Tuesday, December 21, 2010

All I Want For Christmas

I don’t remember making a Christmas list as a child. I don’t remember my mom asking me what I wanted, and I don’t remember seeing any advertisements on TV and hollering “Mom, MOM!! Come see hurry up this is what I was telling you about it’s the coolest thing ever MOMOOOOOMMMM!!” That may also be due in part to the fact that when I was a child we had four channels, only one of which – PBS – showed children’s programming on a daily basis. Also, once Mr. Rogers was over I was booted off the TV so my mom could watch Dinah Shore and Another World.

My parents (and by that I mean “my mom,” because my dad was always just as surprised as we were) always made sure we had pretty cool gifts mixed in with our practical ones, like socks and underwear. I carried on that tradition with my girls, because it was usually the one present I’d let them open on Christmas Eve. I love being a mean mommy.

Last week as Maddy was trolling the interwebs looking for new and exciting Wii games to add to her Christmas list, I jokingly asked her at what point she might ask me for my Christmas list. As I gave her a few ideas, she asked that I email her the list and then she and Craig would go shopping.

So, here is what I asked for:

Fuzzy socks. As much as I love shoes, I hate wearing them around the house. Slippers make my feet sweat. I also have a strong redneck streak and tend to wander around barefoot, even in the winter. And I don’t like wearing just socks without shoes. Consequently, my feet are always freezing. So, one year Craig bought me some hot pink soft fuzzy socks and I love them – they are warm without making me sweat, comfortable without making me feel like I’m wearing socks, and I can run outside to the garage without putting on shoes. However, I only have one pair right now, so I’d like more.

Star Trek Movies or TV Episodes. I am unabashed in my love for Captains Kirk and Picard, and all things Enterprise-related. I would love to have the original TV episodes, and need to buy the movie DVDs. As there are so many, I thought this would be a good suggestion that could also be used for Valentine’s Day, my birthday, Mother’s Day, Arbor Day, etc. I’m considerate like that.

An Oval Pasta Pot. I saw this on Rachael Ray’s show, and then I found one that matches my existing cookware. It’s an oval pot so when you cook long pasta, such as spaghetti or fettuccini, you don’t have to a) stand there while the water is boiling and slowly smush the pasta into the pot or b) break it in half. Genius! One more thing I wish I’d invented.

Philosophy Bath Gel. I am running low on my pineapple coconut bath gel, which smells so delish and reminds me of summer. I suggested either the margarita or the daiquiri scents. However, since this requires a trip to the mall, I doubt I’ll get it.

Earbuds. Because I am a dork, I cut the cord of my earbuds with my three-hole punch. I know, I know, you’re wondering how in the world I managed that? Well, first, I am a dork, and second, my desk was crowded and as I was punching holes in documents to put them in a binder, the cord got hung under the paper and with one pass of the punch, they were in two pieces. Now I have to listen to my co-workers.

And that was it. So, what was on your list?

Monday, December 20, 2010


I’m not a huge fan of The Holidays. Yeah, yeah, I know – It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year. Sometimes the forced frivolity, the Christmas carols that have been playing since October, the decorations that have been in the stores since August and the incessant commercialism all makes me stabby. Maybe it’s because I’m older, or cynical, or I’ve just had too damn much loss between November and January. However, I am a private Scrooge – I don’t begrudge those of you who get a kick out of all of this, and besides, I have a child who doesn’t need to be influenced by her mother’s Bah Humbug-ness.

I wasn’t always this way – I was young and happy and carefree once upon a time. I started my Christmas list in January, and counted down the days until it was Christmas morning. My favorite gifts from my childhood were my two bikes, my Barbie Dreamhouse, and my Holly Hobby doll made with love by my mother, complete with a matching dress and bonnet in my size. As I got older, I remember getting the Saturday Night Fever album (my dad was into country - thank God my mom was a disco fan), and every year a bottle of Love’s Baby Soft.

I like buying gifts for my family and friends and finding things that they don’t expect. I like taking easy-to-guess gifts, like CDs or DVDs and wrapping them in a way that makes it hard to know what’s in the box. I like matching the bows to the paper, and making ribbon curls.

I love the original Christmas TV specials, like Rudolph, Frosty and Charlie Brown, my favorite. Linus’s recitation of What Christmas Is All About still makes me tear up a little, even after 40 some-odd years.

I nag encourage my husband to hang the outside Christmas lights, which makes him laugh because I resist decorating the interior of our house until Maddy nags encourages me to bring up the Christmas boxes. He asked me this year why I was hounding him so much when I didn’t even like Christmas and I replied that I didn’t want to be That House – my lack of festiveness is a private matter, no need for the whole neighborhood to know I’m a freak.

I love the family time, even though it can be stressful to try to visit everyone in one or two days. We are lucky that most of my husband’s family lives close, and my dad is only a few hours away, so he’ll be able to drive up for Christmas Day. I’m cooking Christmas lunch this year and I’m using a retro menu. Coke ham, cherry jello salad, broccoli rice casserole made with Cheez Whiz – all the classics from my childhood.

I love the cooking and baking. I’ve given my mixer a workout over the past few weeks with sugar cookies, and I’ve made pans of fudge and peppermint bark. My pants still fit but I might want to visit the treadmill this week, just to keep them from shrinking.

I love midnight Mass – true midnight Mass, not this late afternoon/early evening trend that a lot of churches are doing. There’s something about the stillness of the world at that time of night – it’s even better if it’s snowing when you leave the church.

So, after writing all the things I do like about Christmas, maybe I’m not such a Scrooge after all. Shhh, don’t tell anyone.

Monday, December 6, 2010


I’m done. I’m so done. Once again, the Court met, and once again, they failed to issue a decision. What is taking so damn long? It’s been seven months since we wrapped the court hearing, and five months since the Commissioner issued his recommendation. I thought maybe, just maybe, they’d have a heart and give us some closure before the holidays. Nope, apparently it’s too much to ask for. Merry Christmas to us once again, without Jessica and Kelli, and without any end in sight to this court ordeal.

I don’t know how much longer I can hang on. I’m pretty close to the end of my tolerance.

Monday, November 22, 2010


With Thanksgiving fast approaching, people are expressing what they are thankful for during this season.

I am thankful that three years ago today, I had one last day with all my daughters. One last Thanksgiving that we were able to sit at the dinner table and enjoy good food and laughter. One last evening together when we sat in a darkened theater and watched Enchanted. As I looked down the row at Maddy, Kelli and Jessica, for a moment I felt that everything was going to be okay.

I miss them every day and even more so during the holidays. I have to remember to be thankful for what I have and know that they are still with us, in spirit.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Testing My Stress

As a follow-up to my heart attack scare last week, my doctor requested that I have a stress test. Finally! A test I can pass without studying!!

The cardiologist's office called me last Tuesday evening after I left the ER to set up the appointment. I swore the nurse said to come in on Monday - however, when I showed up on Monday, they had no record of an appointment for me. Wow, the stress starts in the waiting room - that's great! So after some digging around, they found a file for me and saw that I had been called for an appointment but it wasn't in the system. However, they had an opening on Tuesday. Sure, I'll take another few hours off work, why not?

I had been told about the test from some past participants, and given some friendly advice, such as don't wear fleece pants as you will sweat your monitors off and don't fly off the back of the treadmill when they stop it. I have been practicing at home on my treadmill and have managed to stay upright and between the handles, so I was good with the whole not-flying-off. As for wardrobe, I decided to wear my yoga pants, t-shirt, sports bra, and running shoes.

I go back to the testing room, and the male tech tells me to take off my shirt and bra and put on this paper vest. Uh, hang on a second - if you're going to want me to run on that treadmill, I'm going to need to something a little more support in the boobocles area than a paper vest. People could get hurt, I'm just saying. I ask Mr. Tech if I'll be running and he says that I'll be walking quickly but won't be running. I think I can keep the twins in check if I just walk. Whew.

He sticks 12 monitors on me and once again, I'm wired up for sound to run some baseline tests. I swear I looked like the back of Craig's TV with all these cords and leads all over. Then he did an ultrasound of my heart. That was the most painful ultrasound I've ever had. He was jamming the sensor into my ribs and pushing my bones around - not fun. At one point he asked me to take a deep breath and hold it so he could get a good reading, but when he poked me pretty hard I had to gasp. He was like "oh, did that hurt?" That gel doesn't add a lot of cushion, dude.

Finally I get on the treadmill and keep up with the speed and incline. I was pretty proud of me, I'm not going to lie. After about 10 minutes the doctor says that they have the readings they need, so I dismount with grace and dignity. Mr. Tech did repeat the ultrasound process again, but this time he wasn't as pushy. Maybe my previous grimaces of pain clued him in.

Anyway, the doctor said it probably isn't heart-related, as I had a few twinges while I was on the treadmill, but they didn't show up in the readings. He did say my heart was strong and everything looked good, so I've got that going for me.

I'll follow up with my doctor soon, but I'm still having the pain. It's just frustrating to go through all these tests and still not know what the hell is wrong with me. Maybe my heart is just broken.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Anniversary Dinner

I can't believe the third anniversary of their deaths is in 18 days.

This year we will mark the day with a buffet dinner at Ravanelli's Restaurant in Collinsville, on November 23. Stop by anytime between 6pm to 8:30pm. A $5 donation will cover your meal.

