If You Can’t Hurt Them, Join Them

I was talking with an old friend the other week.  Old, as in I’ve known her since we were kids, not old in age – just to clarify.  She was surprised that I had a few close calls fighting with some punks back in the day and told me that I should write about it.  Seriously, this is going to be a short post cause there’s not much to write about.  I’m only writing because I nearly got into another fight just yesterday with a counter crusher (and who can blame me?). 


Ya’ll remember the time I took the Strength Finders test and it turned out I was a flower child?  I have all my books packed up, ready for the big move, so I can’t confirm my top 5 strengths from that test but I do remember that harmony and connectedness were among them.  I’m more of a “make love not war” type person, on paper.  Truly.  (my brothers, hubby, and coworkers may have a different take on that).   As a wee little Emily, I loved Care Bears, My Little Ponies, and I always colored pictures of rainbows. It’s true.  Ask my parents.  And my first grade teacher who hated my pictures.  As an adolescent, a friend’s dad said that I was an “angel” and had no problems with his daughter hanging out with me.


So nobody woLittle Emilyuld have reason to pick a fight with me, right?  I was an introverted, nice, next door neighbor run-of-the-mill type girls.  I didn’t even really exist.  Charlotte hated me first.  I was the new girl in 1st grade, Stowe VT.  She was not nice to me.  I don’t know why.  Probably cause I was from the South.  (In New England, PA is considered South, at least to the 1st and 2nd grade girls in the Stowe elementary school).  One day, at recess, as I was swinging on the swings quite blissfully with a friend, Charlotte said something that was mean to me.  I swear, she started it.  As she ran away, I yelled out, “Charlotte, you’re a jerk!”  I felt like I had sworn at her and was nervous that she would tattle on me.  Which she did of course – to the 6 toed recess attendant.  {6 toes, can you believe it?  I had never seen 6 toes on one foot before.}  The recess attendant gave me a verbal warning.  I was ashamed.   Eleven years or so later, when working in a nursing home as a nursing assistant, I came across another Charlotte, just as feisty.  She would propel her 85lb body around in her wheel chair, hitting and spitting and slapping anybody who got in her way and sometimes she would go out of her way to find a victim to hit and slap and spit at.  In the dining room, she’d throw her food around, or spit her food out.  She had her own table.  Old Charlotte had the time of her life in that nursing home and I loved her.  In fact, I hope to be like her one day.  One, far away day.  Charlotte the kid never threatened me or asked me to meet her in the parking lot, not that I can remember.  But she is someone who taught me that not everybody will like me, not everybody will be a kindred spirit. And that’s okay. 


I was in 4th grade when a girl asked me to meet her after school to fight her.  I don’t know why.  I guess she was another one who just didn’t like me.  So, because I was a “walker” and it was convenient for me to meet her after school, I did.  I was scared, sure.  But its what she wanted and I wasn’t going to disappoint her.  I gave her my word that I would be there and I was ready to get beat up (keep in mind, I was a tiny person back then).  She never showed.  And she never brought the fight up, never asked to reschedule.  Whatever.  I count that as a win.


The last time anybody, besides the old man yesterday, wanted to fight me was in high school, while playing basketball at the park (I’m not including the guy that road raged against me years ago on route 30, heading towards Lancaster, or the other guy last year on route 83, heading North, or the lady who I almost ran over along with her kids and dog the other day while driving to work).  I was at the park with a few friends, shooting hoops.  I was horrible at basketball and everyone took it easy on me whenever we played games. My park friends were so nice. A new girl was there that day.  And we were all taking turns shooting, though she kept trying to hit me in the head with the basketball for some reason. Then she got up in my face and wanted to know if I wanted to fight her.  I swear, I didn’t say or do anything to piss her off.  This girl was just crazy like that.  Some people are.  Some people will just want to hit random nice girls in the head with basketballs.  They’re out there so watch out.  I was quiet and friendly to her, a bit wary, but wasn’t going to show her fear.  If she wanted to fight, she’d have to start it.  And I would try to end it.  It was a tense 20 minute period of time.  Much like the tension between the United States and Cuba in the early 60’s. Suddenly, she flashed a smile and told me she was joking.  All was well and fun afterward (for her).  She never returned to the park after that, not that I was aware of anyway.  And I was there often.  It was my park, and I had another win in my bag. 


