There Was Something In My Soda Can

The following story is not for the faint of heart. It is a true story that happened to me and has forever shaped my life.

I graduated early my senior year of high school. I was ready to begin my adult life with my accounting job I had lined up, a new truck and my own apartment all by myself.

Me on my 18th birthday, a month before I moved into my first apartment

Me on my 18th birthday, a month before I moved into my first apartment

This was 20 years ago and I was going to make $10 an hour with my new job. It was a lot of money for someone with no formal training yet not enough that I could afford a fancy apartment.

I scoured the newspaper for apartments but it was pretty hard to find one for less than $500 but I finally found one in the country. It was a former old school that they converted into apartments. It was a dump but was only $250 a month.

My mom went with me to look at it. The moment we walked in the door, the smell hit us. The odor was so bad it could have brought a dead rat back to life. We continued to look around. Everything was dingy. The linoleum on the floor was stained and torn in places. The stove was covered in grease and the carpeting throughout was a putrid olive green. The place was big though; a living area plus 2 rooms, a bathroom and a storage room.

After 5 minutes of looking around my mom looked at me and said, “Why don’t you keep looking? Maybe you’ll find something better. You can stay at home until you do.”

But I was determined. I knew there was no other apartments for that cheap plus I could see potential in this place. It just needed a good cleaning. I signed the lease that day.

The following week my mom and I headed over to my new apartment to start cleaning before we moved my furniture in. We hit the kitchen first and got the stove looking like brand new. We scrubbed the linoleum and got it looking a whole lot better. Next we moved the refrigerator.

We screamed. We nearly fell over. We stood frozen not sure what to do.

There were hundreds of cockroaches. Hundreds.

Once again my mom spoke up, “Maybe it’s not too late. Perhaps you can get out of your lease. Just stay home a little while longer until you find something nice.”

I shook my head and we headed to the hardware store to get cockroach powder.

After a week it seemed as though the powder had put a huge dent in the cockroach population.

But there was another problem.

The door to my apartment was constantly getting stuck. You would have to tug and bang to get the darn thing open from the inside.

One morning I was already to go to work and for the life of me I could not get the door to open. I tugged. I banged. I kicked. Nothing worked. I was not going to be late for work. I had to do something. I sat for a moment to think and then I did what every girl does who is ready to go to work in their peach colored blazer with shoulder pads and big pearl buttons with matching peach pencil skirt, cream colored nylons and off white pumps…..

I crawled out onto the roof and jumped the 12 foot down to the muddy ground.

I made it to work on time just with mud on my knees and jacket.

As the months wore on, I would get glimpses of cockroaches crawling here and there scurrying into holes or behind furniture but nothing too bad to alarm me.

One night, I got a call while I was in bed. I walked out to answer it and flipped on the light switch. It was my sister calling to see how the new apartment and job were going. I sat in my kitchen chair trying to sound upbeat and saying how cute I was making my apartment as I watched 10 cockroaches crawling up my kitchen wall. Apparently, they were night critters.

My neighbors were friendly people. They always said hello when I bumped into them in the hallway. One of the ladies even came and knocked on my door one day asking if I would like to attend the party she was throwing on Saturday. I asked what it was for and she said her husband was getting his ankle bracelet off after his 5th DUI arrest. I told her unfortunately I couldn’t attend the party because I had to work. My 18 year old eyes were beginning to see a whole new world.

And I did work a lot. I always put in overtime and worked weekends to keep up with my workload. All of my friends were still in high school talking about the papers they had to write, senior dances and all the other school activities.

I worked so much I rarely had time to make it to the grocery store. One night, I came home exhausted from a long day and looked in the refrigerator. The only thing in it was a generic diet lime soda. I annoyingly grabbed it and went to sit on the couch to watch my television that only got one fuzzy channel that continuously flipped. I opened the soda and began to drink. It tasted horrible. I think it was from my parents because they didn’t like it either.

