Wednesday, March 25, 2015

CCMRS, A Deadly Disease

Three of my four children were born with a rare disease. It's heartbreaking, and it's often terrifying for the parents of afflicted children. I have never told anyone before, because this disorder is little known and not very well understood. Most professionals who hear of it for the first time refuse to believe that it's a real sickness. I assure you that it is. I'm finally gathering my courage to talk about this openly because I know that there are other families out there who suffer with this illness. It's time for us to stand together as parents and know that we are not alone in this fight.

Aside from the chronic symptoms that plague the children, mothers are often drastically affected by their children's disease. Most are the ones who usually live with the effects of this disorder every moment of every day. Most fathers are affected to some extent, but they're often in denial about this phenomenon.

What is this horrific sickness? Believe it or not, it doesn't even have a name yet, but I call it CCMRS. I will list the common symptoms of this little-known, yet incredibly widespread syndrome.

The most common symptom, present in over 90% of the kids who suffer from the disease, is the complete inability to clean their rooms. They are often blind to the fact that there is a thick layer of dust coating their dressers, desks, and bedposts. These children seem to deny the existence of their closets and dressers and opt, instead, to heap their clothing, dirty or clean, into a gigantic pile in their room. On rare occasions, when parents have taken it upon themselves to help their suffering children, they often find that a gaping, smoldering hole has been burned into the carpet by the toxic contents of the pile. Another common indicator is that there is usually some kind of food, dirty dish or utensil lying in some hidden spot. It's not uncommon to find a fossilized hot dog under the child's bed. Dirty underwear is scattered about, and trash of unknown origins is usually strewn over every square inch of the carpet. Only a handful of the people who have attempted to research this phenomenon will agree that the kids who suffer from CCMRS have a form of blindness that makes these elements in their rooms completely invisible to their eyes.

A particularly chilling sign of this disorder is a wet, mildewed towel at the bottom of the laundry hamper, with the damp, black crud seeping into the nearby clothing.

Another very common symptom is the inability to pick up towels off the floor after they've been used, inability to pick up trash that has missed the garbage can on the first try, and absolute muscle failure when they try to hang up their coats and put away their shoes.

Short term memory loss is another common indicator, such as when children are asked, “Who made this mess?” Children with CCMRS will be completely dumbfounded. Most sufferers regularly lose their memories of where the dishwasher, dish soap and sponges are located, causing them to leave dirty, sticky dishes in stacks in the sink, around the sink, on the stove, and sometimes, even on the floor where the dog licks the plates. In CCMRS families with pets, the animals often suffer an unpleasant side effect of the disease when they excrete the nastiest stuff you've ever smelled, from both ends, as a result of noshing on leftovers strewn around the house.

The most frustrating part of CCMRS is that parents will repeatedly try to teach their children to hang up their clothes, put food back into the refrigerator and cupboards, clean up the globs of peanut butter that are frequently left on the kitchen counter, and for heaven's sake, take a shower once in a while!

This leads to our next symptom. Boys, in particular, seem to have a variant of the illness that causes them to have complete and utter disregard for their hygiene. Boys with this condition seem to have absolutely no knowledge of their own body funk, and subsequently, they do nothing to get rid of it. In fact, it's so severe in some cases that, even if the boy is followed around by a hoard of flies and has a distinct fog emanating from his armpits, he will still deny – violently, on occasion – that he needs a bath or a shower. Look inside this young boy's mouth (although experts highly recommend you wear a surgical mask, possibly even a gas mask before attempting this), and you will find remnants of last Friday's pizza and various levels of tooth decay, gingivitis, and yellowing of the teeth. He can't seem to comprehend the fact that his mouth smells like formaldehyde and no one wants to be within a ten-foot radius of him at any given time. The sad truth is that, for as many dental visits he's had, as well as parental nagging, he simply does not possess the ability to brush his own teeth. Often, he lacks the muscular ability to raise a stick of deodorant to his armpits, his fingernails and toenails are reminiscent of the tragic Edward Scissorhands. And frequently, there is a small family of rodents nesting somewhere in his tangled mop of hair. This symptom has also been observed in girls, although it's less common in the female gender.

The most alarming trend, though, is the fact that parents will frequently develop symptoms of the disease after they have been around their infected children for long periods of time. A higher number of children in a family seems to increase the appearance of symptoms in parents.

It's time for us, as mothers, to take some action. CCMRS, or Can't Clean My Room Syndrome, is recognized by parents across the globe, yet the medical community refuses to acknowledge it and consequently, there is little or no funding available to allow research to find a cure. It has been estimated that at least 95% of all children suffer with some degree of this disease. Call your local politicians and tell them that you want to start a task force to research this horrible, debilitating illness. Have courage and take any kind of action you can to alert the medical community of this ravaging disease.