Three years - it just doesn't seem possible.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

But Enough About Me

My last several posts have been All About Me, so I'd like to catch you up on what my fabulous child, Maddy, has been up to. Let's recap:

Over Labor Day, we went to Oklahoma City to visit my cousin who was very seriously ill, but has since made a fantastic recovery. We stayed at a lovely hotel with a pool, and Maddy got my money's worth.

She went to a Cardinals game with her softball team:

She went to New York and appeared on The Today Show, but before her national television debut, managed to take in a few sights around town:

The terrace at our hotel, overlooking Radio City Music Hall

The Bull at Wall Street

She got a mocha from Starbucks on her way to the Staten Island Ferry - just like a native!

We didn't get to the real Statue, but this one was a fun substitute.

She Hearts New York.

Basketball season started, and she played for her class team:

She also made Collinsville's select basketball team, the Junior Kahoks!

Before her first Jr. Kahok game

Action shot

She went to a St. Louis Blues hockey game - a 3-0 shutout - and met Louie.
And most recently, she celebrated Halloween as a deranged doctor:

And now you're up to date!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Heart of the Matter

I’ve been having these pains, just under my left, uh, boobucles (rhymes with Hercules – don’t ask, it’s a whole ‘nother blog post). Oh, yes, the pain – it started, oh, I suppose about a week or so ago, pretty much coinciding with the beginning of the Decision Not To Make a Decision week. It was a sharp twinging pain, ranging anywhere from a minor annoyance to a Hey! Sorry To Wake You Up at 2am!

As the week progressed, so did the pain. I chalked it up to stress and anxiety. And once we had our Non-Decision, I figured the pain would subside for another month. I was wrong. It stayed around, and started getting worse. I tried Tums, thinking it was heartburn, but when I would wake up in the morning and have the pain before I ate anything, I quit taking Tums. Besides, that’s like eating fruit-flavored chalk. Bleck.

I felt like hell on Monday. I was tired, even though I’d gone to bed at a decent hour, and slept pretty much the entire night. I just felt “off,” I knew something wasn’t right but I couldn’t exactly pinpoint it, other than the ripping pain I felt every 5-10 minutes. I kept looking down, thinking I was Sigourney Weaver and that Alien was about to poke its head out of my sweater. I wasn’t hungry, and passed up the peanut butter M&Ms my co-worker was trying to give me. I knew then that something was awry.

I went home, made some soup and a grilled cheese, and put on my comfy pants. I couldn’t get comfortable, and the pain was getting really bad, to the point I had to double over. I told Craig that if it was just a bit south, I would swear I was in labor. I couldn’t take a deep breath, I couldn’t sit and I couldn’t lay down.

While Craig took Maddy to basketball practice, I did what I swore I wouldn’t do – I went on WebMD. Yeah, I know, bad idea. After reviewing my symptoms, and managing not to be distracted by the other random symptoms, I decided I had an angina. It made sense – it was exacerbated by stress, and maybe I was so tired and run-down because I wasn’t getting enough oxygen. Ok then, I’ll call the doctor tomorrow.

I woke up Tuesday morning and discovered that Pain had invited a friend to my chest, Pressure. Now I felt like it was trying to push my lungs out of my chest. Fan-frakin-tastic. I was definitely calling the doctor today. I got ready, went to vote (gotta do the civic duty while I’m still breathing), and headed for work. As I was driving in, I ate my breakfast bar and it hurt to chew. Oh great, jaw pain. I remembered reading that on WebMD, it’s a sign of an impending heart attack. Just breathe…oh yeah, that hurts too.

I wait impatiently for 9am, then call the doctor. The nurse takes down my symptoms and says to me, “I’m pretty sure he’s going to tell you to go to the ER, because of the symptoms you’re having and your age.” My age? Kick me while I’m down, why don’tcha? Commence Minor Freak Out Def Con 1.

The nurse calls me back and says that he wants me to have an EKG and since they don’t have that equipment in the office, head to the nearest ER, do not pass go. Commence Minor Freak Out Def Con 2.

I email Craig, he tells me to calm down. Sure. I'll get right on that. I mean, I know I have a tendency to overreact and think the worst, but this really was scaring me. This had been going on for over a week. I’m 42, and heart disease is the number one killer of women my age. And of course it would stand to reason that once I quit smoking, started eating healthier and working out more that I would now die because my body was rejecting the healthy.

I left work and headed home. While en route, I called my dad to get our health history (no heart disease) and so he could talk me out of my tree. He’s good like that. He made me laugh, but I sensed some concern in his voice. And when my dad is concerned, it’s bad. Commence MFODC 3.

I get home, change my clothes, and debate on whether to pee or not. It seems like everything can be diagnosed by either a urine test or a blood test. I decide I better wait – I will later discover that’s the wrong answer.

We get to the ER, and it’s empty. Of course. You know the only way to be seen fast at an ER is to say “chest pain,” or “profusely bleeding.” I don’t even get to jump the line. The nice intake nurse calls me in as a CP, and next thing I know a nurse is putting me in a wheelchair. She says “we’re going to move pretty fast” and I tell her “no rush, I’ve had this pain for a week.” But that’s the protocol when they hear those magic words – move and move quickly. She’s not kidding.

We zip down the hall to the room, I get on the gurney and she tells me to take off my shirt and bra, another one starts sticking little white tabs on me and then she says that Doug will be starting my IV. Oh, hey there Doug, nice to meet you, can you hold my bra? Normally you’d have bought me dinner for this view but ain’t it your lucky day? Well, I don’t say that, but I do warn the crowd that I have a pathological fear of needles and if I pass out not to be surprised, it’s completely unrelated to the condition at hand. As he does his thing, my blood pressure goes from a respectable 120 over whatever to about 85 over 12. Ok, maybe not 12 but it’s pretty darn low, to the point the nurse says, “wow, your lips are white, let’s lay you down for a minute.” Yep, I told you. And to his credit, Doug was pretty good and I really didn’t feel much – it’s just the thought of it makes me feel woozy.

Doug takes some blood, the nurses take a health history (any recent nausea? Aside from the IV, no.), the ER doctor takes his notes, and then I get wheeled down for chest x-rays. After being zapped with radiation, back to the ER room I go. And then I wait. The nurse had explained that they took all the blood and readings to establish a baseline, and in about an hour and half they’ll take more blood and chart readings, and then compare them and see if my heart is giving off Help Me! enzymes and they’re also checking for high blood pressure, cholesterol, CBC and all those other terms you hear them say on Doogie Howser.

Beauty tip – if you are planning to visit the ER, don’t get that OPI Axxium manicure that lasts for two weeks in a dark color, like Lincoln Park After Dark – the fingertip oxygen clippy-reader thing won’t work and it will wind up on your toe, where you will knock it off every time you move your foot and the machines will beep. You’ve been warned.

I ask the nurse if I can go to the bathroom and she says she’ll bring me a bedpan. Wait… what? Apparently because I’m a CP, I’m not supposed to get up and walk around, so bedpan is my option. I decide I’ll hold it. I mean, Craig is sitting RIGHT THERE! Although he reminded me that at home I’ll go with the bathroom door open but that’s because our toilet has its own little closet area and I get claustrophobic in there. And I’m sure he would have left the room but the nurse would have to be there, and I’d get performance anxiety and it’s just not worth it. So, again, if you plan to visit the ER, go to the bathroom prior to being admitted. You’ll thank me.

After a few hours, the ER doc comes back and says I’m not dying of a heart attack. Actually he says there’s no sign of a Cardiac Event. Sounds fancy – is it black tie? He’s giving me a prescription for Nexium because it might be acid reflux, and my regular doc wants me to do a stress test, just to cover all the bases. Now that’s a test I can pass – I’ve got stress to spare.

All kidding aside – I was freaked the hell out. I’m still having the pain but it seems to be subsiding. I’ll start with the Nexium and hopefully it will get better. I’m just glad to know that it’s not a heart attack or any heart disease. That’s not something I want to mess with.

I also have to say the staff at Anderson Hospital in Maryville was amazing – they kept me informed of what was going on, were compassionate and caring, and never made me feel like a dumbass. They even got my inappropriate humor, which I rely on in times of crisis.

So how was your day?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Birthday, Travis

Thirty-six years ago, my idyllic life was forever altered by the arrival of my newborn brother. For six and a half years I had been the only child and I’m not gonna lie, I enjoyed it. When my mom told me I was going to have a brother or sister, I immediately voted Sister. She could share my room, my clothes, my dolls and I might let her play with my treasured Barbie Townhouse, if she promised not to yank on the elevator too hard and break the string. My dad was getting tired of replacing it every week or so.

I practiced feeding, burping and changing diapers on my dolls. I set up my high chair in the kitchen and fed my doll during dinner. I walked around the driveway with my dolls in the stroller. I rocked my dolls to sleep at night in the crib my dad made for me. Oh, it was going to be unicorns and butterflies to have a sister.

This is what I got.

Darell Travis Foreman. A boy. What. The. Hell? This is not what I asked for. Take it back. Do not want.

