Tag Archives: Marriage

Math is Hard [insert whining voice]

This One is Too Small

This One is Too Small

After several horrible months in our teeny-tiny apartment, we have finally purchased a home.

Because I’m not confident of my ability to make any logical decisions right now — for example; I took the inheritance I received from my father and purchased a black hole of problems in a vintage camper — I hired a design company to help me with the remodel.

Even though, I’m pretty confident I could have made this


Into this:
And this:
Into this:
I could never go any further with the plan.

Not only does the design team supervise the demo and construction, they also help with the decorating.

To assist them with their plan, I had the contents of one of our storage units, (the one that held all our furniture) delivered to the new house. I instructed the moving crew to line my items up in such a way that the design team could view all of my precious possessions  — like the coffee table made from an old wooden hardware cabinet or the eight foot tall antique secretary given to me by my mother-in-law — and then they could decide what was worth keeping and what should be relegated to the basement.

Turns out, none of my junk worldly goods are going to fit into the new hip, modern, design. Really? Not even the rusted head of a broken sledge hammer I kept in our living room? So much for the tiny thread of hope I held that I had good taste.

The one thing the design team loved and said they planned to put over the mantle in the hearth room, is this painting – which they called. Portrait of a Man.

Portrait of a Man

Portrait of a Man

I love Portrait of a Man, because it was painted by our son (my step-son) and  because it is a picture of our other son (my birth son). However, I don’t display this picture in a place of prominence because, our two daughters (my step-daughters) might be offended by a large exhibition of “my” son.

So, for years, Portrait of a Man has lived in my basement  because of all the agitation it could cause in our blended family.

Being a step-parent is a delicate operation and I work hard to balance our out-of-balance family.  Photos around the house are counted and re-counted. A picture of Husband with his son should be balanced out with a picture of Husband with my son.  A picture of me with step-daughter’s kids should be balanced out with a picture of me with my son’s child.  Christmas is a mathematical nightmare.  Do I use the number of presents as an equalizer? Or is it the amount spent on the present?

If I apply my blended family calculations to Portrait of a Man, and with the following givens:

(a) = painted by step-son

(b) = picture of my birth son

(c) = does not include step-daughters

(d) = no good will come from this

Then, (a + b) might equal zero. But, I’m pretty certain (a + b) – (c) =  (d)

Explaining these calculations to my friend, Kerry, she posed a question I’d never asked myself. “Do you really think your grown kids give a damn?”

Is that (f) in the equation?  Dang. Math is hard.

Did I Just Accidentally Buy a House?

This One is Too Small

This One is Too Small

A couple of weeks ago, I shared my experience about selling our house and moving into a tiny apartment.
Click Here to read.

Now we need to buy one and in order to help me find the home of our dreams, our real estate agent, Melody, signed us up for on-line notification of houses for sale.

Day after day, I sat hunched over my computer perusing hundreds of photos.

Not really sure what I wanted, I made Melody take me to dozens of viewings. We visited newer homes incorporating soaring ceilings with chrome and glass chandeliers. I walked through older homes, with one car garages and bedrooms so small I could reach out and touch both walls at the same time. We even looked at a “fixer upper” where I arrived early, only to find the owner frantically pushing gallons of water out of her garage.

After a defeating day of touring Too Big and Too Small homes, I found one that looked Just Right.

Hardwood floors? Check
Updated bathroom? Check
Room for extended stay guests? Check

“You have to make a quick decision,” Melody advised. I’d already seen several other homes disappear from the on-line system within hours.

Husband came up with the idea that we’d offer the seller significantly below asking price. They would counter, we’d counter and that process would give me several days to wrap my head around our decision.

Except that – the seller accepted our offer.

No worries. I live my life with the Doris Day philosophy of What Will Be, Will be — so I relaxed and let life happen.


Que Sera, Sera

Who am I kidding? I freaked out!


It took three weeks for us to buy our last car, and now we’d accidentally bought a house in less than 24 hours!