I'm thinking of organizing a telethon.

Friday, August 22, 2014

An Open Letter to Harry Styles

Dear Harry,

I just want you to know that it's over between us. It's been a wonderful few years, darling, but our relationship can no longer continue. I can't deny the chemistry between us, but our relationship just isn't moving forward as I hoped it would.

First of all, you hardly know I exist. I mean, come on, honey. Couples are supposed to make time for each other. But as of yet, you haven't spent any time with me.

Second, you made so many promises that you haven't kept.

The first time I ever heard your voice, you told me that I was so beautiful that everyone else in the room could see it.

You told me I stole your heart and that every time we touched, you got this kinda rush.

You told me I was your kryptonite, your weakness.

You said you wanted me to be your last first kiss.

And you promised that you would always come back for me. You told me over and over again that we could make it if we tried.

But I think communication has been the biggest problem for us. I haven't gotten any of your phone calls or texts or emails or tweets. I never received the plane tickets you were going to send for our vacation in Spain or the ones for our rendezvous in Rio.

Do you know how much I've done for you? I've followed your career since the very beginning. I've watched every news clip and video about you, I've listened to every single song at least a hundred times, I've sent you countless Tweets reminding you that I was thinking of you.

You looked great when I saw you in Detroit last weekend, babe. I mean, I had hoped you would have invited me to your hotel or out to dinner. You could have at least waved to me in the crowd or dedicated a song to me. But you didn't even look my way.

I know I'm a bit older than you and I know I'm not as pretty and fit as some of the girls at your concerts, but I thought we had something special.

I guess I was wrong.

It's over, Harry. Don't try to convince me otherwise. Don't tell me anything you've told me before because I will no longer believe you when you say that I make you strong.

Remember when you told me that you were half a heart without me, half a man, half a blue sky? I believed you, Harry. I believed it when you said you were in L-O-V-E. And I might still believe you if you say I'm still the one.

I have to end this letter. It's killing me because I really want to say that it's over, but I'll give you one more chance, Harry. One more chance to get addicted to me. One more chance to make it right.

Is it too much to ask for something great?


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Confessions of a Middle-Aged One Direction Groupie

Attention: People of the male persuasion may find the descriptions in this post disturbing.

It wasn't long ago that I was an old fuddy duddy, grudgingly watching Cody Simpson performing at the Capitol building in Lansing during Silvers Bells in the City. He was a punk who looked like he just turned 12 and he wore these ridiculous purple pants that sagged down to his thighs. The young girls in the audience were yelling, “I want to marry you, Cody!” I was yelling, “Pull your pants up, kid!”

I'm not sure what has transpired in the few short years since then. Maybe it was my girls' evolution into teenagers that fueled my passion for the “younger” music scene, but somewhere along the way, I fell in love. Not with Cody Simpson, you pervs. I fell in love with a much older, sophisticated group of boys: One Direction.

Oh, my heavens, I have 1D fever so bad, it hurts.

My girls introduced me to 1D that same year. I heard my daughter talking about the boys in 1D and, attempting to get in on the conversation, I asked, “Oh, which classroom is that?”

My daughter's eyes rolled so far back in her head that I'm sure she caught glimpses of her pubescent brain. “They don't go to our school, Mom! It's One Direction!” Soon I became acquainted with their first hit, “What Makes You Beautiful” and I. Was. Hooked.

Extremely catchy song, adorable boys from England and Ireland.

No going back.

It was over.

Stick a fork in me, I was done!

Since then I've been following them right along with my girls, fueled by an insatiable appetite for their music, their latest videos, their newest albums, and their adorable accents. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that I married into a British family, I don't know.
My girls tentatively accepted me as a “Directioner,” and they still think I get a little carried away sometimes, but since I'm willing to take them on road trips to see 1D in concert, they have little room to complain. Except when, during the concerts, I shriek, “Will you marry me, Harry?”