I took a few more sips, set the half full can on the coffee table and just went to bed.

The next morning I woke up ravenous. I had never felt so hungry in my life. I checked the refrigerator one more time just to make sure I had not missed anything the night before. It was still empty.

I sat back down on the couch and spotted my half full soda from the night before. I decided it was better than nothing. I was that hungry. I took a big chug. The taste was worse. I couldn’t even taste a hint of lime anymore. As hungry as I was I couldn’t drink it. I went to the sink to pour the rest out.

Something came out of the can.

Something came out other than soda.

It was a cockroach.

The realization hit me instantly. I had just drunk out of a can containing a cockroach. I got weak in the knees. My stomach lurched. My eyes welled up. I gripped the kitchen counter with white knuckles.

I walked away.

I walked away from the sink and tried to erase that memory and walked away from that apartment soon after. I had saved up enough money to get a nice apartment. It was newer and didn’t have cockroaches.

Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of my first apartment. These are pictures of my 2nd apartment

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of my first apartment. These are pictures of my 2nd apartment

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My first apartment forever changed my life. I have kept its memory in the back of mind. I never want to live in those conditions again. Therefore, I live thrifty. I do not buy something unless we need it. I buy second hand. I live without a lot. I know that I can survive on very little. I appreciate everything I have.

I often ask myself if I would let my own children live in an apartment like that. The answer is absolutely. It was a learning lesson. It helped me grow up. I learned how to manage money and when I was 21 years old I was able to buy my first house all by myself.

I will just warn them to never drink out of open soda can that has been sitting out all night.

 

 

It’s Against the Law If You Are Not a Packer Fan

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If you grow up in Wisconsin like my children and myself have it’s nearly against the law if you are not a Green Bay Packer fan. My husband is a Pittsburgh Steeler fan and as much as he would like to lure our children to his side it is clear that I have won!

This is what happens when you grow up in Wisconsin:

Iris & Bency 2007

You have to start out young wearing Packer clothes

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Dad messes up your haircut and you have to wear a Packer shirt

Dad messes up your haircut and you have to wear a Packer shirt

You get a black eye that your Mom wants to take a picture of and you just happen to be wearing a Packer coat

You get a black eye that your Mom wants to take a picture of and you just happen to be wearing a Packer coat

You have to play games wearing Packer clothes

You have to play games wearing Packer clothes

You have to decorate cookies wearing Packer clothes

You have to decorate cookies wearing Packer clothes

They have Packer Days at school!

They have Packer Days at school!

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Even as a baby you are envious of your older brother's Packer clothes!

Even as a baby you are envious of your older brother’s Packer clothes!

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You get mad when the Packers lose!

You're happy when the Packers win!

You’re happy when the Packers win!

It makes you nervous to watch them sometimes!

It makes you nervous to watch them sometimes!

Sometimes they make you crazy!

Sometimes they make you crazy!

You get to attend awesome free kid's events at the stadium!

You get to attend awesome free kid’s events at the stadium!

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You get to go to a Packer game during Family Night!

You get to go to a Packer game during Family Night!

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And if the Packers head to the Super Bowl, your school does a mob dance to send to the Packers! My daughter got to participate 2 years ago in this when the Packers went to the Super Bowl!

Go Pack Go!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s History in Those Love Letters

Of course I never knew my maternal grandparents when they were kids because well, that just wouldn’t be possible now would it?

Grandma & Grandpa in 1936

Grandma & Grandpa in 1936

My memories of them are when they were in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

They were extremely hard working. They were running the all-in-one store/tavern/gas station in their small town. Plus my Grandpa was a farmer raising cows and tobacco. My Grandpa was a big burly man with muscles like an ox. My Grandma was a slight little thing with a ton of energy.

