September 2013

The phone call came out of the blue a few weeks ago from my kids’ swim coach asking me if I’d be his assistant.  I think the first thing out of my mouth was, Why on earth do you want me?  

I figured the guy’d spent enough time with me as a swim mom to know I am one hot mess, and coaching involves things like interacting with a large group of kids, and having some idea of the best swim drills out there and the ability to tactfully communicate with other parents about their daughter’s chances at a state medal much less a college scholarship or a trip to Rio in 2016 …which is a snowball’s in hell. He told me one reason was the fact that I had kids in the program meant that I had a stake in how things ran which was a nice was of saying I’d show up for a practice on a regular basis unlike a 20 something recovering from a hangover or running off to the movies with friends.

That’s how I found myself on deck last night by myself with a pool full of swimmers diving under water every three seconds instead of listening to my instructions, asking me if they could go to the bathroom to get out of a 200 freestyle drill and whining to me about leaky goggles  (For the love of all that is holy, those blankety blank blank leaky goggles are going to send me over the edge one of these days.)…alone.

I knew it would happen one day. It was bound to…I just wasn’t expecting it so soon. The day the phone rings and the voice at the other end said, I can’t make practice tonight, can you run things?

The head coach is an engineer for a large manufacturer in town, and the company recently purchased a robot, and he’s the guy in charge of training everyone how to use it…this means every shift. This means lots of different bed times and alarm settings and breakfasts at dinner times. This means a 40 something family guy gets wiped out eventually, and his wife (whom I really like as well) has the good sense to tell him to take a night off and let that complete misfit of a woman who never combs her hair that he conned into coaching run the show.

It started out well enough until three minutes into stretches and land warm up time  I realized that the kid leading the show had no idea how to do a push up.  This led to a scene starring me as aging PE teacher on the deck in the middle of the mats gasping for air as I demonstrated one proper push up for them. Looking around I saw nothing but fannies high in the air. Guys, I huffed, Look at me!  Your bums are down. They are not sticking out!  No! No! Your face needs to go down to the ground like…puff….puff..wheeze…wheeze..this…push up two completed.

Like this Coach Priscilla? an army of bathing beauties shouted at me from all directions.  I looked out over my Michael Phelps protégées all in various stages of very bad push ups – or yoga poses…I really couldn’t tell.   I saw downward dog.  I saw upward dog.  I saw what appeared to be a few of them splayed out on their mats looking like a school of sea otters.  What I didn’t see was anything that resembled a push up. Where was my super fit friend Tracey she of dragging me into a bar fame?  She could have whipped them into shape in thirty seconds…or sent them home crying.

Okay, I said, Why don’t we just move into arm circles?

Now, you know what arm circle are, right? I mean no one really has to explain arm circles in great depth except maybe the small, medium and large commands. Or so I thought.

I had the leader start them off and  walked over to look at some paperwork.  Looking up from my notes on breast stroke drills that I had taken only 30 minutes earlier while watching youtube videos of coaches who have their act together teaching breast stroke drills, I saw that the kids’ counting methods for arms circles and my counting methods were quite different.  The nine year old Stretching Leader of the Day (Don’t laugh. These kids made such a big deal over who got to lead stretches that I had to make up a sign up sheet and post it on the team bulletin board.  I may not be the push up queen or know the latest breast stroke drill, but darn it, I can create and print out sign up sheets with the best of them.) was moving her arms in a circular motion counting 1-2-3-4-5-6…in a sing songy fashion reaching the number 6 while ending her first complete arm circle.  This means she was getting in approximately 1.5 small, medium and large arm circles in as part of the warm up.

No! No! I shouted over the noise of the children still trying to push themselves off the floor from their failed attempts at one push up. One number =one circle.  Like this! One. Two. Three. Four. Do you see the difference?   I have no idea what you were doing, but it wasn’t correct arm circles! 

