Monthly Archives: September 2009

I smell a rat

Somewhere back in the archives I wrote about Travis wanting a mouse as a pet, and you all came out of the woodwork to say “No” and “They stink” and “Are you out of your mind?”  While I agree with all of you that I had momentarily lost all of my marbles, these disparaging comments have done nothing to dim young Travis’ desire and so, every week when we make our run to the warehouse club, I take him into the Petco next door to say hello to the rodents and listen to him ask (over and over), “Can I sniffle the mouse?”



This weekend was no different.  We walked in, headed to the mouse cages, and planted ourselves in front of the glass to giggle at the creatures as they wiggled under the stuffing or went for a jog on their wheel.

And then along came Daisy.


That would be a rat.

Not a mouse, mind you, a R-A-T.

And who was happier than a kid in a candy store?


The rat climbed all over him and tickled his ear, his nose, his cheeks, and his shoulder.


He sniffled the rat.

The rat sniffled him.

I sniffled the tears.

And hid behind the ferret cage.

Have a nice day.


1.  Mr. CPQ earned his stripes yesterday by not yelling at me when I accidently came in a little hot into a parking space and took a chunk out of someone’s quarter panel.

There was a little paint transfer, but no petechial hemorrhaging , so everything was okay.

It reminded me of the time when we were newlyweds and the first snowstorm hit.  I went outside to clear the snow/ice off my car before leaving for my commute and couldn’t find the ice scraper, so I did what any brilliant person would do and grabbed an old license plate from the hall closet (because somehow I felt the need to keep it?) and scraped it off, in the process leaving a thousand little cuts all over the windshield of the car.

When he observed the damage, I saw him take a deep breath, center himself, and then politely ask, “The only thing I want to know is, what ideas did you discard thinking the license plate would be better?”

I have never loved him more.

2.  The weird guy at the gym finally talked to me today.  It’s not like I was trying to get his attention or anything, but he has been an object of my curiosity since he’s there every single time that I am no matter what time I go.

He’s always on the bike and I always have the urge to cut his hair and plop him down in front of What Not to Wear.

Today he must have been bored because he was leaving and decided to have a conversation with me about having mid-life crises, which is exactly the kind of conversation that I want to have with random strangers at the gym.  He seemed to be amused by himself regaling stories of real mid-life crises that involved leaving your wife and kids, and I tried to use that fake smile that should warn strangers that I’m really not interested in hearing about their angst but he seemed oblivious to it and so there you have it.

I have a feeling this won’t be the last time you hear about the weird guy, so I’m going to call him Larry, not because I think Larry is a weird name, but because he reminds me of Larry from Larry, Darryl, and Darryl.


3.  Trapper Dan is coming to the house today to check out our little squirrel problem.  He seems to be a fearless sort, evidenced by the fact that he just called to say he’s running late because he was chasing bats around the house.

And I thought I was having a bad day.

When Mr. CPQ told me that Trapper Dan was coming and was going to set, well, traps for the squirrels, I asked if they were humane traps or if they were going to kill the squirrels.

There was a slight pause and then I heard, “Sus, you know that nature makes a lot of squirrels, right?”


Have a nice day.

Mindless Matter

A few thoughts that are on my mind…..

1.  I am not opening up my Etsy shop anytime soon.

I hope this will not lead to distress on your part because I KNOW you sit around wondering where on the Internet you can order lopsided knitted washcloths.

In my second attempt to learn to knit in the round,  I got together with Heather and Amy on Friday night at Panera to have a little remedial lesson in how to learn that confounded method as well as to indulge in all things carbohydrate.

I spent 3 1/2 hours attempting to wrap my brain around how you’re supposed to knit with four sticks and not ruin your Christian witness when I finally gave up and instead, wrapped my hand around an apple bran muffin and two vanilla latte’s.

You know, for medicinal purposes.

Those nerves were not going to get unstrung by themselves.

I spent most of Saturday stewing and fretting and trying to visualize what I was doing wrong, and decided that I was not going to turn 40 without figuring it out, so I sat on the couch while Mr. CPQ watched The Natural and when I wasn’t being distracted by Robert Redford, I think I managed to make some sense of it, so I’m pleased to report that I am now happily on my way toward making some legwarmies for the baby I will never have.