When I think of my grandparents I don’t conjure up images of romance. They certainly had a union that worked and I thought of them as a great team. They raised four children together and shared plenty of hardships and victories with one another. But I’m sure I never saw them kiss or hug. I never overheard an “I love you.” There was no gift giving among the two and no elaborate anniversary celebrations.

But I know how in love they were. I have the proof. I have a handful of love letters my Grandpa wrote to my Grandma when they were courting. He was 23 and she was 17. My aunts have the originals and my mom made me a binder of copies of them all.

When my grandparents were courting my Grandpa was a school teacher in a one room school house and my Grandma was still in high school. They lived a few towns apart so were only able to see each other on the weekends.

Enjoy reading the following letter my Grandpa wrote my Grandma and see how their love started and went on to create their family and many more generations. Their legacy lives on even though they are no longer with us. I have their memories forever in my heart and I have these words to know that my family was built on true love.

March 23, 1936

Dearest Charlotte,

Well Monday is almost past and all I can say is that it was just another blue Monday.

The kids were real good to school today, and I didn’t have to keep fire either so that helped. I had a new scholar to school today. It was Bobby Crumerine. He sure is the berries. He came up to my desk and asked me why I didn’t come over and take Marie K. to town anymore. I didn’t know what to say.

Gee I wish I could come up, but I don’t know when I will get to. I think I will have to take Dad to Viola tomorrow night.

George said he wasn’t going to Viroqua any more this week so I suppose I will have to come alone.

I sure wish you were coming home this weekend. I am afraid it will be an awful lonesome weekend.

It is almost eleven o’clock and I am sitting here thinking a lot and writing a little and all I can think about right now is you.

I am just wondering what you are doing. Probably out with some darn nice guy, and thinking how foolish you were to go out with me.

You said you liked me a little, but I just had a feelin you were foolin, but I hope not for I like you so darn much. I have been wondering whether or not it was love, but I guess it can’t be for I haven’t broken out with a rash yet although I have been looking for it.

I must close for it is getting my sleepy time.

With All My Love,

Eddie

P.S. Please Excuse Scribbling I can’t do better I wasn’t cut out to be a writer.

Page 1 of Love Letter

Page 1 of Love Letter

Page 2 of Love Letter

Page 2 of Love Letter

 

This Boy is Creepy

My 7 year old daughter’s room was becoming overrun with toys, papers and other things she has been hoarding. With the influx of new toys this past Christmas I told her we needed to go through her room and downsize. I went around her room and held up one item at a time and asked if we could keep it or get rid of it.

My 5 year old son Bency witnessed us doing this and although he is somewhat of a neat freak and keeps his room extremely tidy he thought this looked like fun and wanted me to join him in his room and do the same thing.

We both went and looked around his room and knew there was nothing there he would be willing to part with but then he thought for a minute and quickly ran and got a decoration off of his dresser.

He said “I definitely want to get rid of this! He stares at me all the time and it’s really creeping me out.”

Big Boy

Big Boy

I was shocked! I was floored! I just couldn’t believe it! My sweet Big Boy that I rescued from a garage sale 20 years ago for 25 cents. The symbol of a beloved restaurant franchise that went out of business in our town when I was in elementary school.

How could this cute little plastic boy be creepy?

Wait…why is he smiling? He does look like he’s up to something. Is he plotting a scheme? Why is he looking at me? Quit looking at me Big Boy!

Okay, Bency’s right. He is kind of creepy!

Do You Need Stress Relief?

This past October I found this on my wall:

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This piece of graffiti was doodled by my sweet 2 year old Cesar.

This actually occurred when I was sitting 2 feet away reading a book with my 5 year old son Bency. I did hear a tapping noise and do remember slightly glancing in that direction, but just thought he was tapping on the wall….and the lamp…and the windowsill of our large bay window with his fingers.

But alas, that wasn’t the case and each of these things was covered in blue crayon.

Now, you may be surprised to hear that having two older children this was actually my first go around with the crayon on the wall trick.