I had to hand it to these kids.  None of them grumbled. They better not. Last year when their coach grew frustrated with them, she made them do deep knee lunges around the pool deck. I knew better than that.  Telling them to do lunges correctly meant demonstrating how to do lunges correctly.  I’m okay with the lunging part of lunges. It’s that pesky getting back up  part that seems to cause problems for me. After watching some painful attempts at sit ups followed by some even more painful attempts at calf stretches, I ordered everyone to put up their mats and hop into the pool….

and that’s where the real fun began…




An Oldish Lady Walks Into A Bar

by Priscilla on September 18, 2013

Long story short I found myself in a bar this past Saturday night.  No, I wasn’t a cougar on the prowl.  No, I wasn’t trying to relive my glory days.  (Come to think of it, I never really had any glory days unless you count first chair bassoonist with the East Central Indiana Youth Symphony something to be glorified.) Nor was I partaking in a wild girls’ night out while Mr. TIS and our daughters were sitting by a camp fire singing Kum Ba Yah as part of their Father/Child camping weekend. (Actually, there was no  singing Kum Ba Yah, but he did come home with a wooden necklace with a butterly burned into it  and lots of pink feathers hanging from its cord.)

No, I was there because my bossy, You’ve really got to try out this Cross Fit thing, friend, Tracy (All names have been changed to protect the innocent, and by innocent I mean me because Tracy might hunt me down and make me do 150 one handed Rocky Balboa type pushups.) asked me to come with her for a fundraiser benefitting a friend of hers from her gym who is finishing up chemo treatments. Tracy’s husband is a doctor and was on-call so he bowed out gracefully after dinner, and left the two of us to our  madcap devices. (I’m considering med school just so I can have that ever so convenient on-call excuse myself.)

Walking into the bar, I saw we were easily the oldest women in the place by about 20 years, and I’m pretty sure I was the only one wearing pearls. We were greeted at the door with opportunities to buy raffle tickets and invitations to play beer pong.  Good heavens, what had I gotten myself into. Tracy, being Tracy, immediately saw 15 people she knew and proceeded to introduce me to all of them, and by this time I was reminded why I was never really into the bar scene 20 years ago much less now. I don’t like crowds. I don’t mean I’m afraid of crowds or intimidated by crowds, I just mean that I am a more intimate soul who likes to hear stories and tales from the people around me whom I’m trying to get to know, and this is sometimes very hard to accomplish while trying to dodge sloshy $1 beers and  people  crawling around under your feet retrieving ping pong balls.

So, looking around I set out to do what I always try to do in these kinds of situations – find a story. Unfortunately for the  young man whom Tracy just introduced me to, he was it.

Okay, I started in with the nice looking kid who seriously could have passed for my little brother. In fact, looking at his blue eyes, blond hair and dimpled smile I thought he could have been part of my master race family as Mr. TIS lovingly calls my very WASPish looking siblings and me. This is going to sound like an odd question, and I promise I’m not hitting on you. I’m a writer, and I’m just curious by nature. How do people (I was careful not to say kids.) your age meet anyone around here?

My new writing project, let’s call him David, did look a little uncomfortable at first. Who could blame him? He was just there to support a fellow gym pal, and maybe pick up a date, when all of the sudden a woman with noticeable crows feet was accosting him with 20 questions.  Once Tracy and I’d convinced him I was indeed safe, and this conversation wasn’t going anywhere except possibly my blog, (Which he checked out right there on his phone in between Notre Dame touch downs -which were ticking Tracy off as she is a Purdue grad.) David and I started discussing his employment, his religious beliefs, his preference in women, the fact that he isn’t really interested in the bar scene,  etc, etc, etc. An aside here ladies, I have to say, if I were 25ish and single, David would be a real catch. But I’m a 42ish wife and mother, and I’m more concerned with PTO fundraisers and swim practices than I am with the Davids of the world, so if you know of any 25ish nice young women out there, please let me know. (See, David, I’m still working on things for you.)

For the next hour or two, David and another young man who sauntered in and out of the conversation depending on his beer pong playing schedule, answered all the questions Tracy and I threw at them while she and I got busy texting our friends with daughters David’s ages to see what we could find.  I also messaged my college age niece who has a nice young man in her life already, but whom I was sure had lots of available friends. We took pictures of David and sent them off various and sundry places (My how the matchmaking world has changed).  Tracy eventually hit pay dirt and got a message back from a friend’s daughter who exchanged pictures with David, and then texts, and our work was done. Whether David and this young woman ever actually meet in person isn’t our concern…we were just two mother figures in the middle of a bar trying to make connections for the young lost souls around us.