But he stayed. So I dealt with it in a mature fashion – I ignored him and carried on with my life as if nothing had changed. But as his room was next to mine and he had a tendency to screech in the middle of the night, it was tough to forget he was there. I do remember one night I woke up and heard him crying. My dad was out of town for work, and my mom was apparently exhausted because Travis cried for a while but I never heard her get up. I finally went to his room and peeked in between the bars of his crib at his little fat red face all puffed up from crying. I patted his back and probably said something soothing like “shut up, you annoying beast.” He settled down once he knew someone had come to save him, even if it was only That Girl Who Ignored Him.

I just remember thinking at that moment, hey, he’s not so bad. He was about 4 or 5 months old, so he was learning to hold up his head and starting to smile. I had noticed that when I would take time out of my busy schedule of Barbies to talk to him, he didn’t just lay there, he actually looked at me. Once he learned to walk and started to talk, I slowly began to realize that he was fun to play with. My favorite game was Put His Favorite Toy On Top Of The Piano And Watch Him Lose His Mind. Or offer him a ride on the canister vacuum cleaner, then yank the hose really hard and throw him off the back. Of course, while my parents were watching, I would read him books or roll a ball to him, but as soon as they turned around, that ball went right for his head. What? It was a Nerf ball, not a softball. I’ve got some compassion, geez.

I wasn’t always mean to him. I let him play with my coveted Dress Up Hat. God, I loved that hat.

And we wrestled. Sometimes I let him win.

As he got older and we wrestled, I would get a little rough with him. My mom would break us up, comfort the little whiner baby, and remind me that some day he would get bigger and probably pay me back. I never believed her, until that fateful day when he was about 5 years old. Somehow he managed to flip me over his back and clonk my head on the wooden arm of the couch. As I rubbed my head, it felt wet, and when I looked at my hand it was bleeding. Holy crap! I looked at Travis and he just grinned at me. Speechless from shock, I went to my mom, showed her my hand, pointed to my head, and waited to be comforted. She said, ”I told you so.” I bet that’s where I got my compassion from. I kid, I kid. Anyway, I guess she did feel sorry for me, because she took me to get my ears pierced later that day, which I had been BEGGING her to do for months. So I guess I owe him for that.

As he grew up, and well, I grew up too, I started to view my brother not as an aggravation but as a friend. Ironically, we became closer when I moved away. When I moved out, he was 12 years old. My roommate *coughBOYFRIENDcough* worked weekends, so on Saturdays I would pick up Travis. I would bring him back to the apartment and we would swim or play tennis. Sometimes we’d go ride go-karts or play miniature golf. I’d take him to the music store and I remember buying him Eddie Grant’s Electric Avenue and the Run DMC cassette where they did the duet with Aerosmith. I’m sure my parents loved hearing Walk This Way 900 times in a row. I took him to Springfield to go shopping for school clothes, and not only did he ask my opinion, he took it!

When he joined the Coast Guard, I was so proud of him. He’s been stationed in South Carolina and Tampa, Florida, and travelled all over the Caribbean, then lived in Panama City and San Diego. He did a year tour in Iraq, and that scared the hell out of me. When he told me he would be moving to Parris Island, Tennessee, when he came home, I was so glad, because he’d be a short road trip away. Sadly, he only got a year in Tennessee and now he’s in Maine.
But no matter where he was in this world, he’d still call me at least once a week. One of those phone calls is chronicled here. If you haven’t read this one, please click over. I’ll wait….

Happy birthday, Travis. I love you and I’m so proud of you, and I’m sorry for making you dress like a girl. I hope you enjoy your birthday present - I put all these pictures in a frame for you.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

No Decision - Part Deux

So if my earlier post seemed a bit abrupt, here's why - it was the only thing I could coherently post at the time. I was angry, hurt, disappointed, seething, heartbroken and, well, pretty pissed off. However, I wasn't surprised. Part of me had a sinking feeling that I wasn't going to get the news I wanted to hear today.
I understand that the Court is not meeting and saying "hey, let's screw with Jessica and Kelli's family again this month. It's fun!!" I know that they are deciding a monumental case that will set a precedent. I know there are myriad points of law that must be checked and re-checked. I know there is a potential for a pretty substantial award. I have a feeling that's probably contributing to the delay. My head tells me this.

However, my heart argues that damn it, we're coming up on three years. We are a month away from Thanksgiving, two months from Christmas and then Kelli's birthday. This time of year is hard enough for us with the added stress of anticipating a decision that may or may not come. When we are offered these slivers of hope in the form of an announcement that the Court "may" issue a decision before a certain date, and then we wait for six weeks, hoping and praying every morning that it might be today, and going to bed every night hoping and praying that it might be tomorrow, and then we arrive at the date, only to be told that no, not today either, that now we have to wait another five weeks and three days until the next time that we "may" have a decision - well, it's hard to not take it personally. Mentally, physicially, emotionally, spirtually - it's taking a toll on us. We're exhausted.

But we will hang in there and wait another five weeks and change, because what else can we do? Absolutely nothing.

To all of you who comment here, in an email to me, on Facebook or on Twitter, and (my favorite) in person - again, thank you so much for your kindness, support, offers of liquor and threats of bodily harm to those who have wronged us. You help us get through this seemingly unending process. We are forever grateful.

PS - Please try to make the memorial blood drive on November 8, or please pass on the information to someone who can. We are trying to make this one our biggest yet!

No Decision

The Court met but no decision was issued. They meet again on December 6.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

48 Hours

In 48 hours I may or may not hear that the court did or did not issue a decision in our case. Not that they came right out and set a deadline, but at last report back in September the Court Commissioners were scheduled to meet this Thursday and that the Court "may" issue a decision before then.

The other couple who was injured in the crash had their Court hearing yesterday. I'm glad that they are finished with that ordeal, and I'm sorry that they get to join me in the limbo of waiting.

I've said it before, a lot, and I hope that I don't have to say it again. This waiting thing sucks. Especially as it's fast approaching the three-year anniversary. My God. Three years. I have to take a breath when I realize it's been that long.

I'll update on Thursday, regardless of what happens. However, it's probably a safe bet that if we don't hear anything, it may be an anger- and obscenity-laden post.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Day Tripping

So, you want to know about my trip? Let me tell you – it was a whirlwind and I can’t wait to go back and see everything we missed. We did manage to pack in a lot of sights in our short time but we didn’t get to really experience any of the big attractions, like the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty. We saw them but weren’t able to get all up close and personal. We did experience Legoland, M&M World and FAO Schwartz – one guess as to who the tour director was at that time *coughMADDYcough*.

We walked to Times Square Sunday night so we could see the lights, and after our TV obligations on Monday, we walked 5th Avenue to Central Park, then went over to Chinatown, but it was starting to rain, so we headed to lower Manhattan to see the Financial District, Ground Zero, the Bull at Wall Street, Battery Park - I bet we walked for miles on Monday. Then it was off to JFK to wait on a delayed flight back home.

Appearing on The Today Show was surreal – again, it went so fast. We were supposed to meet the producer in the hotel lobby at 7am, but because of the miracle of live TV, he called at 6:40am on the off chance we were ready to go – they moved our segment time. Again. Uh, I’m going to have to say no on that one. We crammed twenty minutes of personal hygiene into ten, and hustled across the street to 30 Rock. Maddy and I went to hair and makeup, then up to the green room (which is actually beige) for our “teaser” shots to be used during the “Coming up next” promotions.

Just before 8:00am, we went to the actual studio, sat on the couch, got miked up and watched the news section of the broadcast. Then the cameras were on us, and our segment began. And then it was over, and we went back to the green room. I wasn’t nervous because I just didn’t have time, it was a dance of “go here,” “sit here,” “now go in here,” “look here,” “don’t look there,” and thanks for coming. In retrospect, I wish I’d had more opportunity to speak – I felt like I only said “yes,” “no,” “that’s correct,” and “thanks.” Still, I am thankful for the opportunity to introduce Jessica and Kelli to a national audience.

After my appearance, I received so many emails and phone calls from other families who have lost loved ones in similar crashes. It’s heartbreaking to hear their stories, and saddens me every time I hear of another family shattered by a senseless death. It also reinforces my drive and commitment of raising awareness and sharing the story of Jessica and Kelli, in hopes of saving lives which would otherwise be lost due to unnecessary police pursuits.

To that end, I will be addressing the Jefferson County, Missouri officers this Thursday. In December, I will be speaking again to the St. Louis County recruits, and the students at SWIC in Belleville. In February I will be on a panel discussing pursuit policy at the Southwestern Illinois Criminal Justice Institute, and also will be travelling to Carson City to speak to the new recruits of the Nevada Department of Public Safety. I was contacted by the head of the Nevada DPS after he saw me on the Today show. I can only hope that this will be the first of many agencies that I will have the chance to talk to about Jessica and Kelli.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Did You Miss Me?

If you missed my Today Show or Inside Edition appearance, here are links to those stories:

Today Show: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/vp/39497907#39497907

Inside Edition: http://www.insideedition.com/news/5120/two-teens-killed-by-speeding-cop.aspx

Tune in tomorrow for the recap of my trip. I'm still sorting through emails and photos and catching up from the past week. It's been a whirlwind!

