUN plans. You only get to be 9 once. I think it's wonderful that they are having a guys night.
I'm playing hookie tomorrow as well. Now I don't feel so bad.
Thanks for letting us know.


Lol, oh boy! That sounds wild, they are going to have SO MUCH FUN! I will forward your email to our secretary, so she can count them as absent tomorrow.

Thank you and I hope you don't worry too much ;)

These gals got it.  They've known the boys long enough to know how they've grown to love this band and what this opportunity meant to them.  For those who maybe haven't heard of this band, a little background:

Jason had loaded a few songs on Esten's iPod after hearing them on satellite radio's Octane channel just because he wanted to use the smaller one for running one day and then forgot to remove them later.  One day in the car Esten made a random request from the backseat, "Can we listen to 'Heaven Nor Hell'?" and we exchanged confused parental glances.
"How do you know about that song?"
"It's on my iPod."
Esten's interest in the band continued to grow at that point, and he knew every word to every song he had at that point, and he began researching them and telling Jason about other songs and albums he needed to download.

Originally from Denmark, they are consistent metal chart toppers in Europe and have toured with Metallica.  It didn't take long for Volbeat obsession to take hold in our house.

The kids have Volbeat shirts that they insisted on wearing for picture day.  They have other Volbeat shirts that I felt might violate dress code because one has a noose on it that I thought may be considered a weapon or the shirt might flat-out scare a kindergartner.  I made Esten pack an extra shirt in his backpack and said if anyone told him to change he was not to be sassy.  Later on I asked whether anyone said anything. 

"Yeah...the Principal said 'Hey dude, cool shirt' and he gave me a high five."

I cornered the Principal about that and asked why he didn't call my kid out on a dress code violation.

"Trust me.  You have great kids.  Your kids are the absolute LEAST of my worries at school."

It became a running joke so much so that even our Elf was a Volbeat fan:

Esten, proclaiming a Volbeat song title reminds him of me.
This is boy talk for "I LOVE YOU", by the way....
So many fans are there in our house that Jason made a promise to the boys that if they ever toured the Northwest that he would take them.

Then they released tour dates including Spokane in March, 2013.  And he balked.  I bought him a single ticket for his birthday that year, albeit begrudgingly, because 1) I knew he would probably buy one for himself anyway, and 2) the venue they were playing was undergoing challenges at that time with violent activity including shootings during and after some shows.  The city almost shut the doors on the business but in the end did not.  I had a hard time letting my husband go there, but I certainly wasn't about to let my kids go.

After he and his friends attended, he was even more convinced the kids would have loved it.  The Knitting Factory had a designated non-alcohol area that was separated and elevated.  He made up his mind that if Volbeat didn't get too big for their britches and if they made another pass around through Spokane, the kids were definitely going.  When the dates went up for 2014 and Spokane was on the list, he bought 3 tickets.

Just to allay his fears, Jason reached out to the management at the Knitting Factory before buying the tickets to tell them he was considering buying the tickets and bringing two kids.  They were more than gracious to work with him and made arrangements to let them in early before the crowd, get them settled in the appropriate area, and took care of all their needs.  They really treated my guys like VIPs and they didn't have to.  They weren't getting any extra money and could have easily told him to pound sand.  They deserve recognition for going above and beyond for us.

Before we go in: don't talk to Shady Ladies,
and remember to wash your hands.

Horns, check.
Volbeat shirts, check.
Hearing protection, check.

They got to see the stage and Jason got to see the kids' eyes light up when they went in to check it out before things got busy and the bands were setting up.  Two other bands were there before Volbeat, Digital Summer and Trivium.  Let's just say I've never heard of them but from the sounds of it had I been there and witnessed it I'd have said "Get in the car boys.....we're outta here."  But again...concerts aren't really my thing.  Conway's still dead and other people usually suck in person.