However, I am getting “older.” My constitution isn't what it once was. I'm not in great shape, not used to screaming at the top of my lungs, and my middle has expanded to make me look a bit like the Stay-Puft marshmallow man. These little quirks proved to be a hassle during our recent One Direction escapade.
For 1D's most recent concert in Detroit, the girls and I chose to stay overnight so that we wouldn't have to drive out of a grid-locked downtown Detroit after a late-night concert. I got a pretty good deal at the Renaissance Center Marriott, so we booked a room.
Here's one thing I learned: do NOT stay at the Renaissance Center unless you have trained for a triathlon and have a degree in physics. I'm sure the place is an engineering marvel, but I would personally like to strangle the architect with a pair of control-top, reinforced pantyhose. I'm pretty certain that we parked somewhere in Canada and dragged our luggage through all four towers until we finally found the elevators to our oddly-shaped room in the middle tower.
From now on, I think I'll opt to stay at a nice, rectangular-shaped building that has all its doors facing the parking lot, preferably one-story place; two stories, max. When you get to be my age, taking a swift-moving elevator to the 35th floor tends to throw off your equilibrium. I staggered to our room, certainly turning a lovely shade of chartreuse, and immediately took some motion sickness medicine, hoping it would kick in before I had to take the elevator back down to go to the concert.
The girls and I got ready for the concert – they looked adorable in their 1D gear. However, in my skirt and 1D t-shirt, I looked a bit more like a black, white and red bowl of jello with a smattering of 1D insignia here and there, especially over the parts of me that tend to jiggle the most. However I did get a very nice compliment from a middle-aged, gold-toothed gentleman as we walked past him on the way to the concert: “Cute Mama.” Um, at that moment, I was extremely thankful that there were literally thousands of people walking to Ford Field along with us.
Speaking of walking, it was only eight blocks from our hotel to Ford Field, but again, being of slightly more portly stature than most 1D concert-goers, I found that by the time I reached the concert, I had a terrible rash on my thighs. About half-way through the concert, I felt my slip...slipping, so I ran to the bathroom where I discovered that it had indeed lost all of its elastic. What were my choices? I certainly didn't want to wad the thing up and stuff it into my purse. It was useless anyway and I didn't want to be seen carrying a piece of lingerie to the trash can, so I neatly deposited it into the other receptacle conveniently located in all women's bathrooms.
The concert itself was fabulous, despite the fact that an Amazon-sized woman deposited herself in front of me, and that buying water and pizza required a small business loan, and that every time I put my hands up in the air, I hit the girl next to me in the butt, and that at the end of the concert, I had such severe chatter in my ears that I sincerely thought I had gone partially deaf.
After the concert, we were all herded out like cattle, along with the Tigers fans who had “conveniently” exited Comerica Park at exactly the same time. When we finally reached our room at the luxurious Ren Center, we discovered that we had gotten neither the rollaway bed we had requested nor the refrigerator. The yogurt we had brought for breakfast spoiled, and my two teenage girls and I shared the king-sized bed, hoping for a peaceful night's sleep in preparation for the next day's activities.
What were the next day's activities? You may ask. Why, nothing but stalking staking out the hotels where the band might be staying. Our first tip was that they might be at the MGM Grand. We took the People Mover, a fun yet terrifying little contraption, which dropped us near the MGM Grand. We joined a small group of girls who had parked themselves on a small triangle of land facing the back side of the hotel where there were five or six tour buses parked. And we just sat. And watched. And nothing happened, except that my girls caught sight of Drake, who was also staying at the MGM and performing in Detroit, along with Lil Wayne. I have no idea who those people are; my heart belongs fully to 1D and partially to 5 Seconds of Summer, the opening band for 1D for the second year in a row.

So we spent the better part of the afternoon on a wild goose chase, following their scent, pursuing each Twitter clue, tracking each tip and chasing every group of screeching girls when they suddenly dropped everything and sped to a new location.

We finally ended at the Westin Book Cadillac, dehydrated and high on diesel exhaust fumes. We discovered that some of the One Direction crew was actually staying there and we all got our panties in a bundle when we saw them come out with their 1D backpacks and start loading up the tour buses. But sadly, we never saw Niall, Harry, Louis, Liam or Zayn. The hotel manager eventually came out and told us, in no uncertain terms, the stars were not staying at that hotel. We ultimately gave up, as it was late in the day and the boys were likely already over at the arena, preparing for the evening's concert, and I had to pick up my other kids from their weekend locations and make the hour and a half drive back to Lansing.

When we picked up my 2nd daughter who stayed with a friend in Ypsilanti, she got into the van and told me, “Mom, you have lipstick on your teeth.”

My oldest daughter, who had been chasing and fangirling and shrieking and running with me all weekend, spoke up. “Oh, yeah Mom, that's been there all day.”

I'm so glad we didn't meet One Direction.

However, let me leave you with these photos. If there was no other reason for me to be a One Direction fan, these pics would still convince me:


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Where Have I Been???