2.  I have squirrels in my attic, and not the mental “nuttier than a fruitcake” kind.

No, we have the rambunctious ” living in the walls behind the headboard of my bed” kind and it’s creeping me out just a little.  Squirrels are cute and all, but not when I envision them chewing a hole through the drywall or, worse yet, finding the cable cord and ruining my access to Days of our Lives Meet the Press.

I think this is going to be deemed a boy job.

Besides, I already changed a lightbulb plus successfully wielded a screwdriver in completion of a plumbing repair job BY MYSELF this weekend, so I’m covered in the housing repair department for at least another decade.

3.  School starts back today.

‘Nuff said.

4.  I’m back on the straight and narrow at the gym after being derelict for three weeks.

I cancelled this week’s session with Nadia the Gym Nazi because I knew that I would collapse in a giant quivering heap after three minutes so I could ease back into the routine, but I think we all know that it’s just not going to be pretty for a couple of weeks.

On the bright side, maybe there will be new people that I can use as blog fodder.

5.  I’m going to have to turn in my Girl Card.

Fall is here and I had previously proclaimed that purple and grey/gray were going to be big this season, and I must now hang my head in shame because Mr. CPQ bought me the fall issue of Vogue (was that a hint?) which proclaimed that RED was the “it” color, the ’40s look is in, and so is the one-shoulder top and the peplum.

For those of you who’ve never heard that word, “peplum” is  fashionspeak  for “accentuating post-pregnancy hips.”

Hmmmm, maybe if I wore those legwarmies they could draw the eye elsewhere….

Have a nice day.

P.S.  Gretchen wanted to know when we were going to do another Ask Sus (a real one, not the made up kind when I don’t know what to blog about), so if you wish, leave a question in the comments today.

I’ll be happy to oblige.

Meet me in St. Louis(ville)

From Omaha we made our way to St. Louis via Kansas City.  Mr. CPQ is a bona fide barbecuer/bbq’er/bar-b-quer so we had to make a pilgrimage to Kansas City to have the real deal Holyfield barbecue from Jack Stack’s downtown.


That is a happy man.


Burnt ends, my friends, burnt ends.

Slap your mama good.

We ambled to St. Louis and when I tweeted that we were pulling into town, Amber tweeted back “Are you going to see the ponies?”

Didn’t know she was a racehorse gambler.

She wasn’t.  Turns out she was talking about the Clydesdales at Grant’s Farm, a place I didn’t even know existed.  Lucky us, it was only 5 minutes from our hotel.

See, this Twitter thing pays off!

The boys enjoyed riding around in the little car on safari, and the big people enjoyed the fact that it was free.


Those are high dollar store binoculars around Tommy and JJ’s necks.


Ulysses S. Grant’s cabin


This is Eddie, the goat with blue eyes.  We fed him milk out of a baby bottle, and Travis almost came undone with laughter. I almost came undone to watch germy goat hoofs all over my human kid, but I took a deep breath and dealt.

459454451And I thought MY feet were big….

We didn’t stay long at Grant’s Farm because Mr. CPQ wanted to make a stop at Volpi on the way to the Gateway Arch.  We had seen a Food Network show about Volpi and heard about their incredible Italian meats/prosciutto, and we had to make a stop.

Put this on your list, people.  Trust me.


This is Mr. Pasetti.  He is a master salumieri and very cute to boot.  He was embarrassed for me to take his picture, but he was the heart and soul of the operation, so I had to do it. (He said “When I was young, no girls wanted to look at me.  Now that I’m old, everybody wants my picture.”)

Loaded down with pounds of salami and prosciutto, we went to the Arch where I drew the short straw and got to ride to the top with JJ and Tommy. (Note: The Museum is accessible, but the tram ride to the top is not.)


That’s a panicked smile.  An “Are we going to make it out of this alive?” smile.  The boys were a little nervous about the jerkiness of the ride up, and I was doing my best to keep a brave face on so that the nice couple from Omaha that was smashed in there with us wouldn’t witness a Class A freak out.