I had heard about the brilliance of Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser for such cases as this but had never purchased one before. I finally got around to buying one in November to erase the evidence of his mischief.

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Oh my heavens, I was beyond delighted with this little product. A foam sponge that you just wet a little bit and off comes the crayon in one swipe. Not only was there a hint of blue left behind on the sponge but also black….meaning it had picked up dirt that was not visible to the naked eye.

I began going around the house cleaning up scuff marks and all kinds of things that I had tried numerous times to wash off with a rag and soapy water. It was all coming off!

By no means am I a clean freak and all of these marks and blemishes had not bothered me before but watching them come off so easily was like watching a magic show!

I’ve heard other people say before that cleaning is a stress relief for them. This has never been the case for me. I view cleaning as an obligatory duty. It has to be done every day with three small children in the house. Every time I clean, I am slightly disgusted with the grime I come across and am totally disheartened when all my hard work is messed up 5 minutes after I get it done.

But the Magic Eraser was different. With every scuff and blemish I erased, I felt a little lighter, a little brighter and a lot less stressed.

Throughout the holiday season, I took out my Magic Eraser quite a bit. There’s no end to dirt and scratches in our house. When I got overwhelmed with how much was on my to-do-list, I took out my little foam sponge of wonder and performed my magic tricks around the house. It gave me the extra oomph I needed to tackle the wrapping, baking and projects that needed to get done.

As for the rest of my house…well there’s always cleaning to do, so much in fact that I could relieve the stress of about 10 people who are into that sort of thing!

Me and my little mischief maker Cesar

Me and my little mischief maker Cesar

Put Your Hands In the Air, There’s a Virtual Party Over Here

Today marks 6 months of when I first started my blog. I was inspired to start my blog when I realized that all of the things you find on Pinterest are coming from blogs. I thought I might have a few Pinterest worthy ideas rolling around in my head that I could contribute. My blog has contained some posts that I have shared on Pinterest but much to my amazement, I actually kind of like writing. I never considered myself a writer but my blog has come to contain many personal stories. Prior to starting my blog I never really read other blogs or followed them.

But now 6 months later, I follow a lot of blogs. I am in awe of the amount of talent floating around in this world.

Through the sharing of my own blog and reading other people’s blogs I have made many “virtual friends.” Now really, anyone in my opinion who is blogging is amazing. It takes a lot of time and sometimes sacrifice…my sacrifice has been sleep!  But the following people have become very dear to me because not only are they creative or amazing writers or just plain funny; they have been following my blog from the near beginning. They have kept me inspired and encouraged.

And for that I am throwing a “virtual party.”

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First of all I would invite my Mom! She doesn’t blog herself but she has been my most faithful reader. Part of her love of reading my blog comes in the form of reading my comments from other people. She gets such a bang out of it and in turn goes and reads their blogs! So everyone say “hi” to my mom! She has more than likely read your blog and loved it!

The rest are all bloggers that like I said have been around since the  beginnings of my blog. They are all wonderful people and I think you will find many people you yourself will enjoy reading and following! I am going to try to recall as much information I know about them off the top of my head…if I get some details wrong, forgive me…my memory usually deceives me!

The Embiggens Project: This girl is hysterical and has an amazing mind! I have no idea how she comes up with the stuff she writes about but it blows me away! She hails from Canada and is a high school English teacher! She has a phobia of dolls and a love for ookpiks and Barry Weiss from Storage Wars. I have actually been enlightened about a lot of different things from her! You will adore this girl!

The View From A Slightly Twisted Angle: This lady is not only funny but also has a great heart. She’ll write a funny story one day and the next post will have you tugging at your heart strings. Every Friday, she does a hilarious job of rounding up the week’s “Top News Stories” and puts her own spin on them! She is from Nebraska, is currently working as a church secretary and has four kids ranging in ages of 11 up to a college age son. She loves her family and has a way of making you want to love your own family a bit more!

the thing about joan: Joan is from Chicago and has a twin boy and girl. She is passionate about creating and does so many things. We actually found each other after I did a post about a garden I had visited in my town…she had been there too and uses a picture from there as her gravatar! This lady will give you many great ideas!

advocatemmmohan aksharaalie: This man is from India, is a lawyer and writes poetry. He has an amazing way with words and weaves them together so beautifully!