After Trivium finished there was a bit of an intermission while Volbeat was setting up.  Jason stopped a security guy to ask about how to get Esten up on the stage.  He knew enough about Volbeat's concert habits that they play their set list, then during their encore set there is a song written for their fans called "Thanks" during which they will bring up any kids that are in attendance that want to come up on stage.  A second security guy told him to have both kids ready at the left of the stage after their encore and he would make sure they got up there.

He flashed them his best most excited devil horns.


"YOU ARE!!!!"


"WE ARE!!!"


"WE DO!!!"

Then the lights went down, the stage lights came up, Volbeat came out and Esten saw his music hero, lead singer Michael Poulsen.....and they were going CRAZY jumping up and down.

(photo courtesy:

I imagine the feeling, at this point, being equivalent to how my sister in law Mandy must have felt as she tore holes in her pantyhose at the excitement of seeing New Kids on the Block.


*Fun Fact: I was at the same concert and did not tear holes in my pantyhose.

Jason knew that getting up on stage would be right up his alley and it was getting to be time as their set list was winding up and was dreading dragging two little nuggets through wall to wall people who had, for the most part, been drinking throughout the performances of two and a half bands by this point.  It would be like voluntarily walking into a worst-night scenario on the job, except taking your kids along too.  He instructed them carefully, one to take a hold of his shirt, the other to hold onto his brother's shirt, so that they would not be separated in the crowd.

They each immediately grabbed ahold of their OWN shirts and pulled them straight out.  He redirected them.  Twice.  But with the ear protection and Volbeat blaring in the background it was difficult for them to understand.  Once they figured it out they snaked their way through sweaty and questionable fans to the checkpoint.  They were told to sit on the steps until it was time.

"Esten, I wish I was going up there with you."

Then Jason could see Esten's eyes tearing up.

"I don't want to do this, Dad, I never wanted to do it."


Apparently bit by the stage fright bug or something, we finally got out of him that he was afraid that he was going to mess up.  He literally thought they were going to make HIM SING THE SONG.

OMG.  This band is just about all Esten talks about.  The lead singer, Michael Poulsen is his hero in the way most kids like sports figures.  It's crazytown.  He's a volcano of Volbeat trivia.  He just locked up.

Voted most likely to be what Esten wants to be when he grows up,
By Esten.
(photo courtesy
Will only know lyrics to next released album 5 minutes before
Esten Lee knows lyrics to next album.

So Jason schlepped them back through the crowd, each with a fist full of each other's shirts until they got back to their spot where Clayton tugged on Jason's shirt.

"Dad.....but I wanted to go up on stage."

This is where having had some family there helped.  Jason planted Esten with a cousin and prepared to take Clayton back through the gauntlet....again.  Once they got back to the steps they waited a couple songs for the cue.  The singer made the announcement for kids to come up and the bouncer made a beeline for Jason.  He looked down at Clayton then back at Jason.

This is how a Rock Star looks when he's warming up.

"Where's the other one?"

Before he knew it, Clayton was being swept away, up onto the stage.  Jason went down in front of the barriers in the "no access area" with his cell phone out to document it.  He was looking around and waiting and finally he saw...his son....strutting across the stage like a BOSS throwing up his best devil horns.

Clayton - playing to the crowd, ignoring the bras hanging around
just like mom's on the bathroom doorknobs.

The video really speaks for itself.  With a dozen or so other kids who are living out probably a once in a lifetime opportunity (and everyone handles stages differently) Clayton is obviously in his own world.  He is oblivious to what's going on around him.  He has no idea.  He's just rocking it.  Hard.  Even the bass player is a little unsure of what he's looking at.  Afterward, he gave Clayton his wristband.

Do yourself a favor.  Stop everything and watch this video right now by clicking this link, then come back and finish the rest of the story...if you can stop smile/laughing/crying.  It's the coolest, even if I'm biased:

Click to follow link:

Inspiring the bass player to abandon his bass and try air guitar instead.

They're a real power house duo, he is so into it he has no idea anyone
famous is RIGHT THERE.