We were on deadline to make it to Louisville to have dinner and spend the night with Mr. CPQ’s art-collector aunt (and if that doesn’t strike fear in the heart of every mother with “active” children, I don’t know what will), so we hightailed it out of Missouri and as we drove, we discovered that we were going to get to add a new state to our trek that we didn’t think we’d go through.

Of course, we had to document it.


We managed to make it out of the art collector’s house alive the next morning and with the added bonus of not having shattered anything of value (or anything at all, for that matter) and went to the Louisville Slugger Museum.509

Can you tell this is the last day of my vacation and I’m out of clothes and I no longer care one whit about how I look? But look, we’re still smiling!


Tommy played with Babe Ruth’s bat.497

I played with Derek Jeter’s.

Because he’s cuter.

Welcome to the shallow end of the blog pool.

We took the tour (no pics allowed, sorry) and absolutely loved it.  Mr. CPQ got a personalized bat and the boys picked up souvenier mini-bats that they used to pound the living daylights out of each other all the way home.

And that was our trip.


14 states

791 pictures taken.

5,025 miles driven.

More french fries consumed than I care to count.

In closing, I’ve just a few Ranger Rick Road Trip tips to help you if you decide to embark on a similar journey of your own.

1.  Don’t arm the terrorists.  Choose your souveniers wisely.

2.  Fiber, fiber, fiber.

3.  The in-room hair dryer, pressed against the mirror while in the “on” position, will overheat and set off the smoke detector.

4.  Ethnic food should not be consumed in non-ethnic states.

5.  Volumizing hotel shampoo + zero humidity = Texas big hair, even in Nebraska.

Get out there and see America.

Have a nice day.

Living on a prayer

I’m interrupting my travel series this week with a little something honest different.


I’ve been at home with Travis for the bulk of this week while his brothers have enjoyed some time playing at Grammy Camp in the mountains.

Mr. CPQ has been busier than usual at work, so that’s left me with a lot of time on my hands to clean, catch up on old episodes of General Hospital Meet the Press, and generally enjoy the quiet that comes with having only one child in the house.

I’ve discovered that I don’t do well with quiet.

Quiet can sometimes take my mind to a place where it doesn’t need to go.

The place where Overwhelmed, Fear, and Quiet Desperation reside.

It’s been a tough couple of days.  I could blame some of it on post-vacation re-entry to the real world, but coming home hasn’t been the only culprit.

The truth is, I’ve been stuck looking at Tomorrow.

It’s something that’s easy for me to do, and I have to make a conscious effort to keep my eyes on Today and Now.

I talked to Whimzie a couple of days ago when I was about to go to a really ugly place, and, as she is wont to do, she talked me off the ledge with (among other things) this thought:

“Try to remember that we don’t have to do the future today. Just Tuesday.”

That’s been rolling around in my head since she said it, and I woke up yesterday with renewed determination to fight back those thoughts that steal my joy.  It was an okay day, though I was still feeling a little low.

Low, that is, until prayer time with Travis.

Usually I pray over the boys at bedtime, but my heart was heavyish  last night and I didn’t really have it in me.  We snuggled in, nose to nose, and I asked him to pray.

Dear Jesus,

Thank you for this good day.  Thank you that I got to go walking at Kroger. We were out of Honeycombs and orange juice. Thank you that I got Chocolate Lucky Charms.  Thank you that my brothers are coming back.  I missed them very much.

Love, Travis

There was so much joy in his voice and an eagerness to talk to his Creator.  He didn’t focus on the what-if’s of his life.  He focused on the Now.

Gratefulness for life.

Gratefulness for food.

Gratefulness for family.

And this teary mom breathed her own prayer.

A prayer of thanks for the words of a child.

A prayer of thanks for the work of a  Saviour.

A prayer of thanks for worry He removes.

And she got off the bed, wiped the tears from her eyes, and once again found the peace in knowing that He holds today in His very capable hands.

And He holds tomorrow.

Have a nice day.

