Our College Big-time Move-In Stress-Out!!!!! So thankful it happened…


Taken on the Sunday that we moved Madison to her OU Sorority House.

Madison’s dream was to attend engineering school at Mark’s alma mater, Texas A&M. Alas, she was turned down because she was not in the top 10% of her rather large high school’s graduating class (she was at 13% with non-stop highly competitive soccer level 24/7) and the engineering school is the first to fill up. Very hard to get into. So, she opted to attend the same school her big sister attended and had a great experience while at the University of Oklahoma. OU is a Greek school, so Madison joined a sorority, something she would not typically do and decided to just try and reapply to A&M the next year.

She was doing well at OU, so well that a prof told her she didn’t make sense, as she was: Blonde, In a Sorority, Had Social skills and Charm – yet she rocked Physics like nobody’s business. I congratulated her but also cautiously advised her not to go to his office if he asks her to come over because he wants to “discuss a paper”. LOL!

As soon as she could, at the beginning of her Freshmen Spring semester, she applied to Texas A&M……………………………CRICKETS……………………….Not a word or letter for weeks………………………she made multiple phone calls and got lost in the maze of “call centers” over and over again………………..Not even a rejection letter…………………….. She was clearly heart broken, but resigned to stay at OU.

In mid August, we moved her into her Sorority House on a Saturday so she could work to get ready for Rush as all Sophomore sorority students are required to do (to help recruit freshman candidates for the new year). Now, we received not one negative word from her, her entire Freshman year at OU, but within 1 or 2 days of working Rush – I received several whiney phone calls from her at her sorority house:

“MOM! They are making me bounce and clap!!!!!!”

“MOM! They are making me smile all the time and practice engaging in conversation with strangers!!!!!”

and the ultimate desperation call:

“MOM!!!! THEY ARE MAKING ME DO CHEERS AND SING!!!!!!!!!!” Hahahaha!!

Needless to say, Madison is not “that girl” which isn’t surprising, she is more of a pragmatic person. Not one to giggle, gossip, preen and pose. My heart broke for her. I told her she could certainly quit, but she said she would get through that one week of Rush as best she could and try to get the back kitchen assignments that most girls would hate. 🙂

That Monday, I was doing bills and a “Texas A&M Engineering School” magazine came in for my husband Mark, a Petroleum Engineer. It broke my heart to see the magazine come in and brag about how great Texas A&M’s Engineering schools were – blah, blah, blah…. Whatever. 😦

I found the editor’s name of the Engineering magazine and while I was at it, the editor of alumni magazine, as well. I told them about the situation and ask that they take us off their mailing list until further notice because right now it just hurt to much to see it all… I did tell them about Madison’s situation in a straightforward, proactive way and basically said: “You have a rare ‘FEMALE’ Mechanical Engineering Major who has a high GPA, is already at a Junior level because of all her hard work and is already on the radar for an internship with a major coorporation yet NOT ONE WORD – NOT EVEN A REJECTION LETTER from you. It’s your loss, you clearly don’t deserve her.”

Within in 24 hours, Madison received a phone call from Texas A&M apologizing for the mix up and asking if would she mind attending Texas A&M after all. They even humbly talked to me and admitted that their was a disconnect on their side (at the time) to work in transfer students. A sign for any good person or organization I think, to admit when they make mistakes and work to improve.

So, we went back 3 days after moving her into OU and moved her out! The sorority sisters were all so sweet to her and even helped her move out. They were probably secretly glad that the “SORORITY GLEE BUZZ KILLER” was going away before Rush hit. Hahaha! I can’t help but get this image of Wednesday Addams from the Addam’s Farmily working Rush – which Madison is clearly not like, but you get my drift. Gotta laugh looking back on it all!

Ok Timeline – Review:

Sunday – Move in to OU – (5 hours round trip)

Monday/Tuesday early – Whiney Phone Calls regarding bouncing and cheering

Tuesday Afternoon – A&M calls Madison on her Cell Phone

Wednesday – Move out of OU – (5 hours round trip)


Taken 7 days later on move-in day at Texas A&M

Thursday – Travel (3 1/3 hours one-way) to Texas A&M to: Meet with the registrars office —– Find an apartment that needed a roomate—– Get her a schedule worked out even though the classes were all full (they just worked her as best they could) —– Get her Books and supplies —– all in 1 to 2 days time Because school starts THE FOLLOWING MONDAY!!

The Next Weekend – 2 SUVS packed yet again to the max to re-boot the move-in (6 hours round trip)

What did I learn from this? Needless to say it was rather stressful, but it was a positive stressor. I was so happy for her that she was getting her dream. So thankful I wasn’t working a full-time job anymore and could help her navigate through it all as calmly as we could. Yes, this may all be last minute and messy, but it will all get done. It always does.