The guitar player wants in on this jam session. This kid is a natural.
Committed to the craft. Focus. Drive.
Clayton gets the bassist's wristband. Probably the first time he even
realizes he's there.

Can't leave without a high five from Michael Poulsen.
With his sweet wristband, which has the initials AK on
the back, for Anders Kjolholm. Clayton promptly wanted
to wear it outside to play basketball the next day.
Afterward they made their way back to Esten and all the way they were met by new superfans who were smitten.  Justin Bieber had nothing on Clayton that night.

And Esten?  Regrets horribly his decision.  A life lesson, this.  Never pass up an opportunity out of fear or misunderstanding.  Go for it, balls out.

Outside people were continuing to cheer Clayton on.  As they crossed the street and they were calling out he turned to face them (while still walking backward), threw up his devil horns at them again, and said, "Dad....I've got swagger like a jaguar."

Later, a friend would text Jason to say  "Just walked by a group of ladies on the sidewalk saying that little kid with the headphones? Cute as shit! He was the best of all of them."

As is customary, their tour posted pictures on their website and linked them to their Facebook page marking their latest stop that night, and wouldn't you know....

Clayton's cute mug was right there to even out our running count for media coverage tit-for-tat that we all know my kids scratch each other's eyeballs out over while they eat their Lucky Charms in the morning.  Clayton had still been licking his wounds after the last City Council meeting when Esten and I had gotten up to tear ass about the scooter ban situation but he had been.....


He was super pissed that Esten ended up on the news and said he would have rethought his position if he had that info in the beginning.

Some of the fans took to the Facebook comments:

And that kid rocked it, too!! He'll be heading up his own band in no time :)

That kid rocked it! Great concert Volbeat!

(photo courtesy:

(photo courtesy:

 The greatest part of all this is that our kids got to experience this truly amazing thing and the next day they were just up and out the door and playing with the neighborhood kids and back to normal life.  It probably won't hit them for a few years until Volbeat gets even more mainstream just how awesome this was and then it will hit them like a ton of bricks.  They.Were.There.


And he did it like a champ.  And I'm super proud of him for giving it his all like that.  I hope it's not long before they come this way again and Esten will remember how this went down and they'll be up there together next time.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I've Got Your Bird....Right Here


Greetings Friends! As you know, I am an AVID birdwatcher, but my friends and I keep getting into trouble when folks catch us sneaking a peek at the chickadees perched in the dogwoods in their backyards.

Tired of returning to court to deal with restraining orders, we decided to start a fundraiser to install Birdwatching Benches by the ponds where a perennial mix of ducks and Canadian geese gather to fluff their feathers so that the whole community can share what we have grown to love over the years.


OK people, so apparently nobody's going to kick in any money and the City says in order for them to donate the land that the benches would sit on and to justify tax money supporting any part of this project, SOMEONE has to come up with at least 50 grand to break ground.  I guess I'll do it myself. I SINCERELY would appreciate some backing here.  I am seriously getting tired of being harassed by my neighbor every time he catches me in his yard. The cops know my birthdate by heart. Let's make this happen. Oh, and they said since I'm putting in so much of my own money the bench grouping will be known as the "DayLeeFix Dirtybird Depot". Sweeeet! Stand by and be looking for a sign you guys!!


Found a way to help the process along. Volunteered for the Advisory Board, because apparently nobody at the city knows ANYTHING about birdwatching benches. Who has never heard of birdwatching benches?? Jeebus I hate this backward town. CANNOT WAIT TO MOVE, YO. On the plus, they're going to go with whatever I say. Lolz, for real has this town ever heard of Google??? Whatevs, though. They like don't question ANYTHING I tell them. AT ALL.


Great news!!  Birdwatching benches are installed, complete with built in hooks for binocular straps. They are thee coolest.  Super super sick.  Come check them out everyone, for real.