Oh, and we also got the idea for a great book….dare I say series of books. I cannot reveal the plot line here, but we promised long suffering David he could have a cut of some of the profits since  it was our conversation with him that led to light bulbs going off in our heads.  I did insist however, that we retain full film rights, and I  told Tracy I’ve already picked out my outfit for our interview with Kelly and Michael, as well as finished the dedication page…which by the way will be to our husbands who are the only men crazy enough to put up with our insanity.




13 Alternatives to Fretting on this 13th

by Priscilla on September 13, 2013

Here we go again – Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and all the other social websites of which I don’t know their names will be filled with comments about today being the dreaded Friday the 13th.  One of my swimmers reminded me of this fact last night between kicking sets of 50 freestyle otherwise I’d really not have noticed. (Swimmers like to chat it up with coaches if they think it means we won’t notice they are getting an extra 15 seconds of rest.  My swimmers are not aware of the fact yet, that I know all these tricks because I used all of these tricks when I was their age so very few work on me.)

I don’t know about you, but these past 42  years have proved I can have pretty bad luck no matter what the date on the calendar says – like the time I walked out of the bathroom and bent over the drinking fountain in front of all my first grade classmates with my skirt tucked nicely into my underwear. Or when I managed to pull down the Christmas tree when I was in middle school….I blamed my nephew at the time…he was cute and blonde and could take the heat.

So here I sit at the computer preparing for the day thinking of all the ways I’m going to celebrate.

  • Hauling rocks from a farmer’s field to my backyard to continue a landscaping project.
  • Hauling mulch to continue said landscaping project.  (I live in a neighborhood in which everyone else hires out for all their lawncare needs, but I’m too cheap.)
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Laundering clothes – my kids claim they are out of clean undies.  Of course, they tell me this at 9:30 in the evening.
  • Whipping up pancakes for breakfast.  (BTW, a friend told me she adds cottage cheese to hers thus adding protein.  I tried it, and my kids were none the wiser.)
  • Not going to a CrossFit workout with my uber fit friend who dragged me there yesterday. This morning my quads are  screaming out with every step I take up or down the stairs.
  • Finishing up a few craft projects involving old windows.  Mr. TIS said I had to do this before he crawls up into the garage attic to drag down some old doors I found and want to refurb. He’s rethinking this charming old house and all its charming old windows and doors lying around.
  • Finishing listening to my latest audio book How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny. Love this author and this Inspector Gamache series.  Think PD James in Quebec.
  • Picking up our weekly vegetable purchase from a local CSA. (Mr. TIS doesn’t get excited about this as I do – he’s not a huge fan or parsnips and kohlrabi. Also, the kale keeps finding its way into his morning smoothie.)
  • Running – for my health – not straight into traffic – which some days can be quite tempting.
  • Taking ibuprofen when all the rock hauling begins to kick in.
  • Yelling across the pool to kids who insist on pulling under their kick boards while they are supposed to be kicking only.  (When I tell them I know all the tricks, I mean I KNOW ALL THE TRICKS. This may shock you, but I could be quite lazy in swim practice back in the day.)
  • Sending my girls and their father off to a wonderful Father/Daughter weekend while I celebrate by finally, finally, finally getting watch Moonrise Kingdom completely uninterrupted. 

How are you celebrating?