Sugar and Spice Baking: This young lady is from Sweden but recently moved to England to be with her boyfriend. She bakes up some of the tastiest looking treats that I have ever seen and even inspired me to try out her cinnamon bun recipe when I saw how good hers looked! This girl is also always doing good deeds and charitable acts! We both started blogging on the same day so today is also her 6 month blogging anniversary!

Ambling & Rambling: This is a Jersey girl with a teenage daughter. Although I don’t know if she has big hair and spray tans, I do know she fits the other stereotypes of New Jersey natives…tough and sassy! This girl says what’s on her mind and it usually has something to do with her waitressing job…and always has me in stitches! She is smart too! She knows a ton about history and can spew out very random facts! Now, normally her writing reflects this tough girl image but she has been known to write a tender piece or two confirming what I believed about her from the beginning…she’s a teddy bear at heart! I adore this lady!

Relax and Float Downstream: Joyce is a busy, working mom to two small children. She is currently living in Florida but grew up in Connecticut. I really love how Joyce writes. She is very smart and her posts really make me think. She is also an amazing cook and baker!

embracingtheinsanity: This lady and I are living parallel lives, only she’s living it in Florida! She is also a stay at home mom and all three of our kids are the same ages! We totally sympathize and understand what each other are going through! This girl is hilarious! Plus someday I hope to have an arranged marriage for her son and my daughter. Her son, on his own, is constantly coming up with different things to do for charity and has been noticed publicly for his actions.

PILLOWS-A-LA-MODE: This is one sewing, crafty lady! Her blog focuses on her different projects but it is also noteworthy to add that she used to be a 1st grade teacher and is now a children’s book author. Most of what she writes is used in schools. So it is very likely that your elementary students are reading her books at their school!

Running the Race: Alison is also a stay at home mom to two small children in Florida. Her family is Christian focused and she is very instrumental in teaching her children about the bible as well as instilling in them the virtues of patience and kindness. She is a truly wonderful mom!

memyselfandkids: This is a dad, who works as a high school teacher on the East Coast. He writes about fatherhood, work, and life in general. He has a very serious tone to his writing and sometimes he’ll throw something in that will make you laugh out loud!

The Sadder But Wiser Girl: Sarah lives in Iowa, admittedly has ADD, anxiety and is currently unemployed. She has an 8 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. She writes about them, her husband and anything else going on around the house. You never know what to expect from Sarah but more than likely it will have you laughing and probably relating! She’s a hoot and I guarantee you will enjoy her craziness!

Shoes On The Wrong Feet: This is a stay at home mom of two boys but she is also the Room Parent for one of her son’s classrooms. Her and her husband live in the country and are having a blast creating memories and fulfilling traditions. Her writing certainly tells the tale of how much love is in their house and how much fun they are having!

Ramblings From A Mum: Jen loves to write! She lives in Australia with her husband and has two daughters in their 20’s. She has written a book called The Empty Nest A Mother’s Hidden Grief. This lady is truly a hoot! She writes poetry, short fictional stories and personal stories. You will definitely get a kick out of her and she is such an encouraging fellow blogger!

