Small town girl. Joins Navy. Sees the world. Flies in planes. Hunts submarines. Gets out of military and has 3 kids. Rejoins Air National Guard as an "old lady" of 38.

A humorous compilation of stories and lessons learned. Usually the hard way.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tradegy vs. Human Spirit

As I write this, the city of Duluth, Minnesota (about an hour and a half from Deer River) is in a state of emergency.  They have received torrential downpours that have resulted in over a foot of water in less than 24 hours.  Roads are underwater.  Manhole covers are literally blowing off.  Sinkholes are appearing our of nowhere. 

While citizens have lost their homes and vehicles, so far no deaths have been reported which is a miracle in itself.  Unfortunately the city’s zoo was not so lucky. 

“Police officers helped track down a polar bear that got out of its enclosure overnight at the low-lying Lake Superior Zoo where several animals drowned.” ~The Associated Press.

This beautiful city on a hill was originally settled by the Sioux and Chippewa Native Americans.  French fur traders and explorers were the next to arrive in the area.  The railroad was established, and in 1878 Duluth was incorporated as a city.  It soon became a ship-building, lumbering, iron-ore taconite mining area that served as one of the most important centers of shipping on the Great Lakes and remains that to this day.

For us growing up, it was always a special treat to go to Duluth.  It was the largest city near us, full of character and things to see and do.  It bursts with history and emplodes with character. 

Today, Duluth is struggling- literally to keep their head above the water.  (Sorry- too cliché, I know.)

So today I ask of you to please keep Duluth and it’s citizens in your prayers and hearts for the next few weeks and even months as they begin to pick up the pieces of their homes and city.  They will rebuild because the people there are tough Northerners who have endured some of the harshest conditions much of their lives.  They are hardworkers and they are full of sisu. (Finnish for fortitude- my favorite word.)

Of course they will need help.  But that is what we do when a part of our country is down.  We help them back up on their feet.  Whether it’s the hurricanes on the Eastern and Gulf Shores, flooding along the Mississippi, the fires and earthquakes out West, the tornados in the Midwest, the ice storms in New England, or the Twin Towers in NY. 

Our country steps in and donates their time and extra money- whatever is needed to help the victims. I've seen happen time and time again.  That is the spirit that takes over when devastation attempts to deplete our hope.  It is humanity at its best.

All my love, Duluth, Minnesota.  You will survive.  We will help., WDAY NEWS 6, More Flooding Video from Duluth, MN, History of Duluth, Minnesota

Photo credits:  Bob King / Duluth News Tribune via AP

Want to help?  Visit:

Monday, June 18, 2012

Book Give Away!

I'm cleaning house today- making room for the new!  So... I have 25 of my books, My Mom Hunts Submarines, that I would LOVE to give away!  Whoo-hoo!  Calm down, everyone.  Just calm down.  

I will send a book to the first 25 people that email me their story.
Everyone has a story!  Just let me know who you are and why you might enjoy this book for you or children you know.  Email your story and mailing address to  

And please feel free to share what you think- good, bad, or ugly.  But hopefully good.  Pretty much, anyways. 

But seriously, who passes up completely FREE stuff?

 Really, there is no catch.  
Except you must give up your first-born and wash my car every third Wednesday of the month.

And remember- there isn't anything you cannot do- so go do something fabulous today!!  

Friday, June 15, 2012

For the Beauty of the Earth

In honor of Father's Day this weekend, I wanted to share one of my dad's most influencing lessons that he taught us- more by actions than words.

My dad spends the brisk winter months logging and during the summer he owns an excavating business.  He has worked outside his entire life from sun up to sun down in the deep Minnesota woods.  

During this time, weathering in the climate, he learned one of the greatest lessons I feel that our generation and those to come could benefit from.  How to take care of the Earth.   

Many people have had the association that loggers are bad and destructive to our environment.  Of course clear-cutting rain forests down in South America is definitely toxic to our world.  However, logging- the kind most loggers do- is very essential to the preservation of the planet.  These loggers are cutting down the old trees and using their resources- in turn, making room for the new undergrowth to rise and mature.  This speeds up the entire regeneration process and uses our natural resources instead of the often toxic, man-made ones.

Dad taught us (his daughters) how to hunt and fish, but in turn respect the Earth and all of its creatures.  It is not a sport to kill animals.  We put back what we take.  We only take what we need.

He taught us that God is all around us- just as the Native Americans believe.  Our God, or whatever one chooses to call their Superior Being, surrounds us in the woods and the lakes.  He is encompassed by the sun and reflects in the moon.  He is a part of every living soul.  

My father didn't just tell us this, he showed us in his everyday actions.  