Husband calmly pointed out that it was a beautiful home and we’d likely be very happy there. I hired a design company to come out and tell me what a stupid thing I’d done. They loved the house. Just as I was detoxing from my adrenaline rush, and falling in love with the place, the inspection report arrived.

Now it’s back to square one.

…In order to help me find the home of our dreams, our real estate agent, Melody, signed us up for on-line notification of houses for sale. Day after day, I sit hunched over my computer perusing hundreds of photos…

I swear, I don't know how these things happen to me.

I swear, I don’t know how these things happen to me.

My Husband is Trying to Kill Me in His Sleep

Homicidal Maniac

Part-time Homicidal Maniac

Recently, my loving Husband has taken up the habit of trying to kill me in his sleep. Not in my sleep, in his sleep. Trust me, I’m not doing a lot of sleeping right now.

It started a few months ago when I awoke to him shouting, “GET OUT OF HERE!”

Startled, I sat up in bed just as he went crashing into my pillow, where he promptly wrestled the stuffing out of the poor thing.

Don’t get me wrong, most of the time Husband is a soft-hearted teddy bear.

Homicidal maniac (also known as Grandpa) tuckered out from hike

Actual homicidal maniac (also known as Grandpa)

One time he trimmed our dog’s toenail too close and was so emotionally traumatized by the thought of injuring her, he refused to ever do it again.

We once had a raccoon in our house and after animal control trapped it in their net, he got all choked up thinking about “what will happen to the little guy.”

And, after watching Marley and Me he sobbed so loud I had to turn the TV up.

I’m sensing a theme here that has to do more with animals and less with humans. But, let’s continue anyway.

Husband has always been a sleep-talker, or should I say, sleep-arguer. Maybe this happens to all spouses married to lawyers but it’s a little alarming to me.  For example, I shake husband’s shoulder to say “Roll over on your side, you’re snoring” and he sits up to explain to me in his courtroom voice that “obviously I’m already on my side because this (insert Vanna White-type sweeping hands) is the center of the bed and I’m (more sweeping of hands) over here.”

He drops onto his back to continue his sound sleep, and his obnoxious snoring. I spend the rest of the evening tossing and turning while I struggle to compose a snappy retort. (I have yet to come up with one.) In the morning, he remembers nothing of the events that transpired in his sleep and cheerily kisses me good morning.

I’m learning to sleep with one eye open, but recently missed the rustling sounds that indicate a possible attack. I awoke to husband’s hands wrapped around my forearm, attempting to strangle it to death. I’m not sure what demons are chasing him, but I have to admire his willingness to turn and fight.

I remember a time I was walking with my small nephew, Josh, when his much older and taller cousin, Ben, jumped out and yelled “BOO!” Josh immediately grabbed his walking stick and poked Ben in the eye. While I, without a care for my poor little nephew, turned and ran [similar event here], only stopping when I heard Ben cursing a blue streak. (This  story also comes with the added joy of spending the rest of the vacation shouting “Arg, ye matey!” at Ben in his eye patch.)

But, I digress. In fact, I think I’ve digressed during my digression. This is what happens when you put a sleep-deprived writer/wife in front of a computer.

P.S – if any of you are in Kansas City – come and check me out next Friday (not THIS Friday, NEXT Friday) at this performance:

WTF Logo

A dramatic and comedic reading by The WTF Writers’ Group
Bob Chrisman, Jessica Conoley, Teresa Vratil, and Dane Zeller
VALA Gallery
5834 Johnson Drive, Mission, Kansas, 66202
Friday, May 17, 2013
7:30 PM – 8:30 PM

I Swear, I Don’t Know How These Things Happen to Me

To borrow a phrase from one of my favorite bloggers, Donna Louise, I swear I don’t know how these things happen to me.

Recently, Husband and I talked about downsizing to a home more appropriate for our new lifestyle. Without the responsibility of a house and large yard to take care of, we could walk out the door and travel to the south of France for a month or so.

This House Is Too Big

This House Is Too Big

We have no tickets to travel to the south of France yet, but we imagine if we change houses, we would.