So, it seems I've all but abandoned this blog, but have no fear! I do intend to come back and continue writing about my foibles and failures as a domestic diva.

But here's what I've been up to. I travelled down a different road for a while and wrote THIS BOOK:


In a whirlwind romance, Kate falls in love with Chase, who has been partial paraplegic since a horrific car accident at age 17. Kate and Chase quickly make plans to spend their lives together. But when Chase decides to pursue a risky, yet promising, procedure that could potentially heal his paralysis, Kate has to wrestle with her faith in a God that she holds at arm's length, and confront her fear to find out where her strength ultimately lies. Set in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Most of you know that my husband was disabled over three years ago by a stroke. I've dabbled a little bit in fiction writing, but I feel like this story was inspired. I have another book already in progress, and I have plans for writing more about people with disabilities.

It would mean so much to me if you could check out my book on Amazon, and if you're interested, please purchase a copy, although I know it may not suit everyone's interests, so there's no pressure. It's only available for Amazon Kindle for now, but if you don't own a Kindle, you can download the free Kindle app for your computer, tablet or phone.

Thanks so much for checking it out!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fools

I've never been crazy about April Fool's Day.  Mostly because people expect to be pranked on April Fool's Day.  Why not just declare some random day each year to be "Fool's Day," like "August 28 Fool's Day," and the next year it would be "February 3 Fool's Day"?  That would throw everyone off, so it would be much easier to fool people.  Seriously, the April Fool's Day council should appoint me their official April Fool's gamemaker, don't you agree?

Anyway, on to more serious things.  I personally love the passages in the New Testament about foolishness and becoming fools for Christ.

1 Cor. 1:23-25: "but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.  (Whenever I finish that sentence, I just want to pump my fist and say, "Yes!")

Christ.  Jesus Christ crucified on a Cross by His enemies.  It certainly looks like foolishness to those who don't believe or understand.  He preached and healed and claimed to be the Son of God, but He ended up dying a horrifying death at the hand of his enemies.  I can see how the world might think, "Well, that was certainly a foolish way to waste His life."  But for us who believe, Christ IS the power of God.  All of His willingness to look like a fool, to appear insane to the Jewish leaders of the time, to say some really absurd things  - all of that was for me.  For you.  For our salvation.  It is the power of God for those who believe.

1 Cor 3:18-19:  Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become "fools" so that you may become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight.

I have to admit that it's hard for me not to feel a little smug about this verse.  Compared to all of the knowledge and wisdom that has been carefully crafted and cultivated over thousands of years, God's wisdom is still far superior.  Because I know Christ and have access to all His power and wisdom, I have something far more valuable than all the annals of science and journals of medicine and books of philosophy.  I have Jesus Christ and His everlasting words to me in Scripture.

Happy April Fool's Day!  May you become a fool for Christ!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Gotta Have pi

I work part-time at a school. Therefore I am surrounded by nerdy math teachers and science geeks, all of whom spent the week reminding the rest of the staff that today is pi day. You know – March 14, or the number 3.14, which is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. (Why is this important? I don't know.) My children also reminded me, more than once, that today is pi day. That's because they are nerds, too.

However the idea got planted, I couldn't get it out of my brain that I needed to eat some pie. It doesn't take much to convince me to eat pie. Pie is my favorite dessert in the entire universe. The crust is the best part. If you put me on a deserted island and gave me lifetime supply of pie crust and water coffee, I would definitely survive.

My other mission today was to acquire some much needed groceries for the family. They can be so demanding, this brood of mine. They insist on having some “new” food in the house every week or so. “Good food,” they say.  By this they mean food that has the maximum amount of high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated fat, and the minimal amount of fiber or nutrients. They also regularly request food that food that hasn't expired. (I'm a bargain shopper, what can I say?) There is just no pleasing them.

That being said, I knew I could easily combine the day's two missions into one: get food and get pie. Well, pie is food, but you know what I mean. I'm happy to give in to my children's sweet tooth once in a while, especially if it involves pie.

First, I went to Horrocks. I love Horrocks, and I normally wouldn't pick on one of my favorite stores, but today they had a total of three pies. Apparently they didn't get the memo that today is pi day. None of the available flavors promised to satisfy my family.

Next, I went to Aldi, which has a little bit of everything. Except pie.

On the way home, I stopped at Quality Dairy, home of donuts, muffins, scones, coffee cake, and a wide variety of other addictive, yet legal, sugary baked goods (and, oh yeah, dairy products; hence the name Quality Dairy). But guess what? No pie.

The helpful QD staff suggested that I try Roma Bakery just down the street. Nope, no pie.