Yesterday I almost found myself in another fight.  I was surprised that this man, being probably 40 years or more my senior, thought he could best me, young and with use of my full peripheral vision, in a match of fisticuffs.  He could hardly hear, certainly he could hardly even see, since he hit me with his grocery cart while I was waiting for Ethan to return with a loaf of bread in the checkout line.  He was impatient, short and simple.  Wanted me to move out of his way.  I actually think he was trying to push me out of the lane with his cart.  I wanted to ask him if the nursing home had a curfew.  (actually, I just thought of that question, which is a good one – why does it always take me so long to come up with this stuff??).  “Sir, your cart just hit me” and before I could nicely ask him if he could back up, he heatedly asked if there was a problem in the lane.  “I”m just waiting for my son to return with the bread, it should be any second.”  Which is quite frankly a lie, because Ethan agonizes over every decision and there is a whole isle dedicated to loaves of bread.  I had to repeat myself a couple of times to the agitated senior, smiling at him and wooing him over with my young lady charm.  It barely worked, but we did get out of there without any physical confrontations besides the cart to the hip.  I have no bruises, thanks for asking.  Counter Crushers are the worst.   


What can I say?  I offer only one excuse reason:  I have 3 brothers.   


Our House Is A Very Very Fine House

I asked Ethan if he remembered living in our first home.  It was a 3 story townhouse that we had lived in for the first 5 years of our marriage.  Ethan was three w4571_1072908778569_226037_nhen we moved to our home in the woods, Noel had just turned one. Ethan told me he remembers the townhouse kitchen, living room and daddy’s motorcycle.  They were such cutie pies!  When we moved to this house, we had a lot of work to do.  Family and friends helped us move and paint nearly all the walls.  Flooring needed to be replaced, a pole building was built, and grass was planted.  We’ve been here for 12 years.   That doesn’t sound like a long time.  But so much life has been lived!  We’ve had Easter egg hunts, birthday parties, campfires, cookouts, and celebrated Jason’s graduation from police academy. The kids have ridden their red Power Wheels Jeep, pink moped, bicycles, and dirt bikes.   They have flown kites and drones, thrown footballs and lacrosse balls, jumped on their trampoline. Big buck and not so big buck have been taken here on our property.  Beloved dogs have been buried and a wild pet rabbit has been released (Kisses, the killer mini rex rabbit.  Don’t worry my PETA loving friends, I’m sure Kisses is thriving well, eating all the lions and tigers and bears.  In natural selection, she has surely survived).  My porch has been my sanctuary, over looking the front yard and my gentlemen trees.  The breeze through the leaves has a calming affect and the way the sun filters through the Autumn colors makes the leaves look like stained glass. We are protected from the direct heat of the Sun and the harsh winds outside the embrace of our tree lined property.  But it is not dark here, we have plenty of sun.  We have experienced new firsts like the first bus ride to school, the first time Noel rode without her training wheels (Ethan took them off and taught her), our first kitty.  Ethan shot his first buck on our property with a crossbow and a year later, he shot his first monster buck here as well. 


We have celebrated, laughed, known joy.  We have grieved, stressed, and known sadness.  There have been kick back and rest days and hard work split the wood type days. This place holds so many memories.  And I have to remind myself that the memories lie within our minds, with the pictures that we have.  That, though we have decided to leave this place, we are not leaving the roots that we have established as a family.  

I Have A Card For That

Typically, I am not fashion forward when it comes to buying clothes and shoes and accessories.  It took me years to purchase a pair of skinny jeans.  I bought a pair of cute boots about 2 years ago, after thinking and searching for years as well.  I buy stuff, but usually it’s just to ensure I’m not walking around naked.  I like jeans and t-shirts and sweatshirts, and I wear. them. out.  I asked my fashion savvy friend to take me clothes shopping before my trip to Nashville.  And what did she put me in?  Mom jeans.  I swear.  But – they looked pretty good on me!  (okay, let me admit that it took more than one attempt to find just the “right” pair.  I walked out of the changing room in one pair of mom jeans and as soon as my friend saw me, she busted out laughing.  Those were just too mom). She paired it with a cropped black top – just a hint of belly showing.  (I feel like Sandy, in Grease.)This is not my usual attire.