Super bad news guys.  I went to enjoy the birdwatching benches and every one of them was being sat on by like....just regular PEOPLE. they were just....eating ice cream and they weren't even LOOKING at the birds. In FACT, they were being so noisy with their joyful laughter that half the birds flew away. One kid was even standing on the bench. With his SHOES on. And some of them were wearing really gross MOM JEANS with metal rivets that were scratching the benches and some of them were fat so the scratches were really deep. WTF? Everyone knows birdwatching benches are not to be sat on in bluejeans, they're meant to be sat on in khakis.  I won't stand for this. I invested a LOT of my personal money so that this COMMUNITY could ENJOY these birdwatching benches. That kind of comes with the understanding that I get to be in charge and make the rules. This is BS.


Whew.  Crisis averted.  Got my birdwatching buddies together and went to the Council and explained to them the situation, about how dangerous it is for kids to be on those benches because one might sneak up on me and if I lower my binocs too quickly I might elbow one in the head and I just have their safety in mind, and how those jeans are damaging my investment and sometimes a rogue cameltoe appears in my lens and distracts from my birdwatching experience and whatnot, and how they were NEVER MEANT or designed to be used for ANYTHING but birdwatching (HELLO they're called BIRDWATCHING BENCHES for a reason, not SITTING BENCHES). So they passed an ordinance banning children or anyone wearing jeans or anyone too fat or eating ice cream from just sitting on the benches effective immediately.  I feel so much better now that we can get back to the community enjoying the birdwatching benches. If those people want SITTING BENCHES they should do their OWN fundraiser like I had to and get their OWN in another area, instead of complaining after the fact that they can't sit on mine anymore. Sheesh. What is WRONG with people. I paid the is this complicated??

Monday, January 27, 2014

Twenty Year...Wait, What?!

A friend of mine from Facebook land is pretty consistent with her Throwback Thursday posts.  Oh, how I do enjoy having friends who don't take themselves so seriously that they can take us with them down memory lane, scrunchies, perms, and all.  One day some of us were feeling supportive of her and didn't want her to wallow alone in the tears of our laughter, so we ponied up our worst on her thread to show our sisterly solidarity....though most of us were strangers.  That's how it works.

That picture of me, however, just like the pictures of all of us...were pretty serious business at some point in history.  Mine?  I was sixteen years old.  SIXTEEN. YEARS. OLD. And it was my Senior picture.  WTF?

I don't know if this should be more embarrassing for me (then or now) or Ralph Lauren and/or the entire United States of America (then or now) but my with the monstrosity that our athletes are to only wear inside the official Olympic village and nowhere else, lest they be assaulted.  Yes.  Obviously.  Anyone, anywhere would beat someone up for wearing that outfit.  I would beat up my OWN kid for wearing that outfit.  I'm joking.  I wouldn't let my kid wear that outfit.  I'd make him drop out of the Olympics.

Red, White, and Bluetiful.
What's Black and White
Permy all over?

Lucky for the world that I'm taken and that MY sweater is long gone because can you say "POWER COUPLE"?  Kidding, again.  He's probably what?  Nineteen?  And he looks humiliated, like when you put a sweater on a dog that's just not that into it.

Unlucky for him this pic is gonna haunt him for a long time.  Like mine did.  First willingly when I was being a good sport, then, when I joined a lovely group of ladies planning out our 20th class reunion.

Urk.  Just typing that out makes my throat swell up.  Da hubs had his last year, which was fine because there were like 29 people in his class, they feel like family, and, well....he's OLD.  This is getting personal.  And there's like 330 give or take from my class.

This group has been fluid and flexible, opening up the "committee" to whomever cares to show up at the posted venue at the posted time, allowing decisions to be made by the majority showing up there and putting some things to a vote on a Facebook group wall, and somehow organized with the help of one amazingly together lady who doesn't even live here.  I've missed all but the last meeting because of our crazy home schedule, but I finally made it to one, to scan through our yearbook and through the list of names of classmates we had yet to reach to see if we could, as a little group, get our feelers out a little wider than before.
This giant group reaching far and wide that we could barely get our minds around, let alone our arms around.  We even tried to fit them neatly into the categories we knew they never belonged in to begin with, attempting to bully the one "cowgirl" at the table to track down anyone wearing a cowboy hat in their picture.  We laughed, acknowledging that the labels of high school didn't fit then and didn't define us as people any more than the jobs or spouses we have define us now.