I came home and unloaded the groceries. I was tired. I took a nap. But I still wanted some damn pie!

I had to take my daughter to a babysitting gig at 2:00, so I decided I would continue my quest for pie. And then it hit me, “Why not go to the Grand Traverse Pie Company?” Really? It took at least eight hours for my brain to dig deep into its fatigued memory stores and come up with that? It has the word pie in its name, for heaven's sake!

After dropping my daughter off, I drove downtown. If you haven't been here, Lansing has a nice little downtown area:  neat shops and restaurants, brick streets, and....parking meters. Shoot. I forgot about the meters. Did I have one stinking quarter on my person or anywhere in my van? No. But instead of doing the sane thing and going inside to ask for change, I decided that I would drive a few blocks south and hit my favorite thrift store. I needed to look for some household items anyway.

I bought three pairs of shoes. And of course, I got a few quarters for the meters.

I headed back north on Washington Avenue and, just as I came up to Kalamazoo Street, I realized, “Oh, yeah, the library is just a block away.” I had been meaning to go to the downtown library to do a bit of research on a book I want to write. I parked, sloshed through the melting snow in order to feed the meter, and entered the library.

I wandered around aimlessly, looking for inspiration. I finally decided to check out Lost in Yonkers, which has absolutely nothing to do with the book I want to write.

The library is now so high-tech that I just had to scan my library key tag, then scan the book and I was on my way. However, when I passed through the security sensors, the alarm went off and I returned to the customer service desk, feeling sheepish that I had ignored the reminder on the screen that I owed $.80 in library fines. “I'm sorry, I'm sorry,” I gushed. “I can pay the fine.”

The library ladies had a hearty laugh and assured me that the alarm hadn't gone off because of my unpaid fines. The scan just hadn't registered yet. I got my book, and they had a good chuckle at my expense.

Finally, finally, FINALLY, I arrived at GT Pie. Another meter, another quarter, and another pile of slush to wade through. All in the name of freaking pie! (Oh, my gosh, did I just say that out loud? I'm sorry, pie, I'm so sorry. I love you. I would do anything for you.)

In the end, I bought one chocolate cream pie. The bonus was that GT Pie was not only aware of pi day, but they were also promoting it shamelessly by offering a free slice of pie with every purchase. I promptly ate my free slice of strawberry rhubarb with crumbly topping, so that I wouldn't have to share it with the rest of the family. 

I told you I love pie. Don't judge me.

And so, here I sit, enjoying my slice of chocolate cream, relaxing after my lengthy pursuit of pie and other things. The only thing left in my mind is: why is pi so important?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

My Neck Injury

When I was in college, I overextended a muscle in my neck. I was doing something so foolish, so extreme, that I deserved the vicious pain that followed.

I was getting out of bed.

More specifically, my loft. Getting out of a loft bed is much more strenuous than getting out of a normal bed, just so you know. It involves turning over with exact precision so as not to fall on the floor from six feet up, finding a ladder with only your feet because it's too dark and you can't turn on the light to wake up your roommates, and then positioning your body accurately over the ladder, again so as not to fall from your six-foot-tall bed.

I know, I know. You can't believe I endured such a wretched situation. But I lived to tell about it.

That one particular day, I turned over and got ready to hoist myself out of bed and toward the ladder when I felt a snap in my neck. The next thing I knew, I couldn't move my neck or head without excruciating pain. So I made my way, very carefully, down the ladder and called the campus health clinic. I canceled my morning classes and made my way to the clinic.

My car was parked in the dreaded F-lot. If you lived in any of the south campus dorms, you know that F-lot was where all cars went to die, or at least hibernate for all of the semester, because it was much easier to walk anywhere, including Detroit, than to retrieve your car from F-lot. Even if I had been able to retrieve my car, I would have had no place to park, since MSU has about 27 total parking spaces for a campus that serves 50,000 students.

In short, I walked many, many miles that day, with my head held high, and not because I felt proud. I just couldn't move. I arrived only to have the doctor tell me that I had pulled a muscle. He gave me a soft cervical collar, and probably some heavy-duty pain meds and sent me on my way.

The most embarrassing part of all this was that, during dinner in my dorm's dining hall, I was swarmed by concerned friends all asking, “What happened? Did you get in a car accident?” Imagine my embarrassment if I had told them I had sustained the injury by getting out of bed. So my response was, “Yes, it was horrible. Ambulances and fire trucks everywhere. My car was totaled.” At least I didn't have to worry about them discovering that my car was, in fact, still intact.

It was still parked in F-lot.