Friday, October 1, 2010


As I mentioned in a prior post, I will be appearing on the Today Show on Monday, October 4, between 7am and 8am. I’ll be talking about Jessica and Kelli, my work with PursuitSafety and FocusDriven, the changes that have been made since their deaths, the other changes we’d like to see made in the future, and the fundraisers and blood drives and scholarships and whatever else they decide to discuss.

How did this happen, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you: On Tuesday afternoon around 3:30pm, NBC contacted my attorney, who passed on the information to me. After approximately 900 phone calls, emails, text messages and voice mails, by Wednesday at 11:30am we had finalized my appearance date and time. By 11:45 I was at the mall buying a new outfit. Contrary to popular belief I did not buy new shoes. However, I have a fantastic pair that I barely wore last year.

Am I excited? Hell yes! Am I nervous? Hell yes! I have to be articulate, clear, concise, and make sure I don’t snort, swear, or pass out from fright. Oh, did I mention I’ll be in the studio at 30 Rock in New York City? This is live TV, people. There is no option for “hang on, can I repeat that?” I promise to try my best not to embarrass myself or others.

I have never been to New York City, and although we’ll only be there a short time, we hope to get in some sightseeing while we’re there. Our hotel is near 5th Avenue and I may pass out from shopping overload.

Fashion aside, I am thrilled beyond words to have an opportunity to take this story to a national audience. The chance to introduce Jessica and Kelli to millions of people is overwhelming but also way overdue. Ever since I started my advocacy work, I have wanted to tell the US about what happened to them in hopes that somewhere, someone takes a moment and rethinks their decisions behind the wheel. Even if we save only one life, that’s one family that won’t have to experience the pain, agony, shock and disbelief that we feel, and continue to feel, every day.

So if you can tune in between 7am and 8am on Monday on NBC, please do, or set your DVRs if you have to do that work thing.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sliding Doors (Or How Not to Act on Live TV)

Last Sunday was our one-year wedding anniversary. I can't believe it's been a year already. In retrospect, we've been pretty busy the past 365 days, which has made the time fly by, but at other times I think really? It's only been a few months since that happened? Seems like a lifetime ago.

Tradition dictates the gift for a one year anniversary is paper, so I decided to get Craig a book he's been wanting to read. There is a Border's near my office, so I decided to pop over at lunch to pick up his gift.

After I paid, I walked through the foyer and toward the doors, but they didn't open. So, I backed up a few steps and went forward again, but they still wouldn't slide open. I backed up and tried once more, this time I stomped my foot in front of the doors, thinking that the sensor was being wonky.

The clerk noticed my predicament and asked if I was okay. I replied, "No, the doors are broken, they won't open." Another clerk who was setting up a display near the door walked over and PUSHED OPEN THE DOOR. WITH HER HAND. Oh my sweet cracker sandwich the doors are MANUAL! They cannot sense my presence and stand aside for me to pass. Color me humiliated.

I stammer my apology to the clerk, explain my assumption, and she says "Oh, that's okay." I'm sure she silently added "idiot," "dumbass," "dingbat," or something along those lines. I don't blame her, I would have too. Hell, I'd be laughing my head off.

I calmly walk to my car and drive just out of sight of the non-automatic doors, then park and start giggling, then laughing, then crying while laughing. Seriously, how do I make it through the day sometimes without harming myself or others? I am such a dork sometimes.

I really hope I don't do something breathtakingly idiotic on Monday, October 4, when I will be appearing live on The Today Show.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

30 Days

According to this article, we should have a decision on our court case 30 days from today, if not sooner. When I read that, my reaction was “oh really?” I even entered this on my calendar as “court deadline hahahaha!” I’ll believe it when I see it, and I really hate feeling that way.

I’m having an inner struggle lately – my cynicism versus my optimism. Sadly, my past experience with all this court jazz has led me to view these announcements with a raised eyebrow and an expression of distrust. We’ve been here before and oh look! We’re still here. Waiting. We get built up and then we get the legs kicked out from under us. Again. It’s getting harder to get back up each time. The combination of the announcement that they are deciding to decide, and then a week later we get this one about his latest example of arrogance and audacity damn near did me in last week. I had to take a day to just shut myself away from the world and recover my balance.

Maybe it’s going to get worse before it gets better, at least that’s what I tell myself every morning to get out of bed, and every night to get me to sleep. Darkest before the dawn! That which does not kill us makes us stronger! Things happen for a reason! Patience is a virtue! Tomorrow is another day! Better living through vodka! Oh, wait…

I suppose it is a testament to my faith that I still believe, somewhere deep down in my shriveled skeptical heart that it might actually be over in a month. We might be able to finally close that door, and open so many others.

Until then, I keep busy, making my list of things to do When This Is All Over, and I can focus on the next chapter.

Friday, September 17, 2010


It’s Friday.

Lately, I find myself looking forward to Fridays more and more. Not in the same way I used to when Fridays usually signaled the beginning of a “whoo-hoo!” kinda weekend. Now Fridays signal the beginning of a “thank you sweet lord I don’t have to get up at O’Dark Thirty for two days” kinda weekend.

It’s also a reminder that I’ve survived one more week. I struggle through Monday, fight with Tuesday, toil on Wednesday, tussle with Thursday, and finally feel a little relief on Friday.
And, I’m one week closer to the end of this roller coaster ride. At least, that’s what they tell me.
Our latest “day to look forward to” is October 28, or sooner, depending on the Court. I feel like a convict marking off days on a wall. I don’t like that feeling.

I don’t like waking up and my first thought being “how many more days?” I don’t like that it's sucking my will to live like a Flobee on Garth’s head.* I'm trying to push through and not allow it to drag me down, but it's getting harder and harder.

The irony is that I want to start doing things that I used to do back in those happy days three years ago. I actually watched Enchanted a few weeks ago, and didn’t cry. It was a huge step for me. I like that I’m starting to let myself feel good when I think of them and the dumb random stuff we used to do. Because the goofy random memories that pop up when I hear a song or see a movie or a TV show are the ones I used to avoid, and now I welcome them for the happiness they are bringing me again.

Now when I do dumb random stuff, I take a greater joy in it, because maybe someday the people I’m with will recall it and feel some happiness as well.

Case in point: a few weeks ago we were driving home from my dad’s at the Lake of the Ozarks. It was a gorgeous evening so we rolled down the windows and enjoyed the fresh air as we wound our way through the hilly wooded backroads. Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody came on the radio, and if you can resist singing along ala Wayne and Garth, I commend you. I can’t. It really sucks when I’m traffic and it’s on and I have to almost physically restrain myself from doing the headbang. As we were in the middle of nowhere, we cranked it up, sang along and reenacted the movie scene. Maddy even joined in the fun with the “let me go!” part, after trying to be too cool to play along. Oh, those sullen teen days are fast approaching. But for now, she’s still willing to indulge her crazy mom’s antics, for which I am more grateful than she knows.

*I couldn’t find a YouTube clip of the Flobee, but please to enjoy a little Wayne’s World singalong to make your Friday go a little faster. I dare you not to headbang!

Monday, September 13, 2010

You'd Think I'd Be Used To This By Now

Apparently the judges that comprise the Court of Claims met today. Apparently they decided that four months is not enough time to review the Commissioner's recommendation, so they have decided that they will meet again on October 28. A decision may or may not be made in the meantime. Here's the article if you'd like to read it.

And as for that October 28 date? Yeah, I'll be holding my breath. We haven't had a guarantee about dates from them so far, so why get one now? They rescheduled our trial dates out several times and then couldn't even wrap up the trial when we rested our case, they needed another 10 days. Thanks for the emotional roller coaster ride, we'd like to get off now.

Forgive my general pissiness about this but damn it, what is the holdup? Why does it take this long to make a decision? Why does it have to be drug out for months, years? Why can't it just be over? I'm trying to move forward, trying to move on, and then I get news like this and it just puts me back to square one.

/end rant

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Life Lessons

A friend lost her father yesterday. He was killed in an accident on their family farm.

I feel so bad for her. I can’t imagine losing my dad. I’ve lost my mom and two of my daughters. I can’t lose my dad. Not ever, if I get my wish. He’s my rock.

I can always call him for advice, even the most random things, like why there is a dead spot in my back yard in a perfect rectangle shape. It wasn’t an alien spaceship – my septic tank lid wasn’t buried far enough and the heat was reflecting off the lid and killing the grass. See, that’s stuff that my dad knows.

He taught me how to convert fractions to decimals with a drill bit conversion chart, how to change a tire, and how to hang wallpaper. Well, the wallpaper was an accident – he was trying to make gravy for our biscuits, and his water/flour ratio was a bit off, so he said we’d use it as wallpaper glue.

There are memories that stick with you your whole life and shape you, even though you don’t know it at the time. This is one of mine.

I still remember that day. It was damp, windy and cold, overcast and gray. He was splitting firewood and I was building a woodpile, stacking it as fast as I could so I could get it done and get inside. As it started to get dark I started to perk up, because I thought that meant we’d be done soon and hey, here’s an idea, let’s go inside and burn the wood and warm up.

For some reason, my dad believed that wood needed to be neatly stacked in a straight line. I personally favored the whole unstructured “just throw it in a pile” approach. I always doubted it made a difference in how it burned, but was smart enough to keep that theory to myself.