The Longest Day

On paper it looked like it was going to be a short day.  We were going to drive from Rapid City over to Wall Drug, then pop over to the see the Corn Palace for an hour or so and then head down the highway to Omaha arriving in time to eat supper at California Tacos.

We pulled into town at 10 p.m.


The day started on time when we arrived at Wall just as the shops were opening up in the morning.  Wall Drug became famous for handing out free ice water to thirsty travelers (which they still do) as they crossed the Badlands on their travels to and fro. Wall Drug is NOW famous for teaching our children some innapropriate humor (but not so inappropriate that we didn’t all die laughing).


I know it’s blurry.  It reads “Near as I can tell, we’re somewhere behind Mt. Rushmore.”


We were talking to the clerk as we were checking out and he asked us where we were headed and we told him “The Corn Palace” and he said “What?  The world’s largest bird feeder?”


That’s what Mr. CPQ said when I first suggested we go.

It’s so hard to soar with the eagles when you are surrounded by turkeys.

The clerk, being highly perceptive of the daggers coming from my eyes, hastily added that the Corn Palace was lovely, but that we shouldn’t miss a drive through the Badlands since they were just down the road from Wall and they were the second most visited tourist site in South Dakota.

I held my breath.  I had suggested to Mr. CPQ that we drive through the Badlands while we were out there, but he’d kinda’ kiboshed the idea once we started adding up the hours and miles.  You can imagine my suprise when wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, Mr. CPQ said “What a great idea!  Let’s do it!”

And the earth stopped rotating on its axis.

Before we hit the Badlands (because we cannot drive more than thirty minutes without something to eat), we stopped to pick up supplies.


Yum….buffalo salami. We didn’t tell the kids what it was until they tried some.

The Badlands were freaky weird.  One second we were driving across prairie grassland, then we wound around the bend in the road and the ground literally fell away into this canyon that split the earth and revealed the most bizarre landscape we’d ever seen.  It was otherwordly. (I have better pictures on another camera but haven’t unpacked the USB cord to download them.  Actually, the truth is, I haven’t found the USB cord since a trip six months ago, so I have no idea why I even took that camera because I’ll probably never get the pictures off of it now.)

But I digress.


Nice shot of the visor, there, CPQ.

Leaving the Badlands (which delayed us by an hour and half), we made our way towards Mitchell, but stopped at Al’s Oasis, home of the 5 cent coffee,  for lunch.  It was at Al’s  that we saw more buffalo on our plate than we had seen in the entire trip across the Plains (and where I was surrounded by more stuffed roadkill than any other establishment at which I’ve dined).


Oh, and we had pie.  Al’s is famous for their pie, and it was so hard to choose which one we were going to get and we ended up with the lemon cheesecake pie because A) it had been featured in Midwest Living, and B) it had sprinkles.

396397I want that pie safe in my house.  It was a thing of beauty.

Mr. CPQ went off the reservation while we were there and armed the terrorists with bows and suction cup arrows so they could shoot each other and, occasionally, the driver as we merrily drove on for the next FOUR DAYS.

He’s new.

And then we went to the bird feeder Corn Palace which I found utterly fascinating and the kids not so much.  But they learned to live with disappointment, and I learned that if you talk to the guys that are tacking on the new designs, they’ll be “a-maized” that someone thinks the Corn Palace is cool and they’ll let you TAKE THE CORN HOME and put it on your mantle to decorate for fall.


See everything above the brick?  Corn. Every last bit of it.






And then we realized it was five o’clock and we still had a five hour drive to Omaha so we hightailed it out of there and departed beautiful South Dakota and its 80 mile per hour speed limit to drive through the giant construction zone known as Iowa to get there.

And I was so very tired.

And happy.

Have a nice day.

The Day of the Locusts

Alternatively titled:  Hey, want to see my vacation pictures?


After driving through fields and fields of corn, I suddenly became overwhelmed with this peaceful feeling that no matter what, my morning supply of Frosted Flakes was safe.


We pulled into Alliance, Nebraska, around noon to see Carhenge and grab a bite to eat before continuing on to Mt. Rushmore. (Yes, started in Oklahoma and we STILL weren’t there after driving a day and a half.)