Anyway, I’ve been keeping my eye out for a new wallet over the years.  I love the Fossil vintage look, but cannot bring myself to pay their prices (I have a cool purse from Fossil that I bought at an outlet, at a decent price.  It needs replaced because it’s just not big enough but I love it so much that I haven’t found one that looks cooler which can justify the cost).  But I have a dilemma.  My plain black wallet is spacious and organized, but it’s too large for my purse. So today I took the plunge and bought a cute wallet at Target.  Then came the task of transitioning all of the contents from my old wallet to my new wallet. 


And that’s when I realized that my wallet’s purpose shifted over the years from containing cash, to containing cards.  And this ticked me off.  I have cards for credit, a card for debit, cards for insurance, membership cards, library cards, punch cards, gas cards, grocery store cards, pharmacy cards, gift cards, business cards… cards for everything.  I couldn’t fit them all in my new wallet! Now I need two wallets! Which would require an extra large purse.  Which I refuse to upgrade to.  I chuckle every time an older person who struggles with walking normally, shuffles back to an exam room at the office, carrying a large heavy purse.  I ask if they are planning a weekend trip.  They tell me it helps balance them out.  And I shake my head, knowing that this is what we, as women, do.  We carry way too much. Why do we do this to ourselves?  Anyway, I looked inside my old wallet for cash and coins to transfer over to the new wallet.  I found none!!  I couldn’t believe it – all I was using my wallet for was to house a bunch of cards that I rarely use!  (I then reminded myself that I have a tendency to stuff cash in my pockets… this is very unorganized of me and maybe I’ll work on that. Are you reading, this Jason?)  So now I have a slimmer wallet that holds important cards and money from my pockets and a Ziploc sandwich bag that holds all the rest. 


As I was locking up the house this evening, I looked down at my key ring.  And wouldn’t you know it?  I have more cards hanging from the ring then I have keys!!  What is this sick preoccupation with cards?  We live in a mad world.

“Excuse Me. Do You have any, Grey Poupon?”

I woke up this morning barely breathing.  Yes, that’s right.  I nearly died.  Both nostrils were 80% occluded.  I have my children to thank for this.  And my husband.  And the doctor.  And a few patients.  And probably 50% of the population in York, PA. I told my coworkers to bathe in Lysol once they get home from work.  This deathly illness is epidemic. 


And because my brain was unable to receive a reasonable amount of oxygen today, my experience at work was exceptional.  Exceptionally unique, that is.  Though not record breaking, we had 5 new patients today and countless procedures from ulcer care, xrays, aspirating cysts, and removing ingrown toenails, to destroying warts.  Yes, we destroy warts.  If I had the use of my normal mind, I would have been stressed and hyper-focused.  But because I was drunk with mucus, I was in another world and quite relaxed.  By the last patient, I barely knew what I was saying. In fact, I think I was speaking with a British accent. 

Shall we reschedule you for 2 weeks, then?”  I smiled and sucked back another lungful of snot discretely.  

Sure.”  My lady replied.

The first date I had given did not work for her. I threw out another date and time, thinking that this one was going to work.  I truly believed it would be the perfect fit.

No, that won’t work for me.” She said.

NOOOOoooooOOOOOO???”   My voice swayed up and down like a roller coaster not only from high to low in pitch, but from loud to soft to loud again.  In fact, I sounded downright incredulous.  Incredulous with a British accent.  I thought to myself (in regards to myself) “where the heck did that come from?”  The only recourse was to play it off, be cool.  That’s right.  I’m too cool for school. 

“So, like, does March 11th work?  It’s cool if it doesn’t.  We don’t care.”  If I had gum, that would have been the perfect time to snap it.