One Friday morning I thought I’d take a step toward that carefree lifestyle and said to Husband, “Hey, let’s put our house on the market today.”

We did. It sold in three days.

Suddenly, we had a little over a month to pack up fifteen years of life and move to…well, that’s just it. We hadn’t decided where we wanted to move.

Time was running out for us to find a new home and then, my favorite aunt fell ill. Within a few days time, I was required to fulfill her end-of-life requests.

Certain if I made a choice on a house in the middle of this, I’d wake up six months from now in a Victorian B&B and wonder how I got there, Husband suggested we try apartment life for a while.

We spent an entire weekend talking with flaxen haired twenty-year-old Kimberlys and Kendalls and being treated as if we were a couple of twenty-year-old deadbeats and then were asked to pay $100 for the privilege of simply filling out an application.

This One is Too Small

This One is Too Small

We settled on a Teeny Tiny Place because it only required a seven month lease. Actually, we chose it because it was one of the few places that allowed our 70 pound  60 pound dog. (We stopped at one place where you could have any number of pets as long as their combined weight didn’t exceed 50 pounds. I didn’t want to think about what that might include.)

Back at our house, I packed and packed and packed some more. I designed an elaborate color-coded labeling system that included where each box went for the apartment move, what’s in the box, and where the box will go when we buy a house.

Moving day arrived and within minutes of getting to the Teeny Tiny Place, I discovered I’d over-estimated the amount of furniture that would fit.

Uh Oh

Uh Oh

We quickly rented another garage — and then a third to hold all the crap treasures I’ve collected over the years.

In our Teeny Tiny Place, we have the privilege of paying $20 per month more for “hardwood” floors, which are actually linoleum printed with a wood image. The walk-in closet is rendered un-walk-inable once clothing is hung on both sides. And, we have the luxury of a master bathroom with floor to ceiling mirrors on three walls – which not only gives me a multi-imaged look at myself in my least attractive position, but also depicted several dozen images of the look of horror on my face as the toilet backed up on it’s first use.

Settled into the Teeny Tiny Place, I got back to looking for a home.

No, wait. That’s not right. Somewhere in there I had a garage sale. We left on a long-ago planned trip to Disney World and from there, a flight to Hartford. And, oh yes, I went gluten-free.

Maybe I Could Stand to Lose a Few?

Maybe I Could Stand to Lose a Few?

Tune in next week to discover if the house we accidentally put an offer on, is now ours.

I swear, I don't know how these things happen to me.

I swear, I don’t know how these things happen to me.

My Fall From Chaos-Handling Glory to the Wickedest of Witichiness

I’m someone who’s spent their entire existence dealing with the chaos that crops up in life. And, I like to think I did it without too much screaming and yelling

Handled with the tenderness of a teddy bear

Handled with the tenderness of a teddy bear

Older relatives say my ability to handle pandemonium started when I was a little girl. Great Aunt Margie tells of walking into our house, after Mom’s sixth or seventh child, (she’d lost count) and seeing me standing on a stool so I could reach the kitchen sink, washing a mountain of dirty dishes.

Add a couple more brothers, and our house went from confusion to chaos and I handled it all. When I left home I carried the chaos, and the ability to handle it, with me.

I went from living in my parents’ tiny dilapidated farmhouse to living in tiny dilapidated apartments. Some catastrophe or another always befell me  – like the time the building was condemned, or when I discovered the owner going through my underwear drawer, or the place that was haunted by a handsome tennis player (yes, this happened).

I divorced and moved, with my young son in tow, from apartment to apartment…sometimes twice in one year. Our lives were in constant chaos and yet, I dealt with it – without any major meltdowns.

If there were Olympic medals for wrestling with the triathlon of Surprises, Problems and Emergencies – I would have used my well-toned Chaos Muscles and won the gold.

Now, after years in the same chaos-free home, with the same chaos-free husband, we’ve decided to sell and move to something smaller.