I was in awe driving onto the field where Carhenge is located because the sign said it was a Car Art Reserve.

Felt like we were on safari.




Okey-dokey, now.


Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.


Aptly named The Fourd Seasons.


We rang the windchimes.  Why?  Because they were there.


Have you noticed anything strange about these pictures?  Like maybe the fact that JJ isn’t in ANY of them?  Could it be because Carhenge is located directly adjacent to a ginormous corn (what else?) field that had been recently harvested and the entire ground was teeming with grasshoppers, crickets, locusts, and other flying winged insects that randomly flew all over the place and scared the beejeebers out of two-thirds of my brood?

This stop turned out to be a quick one for two reasons.  1) It was lunch, and Carhenge or no Carhenge, my people choose lunch out of  a bag over life-enriching experiences any day of the week;  and 2) there was no gift shop. We wandered into town and stopped at a gas station to ask where one could get some decent home cookin’ in town and the friendly local said “Well, at home.”

Cue rim shot.

He told us about the Wonderful Kitchen and said they served decent Chinese food so off we went to try the local ethnic fare.


It was at the Wonderful Kitchen where I discovered that Chinese food can disappoint no matter where you are.

After driving for four more hours looking at this view…


…we finally arrived at the westernmost portion of our vacation, Mt. Rushmore, where we were the only whippersnappers around. I wouldn’t say the crowd skewed old, but some of these people were wearing the same class ring as Teddy Roosevelt.


Gutzon Borglum was the architect/designer of Mt. Rushmore, and I think his mama had to dig deep to come up with a name like that.  I‘m sure his elementary school experience was brutal.


I don’t know if I have the words to describe the peaceful majesty that surrounds this place.  The views are stunning, especially since the terrain changes so drastically from plains to rugged peaks.  It was worth every single minute of the drive.

I could bore you with the thirty-nine thousand pictures I took of the mountain while we were on our Ranger Rick Nature walk, but this post is already waaaay too long and only my mother is reading at this point so I’ll close with just a couple of items I found amusing in the gift shop.


Prairie dog salt and pepper shakers.

Still kicking myself for not buying them.

Have a nice day.

I’ve got the world on a string

I would say I feel like typing “Good Morning, Vietnam Internet!” but the truth is, I almost can’t move my fingers after they’ve been curled around the steering wheel of the Suburban for the last, oh, say, 5, 025 miles.

That’s right.

Five thousand and twenty five.


I’m still a little bit shell-shocked that we actually pulled it off and came home with the family intact.

There was one close call on the side of the road in the middle of Nebraska, but somehow we all managed to rally and pull ourselves together.

And when I say close, I mean Tuesday’s Breaking News segment on CNN might have been devoted to children abandoned under Nebraska’s safe haven law had it not been for a very strategically located gas station that allowed us to go to our respective corners and take a break from each other get some snacks and boost our sugar levels to allow the trip to continue in relative calm.

Thank you, Jesus.

When we first decided to head on this little jaunt, we thought that Mount Rushmore would be our most incredible destination, but little did we know that Cawker City, Kansas, would hold the biggest delight of the whole ding dang trip.


Population: 463

Land Area: Less than 1 square mile.

I wouldn’t say this is a bustling metropolis.  In fact, we had our GPS navigational unit locked on the coordinates for the Ball of Twine, and we still drove right by it.


We were slightly giddy about seeing it for real.

Or maybe we were slightly giddy to get out of the car after having driven all the live long day to get there.


Either way, we were happy.



After taking the obligatory 6,000 pictures of the kids standing in front of it (and threatening a certain someone named J and J that if he didn’t smile he wouldn’t get to go to the gift shop), we followed the looping painted string down the sidewalk and across the highway to the only gift shop that A) appeared to be there and B) appeared to be open.

We were slightly amused by the sign taped to the door directing us whom to call if no one was there.


Once inside, we signed the guest book (and guess what, Sandra?  Someone from Australia was just there!) and then stuck our push pin into the wall map.



They had just had their annual Ball of Twine Festival within the last couple of weeks and had the updated statistics written down for all to observe.