He had taught me how to build endcaps by criss-crossing pieces of wood into two square bookends, for lack of a technical term, then stacking the wood between them, fitting the split pieces tightly together so it was sturdy and strong and wouldn’t fall over.

He finally shut off the splitter and I thought hooray! And then he shoved over my woodpile. Apparently in my haste I wasn’t fitting the wood together correctly, and I didn’t build good bookends. And I’m not talking a little 4x4 foot stack, I’m talking at least 20 feet long and 5 feet high. That’s a lot of wood. And now I have to restack it. In the dark. In the cold.

I was pissed. Right then and there I made a Scarlett O’Hara vow that when I grew up I would live in a big city, in a condo, and would never mow grass, pull weeds, lay sod, cut wood, split wood, haul wood, stack wood, burn wood, hell I was going to have electric heat and never have to look at another tree again. As God was my witness I’d never deal with this outdoor crap again!!

I was so mad, I said it out loud. While my dad was standing there. I braced myself for him to lecture me on being lazy and doing it half-assed, and if I’d only taken the time to do the job right in the first place I wouldn’t have to be out here in the dark, etc. etc.

To my surprise he laughed and told me a story about how he made a similar promise when he was about my age, after stooping over in a field all day in the hot West Texas heat picking cotton, and then going home to a house so hot that he and my uncle dragged their mattresses into the yard because it was cooler to sleep outside. He said he vowed that no kids of his would ever be so poor that they had to pick cotton and sleep outside.

He didn’t use the whole parental guilt trip by pointing out just how good I had it, and if he asked me to take a few hours on Saturday to stack wood I should be grateful that I don’t have to do it all the time. While he talked to me, he built my bookends and I stacked the wood in the middle.

When we were done, I waited for him to push it. He just looked at me and said “now try to knock it over.” I shoved it and it wobbled a bit but didn’t topple. He just nodded and said “let’s go eat dinner.”

Looking back, he didn’t just teach me how to stack wood, he gave me a life lesson. He showed me how to build your stack with good support so you can’t be shoved over. He’s my stack support and I can’t be knocked over. A few pieces may fall but I know he’ll help me pick them up. ‘cause he’s my daddy.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What A Way To Start The Day

This morning on my way to work, I had a pretty big scare. The kind of scare that leaves you with a pounding heart, shaking sweaty hands and the urge to open your door and heave your guts out.

A little background - I travel westbound on Highway 40 in the mornings. Generally traffic isn't too heavy once I cross the bridge. However, there is an occasional slowdown just past the zoo. This morning it was a standstill.

As I'm sitting in traffic listening to KMOX (because I am apparently 80 years old), I hear a siren approaching. Of course at first it's always hard to tell exactly where the siren is in relation to your current location, but then I saw it - behind me. I am in the far left lane in stopped traffic, and although there is a shoulder, albeit a narrow one, there's really nowhere for me to go. There are also still "Construction Ahead" signs that have been laying on the shoulder since this highway was reopened in January - hey MODOT, what's up with that?

I see the ambulance coming toward me pretty quickly, considering traffic is stopped. I put on my blinker, look over my shoulder and start to try to cut over into the next lane of traffic to get out of the way - you know, like you're taught in driver's ed.

Let me take a moment to give a personal message to the stupid self-absorbed woman in the red car on the PHONE WHO WOULD NOT GIVE AN INCH - DO YOU NOT HEAR THE SIREN? DO YOU NOT SEE PEOPLE TRYING TO MERGE RIGHT? MOVE, DAMNIT!!

That's pretty much what I was hollering, although my exact message may have contained a few words that I don't use on this blog because my daughter reads it, although she probably might have already heard me use them a time or two.

So, here I am (and the car behind me as well) straddling the line between the two lanes, trying to get the attention of this driver who will not surrender. The ambulance is coming, I can hear it, I can see it, and I have nowhere to go. I'm simultaneously swearing, praying, and sending a mental message to the ambulance driver that I'm sorry I'm trying to move I am really but this woman won't let me over and please please don't hit me and to the person who is waiting on you I am so sorry please please please God watch over them until the EMTs can get to them because I'm so so so sorry not my fault not my fault MOVE YOU STUPID EFFING WENCH AND HANG UP THE EFFING PHONE OH MY SWEET BABY JEEBUS IN THE CRADLE I AM GOING TO GET HIT....

and the ambulance manages to squeeze between me and the concrete median. In the meantime, like the parting of the Red Sea, the drivers in front of me have heard the siren and have had time to clear out, so the ambulance is able to travel up the left lane with no further encumbrances.

And as I move back over to the left lane, the woman who was on the phone drives alongside me. I look over and her face is like "Oh, wow, did you see that? Where did that come from?"

At that moment, I took the high road so high my nose bled. I didn't flip her off, I didn't mouth obscenities, I just got out of there.

I managed to make it to work without throwing up. My heart stopped racing and I managed to hang onto the steering wheel in spite of my sweating hands.

So, how's your day?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Back To School

Today my darling daughter embarked upon the adventure known as 6th grade. At what point did she morph from a little chunky monkey who could barely sit up to a tall lithe pre-teen who wears a skirt to school?

I'm having another moment...please enjoy the photograph while I compose myself.

The beatific halo isn't an indication of her angelic tendencies - it is so frakin' humid here that my camera fogged up. But it's a nice effect, no?

To celebrate this momentous day, I took off this afternoon. Maddy and I had lunch, played ski-ball, and went to the movies (we saw Despicable Me - I was pretty impressed!).

I'm enjoying the fact that she still likes to spend time with me. This is probably the last year that I'll be smarter than her. I'm sure as soon as she hits junior high I will become an idiot who knows nothing and has had no life experience that I can share with her. Luckily she'll outgrown that phase right about the time she graduates high school and realizes that she needs me and my co-signature on her student loans.

I love being a parent. It's pretty rewarding, considering all the tears and tantrums we endure - some of which are our own.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I've Missed This

A few months ago Maddy made the observation that I didn’t like people. When I asked her why she would say that, she told me it was because I didn’t go out with my girlfriends anymore, I was always home, and I wasn’t fun anymore. Oh, and I was also crabby a lot.
So I started thinking about it and realized that she was right. Not that I had become a total homebody but I really didn’t go out with just my girlfriends very often. I used to go out a lot. I bowled, I played darts, I went to hear live bands and went to concerts, met friends for happy hours and baseball games - in retrospect and in all honesty, it probably was a lot more than I should have, and I do regret that I missed out on that time with my kids and family.

I realized that invitations from my friends had dwindled, probably because I had refused them in the past. Not that I blame them – I probably would have stopped asking, too. I also realized it had been a while since I had initiated an invitation to my friends to do something, anything, and I was at fault as well.

I decided to do something about it, and these past couple of weekends put me on the path to making up for lost time.

I started with a road trip to go fetch Maddy from my dad’s. I invited a good friend to tag along – I bribed her with outlet mall shopping and bumper boats. Richelle was quite useful in helping me craft Maddy’s new school wardrobe. We even put together an adorable ensemble with a skirt. A SKIRT! This is huge news, considering Maddy’s summer wardrobe has been slogan t-shirts and soccer shorts. As Maddy came out of the dressing room in her gray buffalo-checked button down over a hunter green cami, denim skirt and gray Chuck Taylor-esque shoes, my heart said “OMG MY LITTLE GIRL IS ALL GROWN UP! SOB!!!” but my mouth said in a most casual tone, “I like it, do you?” and she said yes and returned to the dressing room and then I did a little dance and cried a bit, but pulled myself together before Maddy saw I was being a total embarrassment in the Gap dressing room. I also may have had another moment when she modeled skinny jeans and a dark pink plaid shirt but let’s not tell her, shall we?

We also played tourist and cruised the Bagnell Dam Strip, and we stopped at the arcade to ride bumper cars. These things were antiques – I wouldn’t be surprised if they were the original ones from when the arcade opened. I tried to snap a picture before Maddy went all Grand Theft Auto on me, but was unsuccessful. I did get a picture of her in the bumper boats, and I had a blast chasing her around for payback, after the nice young attendant pushed me off the wall. Twice. What? It’s been a while since I lived there, I’m out of practice!

This child will be legally driving in about 4 years. Wait, what?

This past Saturday, I saw Better Than Ezra at the Pageant with some girlfriends. Back in their heyday there was a gang of us that always tried to catch their show when they were within a 3 hour radius. I also remember why I was thinner back then after dancing through the first few songs, and why I didn’t wear stilettos to the shows. Ah well, it was still a great time, despite the tingling numbness in my feet.

Sunday I went to the movies with my sister in law and another friend, who just recently lost her sister to cancer. She needed to get out of her house and have a good laugh, so we saw The Other Guys (I give it three stars), then went for margaritas and talked about life and death and everything in between. I think I helped her with some hints and tips on how to get through the next few months. And she asked me to help her find shoes for her upcoming wedding – project!!

Finally, last night I had dinner with a couple of pretty cool ladies, drank a couple more margaritas, planned a Labor Day get-together with them, decided to include our respective men and children (just kidding, we planned to invite you all along!), and one of them offered to help coach Maddy on basketball drills. Score! (pun intended)

It felt good to get out and be social again, to laugh and gossip and be snarky and have a cocktail (or seven), see a band, dance like a goofball, and shop until you drop. I already have my plans for my next outing – stay tuned.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

God Give Them Strength

I went to the gym during lunch today. The TVs above the treadmills were tuned to noon news broadcasts of the local channels, which were all running a continuous loop of an overhead shot of a traffic crash on Interstate 44 near St. Louis. The crash involved two school buses, a semi-truck and an SUV.