The registrars were so nice and apologetic on the phone with us that we brought them a “Calming Care Package” with soothing lotions, candles, etc. and acknowledged to them that we realize that they really have a lot on their plates. One of the ladies even offered to be Madison’s Mom Mentor at Texas A&M should she need any help or advice. 🙂

Taken during the great Let's Get This All Done Day!

Taken on the Hectic – Let’s go get this all done day!

Now her 5th year Senior year, the rest is history. Madison ’til this day says she is so glad I was a Momma Bear on this one and butted in.

And, I did email the editors. I thanked them for helping out even though that was not my intention and asked them to put us back on their mailing lists.

Our Divorce Court proceedings would now go like this: “Your Honor, I present to you, ‘The Great Magazine Fight of 2012′”

About a year or two after Madison went off to college, Mark and I found that we had pretty much moved into a comfortable Sunday morning routine:  I read the Dallas Morning News pretty much cover to cover, except for the Business and Sport sections.  While, the latter mentioned sections are all Mark cares to scan.  And then, when quickly done, he watches all the Fishing shows that he has accumulated throughout the week.  The background noise on the fishing shows on Sunday mornings is so in-grained into this routine that when it is not there now, something feels out of place.

One Sunday morning stands out, because of a surprise knock down, drag out that occurred:

First let me say, Mark and I do get snippy with each other.  Who doesn’t?  However, after 30 years of marriage – for the most part we’ve pretty much settled down, grown up, given up or are just don’t have the energy to care passionately about the things we use to – so when a real fight happens with raised voices.  Wow – it must have been rather serious. 

The background on this spat: I’m a devout People Magazine reader and can’t wait for the magazine to show up in my mailbox every Friday.  I’ve been reading it for years, which accounts for why I cannot answer basic trivia questions like, “Who was the president during the Civil War?”, but can tell you what shoes Duchess Kate was wearing while she delivered the future King of England, recently.

The answer: “The LK Bennet Sledge Shoe in color – Nude”… (Okay, don’t really know what Kate wore, but that is her go-to shoe for major events.)

Mark on the other hand reads B.A.S.S. Master, of course and the occasional AAOP Flight  magazine.  When he became an empty nester, he got his pilot’s license and his whole goal now while flying with me is to “not allow the bitch to come out” because of some surprising manevour he does that I am not anticipating (another story for another day).

On a recent Sunday morning, Mark came reeling into the breakfast area from the garage with a Pilot magazine rolled up and clutched in his hand yelling, “WHY is THIS in the recycling bin?!?!?!?!”  Rather surprised, I answered, “Well, because I’ve seen that particular magazine sit on the coffee table for few weeks without being read.  So, when I cleaned house this week, I tossed a few of those out and when this new one came in, I just tossed it, too.  Why?”

“Do I ever throw your People Magazines away?!?!”

“Of course not, but you know I read them.  I don’t’ see you reading yours!”

“Do me a favor, don’t throw away any more of my Pilot magazines without asking, okay?!?!”…

“Oh-Kaaay…” (insert eye roll here)

I finished my Sunday newspaper ritual, walked to the recycling bin in the garage to dispose of it and I’ll give you one guess as to what I found on the very top in the recycling bin?

You guessed it, My Own CURRENT issue of PEOPLE MAGAZINE!  Hahahahahah!  I couldn’t help but march into the living room with said People Magazine and laugh my butt off with Mark in a fake fight about it all at that point…

You gotta laugh… but don’t tell the judge….

My Husband Refuses To Go To Rehab With Me!!

First, I’d like to say that the title to this blog is absolutely, 100% true!!
Mark actually refuses to go to rehab with me because he feels, in his words – “too shy having me witness him go through his therapy while I go through my own”…

Okay, here is the deal:

Mark had a level 2 fusion of his lower spine a month ago. In layman terms, he had two artificial disks put in, with his own stem cells and they are fusing the disks together like in marriage, until death he does in-fact part. Not something you go into without seriously thinking it over. The benefits… The Risks… Do you want to be joined forever?…

He is undergoing physical therapy because of this and will be doing so for some time. I’m happy to report that he is thankfully doing better than ever. We are really glad he went through with it.