Evidently, a short fifteen years of non-use can cause olympic-sized Chaos Muscles to atrophy — to the point where a mere call from the realtor that someone wanted to view our house, sent me into chaos-hating cranky mode.

I loaded up my laptop and headed to Starbucks, cursing all the way. At least, what I consider cursing.

“Darn it,” I swore, “I’ll never get my blog post written now,”

I ordered my cappuccino and after sitting down in a hard wooden chair, realized that my world would be ending soon because I’d forgotten my ear buds or, worse, the mouse! “Fiddlesticks,” I cussed.

Day after day, this happened until…well…ummm…I sorta snapped.

My expletive-loving friend, Kerry – the one who named our critique group WTF so as to cause me constant embarrassment when I tell people the name of it – demanded that I post our recent text conversation.

Well, to quote her directly, she wrote “OMG! Laughing my fucking ass off!!! You need to post that on Crazie Town!!!”

So I am…and what follows is a true-life dialog depicting my fall into the Wickedest of Witchiness.

Kerry wrote: Hey, T.  What’s going on with the house? Any more bites? And where r u moving to anyway?

After massaging my aching Chaos Muscles, I replied:



All questions that make me mad at Husband, some of them for no fucking good reason.

Where are we moving to you ask??? Started this whole process because Husband wanted no more maintenance. We start looking at maintenance free places and he fucking doesn’t want to pay the HOA. Wants to look at houses. WE FUCKING OWN A HOUSE!

We had a great offer on the second day but then he added stuff in the contract like “we will not be held responsible…selling property as is…”  She walked away and I was so fucking mad!

Then, we got an offer higher than the lost offer and…I was fucking mad because he’s so fucking lucky and I couldn’t be fucking mad at him anymore!

Somewhere along the line – after I’d rinsed and re-rinsed the shampoo from my hair – I realized I couldn’t leave the shower


If you could crack open my crazy head, you’d be surprised what you’d find. Well, maybe the lifelong residents of Crazie Town wouldn’t, but you new guys? You’d be surprised.

For example, a few years ago, I experienced a bout of depression. Nothing super-serious, like requiring the purchase of a straight jacket or anything. Just an overwhelming feeling of listlessness.

It started when I had trouble getting out of bed in the morning. Wandering around the house in my pajamas, I took long naps in the afternoon and most of my sentences were barely intelligible.

“Feeling better?” My husband, John, asked each day as he picked up the plethora of snotty tissues from around the vault I’d built in our bed.

“Uh-uh,” I answered.

“Any chance you want something for dinner?”


“Maybe we could take a walk. Some fresh air will do you good.”


Spending my day in the bed went on long enough for me to hone my listening skills to sonar submarine levels. The moment I heard the back door open, indicating that John was home, I jumped out of bed. shutterstock_70376086 copy Smoothing the covers, I’d run to the bathroom to flush the toilet and pull my robe tight as he walked in the room.

One day I looked in the mirror to see, on the lapel of my bathrobe, last week’s Chinese take out next to a blob of chocolate frosting I’d had for breakfast. I stared up at the ceiling trying to remember the last time I’d taken a shower.

shutterstock_88354360My bossy voice spoke up — the one that knows what everyone around me should and shouldn’t be doing. Only, this time she was talking to me and insisting that I march into the shower and start scrubbing.

As I stood under the scorching water, I sighed with contentment – happy to be stripping off the layers of grime. But, somewhere along the line – after I’d rinsed and re-rinsed the shampoo from my hair – I realized I couldn’t leave the shower.

“Of course you can,” Bossy Voice said.” Just turn off the water and step out.”

I pictured myself reaching for the faucet handles and then … well, that was the problem. The thought of the exertion it would take to dry myself off was just too overwhelming.
I remained in the shower while the water changed from hot to tepid. Even knowing that within minutes the water would be freezing, I stood there, postponing the gargantuan task of towel drying.

“You’re being ridiculous,” Bossy Voice chastised me. “And, you’ll be sorry when that cold water hits you.”

“I’m fine,” I whined. The first pellets of ice pummeled my skin and I yelped. Leaping out of the shower I decided I would always listen to Bossy Voice.