The buses were carrying fifty 8th grade band members to Six Flags. One bus was on top of the semi-truck, and the other bus had collided with it in the rear. Shoved underneath the bus and truck was a mangled hunk of metal, virtually unrecognizable as a vehicle.

The caption under the shot stated that one person had died, but while I was watching it, it was updated to two fatalities. I prayed that it wouldn’t be more.

All I could think about was the families and friends of those students, and anyone who knew someone travelling that stretch of road today, helplessly watching this coverage, not knowing if their loved ones were alive, injured or dead.

An overwhelming wave of sadness and anger went over me. Sadness for the victims and their families, and anger that the media kept showing over and over the aftermath.

I was lucky, I guess, that I never saw the news coverage the day Jessica and Kelli were killed. As word spread and people were told who had died, so many of them said “I saw that on the news!” I was watching a What Not To Wear marathon and bringing Christmas decorations up from the basement. It took me a while before I’d watch WNTW again. I guess by not watching the local channels, I had five more hours where I believed I’d see them again.

As I continued my workout I suddenly felt the urge to cry. I had to take a few deep breaths and I knew I had to stop watching that screen. I tried focusing on the wall, the ESPN coverage of Brett Farve’s latest “will he or won’t he show up for training camp” drama, the digital counter of my treadmill. Nothing worked, my eyes kept going back to that TV and I kept feeling that punch to the gut and pressure in my chest that I felt almost three years ago.

I decided to stop the treadmill and just go in the bathroom and cry and get it over with, but then I found myself increasing the speed and finding my favorite running song, cranking up the volume and channeling that emotion into my running. I ran harder, faster and longer than I have in a while, and damn it felt good, to channel that emotion into something positive, something productive and worthwhile.

As I write this, the latest update is that the none of the students were killed, although many were injured, and that preliminary reports indicate the SUV blew a tire, and the fatalities were in that vehicle. Some of the injured were being airlifted to the hospital near my office, which I passed on my way back to work. I saw the news media trucks in the parking lot and two helicopters circling the helipad. I sent up a prayer for all involved, that God would give them strength.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Why I Didn't Want to Have Boys

The following phone conversation took place between a good friend of mine and her son. No names were changed to protect the guilty.


Matt: Mom, I just ran a toll booth somewhere and it needs to be paid within 7 days or I get a fine.

Mom: Where are you?

Matt: I don't know, somewhere between Normal and Buffalo Grove, Illinois.

Mom: What highway are you on?

Matt: Not sure, turned off a little while ago onto another highway.

Mom: And what highway might that be?

Matt: I don't know. Hey, Tom, where are we?

Tom: I don't know, I think at some point we were on 355.

Mom: What's the mile marker number?

Matt: I saw 28 somewhere a while back.

Mom: Are you exiting the highway soon?

Matt: I guess so. The sign says the road ends in 2 miles. Guess I'll find out.

Mom: So how do you know you will get a fine?

Matt: 'Cos the sign said so and there are cameras.

Mom: What else did the sign say.

Matt: What I told you, have to pay it in 7 days.

Mom: How much?

Matt: I don't know, maybe $1.00. (*It was $2.00)

Mom: What's the website?

Matt: Don't know that either.

Mom: What's your plate number?

Matt: Can't remember all the numbers.

Mom: Pull over and find out!

Matt: Can't pull over on this road.

Mom: Look at your registration.

Matt: Tom, look in the glove compartment and read me the plate number off the registration?

Tom: Where?


Mom: How the hell can you miss a toll booth?!?!?

Matt: There was a lot of construction and I was confused. You know we don't have toll booths in St. Louis. Did I tell you no one would serve me at a bar last night cos I had a shirt on that said "I Hate The Cubs?" People were coming up to me saying they didn't like my shirt. Should be fun up here this weekend since I'm still wearing the shirt!

Matt: Here Tom, tell my mom the plate number. (Tom reads the plate number).

Mom: Let me talk to Matt again.

Mom: I am tracking you right now on the Sprint Family Locator.

Matt: Ok thanks, where am I? I'll pay you back when I get home.

Mom: What time was it when you went through the booth.

Matt: A while back.

Mom: Was there a live person at the booth or was it a coin box?

Matt: Live person.

Mom: Did he yell at you to stop?

Matt: I don't know, I was trying to figure out the highway.

Mom: Please don't do anything else stupid for the rest of the week.

Matt: Did you know my buddy got a speeding ticket from one of those planes that fly watching for speeders? You were right, they really do that!!!

Mom: Matt! Did you get a speeding ticket?

Matt: No, you know I can't speed. I'm on court supervision for speeding for 30 days, remember?

Mom: MATT!!!

Matt: Don't worry, I'll have fun. Thanks mom! Bye!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ice Cream in Heaven

My in-laws had to put their dog to sleep this morning. She was a beautiful black cocker spaniel that they raised from a puppy. Her name was Maddy. When we would visit their house for dinner, my MIL would tease my daughter, Maddy, by calling her to dinner like she would call her dog, Maddy. Sometimes she would pet my Maddy on her head, too, and she would bark or whine. It got confusing sometimes when someone was talking to the dog and the kid would answer.

I remember one of the first dinners I had at their house. We were having ice cream and brownies for dinner, and my MIL put a small bowl on the floor next to the table. When I asked "did you just give the dog some dessert?" she replied, "yes, ice cream is her favorite." Of course it is, how silly of me.

It's a hard decision to put down a pet. You're losing a member of your family. Their house won't be the same without hearing the click of her nails across their wood floors, or setting down a bowl of ice cream for her after dinner.

Today when I heard she was gone, I looked at my picture of my girls. Kelli loved her ice cream, too. I asked her to find Maddy and play with her, and share her ice cream with her. When I told my MIL and SIL I had asked Kelli to take care of her, they said they felt better, knowing someone in Heaven would love her and feed her until they could see her again.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

An Update

At certain points in the day, time seems to move at the speed of molasses in January. This usually happens around 10:30am, just when my breakfast is wearing off and it’s too early for lunch, and again at 2:30pm, when 5pm seems an eternity away. Conversely, the hours between 11pm and 6:30am seem to fly by. I think Time skips an hour or two while I’m sleeping, because my alarm seems to go off earlier and earlier every day.

My life seems to be ruled by time lately. Every Monday is another mark on my mental prison wall, marking the weeks that have passed since the closing arguments. We did receive some promising news last week – the commissioner’s report and recommendation was delivered to the judges on June 30th. Now the judges have to review it, and 4 of the 7 need to agree on it. Again, we have no deadline, no time frame, no ETA for this decision. However, we know that it is progressing. That helps.

Summer is almost over for Maddy – she starts school in a month. I remember starting school after Labor Day and being done by Memorial Day. It seems like she goes back to school earlier each year. When I told her today she only had a month left of her summer, she said “do I have to go back? I know enough now to survive.” Oh honey, do we ever really know that much?

My grand plans for shaking up my life that I alluded to in my last post? Yeah, they didn’t work out. I had an opportunity to trade my 45+ minute commute for one that would be less than 10 minutes, but I also would have taken a huge pay cut. As much as I hate the time I waste sitting in traffic and driving every day, we can’t manage without my current salary. So I’ll stay for now and keep looking in the meantime.

I’m not doing a fundraiser this year and I feel horrible about it. I was hoping that the fundraiser could also be a celebration of sorts, to mark the final end of the court proceedings, but so far it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to do that this summer. Perhaps this fall, but I’m not holding my breath.

I quit walking for a month and my once-a-month chocolate cravings became once-a-day cravings. I told myself that it was okay to have a Kit Kat every day if I took the stairs, right? Well, one flight of stairs does not undo the damage, let me tell you. Last week I stepped on the scale and saw a number that I haven’t seen since I was pregnant. And not early pregnancy either, we’re talking third trimester. If that’s not a wake-up call, I don’t know what is. So, we got our treadmill fixed and I’ve been running on it at night. It really makes a difference in my self-esteem. Two pounds are gone already, and hopefully many more will follow.

So, now you’re up to date and I’ll try to be better about writing. I was looking back at my blogs from the last six months, and I notice that I’m not finding the humor in things like I used to. I’m losing my ability to laugh at myself and the situation, and I know that’s taking it’s toll on my well-being.

Friday, June 25, 2010

All We Need Is Just a Little Patience

When God was handing out patience, I didn't get any because just couldn't wait. I have no patience, and it's getting worse as I'm getting older. Superstores *coughWALMARTcough* that have 30 checkout lanes but only 6 open annoy me to no end. Couple that with my bad line karma and I can't win. Seriously, if you gave me a choice of two lines, I will pick the one that the cash register will break down, someone's credit card won't go through, the price is wrong, or the car in front of me at the ATM is refinancing their mortgage. However, I have good parking karma, so I can't complain too much.