It stymies me what twenty years will do to a group of that size, blowing us the 4 directions of the wind, making us parents, grandparents, married 20 years to one person, divorced, remarried, still single, sinners, saints, and angels.  We've had tragedy, success, love, loss, and laughter.  We've stayed together, lost touch, reconnected, remembered, and forgotten.  We are graying, coloring, balding, fat, skinny, angry, happy, confused, and content.

As we flipped through the pages I began to wonder whether the publisher just made up some of the names or whether I had actually attended school with these people at all.  There were faces I knew but their names I did not.  Names I had heard but faces my eyes had never seen.  It was obvious what twenty years had done to me.  It had turned my brain into my Grandma's.  The one that doesn't know anyone.

When you see reunion scenes in movies or on TV, there's always the lady sitting at a table passing out name tags, and she's the only who seems to remember everyone, right?  No.  I realize now it's only because, through the planning process, she reacquainted her brain with everyone that she SEEMS to remember everyone, but I know now that lady is just like me, humped over a hardback full of black and whites, thinking "Who the hell is this?  Did this guy REALLY go to school with us?  He looks FORTY...look...he has a full-on moustache.  He must have been the janitor."

We apparently didn't do a great job distinguishing our foreign exchange students either, because we integrated them so well we had to just go off "memory" for which ones they were, and I, not wanting to hurt anyone's feelings or purport to know how they'd like to spend their summer holiday, suggested that we SHOULD, in fact, send an invite to Spain. I might NOT have been the most helpful person at the table, obviously.  I also mistook alive persons for dead persons and vice-versa.  However, I would never make a definitive declarative statement without validation first.  Like, you know...obituary level verification.  You have to admit though....zipping through your mental Rolodex for 330 people you may or may not have seen for 20 years when you may or may not be able to remember the names of your maybe or maybe not three children that may or may not be yours is....difficult.

In all, progress was made, assignments given, and fun....yes fun was had.  I'm happy that I had the opportunity to share in this stage of what's "officially" just a weekend later this year but is really extending, for me at least, into more than that.  To dip my toe slowly back into the hot tub time machine, so that perhaps by the time the summer rolls around, I may be the crazy lady who hands you a name tag and knows who you are.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Part Two of: My Crappy Parenting < Your Crappy Parenting

I'm standing by for the inevitable shitstorm this will create, but regardless:

Part II of: My Crappy Parenting < Your Crappy Parenting

I wish this were a followup to the first part, an update of where that story has gone, but sadly, all I can tell you is that the guy didn't show for court, a warrant was issued, but I don't think anyone's going to make a big fuss about finding him because it was a misdemeanor anyway.

No, this is a different parent I'm getting judgy about.  But again I'll preface it by reminding you that I am, by all accounts, inadequate myself.  However lacking I may be, there sometimes occurs crappy parenting that seeps over into my home that causes me to pause and reflect.  THIS was just another one of those times.

After the first of the year I got around to taking down the Christmas decorations.  The tree was last, as I dreaded dealing once again with the partially non-functioning lighted artificial tree that I'd sweet talked into lighting up after Thanksgiving.  I grouched about it giving us ONE MORE YEAR but swore that this would be its final holiday as, while it did serve us proudly over the years, it's a little short for our ceilings and needs desperately to be replaced with a taller version.  As I approached removing the decorations I prepped for organization. Ornaments get sorted by color, glitter ornaments alone in a zip lock bag to keep from fairy dusting everything else in the box, and a separate place for all the homemade ornaments that the kids have made and brought home from school.