While I was perusing the store for a little souvenier (I bought a homemade handmade clay Christmas ornament that vaguely resembled the actual ball), I saw this t-shirt that caught my attention.


I asked the store owner if they allowed persons to wind twine at the festival (by the way, Lottie’s her name, and don’t DARE try to negotiate prices with her) and she said they allowed anyone to wind twine any day of the week if they wanted to.


We all stopped dead in our tracks and asked if she actually meant that we could actually ADD to the World’s Largest Ball of Twine and thus be ENSHRINED IN HISTORY for all of eternity.

Why, yes, we could.











And then we laughed and laughed and signed the guest book and drove off into the sunset towards our next adventure.

Sorry to string you along….

Have a nice day.

Houston, we have Wi-fi

Oh my word, I can’t believe I found an actual internet connection. 

I’m almost too giddy to type. 

I’m typing from somewhere in Omaha which is Native American for “We figured out how to build a cell tower” where we’ve stopped for the night after a long day of driving the width of South Dakota and almost the full length of Iowa.  To say we’ve had spotty cell coverage would be generous.  If I ever move to the Plains, I’m getting a satellite phone.

And an accent.

These people talk funny.

I’ll have stories and pictures galore next week, but for now (since it’s midnight as I type this), I’m just going to say that this trip has been more than I could have imagined.  

I’m in love with the Midwest.

I may never eat corn again.

I’m having the time of my life.

Have a nice day.

CPQ? Oh, CPQ? Wherefore Art Thou, CPQ?

Do not adjust your sets. This is not your beloved Carpoolqueen. This is a cheap imitation, also known as her trusty sidekick, Whimzie. Earlier this summer Carpoolqueen and I gave each other power of attorney for our respective blogs. (RespectIVE, not respectABLE.) What this means is that in case of an emergency, heretoforeward  (what? I was sure that was a word!) referred to as The Great Ball of String Tour, I have the power and authority to post on Carpoolqueen’s Blog and vice versa. Not that I’m planning on going on a Great Big Ball of String Tour anytime soon. Or ever. The jury’s still out. No, my family prefers to spend our vacation time uprooting and moving from state to state. You know on second thought, maybe we should consider a Great Big Ball of String Tour in the future.

CPQ thought she would be able to post from the road but unfortunately she is having technical difficulties. Or maybe she got into a rest area brawl with a tumbleweed. Or  was bowled over by a big ball of string. I couldn’t tell what she said. The connection wasn’t great. She asked me to tell you that she’ll be back next week to regale you with adventurous stories of epic proportions…and maybe even a picture of Mount Rushmore.

Until then, I thought I’d leave you with a few of the more memorable Tweets she’s posted the last couple of days. If you’re already one of her Tweeps, consider this a review. She may give a pop quiz when she gets back.

Just stopped for $2.14/gallon gas. It’s good to be in the midwest.   (8:47 AM Sep 14th from TwitterFon)

Kansas!!!   (10:41 AM Sep 14th from TwitterFon)

Toto, we ain’t in Kansas anymore. (4:51 PM Sep 14th from TwitterFon)

@name-deleted-to-protect-the-innocent-someone:  I’ve seen more corn today than I ever could imagine existed. It’s mind-boggling and truly beautiful. (7:53 PM Sep 14th from TwitterFon)

@name-deleted:  Your dinner sounds yum! I had Mexican as well…Nebraska Mexican food tastes just like North Carolina Mexican food…   (7:58 PM Sep 14th from TwitterFon)

Repeat after me (thru gritted teeth) “We’re making memories.”  (about 9 hours ago from TwitterFon)

3,046 miles http  (about 3 hours ago from TwitterFon)

Driving around Rapid City trying to find dinner. Was shooting for “good dinner” but right now, anything will work.  (16 minutes ago from TwitterFon)
In a private message she alluded that perhaps a couple of family members were in danger of being left on the side of the road if they didn’t straighten up and fly right. I fear a “Come-to-Jesus-Meeting” may be in the works in the near future. Say a prayer.
That’s all I have for you. Until CPQ is back and she can tell you this for herself,
Have a nice day!