But this lack of patience has been quite trying over the last 7 weeks, which will turn over to 8 weeks on Monday. Eight weeks since we wrapped up the girls' trial. Eight weeks since we walked out of the courtroom and were told to wait. Again. My attorney said to try to forget about it, and I know he meant well, but that would be like asking me to forget I ever had Jessica and Kelli. Sorry, it can't be done.

The court has no timeline, no deadline, no schedule. We could get a ruling at any time. Every day I wake up and think, "maybe today." And so far every night I've gone to bed thinking, "maybe tomorrow."

It sucks. No one likes to wait. And in my case, it just gives me time to review and rethink and analyze everything that happened in the courtroom. Should I have done this? Should I have said this? Did I do good by them?

In the meantime, I am trying to distract myself by making some changes in my life, pursuing new and exciting avenues, and guess what? I'm in a holding pattern with those, waiting for a phone call or two that may or may not come today. Talk about your all time backfires.

The thing that makes me smile during all this is the title to this post. I certainly never imagined that Jessica could be put to sleep by Guns and Roses. Who would have belived that the talent behind Welcome to the Jungle could put babies to sleep? So now when I hear that oldie but goodie, I can't help but smile and remember rocking my baby girl, when I could hold her tight and tell her I loved her.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Making A Difference

People ask me how I manage every day, how I am able to get out of bed and carry on with life. My main motivation has always been to keep Jessica and Kelli's memories alive, to find the positives in this negative situation, and to do good work in their names.

This morning I spoke to a class of recruits attending the St. Louis County Police Academy. These men and women will graduate next Thursday, and begin their careers as law enforcement officers. I was asked by the Chief of Police of St. Louis, Tim Fitch, if I would come and talk to them about what happened to Jessica and Kelli. You can read about these tragedies in a classroom, but sometimes having a personal account can be a more powerful teaching tool.

For the last few weeks I have struggling with what to say. I didn't want to come across as telling them how to do their jobs, but yet I wanted to tell them what happened and hope they remember Jessica and Kelli, and others, when they have to drive at high speeds.

This morning I walked into the classroom, put my cheat sheet on the podium, and began. My only visual aid was a blowup of their last photograph, taken just a couple of hours before they were killed. I didn't fall, I didn't stutter, and I only lost my place once, when my pages stuck together.

After my speech, several of them came up to me. One man, who had two young children, even cried, and said that he would always remember my girls. Another one said that they had just had driver training yesterday, and this really opened his eyes on what could happen. Another simply said "thank you, I know this must be hard for you."

Yes, it's hard to tell that story, but it's also cathartic. If I touched one person, saved just one life, then perhaps my girls didn't die in vain. As I've said before, maybe this is God's master plan for me, and if not, I'm still doing good work.

My speech is below:

Good morning. My name is Kimberly Schlau. I have three daughters: Jessica, Kelli and Madelyn.

My daughter, Jessica, was 18 years old. She had graduated high school and was attending college, as well as working two jobs. She was beautiful, smart, strong, blonde and determined to succeed at life. She wanted to get her degree in business and pursue a career in marketing or PR. She had a large circle of friends and my house was generally filled with laughter and music thumping in her room. Jessica was never shy and always managed to make friends wherever she went.

My daughter, Kelli, was 13 years old, just 39 days shy of her 14th birthday. She was in 8th grade, a cheerleader, and an A student. She too was beautiful, smart, strong, blonde and determined to be a successful veterinarian. She loved animals, and was also an avid proponent of recycling and being green. She too had many friends, and always seemed to be a happy person, smiling and making people laugh.

My daughter, Madelyn, is 11. She also is beautiful, smart, strong, but a redhead. She loves basketball, softball, photography and has a pretty awesome sense of humor.

Jessica and Kelli were killed on November 23, 2007, when an Illinois State Trooper crossed the median at 126 mph and drove through their car, killing them instantly. When they walked out the door that morning, on their way to have this picture taken, I never dreamed it would be the last time I’d see them, or that this would be their last photograph.

Their car was sheared in half. Their bodies were mangled beyond recognition. It took over five hours for the coroner to notify me of their deaths, and even then they weren’t sure who they were, because they asked me if Jessica was driving, and who would have been in the car with her. Their caskets were closed, and they couldn’t even be dressed. All we could do was give the funeral director items to be draped over their bodies. For Jessica, I gave him her prom dress and her boyfriend’s hockey jersey. For Kelli, I gave them her cheerleading uniform and her Jonas Brothers concert shirt.

Their deaths were avoidable.

The former trooper made many decisions in the minutes prior to killing my daughters. He chose to respond to a call that was originally given to another officer. He admitted in court that he did not hear the entire radio transmission, specifically the portion that advised that other first-responders and law enforcement were already on the scene. He chose not to verify that information. He chose to drive at almost twice the posted speed limit in heavy day-after-Thanksgiving traffic. He chose to use his onboard computer to email another officer for directions to the scene of the call while driving over 100 mph. He chose to conduct a personal cell phone call, talking for almost 4 minutes, while driving over 100 mph, weaving in and out of traffic and driving on the shoulder. Cell phone records show that call was terminated just seconds before he killed my daughters. The vehicle’s black box showed full throttle and no brakes before impact.

All this for a call that was secure. Had he arrived at the original accident scene, his only responsibilities would have been to write an accident report and to direct traffic around the scene if necessary.

The trooper testified in court that he felt his actions showed reasonable care. The director of the Illinois State Police testified otherwise. In fact, he called the trooper’s conduct “indefensible”. The community believes that as well. His actions gave good officers a bad name.

Because of his actions and decisions, my daughters are dead, and he now is a convicted felon. He will never again be a police officer, never again be licensed to carry a gun, and as part of his probation, he cannot drive for the next two years. He is also unemployed.

I am not here to tell you how to do your job. I was raised to have the utmost respect for law enforcement and first-responders, and I still do. We, the public, put our trust in you, to keep us safe, to uphold the law. You have chosen a profession in which you are asked to make split-second decisions, including life and death decisions.

I was asked to speak to you today by Chief Fitch, in hopes that hearing a personal account of the circumstances that led to Jessica and Kelli’s deaths will influence how you might handle a similar situation.

In the moments leading up to the impact, the former trooper could have re-evaluated any of his decisions, but he chose not to. I would respectfully ask each of you, to remember this picture of Jessica and Kelli, and the pictures on the sheet in front of you of the other civilians killed, and also the officers who have been killed, and ask yourself, “if my family were on this road, how would I react? Would I continue on this course of action?"

Congratulations on your graduation next week, and good luck and godspeed to all of you.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Village Idiot Rides Again

I thought I'd regale you with tales of my latest idiotic moments, so you can feel better about yourself. It's a public service, you're welcome.

Last week I went to the Cardinals game with some girlfriends, and afterward went to a nearby pub for another friend's birthday. We were having a nice time, sitting around one of those tall tables, chatting and having a cocktail to celebrate. My sister-in-law decided she needed to powder her nose, and she asked me to accompany her. As I descended from my tall chair, I managed to smack my head on the support pole behind me, knocking my sunglasses off the top of my head. As I tried keep my glasses from hitting the ground, I managed to kick the stone firepit next to our table and more than likely broke my pinky toe. It still hurts, a week later. The nice young men at the table next to us did ask if I was okay, in between hysterical laughter.

The next day, I was getting my lunch from the deli in our building. As I was walking away from the counter, the heel of my shoe on the uninjured foot decided to turn right while I was turning left, and down I went on my knee. My sandwich flew out of my hand and landed about 10 feet away. I got some distance! Of course, standing behind me is the VP of Legal for my company. He helps me up, asking if I was okay, without laughing! (he may have laughed once I was out of earshot). I said yes, I'm fine, I'll just go over here and pick up my lunch and take my humiliated limping self back to my desk.

I managed to maintain my dignity through the rest of the week, until I went to the grocery store on Sunday afternoon, sans bra. Yep, I took the boys out for a walk completely unleashed. I drove halfway there before I realized I was feeling a bit, unrestricted, shall we say? I only needed to get a couple of things so I said to hell with it, at least I have on a shirt that covers them, and shorts that cover my dairyaire. I've seen people with less on, perhaps I won't stand out as much. No one pointed, laughed or fainted, so I think I was okay.

And finally today, I managed to trespass. There is a patio with a table and chairs on the back side of our building. I never see anyone sitting there, and I thought it would be a nice place to enjoy my lunch. So today I decided to give it a try. I had just sat down and was getting ready to eat, and I hear the door behind me open. This older guy sticks his head out of the door and says "Can I help you?" I said "I work in the building (in case he thought I was homeless or something) and was just going to eat my lunch." He says, kinda snottily, "This is our patio." I apologized, gathered up my lunch, and left. It's not my fault, there wasn't a sign that says "Reserved for Random Unfriendly Company." I'm kind of glad he told me, though, because it was filthy and I was thinking of wiping it off the next time I used it. But now they can do that themselves.