She and I worked it out and I hope to never see her again.



It’s times like these, when I create massive mind-blowing amounts of snot, that I become passionate about repurposing mucus.  There must be SOMETHING that can benefit from it.  I mean, if we could harness the power of mucus, the world would be at peace.  Can you imagine?  Just picture the world powered by the renewable energy source that has an endless supply – from our very own bodies.  It sounds utopic (my computer says that’s not a word, but what does my computer know?).  Just think of the gas stations.  You can’t!  There would be no gas stations.  We would hook up suction hoses to our noses and be “milked” right in the comfort of our own garages.  We’d add something to it, probably vanilla extract, heat it up, cool it down, and pour into our vehicles.  Its a win/win situation. Head empty, tank full.  Think of all the possibilities. Someone needs to work on this.  Its Nobel Peace Prize worthy.


We have been passing around the Vick’s Vapor rub infused Puff’s facial tissues this evening, burning off our mucus membranes.  I tried to extract $25 for 2 pills of Tylenol Severe Cold and Flu from Jason, but he wouldn’t pay for it.  I then informed him his first hit was free, but if he wanted more, he would have to pay for it.  That guy is sleeping peacefully on the sofa right now. 


To all of you out there, stay healthy my friends.  And if you can’t, speak in a British accent.

You Are MY Sunshine…

Ethan Tree Hunting Print

Sshhhhhhhhh!!!!!  Don’t tell him this post is all about him.  And for Pete’s sake, don’t tell him about this picture, even though its a great one of him.  


Ethan was 5 days late for his birth.  He arrived with long skinny limbs that couldn’t wait to stretch out.  It was as if the 41 weeks while inside me was just too cramped for him, and for the rest of his life, he would resist any activity that would require the bending and squishing and sqeezibility of his body. He could support his weight within the first two months of his life. He is our first born.  I walked out of the hospital with apprehension, knowing that this deep souled innocent boy would come face to face with the harsh realities of a broken world. Part of me wanted to walk right back into the safety of the hospital, to protect him from what would come.  

That protectiveness has not lessened, 15 years later.  And I sense the ticking of a clock, knowing that these next 3 years are going to vanish in the blink of an eye.  I have worked out my motherhood with a foundation of love, and admittedly, fear.  I see in him great strengths and great struggle.  These are some of the same struggles I have battled against, and still battle against, for 37 years.  Oh, how I would love to take this burden from him!  To teach him, make him understand and live into the truths that I am now only beginning to embrace. My thoughts have been, “just believe in yourself!”,  “you have so much to offer, don’t doubt yourself,”  “Have confidence, stick to your guns, and walk with purpose.”  I want him to have direction and inspiration, to pursue it knowing that it’s okay to “fail” while trying with all his efforts anyway.  Perhaps I’m projecting my weaknesses, my self doubts and insecurities onto him.  Maybe he does not actually struggle with any of this and I do not know my son much at all. 

This need to protect, this fear, is preventing me from fully enjoying him. And in this Year of Intentionality, I am going to work on enjoying him more.  To put aside my worry, fear, and most importantly, my pride, to just enjoy this guy that God gave me, while I still have him under my roof as much as I do.  God is inviting me to loosen up my grip, to release my ideas of how I think things should go in order to see how God is working. Because there is great beauty and freedom in that. 

Stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight.”  ~ Gordon B. Hinckley

The Cheese Stands Alone

I know I’m a mess.  I texted the word, “aloud” instead of what I really intended, which was “allowed”.  And so, with the mistake freshly made, I decided it was time to start writing again. I am out of practice. 


Each New Year, for the past couple of years, I have had a word impressed upon my heart.  The first wordHatteras 03 was along the lines of “openness”.  Holding things loosely in my hands.  Last year’s word was courage (and I started Stump Woods Photography).  This year’s word  is “intentionality” and “purposeful”.  Especially in regards to making decisions with the core of who I am in mind (my beliefs, my priorities, my gifting, and my time) and (here is the key), without apology.  Indeed, with grace and love, but without regret.  