4 days after he got home from the hospital, he decided that “we” need to clean the pool. Now, we have a professional guy come out once a week to do this task, but he felt “we” needed to go out and take things into our own hands. 4 days after coming home from ICU, he could barely walk, get out of a chair much less clean a pool. So, the “we” meant – him sitting in the cabana with the ceiling fan going and the TV on, while I brushed the pool in the sweltering heat and got the areas that he noticed I was missing… I was surprised he could notice much at all with that much Vicodin going through his veins. My guess was that he really needed to feel like he was being productive, so I was determined to be patient and was just happy he felt like going outside.

30 mins before our professional Pool guy showed up and CAUGHT us in the act of doing HIS JOB, I missed a step while brushing the bottom of the pool and fell from the upper deck of our pool, to the lower deck. The force of hitting the pool step was so strong that it broke my sandal and sprained my foot, as I carreaned off the ledge; my knee then slid along the rock coping leaving a large apple sized contusion-slash-scrape on my knee; I then landed on my back shoulder with such force that pain pierced me immediately to the core and then finished off the “falling event” with a knot on the back of my head behind my ear. Thankfully, my head hit the grass and not the patio. All areas affected – were on the right side of my body.

Mark did not see the trauma event happen because he was watching TV, but he did hear it and came shuffling slowly over, asking me if I needed help. Now, he cannot pick up anything heavier than a gallon of milk for at least 6 weeks. The offer was sweet, but we both knew I was on my own. It was one of those falls in which you don’t get up right away. You check out extremities one at a time to make sure that they won’t go “compound fracture” on you if you stand up. I limped to the kitchen, got a large cold gel pack and another give away cold pack that said (ahem) “Botox” on it, limped back to the cabana and rested during which time the Pool Guy shows up.

Mark and I had considered letting him and his services go, as we felt we could do this on our own easy enough. But, now we embrace him and his services 100% and are so glad when we catch him in our backyard. Happily writing our monthly check to him putting a smiley face and a big “THANK YOU!” in the “memo” section.

2 weeks pass, I was resting my shoulder et.al., taking Advil, not doing my P90x2 and all was going well until I vacuumed the house this last Monday. My shoulder went back to square one so badly that Mark offered and I actually illegally and happily – took one of his Vicodin and made an appointment to see our family’s shoulder and knee Orthopedic surgeon, ASAP. Yes, our family has one. If you remember, we had 2 daughters in soccer for 15+ years???? I rushed to see him and he prescribed physical therapy and prescription strength nsaids.

I came home to tell Mark that thankfully there were no breaks. I had worried as I sheepishly came into the Orthopedist’s office that they would end up talking about “that late 40s female wack-a-do patient who came in with a combination neck and shoulder fracture 2 weeks post injury” during their next office meeting.

Anyway, I casually asked Mark when he had his PT scheduled and where, as I thought I’d just do my neck and shoulder rehab at the same time as he does his back PT. I thought maybe we could “bond over a mutual activity”, something that has helped throughout our marriage – a series of mutual activities that we can discuss, talk about, explore, because if we don’t – I end up reading book after book while he watches Rangers games and Fishing shows… Anyway, to my surprise Mark vehemently said “not only no but HELL NO!” When I asked (shocked) what the big deal was, he said he was too shy and didn’t want me to see him go through it all.

I could sort of see the masculine guy not wanting his wife seeing him labor through the pain, whereas ironically she was more than happy to demand he watch her very painful labor and deliver—— a story another blog. But, the truth is I bet he was thinking and 100% correct that as he was working with his own physical therapist, he would have a nagging wife clear across the PT room on a machine yelling at him to “stand up straighter – you are doing it wrong!!!!” Followed by comments at home of “I overheard your PT saying you should or shouldn’t be doing this.” LOL!!

And can’t say that I don’t blame him for putting up a boundary as it would in-fact maybe hurt our marriage for me to go there……

Not to worry, I myself am doing fine today. In fact, my sister Nadine is about to get here to squire me off to an area resort for spa and pool time, leaving Mark to fend for himself for a few days. I should be cleaning up but instead I am happily procrastinating on the computer doing this…

Puttin’ Up Vegetables, While I Put Up With My Husband This Weekend…

The Dallas Farmers Market. Since 1941, they are under private ownership now and will be making some great improvements as a Dallas destination in the coming year(s). Super excited!

Mark and I made a date to go the Dallas Farmers Market this weekend to buy Summer vegetables to “Put up”.   I’m going to have to Google a bunch of “how to(s)”…  Supposedly they have a really good BBQ place there.