Coming Out as NALT

by Priscilla on September 9, 2013

This morning I was sitting at my dining  surrounded by bowls of half eaten oatmeal, drinking coffee out of a a Christmas mug from Skopje, Macedonia (thanks to one of MR TIS’s many expeditions from his former life as CPT America), when I picked up yesterday’s paper and read this opinion piece by Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald.  The discussion of the church and the LGBT community has weighed heavily on my mind these past few years. The older I grow not only as an adult, but in my faith in Jesus Christ, the more this verse from the minor prophet book of Micah, sits heavy on my heart.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Chapter 6 Verse 8,  NIV version)

To Act. To Love. To Walk. We in the English biz recognize these as infinitives.  What is an infinitive?  A little reminder from your friendly grammar guru (who gets grammar wrong herself from time to time.) To sneeze, to smash, to cry, to shriek, to jump, to dunk, to read, to eat, to slurp—all of these are infinitives. An infinitive will almost always begin with to followed by the simple form of the verb (This information comes from the site , a great place to visit when you don’t know the  answer for your kids’ homework.)

Those are some pretty big infinitives – dare I say monumental – for someone as stubborn, self seeking, and self serving as me to attempt to follow. Luckily, I grew up with a father who preached this truth to me not with words but with action. For almost forty years he made his way every morning at 7:30 a.m. to his medical office at N. Pauline Avenue in Muncie, Indiana, and treated patients from all walks of life – rich, poor, male, female, prominent, lowly, black, white, religious, atheist, gay, straight. He was known for being a great diagnostician – taking in all the facts presented him, (To Listen)  processing them ALL together (To Think) and then forming a treatment plan for the patient to follow (To instruct.)  What the patient did with the instruction my father gave was up to him or her – not my father. 

Are you noticing what’s missing from Micah 6:8 (God’s instructions) and the my dad’s job (Doctor’s instruction.)

Judging.  The words to judge are nowhere to be found.

A few years ago, I was watching a PBS special on the Amish community in America, and I was struck by the statement made by the father of the young Amish girl slaughtered in the school house massacre. He wasn’t going to attend the funeral of the killer, but someone urged him to, and he said that afterward he was thankful he did because it was during the funeral that he recognized and thanked God that he didn’t have to make a judgment about the fate of the soul of murderer. Did you get that? He didn’t have to make the judgment, and for that he was thankful. What a story of grace. What a story of getting what it means to be a Christ follower. (BTW, I am in no way shape or form comparing the GLBT community to a murderer! I’m using the example of the Amish man as a story that got me thinking hard about what grace itself looks like down here on earth.)

So what do a Miami Herald column, my dad’s medical practice, the GLBT community and the story of an Amish man have in common?  Well, for me, it’s the pieces that God is putting together in my heart and mind over the period of my life to instruct me in the ways of Micah 6:8. My job is to follow those infinitives laid out for me in Scripture, and to let God deal with the rest.

What does this look like in day to day practice for me? It looks like a new friendship I am cultivating with a gay man who is in a committed relationship with another man. We discuss items that interest the both of us – church things, political things, historical things, social things. I especially enjoy what I call big idea conversations with him. It looks like a message I recently sent a gay man whom I met via the internet while working on a project about which we are both passionate that said something like this, Look, I’m working through my beliefs about homosexuality and what the Bible teaches, and I don’t understand it all completely, but I know this much, I can tell you love Jesus. So do I, and if and your husband are in the area, you are welcome in my home. It looks like what my former pastor wrote when a lesbian stood up for his church and the work it was doing in her neighborhood.

The way I see it is this, I’d rather see my friends in the GLBT community live who they are openly  than to have people committing suicide because they don’t know what to do with themselves. I mean really – what would be the bigger tragedy here? I’m not saying I agree with everyone and everything in how they choose to live their lives, but  what I am saying is I refuse to be that person on TV shouting that GLBTs are wrong, wrong, wrong.  There is so much that is wrong with all of us, but Christ in his humility came down to earth, took on the form of man, lived among us – all of us – died a brutal, brutal death to reconcile humanity to the Creator of the Universe. (That’s what I believe. I know plenty of people who don’t believe that, but they aren’t going to jump on the comment section here and berate me and call me names and belittle me. They might disagree with me, but they respect me and my beliefs. It’s called being the grown ups.)