I am a woman who makes decisions with a great deal of thinking and agonizing.  Determined that there are many wrong answers, and that more than likely there will be more than one loser, I make decisions based upon who will hurt the least, what is the least amount of damage to be done. I will put off making a decision until I absolutely must make one if it has the potential of hurting or angering anyone.  Like I wrote, it is a time consuming and agonizing thing to forego.  Making decisions.  Even the mundane: “Where do you want to eat?”  Oh. My. Gosh.  I am also a logical person and so you would think that the logical answer would be the easiest to arrive at.  However, I am a feeler, and my logic and feeling sides war with each other.  Being a friend of the Left Side, I am sure you are just as screwed up as me.  But if you’re not (or, especially, if you used to be), I would appreciate a few words of wisdom, some advice on how to come to a practical decision without developing stomach ulcers.


Is it possible?

A Good Day

October 14th  1978

I am 37 years old.  Today.  Sometimes the constant march of time scares me a bit, but mostly I just don’t think about it.  I decided, for today at least, not to freak out about another year gone.  I’ve looked at this day as a blessing – a gift.  So, even though I woke up at 5:30 and raced down my long driveway at 6:55 to give my daughter lunch money and a note, even though I am fighting a cough and cold, today really has been a blessing.  Fresh air and exercise, right?  Some people like that kind of thing. Some kinds of people. 

Fall Family Pic 10-2015 I actually do like mornings (I’d just like them a whole lot better if they came a few hours later on in the day).  The rising sun was beautiful, though I promised myself a long birthday nap once I got home from working a half day (after getting my driver’s license picture taken).  And that’s what happened, I actually fell asleep after telling myself a nice little story.   Later, I found 2 long lost lens caps, bought myself some Halls lozenges (Menthol), and a large French vanilla latte from DD while on my way to meeting a couple friends who spoke some encouraging words to me tonight.  Then I got home and received a beautiful card from my daughter, part of it was a bookmark which I actually need (I’m reading a book with real pages). And the party just keeps going tomorrow.  Jason is taking me out to breakfast (I decided we’ll go to Cracker Barrel – remember the breakfast fiasco a few years back?  Not going to happen this time.  Click this LINK for that particular post). 

So, today was a wonderful birthday.  Thanks for all the well wishes, friends!

One Pound, One Pan, One Happy Family

Nothing comes easy.  At least not of late.  My commute should be 20/25minutes, I must now buffer with an additional 10/15 minutes due to road construction and buses.  We decided to introduce our kids to the world of cell phones, only to have a headache of a stoLighthouse family picry that you don’t want to read and I don’t want to relive.  I just will write that I know way too much about Marty. We also decided to switch internet providers – that too is a headache multiple times over.  First bees, than bad underground wiring.  There is a picture of our roof posted at Comcast.  I’m not kidding.   My kids wanted Cheeseburger Hamburger Helper for supper one night (who can blame them?).  I forgot to buy the box and ended up making it from scratch.  Noel, who after eating a few bites, asked if it was generic.  It wasn’t as “cheesy” as the Hamburger Helper.  I was thinking about that awhile later and it suddenly perplexed me, how can powder be cheesy?  There is something drastically wrong with Hamburger Helper, but who cares?  Its fast, cheap, and darn good.  We’d rather eat that then the homemade version apparently. 

And when it comes to food, I can’t help but be irritated.  It is almost a total waste of money.  I invest hundreds of dollars each week into a product that has no lasting value, except that it keeps my body alive.  And I mean, we end up flushing it down the toilet.  All that money, flushed into the septic.  It makes me angry.  I resent the fact that my body is a slave to food.  It complains when it’s hungry, it complains when it’s full.  It complains when it’s thirsty and it gets sick when it must drink gallons of water for an ultrasound (and I just heard it is now not recommended to drink 8 glasses of water a day as previously suggested– that is too much.  Thank goodness, we can all pee a little less now).  The science of nutrition gives me a headache.  We don’t eat enough of this one year, five years later it’s the opposite.  Which is right?  A high protein diet?  A high complex carbohydrate diet?  What the heck is a gluten and are we all really allergic to it?  And come on, organic shmanic.  There’s no way I’m paying more for apples.  And yes please, I want my milk pasteurized. 