Dallas Farmers Market since 1941

I’m so glad I didn’t kill him when I had the chance…

Today is Mark’s and my 33rd DATING anniversary.  July 3, 1980…schlitz

Yes, we intentionally met up at a dance in Kosciusko after riding around town with his friend Robert the night before.  I took his truck keys from him as a joke while dancing with him… and no, we were not in his truck making out if that is what you’re thinking.  I was a good girl.  I just admired his key chain and the pocket watch he was carrying.  I thanked him for his truck, as I slipped his keys into my back pocket.  I remember what we were both wearing… and that he thought it was cool to drink Schlitz beer at the time.  LOL!

I realized about the keys when I got home and dressed for bed and HAD A HEART ATTACK!!!  No cell phones back then, I didn’t know what to do… So, I sat in the front yard and cried.  He had to drive all the way back to Karnes City to get his truck keys with his friend Brian.  A 20 min. drive just one way!  I felt so embarrassed and just knew he would be convinced I was too young for him.  (We were both going into our Freshman years — me in high school, him at Texas A&M.)  Surprisingly, he wasn’t mad at all when he showed up at my parent’s house at 2:00 a.m. just to drive back to Kosciusko and get his truck —- a long, late night for him.    He had a good excuse to cut things off right there, but he came back over the next day or rather 6 hours later in the afternoon and the rest is history…

We’ve had our ups and downs through the years.  I like to say now that we are Empty Nesters and having our 2nd childhood without parental supervision, that I’m truly so glad I didn’t kill him when I had the chance earlier in our marriage.   Life with him is pretty darn good and usually never a dull moment.  🙂

The Kool-Aid House

DSC02585Just got off the phone with Mark’s Mom, Mary.  I called her last night to ask for a recipe for her homemade ice cream that Mark remembered enjoying while growing up.  I’m going to buy an ice cream machine.  Madison and friends are coming home for a long 4th of July Weekend next week and I thought it would be fun for them.  One good thing about a child leaving home for College is that when they do come home it is exciting and fun.  We are all more engaged and present to each other than when they were here day in and day out.

I admit now that Mark and I shamelessly work to make our home “the Kool-Aid house” during the holidays, etc.  We work to selfishly entice the kids to stay here and play as much as possible.  For Reference: The Kool-Aid house is the house all the kids in the neighborhood want to hang out at because it’s fun and the Mom probably is a lot more lenient that she should be.  LOL!  We work to update Video Games, Media Room DVD fun, get current Board Games, a bunch of funny wigs/glasses, of course the pool and cabana up the game quite a bit… We’ve planned cooking classes here at the house (ex. a friend in Frisco taught everyone how to make Egg Rolls and another time, we tried our hand in making homemade pasta – a riot)… And, this week I just added a Karaoke Machine to the mix…

This is Madison’s last summer of College.  She’s a super senior (5th year in Mechanical Engineering) this next school year at Texas A&M.  We are so proud of her.  She’s interning at a refinery in Texas City and is really enjoying it.  Next year at this time, she’ll be employed and may not be able to even take a vacation for an entire year, as is the case with most 1st year hires.

Kind of sad to think about, but at least I know the value of what I have coming up next week and will revel in every minute of it.  🙂

Don’t Judge a Bird Feeder Until You Try It…

Finch Feeder with Dove on the right perched in the tree.

After 4 years of waiting patiently for financial reasons, we started doing improvements to our 1 acre blank-Finch Feeder with Dove on the right perched in the tree.  slate of a back yard last Spring.  We will be doing improvements in phases based on a professional Master plan we commissioned by a great landscaping company here in Dallas.   Last year, we started with Phase 1, which was a pool, cabana and flower beds along the back of our house.  All improvements will be in keeping with our French County home’s theme.  One nice thing that we noticed immediately when Phase 1 was all done in the late summer last year was how nature started just showing up right away and it was nice to see.  Bumblebees, Dragonflies, Hummingbirds, Butterflies and more…  We felt like our backyard was finally coming to life.

For Phase 2, this Spring we put in a privacy hedge of Magnolia trees behind our back pool wall and a bed to the east of our pool for the same reason.  There we planted 2-100 gallon Live Oak trees, a Nellie Steven’s hedge, flowers, etc.  I say we, but the landscaper did it all.

Then, I got the crazy idea of getting bird feeders for the first time ever in our 30 year marriage………

I’d never considered doing this before because we were always too busy carting around our girls to soccer games and practices 7 days a week for years.  To add bird feeders to the mix would have been totally out in left field or rather mid-field in soccer terms.  I have to also admit that I also considered people to do this as an only for retiree sort of thing… mostly you know — for old men in black knee socks and generic white tennis shoes.  You catch me??  If someone talked to me about having birds, I would nod in interest at what they were doing and make nice comments like, “How fun! Good for you, isn’t nature fun to watch?”  But, the truth was, I just didn’t get it.