So, there you have my most idiotic moments of the week. Tune in next week to see what I've managed to do to myself or others. No wonder my husband says I need a helmet.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Cake and Gravy

As I sit here, eating my breakfast of biscuits and gravy, I am reminded of a birthday party we had for Jessica. I think she was 11 or 12, I can’t remember exactly. I do remember that she had a slumber party, and that for breakfast she wanted biscuits and gravy, her favorite. As I set the plates in front of them, she and her friends all dug in except for one girl. She looked up at me with an expression of confusion and said “what is this?” Jessica replied “biscuits and gravy, duh. Haven’t you ever had it?” Much to our surprise, the poor child had never heard of it. As we all stared at her, she took a tentative bite, chewed and then politely asked if I had any cereal. Bless her heart. Jessica was dumbfounded that she’d never had what we deemed the Food of the Gods. It was her comfort food, and her “I should have gone to bed earlier” food, if you know
what I mean.

I remember Jessica’s first birthday party. I decorated our small apartment with balloons and streamers while she napped, and when she woke up the balloons freaked her out. We gave her the obligatory piece of chocolate cake with inch-thick frosting, and she didn’t make too big of a mess. Classy even way back then.

I remember her 16th birthday, which was not as exciting for her as she had previously planned. You see, the month before, she and her friend had this bright idea that they’d “borrow” my car while I wasn’t home, and she was busted big time, grounded for a month, and told she’d have to wait to get her license. She did eventually get her license but not until almost July. Oh, the shame she endured for those few weeks.

I remember her 18th birthday, the last one we had. Her birthday fell on a Monday, and she was mad because the bakery she loved, Kruta’s, was closed on Mondays. I made her a cake, which she appreciated, but I could tell it really wasn’t what she wanted. I told her I’d buy her a and Kruta’s cake on Tuesday, and she cheered up. Spoiled little princess.

But today. Today should have been different. She would have been 21. She had been planning her 21st birthday for a few years. She was so excited that it fell on a Friday. She made all kinds of plans, such as renting a party bus and bar hopping on The Landing, going to the casino in St. Louis, or maybe even going to Las Vegas. We liked to dream big, you see. Whatever we did, it would have included new shoes, of course.

I woke up this morning and knew it was going to hurt today. Hell, it’s hurt all week. It’s so damn unfair that she’s gone, that Kelli’s gone, and that although we will celebrate her birthday today, it will be under the cloud of loss that we live with now.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My Other Gig

I have another blog that I write for - Girls Guide to the Galaxy. Today's post is about something near and dear to my heart.


Check it out here, or at www.girlsguidetothegalaxy.com.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It Ain't Over Till It's Over

The civil hearing began on April 19, and we had over 20 witnesses, most of whom testified as to the character of Jessica and Kelli. It was difficult but also strangely uplifting to hear stories and examples of just how kind, compassionate, funny and smart they were, and imagining the amazing women they would have become, given a chance. Their father and I finally had our opportunity to express how our lives, and the lives of our surviving children, have been turned upside down since November 23, 2007.

The State asked for a brief delay (shocking!!), which was granted. Last Monday we finished the testimony portion of the hearing.

One of the State's two witnesses was an economics expert who "valued" my children. Jessica was worth at least $189,000 and Kelli was worth at least $144,000. This is based on their potential earnings, and their projected financial contributions to their father and me during our lifetimes. Note the "at least" disclaimer. The expert at least had the humanity to add that in there.

A friend asked me if that made me want to throw up. Yeah, it did. I've worked with wrongful death cases before, and knew this was coming, and told myself that it was just one of those clinical, detached necessary evils required by the Court. I tried not to take it personally. I failed.

Now the case is in the hands of the hearing officer, who will be making his recommendation to the Board of Commissioners "soon." The Board then reviews his recommendation, and we must have a majority (4 out of the 7) agree with him. Then, it is submitted to the Chief Judge, who can either agree with the Board, or remand it back for additional information, and then we start the process over.

Once the Chief ratifies the decision, the award amount, if any, must be sent to the Illinois State Legislature for appropriation. So it's going to take an act of Congress, so to speak, to finalize this case.

After all that, I needed to get out of town.

We went to Branson this past weekend over Mother's Day, and Maddy had a ball. It was great to see her enjoying herself and being a happy kid again. After much persuasion, she gave Marvel Cave and Fire In The Hole a chance, and I was pretty proud of her. She even admitted that she was glad she did, because now she wants to go to Branson every weekend.

Mother's Day this year was harder on me. Isn't it funny how recent major developments in this case have fallen around yet another holiday or milestone I won't be spending with them? The criminal plea was the day after my birthday; the trial started the Monday after my birthday; and we wrapped up the testimony just before Mother's Day.

As we were coming home on Sunday, I could feel the bad mood and general blah-ness settling over me. I knew what it was and why I felt like hitting someone. Funny how it just didn't help me deal with it any better.

I guess it was harder because we just had the trial and the plea, and I'm trying to mentally bounce back from that ordeal. It's not getting any easier; as a matter of fact, each time it gets a little harder. I'm just about done, people. The fountain from which I draw my strength is sputtering and running dry.

I'm tired. I'm tired of being in limbo. I'm tired of my life being on hold because I wake up every morning thinking "is today the day we will get a decision?" I have no idea when it will come. There is no deadline - it could be days, weeks, or even months.

I try to stay busy with my PursuitSafety work, planning the next blood drive and fundraiser, and trying to tell myself it will all be over soon.

Although the testimony part is done, we are still waiting...again...for a final resolution.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Blue Skies, Smiling At Me

It's skies like this that reinforce my belief that there is a heaven.

I'll use this sky as my happy place when I'm sitting in court again on Monday.

Stay tuned for updates....

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Every Village Has An Idiot - My Village Is Looking For Me

Hello, my name is Kim and I am an idiot. Here is my story:

*hi Kim!!*

Several weeks ago, my boss asked me to schedule a meeting with some vendors coming in from New York. The vendor and I emailed back and forth regarding dates and times, and finally settled on 10:30am today. I sent the meeting invitatation to them via Outlook, scheduled a conference room, and thought that was that.

Today, around 10:45am, I realized we hadn't heard from them. As I have been out of the office the last couple of weeks, with that trial thing, I asked my boss if the meeting had been cancelled while I was out. She said no, not that she knew.

Being the initiative-taking kinda girl I am, I looked at Lambert's flight schedules from New York - hmmm, all planes from New York arrived on time. I wonder what could be keeping them?

And then I realized - Oh, holy crap...time zone change. I bet you $20 they show up at 11:30.

Apparently, Outlook isn't smart enough to realize that if I, in the Central Time Zone, send a 10:30 meeting request to someone in the Eastern time zone, I mean 10:30 and not 11:30. Conversely, perhaps I am not smart enough to remember that Outlook is stupid and I should tell people Central Time.

Anyway, damn.

To add to the confusion, our department was leaving the office at 11:30 for a belated birthday lunch for me. So, when our vendors showed up, we invited them along.

Hilarity ensues.

~~~~~~Scooby Doo Flashback Time~~~~~~

Earlier in the day, I was asked where I wanted to eat for my birthday. There are two malls both within 10 minutes from my office, both of which have fantastic restaurants and both of which I have been to for other office lunches in the last few months. I said "Hanley's" (at West County Mall across the street) but was picturing Cardwell's (at Plaza Frontenac 10 minutes away).

Brain = fail.

~~~~Back to Present Time~~~~

My boss drove separately, as she had to leave by 12:30 for a previously-scheduled meeting. Other members of the team drove themselves, so I (feeling responsible for the time zone mixup) offered to drive our vendors to lunch. They would soon discover that this was doing them no favors.

I headed to West County Mall, across the street from my office. As I pulled into the parking lot, I thought I was in the wrong place (but not really because that's where they keep Hanley's, but no one else could see I was thinking Cardwell's in my head) and said "oh, I am so sorry, I went to the wrong place." So, we loop around the parking lot, hit the highway and head down to Plaza Frontenac and Cardwell's (which I was picturing as Hanley's.)

Are you with me?

So, as we merge onto Highway 40, we get caught in a funeral procession, and have to pull over.

While we're waiting, the vendors (who were lovely women from New York), and I discuss malls and shoes and the fact that we have to walk through Neiman Marcus to get to the restaurant. Hooray, shopping!

We arrive at Plaza Frontenac, park right by Neiman's front door, and walk through all the fantastic shiny purses and shoes. Pretty!!

As we arrive at the restaurant, I look at the name and think "Oh, shit."

I mentally smack myself for my stupidity. I turn to the ladies (who are most patient and kind) and say, "I am so sorry, we were in the right place before, I had the restaurants confused."

We pile back in the car and head back to West County. I call my boss, tell her we're on our way, and hit the road.

I apologized to the vendors, again. One of the ladies had never been to St. Louis, so I felt a little better knowing I had shown her two great places to shop. As their flight doesn't leave until 7pm, they are excited about going back to Plaza Frontenac. At least something good came of this field trip.

We get to Hanley's, and are greeted by the rest of my department, who have now passed out from hunger because they had to wait 45 minutes for me to show up, with the vendors. My boss has 20 minutes to do this meeting. Good thing she's a pro.

We go around the table, introducing ourselves, and when it gets to me, I say "and thank you so much for attending my my belated birthday lunch which is now probably going to be known as my farewell lunch." Everyone laughed, probably at me.

The vendors gave their presentation, my boss left on time, and I managed to get the vendors back to the office without incident - in fact, we arrived before the rest of the department did. How's that for irony?

So, what have we learned today?

First, make sure you clarify your meeting time when dealing with various time zones, and next time order in the lunch.