I’m not a theologian or an activist or even close to being considered a scholar. I’m just a simple girl from the cornfields of Indiana who was taught to live and let live. Years ago, on the island of Iwo Jima, my father put his life on the line for that freedom – so, too, did my husband years later in Iraq. But most of all my so did my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is with love not a baseball bat that God calls us to call us to Him. It is with love that God invites us to do his will here on earth as it’s done in heaven, and it is with that love that I say to the GLBT community, We Christians are Not All Like That. 

I have to leave you, my friends, in order fulfill a day of infinitives such as to clean, to organize, to paint, to cook, and hopefully to be given more chances by my Heavenly Father to love.


A Peek Into the Future…and a little aside

by Priscilla on September 6, 2013

Those of you who are my personal FB friends know that for the past few years we’ve tried to do family themed Halloween costumes.  You’ll also know that I am not the parental unit who takes care of all things costumes as evident in last years Halloween time  posting.

Thanks to Despicable Me 2, we are going to do some re-tweaking of our 2012 costumes that were a big hit around our old neighborhood in Lafayette, IN, and revive them for our new neighborhood in Elkhart, IN.  This means Mr. TIS is bringing back his Vector track suit complete with white shoes, glasses and wig.  This morning he attempted to get the girls into the Halloween spirit early by showing up for breakfast wearing this number…


(I apologize for the quality of this photo, but I assure you, it is bright orange, and that’s all you really need to know.)

Needless to say, the girls were giddy, but I simply told Mr. TIS his chances at camping any time soon were slim to none with that get up on. Don’t get me wrong, I love that he gets into Halloween for the kids, but the idea of camping with Vector doesn’t get my fires burning  very high.

After he got the girls off to school, (sans Vector costume)  he returned to read the paper, which he opened immediately to the Humane Society page – of course – and started telling me all about the canine offerings of the week.  The conversation went something like this.

Mr. TIS: How about Sassy?  Look at this dog!

TIS:  Yes, because along with  sh**** cat, a geriatric dog and a spazzy kitten, we need to add another pet named of all things Sassy to the mix.  (I wasn’t being vulgar by using the term sh****.  The Cat Formerly Known as Priscilla is now being treated for diarrhea and she literally is sh**** at the moment. Sight.) Wait, wait! Look at this dog Co-op.  Ohhhh, he’s so cute, and he’s geriatric. Maybe geriatric Suki needs a geriatric friend to cheer her up.  Oh, maybe we could get Co-op.

Mr. TIS: Yes, well, that’s nice, but I’m pretty sure its real name is Coop – as in Cooper not Co-op. He was right, of course. Where do I get these things?



But seriously, look at that smile!


I shouldn’t be surprised anymore with answers like these whenever I pose the question, What are you guys doing, anyway? This particular occasion three girls ran past me back into the wooded area of our back yard where they are building a club house- and a bad club house at that. OSHA would not approve this club house, but try telling a pack of little girls they have to stop this project brought about by my bright idea of buying them The Daring Book for Girls which encourages all kinds of outdoor play to include clubhouse fun.  I realized a long time ago that books are overrated, and that my life would be much easier if I simply succumbed to their desire to watch that idiotic Disney Channel.  (Have I ever mentioned before how much I hate Disney Channel, and that I believe it’s potato chips for the mind. Have I ever griped about how stupid their shows make parents look and how unbelievable their situations are like kids floating around in the middle of the ocean for high school? Do I sound completely like the intellectual snob I’d like to believe I am? Are you done with my soapbox rant yet? Sorry. Sometimes old Walt’s company get me fired up. I just think our kids deserve better – better writing, better directing, better acting. Okay.  I’m done. Really.  Maybe…just for now.)

Girls apparently has melded with The Witch of Blackbird Pond which Twin B is reading for a school report. These two books coupled with a trip to Fun Time Grandma’s Basement during her annual Labor Day Robust Pancake Breakfast cooked completely outside over a fire in an old brick oven, inspired the girls to dress up in garb harkening back to Salem Witch Trial days.


I’m hoping this whole witch trial thing blows over soon, and  I certainly won’t have  them reading about the Bataan Death March anytime in the near future. Oh, well, at least they were playing, Let’s save the girl not Let’s stoke the fires! As any mother knows, it’s the small things for which we learn to be thankful.