What is this post about and does it better the world we live in?  It’s about nothing and of course it does, as does all of my writing.  ;) 

Beyond The Minivan Years

Ethan refused to get a selfie with me in front of the high school building this evening.  (Can you believe my computer does not recognize the word, selfie? Am I spelling it right?).  This was quite an evening with Ethan’s 9th grade orientation and Noel’s “meet the team” night for field hockey.  It has been a time of excitement, anxiety, and a little sadness.  For both the kids and me. The kids are sad that Summer is over.  I am sad that their childhood is over.  As I was scrolling through my Facebook pictures, trying to find the group picture of my friends and I on our 8th grade Fun Day, I passed through a handful of years of my children’s pictures. I can’t believe how, from one year to the next, my kids’ appearance matures.  It breaks my heart.  I never did find that Fun Day picture.

So, as Ethan and I were exploring the high school tonight, the same high school I went to 17 years or so ago, and have not been in the belly of since, I was hit with odd memories and emotions.  “Don’t use the hand rails when you use the stairs,” I warned him, remembering a wet loogie filled hand, many years ago.  We passed room doors that I used to open, the library where Michelle and I researched our senior paper and where I ordered musical tickets, where my creative writing class met after our teacher passed away suddenly one weekend.  We roamed the A, B, and C wings, and we found our way into the D wing which was all new to me, our school having undergone reconstruction not long after I had graduated.  I peeked into the new gym with a balcony, and the girls tennis team banner hanging within sight where the year 1993 was stitched in, recognizing our successful season. We passed a glass display of pictures of state performing musical students, my brother’s picture among them.  The lockers were the same, so were the floors.  I know where all the traffic jams will be once the bell rings.

Yes, Cory, this feeling is surreal.  I still have dreams where I’m navigating the halls of high school.  Sometimes I’m searching for my sweet friend whom I know I’ll never find and I’m weeping.  I wake from that dream with a residue of grief that feels like a lead blanket covering my shoulders.  So, yes, its just so very odd that we have children the ages that we were not too damn long ago.  That so much life has happened, both the best and the worst life has to offer in the handful of years since we graduated.  And its so strange to think that in 17 years, our own kids could be guiding our grandkids around this same building.  I’ve never really missed my high school years since graduating.  And though I’ve a long way to go, I’m a much deeper person than I was back then.  I would not want to go back.  But there is a loss of innocence.  A loss of un-apologetic idealism that was inspired by how life should go.  And that, too, is what saddens me.  The awakening to life how it is, and not how it should be.  But I am so thankful for the experiences that have helped soften me. 

Noel is entering into the Jr. High and Ethan into High School.  This just sucks, tonight.  Where are my babies?  One is just under 6ft. tall and the other is all cool sophistication.  I was never 6 foot tall, cool, or sophisticated.  In fact, I’m still the goober I was way back when.  I still belly laugh at my own humor, alone in it. 🙂

Love It or List It

I picked paint out of my nose last night.  That’s right.  I picked my nose.  Don’t tell me you don’t pick your nose, everybody picks their nose.  That’s an act that transcends age.  It’s amazing what gets up in there.  I had to take my son to the pediatrician one time because he got a mini M&M stuck up his nose.  They couldn’t find it – it must have melted on our way over.  What a waste of a trip and copay. 

Anyway, we have been weekend warriors; painting, staining, trimming out windows and door frames, trashing bags and bags and bags of old unused stuff.  We are prepping for a possible move.  But most importantly, we are taking control of our house.  And we couldn’t be doing this without the help of family.  Thank God for them! 

I haven’t been photo journaling this experience. Sometimes you have to put the camera away and live life.  Especially when there’s work to be done.  So imagine years of stuff  crammed into closets and cabinets and then imagine decluttered order.   Imagine a worn out deck freshened up with a new coat of stain and a massive “mudroom” turned into an airy family room.  There is more to do, but we have come far in one weekend.  This place cleans up nicely.

And so we are left with the question: 

“Should I stay or should I go?