As I sifted through the kids' creations I noticed one that had made it to the tree without my prior after-school inspection.  It was a wish list written on a scroll made out of a thread spool painted red, tied with a ribbon and had a scrap of tape attached with a name on it.  The name didn't belong to my kids.  Even if no name was attached, the items made it evident none of my kids wrote this list to Santa.  It contained camo, five firearms, a crossbow, and ammo.  What it did NOT contain was ANY TOYS.  No Legos, not a bike, no electronics, and none of the guns were of the NERF variety.  The firearms were specific and I'll picture them here for your reference.  The photos are benign and not sensationalized or modified or pictured with bleeding animal carcasses to get a rise out of anyone.  They're just so you have an idea of what this kid, who is SEVEN YEARS OLD, was asking SANTA to bring him.

This gun is described as useful for taking down

TWO different, specific shotguns.

Ammo. I assume for all of them.

A Crossbow, for when a gun is too noisy.
OK.  So now that we have digested that.  This is where I say my crappy parenting is not as bad as your crappy parenting.  This kid's mom is missing the point.  In a big way.  When your kid's Santa list contains NO toys, you have failed a little as a parent.  I'm sorry.  I'm not anti gun, I'm not anti hunting.  I'm not beating a path to the Principal's office to have this kid hauled off to jail or counseling.  I AM concerned that THIS kid at 12 is going to be someone to have a conversation about due to his obvious obsession with firearms should a variable get thrown in, like any instability at home, or raging teenager hormones or an anger don't think I'm taking my eye off him any time soon.  In the meantime, my kid is not allowed to go play at this kid's house.  The only salvageable thing I can think to pull out of this is A) at least he was asking Santa for this stuff, so she's not COMPLETELY a monster to me, and B) he's my son's friend, so I am hopeful for the time that they spend together because I know that my kid has redirected him as to the acceptable rules of the school.  I'm incredibly proud of both of them for that.
Now let the political finger pointing begin....I'm sure.  But before that happens, I'll let you in on what I was doing at 8 years old.  At 8 years old I was writing a cease and desist letter to the local newspaper demanding that they immediately stop making fun of President Reagan via political cartoons (which I had recently discovered at that time and was appalled and disgusted about) or I would PERSONALLY tell him what they were saying about him and they would be in BIG TIME TROUBLE WITH THE WHITE HOUSE.
And wouldn't you know?  The newspaper did NOT stop.  Instead, they just printed my letter in the opinion section.  My Grandpa was super proud.  He cut that out and beamed at me and read it over and over again.  Those ay-holes.
I wrote that because I was taught that we had to respect the Office of the President, and by virtue, The President.  That you were not to say bad things about The President.  Granted, this may have been presented in the way that less "Freedom of Speech" countries operate, as in "do not speak ill of the President, lest they come lop off your lips"....or I may have just interpreted it that way.  Nonetheless I had a healthy respect for him and behaved as such.  It translated and trickled down into RESPECT FOR OTHER ADULTS.
So I look around now and I see so many of the same people who say things like "Kids these days have no respect for adults and just need a spanking" are the same ones who are saying things IN FRONT OF THEIR KIDS wishing a range of outcomes from impeachment to death upon the leader of the free world.  I know this to be true because my kids are coming home from school with furrowed brows asking who I voted for and then relaying that "Little Johnny says Obama's a jerkface because he's making it so nobody can afford insurance and he should go back to Africa."
I understand that people are polarized by politics.  Everyone is entitled to their opinions.  Everyone should educate themselves and their families about what's best for them.  It's not okay, however, to have age inappropriate conversations with and around your children that ultimately, whether you like it or not, is teaching them to behave disrespectfully.  The rest of us are trying to do the best we can and would appreciate you not screwing your kids up in that process because whether you believe me or not, I care about your kid too.  And, well....Roswell happened yesterday.  And other schools before Roswell, and realistically, other schools will happen after Roswell.  So I get to have an opinion about this.  That's why your kid's ornament is in my garbage.  A move that normally would never happen at my house...where misplaced homework always gets returned to owner.  Not this time.  Sorry.