Then one day while I was in second grade, something very tragic happened.  One of his best friends was killed in an automobile accident.  Grief hung like a wool blanket over his friends and family.  He had a son my age and a daughter a few years younger.  It was sheer devastation for our small town.

I’ll never forget the day I overheard my dad and mom in conversation shortly after the accident.  My mom had asked my dad, “Do you think he believed [in God]?” as he was not the type of church-going citizen.  What my dad said to her is something I will never forget.

“Of course he believed.  A man could not work amongst the beauty and life that surrounds us in our line of work every single day and not believe that this didn't come from somewhere.”

Suddenly, everything became very clear to me in that moment.

My dad does not judge and he would discipline us when we did. He believed very much in a live-and-let-live attitude. He was/is friends with people from every walk of life.  The prestigious and the poor.  He has taught us the power of generosity as we watched him over the years give to others when he barely had anything to give.  

It took me many years to realize just how much he affects my way of thinking or approaching a situation everyday.  And so on this Father's Day as well as everyday, I thank you, Dad, for being the person you are and teaching us so much about what life is really about.

Wishing all dads everywhere a wonderful Father's Day!

What is one of the best lessons you've learned from your father that sticks with you to this day?


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

All Hands on Deck Disclosure

Oh happy day!  My 2nd book is about to go to marketing!!

Written for military children of deploying parents.

And perhaps it’s the former sailor in me, but after I proofread the copy the publishers sent to me in its completed book form, my mind couldn’t help but wander after reading this sentence…

“There are times when we go very long
stretches without hearing from my dad at all.
I always wonder what he could be doing out
there on the ocean for so long...”

And then it occurred to me.

I can only hope I’m not contributing to subconsciously ill-shaping our country’s youth.

Perhaps there should be a disclosure.  Though it's too late to place on the book itself- please spread my warning and exercise extreme caution when reading this seemingly harmless book to your children.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Hitchin' a Ride

So I have a strange addiction.  Well, maybe it’s not an addiction, per-say- but an impulsive reaction that I have thankfully learned to control. Mostly.  But it hasn't been easy.

Alright.  Here it is.  I cannot pass a hitchhiker without the urge of a mad woman to swerve and pick them up.  I realize this isn’t your typical, impulsive move- such as buying a pair of designer shoes that one cannot afford.  Though both results have potential for dangerous consequences.
A few years ago, I made a promise to someone who cares about my well-being (and apparently has much more will-power than I do) to not pick up hitchhikers anymore.  No longer impulsive, I still fight an internal battle every time I pass one.

However, you must know that my initial thought is always one of compassion.  This poor person is stuck without a vehicle.  How terribly sad, I think because  I’ve been there and it is a terrible feeling.  People gave me rides.  I should pay it forward, right?  Granted, I only rode with people I knew, or just met in a bar, or the back alley of an Italian restaurant, so it was much different.

It all started one day many years ago when I saw a lady and her young daughter back in Minnesota on the side of the road with groceries in her arms, standing in the rain.  Now, how could I not stop for someone like that??  Of course she would be harmless.  She was a mom.  All moms are virtually harmless.  Plus I was 17 and immortal.

A few years later there was a guy about my age on the side of the road in Maine.  He looked harmless enough.  I was feeling adventurous and decided to pick him up.  I asked him where he was going.  He said to the mall.  Why?  Because he just found a $20 bill and wanted to go get his nose pierced- naturally.  To each their own, I suppose.  Turns out he didn’t have a job, or a car, and lived on his parents' couch.  He was 19.  I really tried not to judge.  I mean- what freedom, right?  Yeeaah...

Now it seems in Maryland I am passing hitchhikers every day.  So I asked myself, are there more of them here for some reason?  It must be a safe place to hitchhike because it seems so many people do it!  And as I drive to work every morning in my big truck with plenty of seating, I reluctantly must pass these strangers on the side of the road.  Suddenly guilt takes over and fights a battle in my head- between the guilt and the practical.

I have to pretend that I don’t see them and look the other direction- which isn’t always easy when driving.  Don’t make eye contact.  Don’t make eye contact.  Then they stick their thumb nearly in front of the vehicle- so much that I often must do a courtesy swerve- you know, being courteous not hitting them.  They should be thankful.

Instead I look in my rearview mirror and see them throw their arms up in the air in disappointment.  If they look really angry, it eases my guilt a little.  If they look sad and hang their head down, it takes everything in me not to turn around and at least roll my window down a crack to shout, “I’m sorry, but I don’t know for sure that you’re not a cold-blooded killer that would do bad things to me.”  Surely then, they would understand.

You may wonder how I forge onward through this guilt.  Well, I’ll tell you straight- it isn’t easy.  There is only one thing in which I can justify my un-neighborly behavior.   I have children to feed.   I could not leave them motherless if I have any choice in the matter.  And therefore, I let practical wins- this time- though I won't pretend it's easy.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Top To-do's in June

June is here!  Well it has been for about a week now- but who’s counting? 