Wrapped in a towel, I pulled on my filthy bathrobe, crawled under the covers and slept until I heard the back door open.

Bossy Voice told me to show John I could get out of bed.

“Uh-uh,” I mumbled forgetting my commitment to Bossy Voice. I rolled over, pulling the covers around my head.

John peeled back a layer of blanket and whispered, “It’s a beautiful day outside. Maybe a drive would cheer you up.”

“Don’t think so,” I muttered.

“I’ll get you a hot fudge sundae,” he wheedled.

I rolled over and cracked an eye-lid. “With nuts?”

“And whipped cream.”

My eyelid clamped shut. “Don’t like whipped cream.” I started to roll away from him.

“I meant extra nuts,” he said “EXTRA NUTS!”

Keeping my eyes shut I said, “Did you just call me extra nuts?”

“I….no…I meant…”

“Kidding,” I said, opening my eyes.

He clasped my hand and gave it a tug. “Come on!” He pulled me through the house, toward the garage.

Fortunately Sonic didn’t have a dress code.

Embarrassment Factor: 9.2

Over the last few weeks I’ve been climbing down the branches of The Crazie Family Tree. Big Sister and Big Brother stories have been shared and I should be next in line.

I'm not ONE, I'm TEN

I’m not ONE, I’m TEN

Sibling Position #3

At Christmas Eve, I told my family I planned to skip over myself and on to First Little Brother.

“NOT FAIR!” Crazie Family shouted. “You have to share an embarrassing story about yourself.”

“Umm, I thought that’s what I did every week,” I said.

“Tell the one about running away,” Big Sister said.

“Already did it.”

“Write about the time you got your elbows stuck in Grandmother’s chair,” Big Brother insisted.

“Wrote it.”

“How about the time we euthanized a mouse?” First Little Brother asked.

“Done and done.”

Over the next hour they tried to come up with a story about my childhood that I haven’t yet told, and would sufficiently embarrass me.

“Remember how she was too short to reach both pedals of a bike?” My Aunt said.

“Oh, yeah,” Big Brother said. “Dad put a step stool on the side of a hill so she could get a rolling start. Then she’d push the right pedal down until she couldn’t reach, then the left pedal would be high enough. She had to ram into the side of the barn to stop.”

“Ha, ha,” Second Little Brother laughed. “She walked around all summer with a big goose egg on her forehead.”

“That’s a good one.” I laughed along with them and then stared at my husband, sending the ESP message not to tell the story about my latest shopping experience.

He was a good husband and did not share, but in the spirit of fairness and since its now obvious to me that no one from my family reads my posts anyway, here it is.

I was in the dressing room of a nice clothing store trying to find something to fit my latest personality switch. Halfway through a dozen outfits, a massive hot flash struck me.

Normally, before I leave a dressing room, my OCD requires that I return everything to its proper hanger and hand the items to the clerk. Not this day. With sweat running into my eyes, I left the clothes in a pile on the floor, grabbed my coat and hurried out the door to stand on the sidewalk in the freezing air. The hot flash now gone and my teeth chattering, I quickly buttoned up my down coat and headed off to meet my friend for lunch.

Climbing into the booth, I removed my coat and immediately sensed something was wrong. Perhaps it was the questioning look on my friend’s face, then again it could have been the goose bumps breaking out on my arms.

It seems, in my hurry to exit the dressing room, I left my shirt in the pile of clothing on the floor.

To ease the embarrassment factor on this story, I will tell you that, thanks to my love of all things Spanx, I was sporting one of their industrial strength tank tops.

But, then to crank the embarrassment back up, I had to return to the nice clothing store and, in front of everyone waiting to pay, explain that I’d forgotten to put my shirt on before I left the store. Without a word, the clerk turned around and using the two-finger “I’m holding something disgusting” method, handed me a small bag containing my blouse.

See what you’ve done, Crazie Family? As I write this, I’m suffering another hot flash…from embarrassment. Happy now?