When I told Mark of my plans, he rolled his eyes big time.  Then proceeded to warn me that he was worried that I will be my normal self, start something, get really excited and then let it fall to the wayside over time as I lost interest.  But, this time he said I would be leaving dependent, dead birds in my ADHD tracks like the various houseplants inside and outside my house through the years.  He reminded me that I had put self-watering house plants on my “NOT To-do list”……………  However, not to be dissuaded, I left on a drizzling Saturday morning to a local wild bird store.  I asked Mark if he wanted to go, but he yet again rolled his eyes and said “No Thanks”…

I drove 30 miles into downtown Dallas, walked into the bird store, marched right up to the counter and in my usual hyper-manic mode when I get a new idea – announced to the employee that “I am here, know nothing about birds but am ready to start!!!!!”  In my mind, I had expected a “Welcome!  So glad you came!  Let me ‘take you under my wing’ and get you started little lady!”  Instead, what I got was a quiet gentleman who wouldn’t look me in the eye and would only answer in “yes” and “no”(s).  I probably scared the hell out of him and/or thought to myself that maybe he was the 50+ year old “special needs” son who was just watching the store while Mommy was gone.

So, I walked the store on my own.  I’d come upon something and ask him about it.  He’d plod over answer my question, quite well I must add and then go back to the counter.  Bless his heart.  An hour or so later, another employee showed up and they were exactly what I needed.  Someone to notice the word “SUCKER” written across my forehead!!!  Sooo, 2 hours and almost $400 later, I left with a large birdhouse looking feeder with suet cages on both sides and a 7’ metal stand, extra refrigerated suet that I now keep in our beer fridge (Mark thinks it’s a riot and is worried one of Madison’s college friends will eat it mistaking the suet for I don’t know what…), 2 hummingbird feeders with decorative red metal umbrellas over them (because they were cute), a bag of “fancy” local, native bird seed, a hummingbird nectar water bottle to also keep in my beer fridge, 2 birding books of Texas and North Texas and they just threw in a finch feeder for free.  Something I found out later will be a money suck to get me back in the store…  But, read on… 🙂

I hurried home and had Mark help me set everything up in the drizzling rain.  He was still not impressed but was nice enough to help.  Then I waited………  Nothing for a week.  I emailed a birding friend (retired) 🙂 and they said to be patient, “like a good restaurant the word has to get out”.  The next weekend, we went to my nieces wedding. When we came back that Sunday, I ran to the backyard to finally see my FIRST bird, a Red Cardinal!!!  I was so excited and would later find out that they are a rather nervous bird, so to see that first was surprising.

I put my birding books in a reusable grocery store bag that I now call my Bird Bag and asked Mark if I could barrow a set of his hunting binoculars.  He led me to a cheap set and I ran out to the cabana to “watch”.  (The cabana is on the other side of the yard from the feeders) And, they all flew off.  Which continued to happened every time I went outside to watch… I seriously was expecting to find a note on our back door from the bird community’s lawyer placing a restraining order from us using our back yard indefinitely as “we make them too nervous and they now had ‘squatters rights’ under Texas law”.

Sure enough, over time they did get use to me………. But, the turning point came a week or so later for this Empty Nester Couple.  I was out enjoying the birds one evening and out walks Mark with hos own pair of $1000 Zeiss hunting binoculars.  Before, I knew it he was sitting their next to me daily.  Soon, we’d both find ourselves looking through our own scopes and arguing over what species we were trying to identify!  We downloaded a $14 Audubon App on our iPads to identify and track them with other birders in the area… We watched a Mockingbird couple make a nest in one of our new Magnolia trees.  I’ve decided I like the Mockingbird Male because he does everything 50/50 with the wife raising the kids.  But, Mark and I really like the Brown Headed Cowbird Couple best because they just lay their eggs in other birds’ nests and go about their jet setting life.  LOL!

It got even more surreal one evening when Mark came home from work.  He rushed into the house from the garage and said, “D’Ann, come here!  You got to see this!!  Get your binoculars!!!!”… At his leading, we both quietly walked out our back door, crept around the corner of our house and saw a couple.  A very different “species” that were quite big and looked out of place in not only our yard, but our area on the Black Prairie of North Texas.  It was dusk and hard to see, but Mark was standing there in his dress clothes, with binoculars on point, animatedly whispering loudly, “I don’t know what they are, but they have to be a water fowl of some sort just coming through!  Would you look at that!”

The only thing missing was our long, black knee socks and generic white tennis shoes.  But what wasn’t missing was, we finally really understood all the hoopla.   🙂