You know what June means:  The beginning of summer barbecues, pool parties, and umbrella drinks (unless you’re like me and prefer a Yuengling, but only because it’s fun to say)

And though June may seem like it’s all fun and games for some- I’ve decided to come up with a list of important things to get done before the end of the month (and our annual trip to Minnesota!) so I will feel at least somewhat accomplished before the summer is nearly half over.

So here it is: (subject to change as time permits)

1.        Organize garage.  (yawn!)

2.        Excessively make random lists, gather items, and assign little chores for the kiddos in preparation for a 50 hour round-trip to MN.  (yes, I said 50 hours.  Of driving. With 3 kids.)

3.       Find the most perfect, heartwarming, sentimental make-you-cry, useful everyday Father’s Day present… for less than $20.

4.       Have one last “Southern Belle Friday” before kids are out of school.  (a.k.a. drink sangria on back deck and pretend that I have butlers to do all my fancy work like polishing the silver.)

5.       Get through the book 50 Shades of Grey so that I can keep up in conversations with all of my friends despite the fact that I want to stab myself in the eye for every time she says “Oh Crap”.  

6.       Learn how to read palms for a second income.

7.       Lose 10 lbs for my trip home.  You know, in case I see anyone I graduated with.  While my 10 pounds don’t normally bother me in Maryland, there is something about going to MN that sends me into a dieting tailspin.  For about 2 days.  Then I give up and proclaim I just don’t care.  Which of course is a lie, but sometimes denial is a happier place. 

8.       Get my feet beach-ready.  You know, carve off the excess skin (eew), trim, and put an unnaturally bright color on the nails so they will look nice- so they can get chipped and stubbed in the sand after a day and a half.

9.       Buy a bottle of sunscreen every week because I either leave it somewhere, or run out of it, as I have been scared to death from all of the wretched warnings in the news to let my children step out the door without it.  (Remember back in the days when your mom proclaimed you were tan enough not to get burned and would be fine?  “Now go play in the streets until dark!”  Ah, such simple times.)

10.   Put up a hummingbird feeder.

11.   Learn how to grow vegetables.  This sounds easy enough- and I know my ancestors did it for survival- but for some reason, every year after the plants are about half-way to harvesting, they shrivel up and die.  Yes, I’d like to learn how to grow things that do not shrivel up and die.

12.   Take down hummingbird feeder when I realize the only thing interested in it is the 3-mile long trail of ants now encircling my front porch.

13.   Clean the leaves out of the pool everyday because I am obsessive- and I find it strangely calming.

14.   Watch sunsets while sipping a glass of wine from my deck or the nearby beach as the children catch fireflies and frolic about happily and carefree.  Because really, isn’t that what summer truly is?

   What is on your list??

Friday, June 1, 2012


My Story:

He peered up at me with those irresistible eyes that were so dark, they were nearly black.  “Mom, I moved my clip today.”

“What?  Are you serious?  This has got to stop!  What this time?”

“I ah- I hit someone.”  He looked down at the ground, reluctantly forcing the truth out.

“That’s it, Joey.  I will NOT stand for you bullying.  No TV for a week!”  I shook my head.  What am I doing wrong?  How do I teach compassion?

“But Mom-"

“But nothing.  Go to your room.”

His Story:

“Hey Joey!  Wait up!  I got something for ya!”

Uuurrrch!”  I slammed on my brakes, and spun my feet into reverse.  “Squeak!”   I stopped in front of him.

“Here.”  Jack held out a piece of hard candy.  It was gooey and red.  It looked clean.   I popped it in my mouth.

“Thanks!”  Jack is my friend.  He is the only one on the playground that can run as fast as me.

“Ooh!” Something wiggled in the dirt.  I had to get a better look.  A firefly!  Cool!  I stuck my finger in front of it and it climbed on for a ride.  I made a tunnel over it with my hands and looked inside the hole I made between my thumb and pointer.  It flashed green!

“Jack, check it out!  It’s shooting lightening from its butt!”  I laughed and let him look through the peep hole.

“So what?  It’s just a bug.”  Suddenly Jack smacked my hands apart and the firefly dropped to the ground. 

It didn't fly. Is it hurt?  Then he stepped on it and shot its green guts everywhere!

For a second, I couldn't breathe.  I wanted to scream!  Or cry?  I decided to scream.

“Stupid!  You killed it!”  My voice sounded funny.  I was so mad! I swung my arm around and smacked him in the shoulder.  I hate Jack!

“Joseph!”  The teacher called.  “Get inside this minute, young man!”