Keeping it Real: Anka is a stay at home mom to two small children living on the West Coast. Her daughter is so much like my own and we really relate to each other on so many things. Anka has a journalism degree and her writing is impeccable. She can take such small moments and really draw you in. Her posts are so relatable to so many people and this girl has a heart of gold.

littlepoppits: This lady is also a stay at home mom to three adorable children. She lives in England, raises chickens, loves crocheting, finding vintage treasures and doing creative projects around her home. I love looking at her photos and can relate to her on so many things except she drinks tea and I’m a coffee drinker!

thekovies: This is one funny Grandma! Not only are her posts funny and heartwarming but I look forward to her comments on my posts! They are always hilarious! She writes personal stories about herself growing up, raising her children when they were young and now stories of being a grandma. She’s got a lot of wisdom and insight to share and like I said…she’s funny!

now at home mom: This is a mom living in Canada who recently left the workplace to stay home and raise her 19 month old son. She is so creative and loves to cook and bake! I recently tried her recipe for Tiramisu Cake and had a total flop on my hands! This girl has skills!

Behind the Minds Ear: Meet my husband! He recently started blogging! He majored in education in college and minored in music. He is very passionate about music and will be incorporating music into all of his posts with the addition of personal stories and how they relate to the music.

Now that you have all met, I will have Behind the Minds Ear turn on some good music. Next I’ll have the thing about joan, PILLOWS-A-LA-MODE and littlepoppits decorate my house. Then I will put out all the food that I had Sugar and Spice Baking, Relax and Float Down Stream and now at home mom bring. We can then all get entertained by some stories from The Embiggens Project, The View From A Slightly Twisted Angle and Ambling & Rambling. Perhaps advocatemmmohan aksharaalie and Ramblings From A Mum will recite some poetry for us and then thekovies can take all of us moms and dads with young kids in the corner and tell us about the time her son when he was young stuck maxi pads all over the bathroom wall when the church ladies were over and the time her daughter dug up the dog that was buried in the backyard. My mom would be flitting around talking and laughing and telling everyone how much she loves their blogs. Afterwards, I will thank everyone for attending and we will bid each other adieu and a magic fairy will come and clean up the whole mess!

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I continue to find more blogs I love and am meeting new and interesting people all of the time! I will introduce you to more at my next “virtual party!”

Thanks for stopping by and celebrating with me!

Melissa

Don’t Mess With My System

In the past, I’ve never had any arguments about clothes from my kids. I buy their clothes without any input from them and I lay out what they are going to wear each morning. They’ve never said a word.

My pediatrician once recommended that I begin giving my children choices when they turned 3 years old. For instance you should hold up two different shirts and let them pick one so they feel they have some control.

In theory, this sounds logical. However, I know my children. Their decision making process is long, drawn out, can take hours and they always regret their choice. This in turn has sometimes caused tears when they have picked plain M&M’s at the store and later wished they had chosen peanut.

I figure our system works so why mess with it.

My 5 year old son, Bency, has recently thrown a wrench into our fine working plan.

I also have a 7 year old daughter, Iris. You would think if it was anyone is causing me clothing stress it would be her. The closest moment of “clothing hysteria” she has caused me was when she was in Kindergarten.

I sent Iris to school in thick cotton tights striped with rainbow colors, a spaghetti strap undershirt and a purple corduroy dress that buttoned up the front. She looked absolutely adorable. Much to my surprise, Iris came home in the afternoon wearing only her tights and undershirt. She said she had got hot and taken off her dress mid school day. I was completely horrified that my daughter had been running around school sans purple dress. Since then, I have never bought a dress that buttons up the front, worried that she might mistake it for a cardigan again.

We need dresses that zip up the back!

We need dresses that zip up the back!

Like I said, it is my son who is messing with my system after receiving a Christmas gift of an Angry Bird shirt from a friend of ours. Everything has changed. It is all he wants to wear. He doesn’t even want to take it off. I finally got him out of it a few days ago after I showed him the snot on the sleeve where he wiped his nose and the ketchup blobs on the front. He agreed I could wash it but as soon as it was out of the dryer he needed it right back.

Bency's new Angry Bird shirt

Bency’s new Angry Bird shirt

I’m sure this is only the beginning. I’m sure all of my kids will rebel at some point. If my two year old begins requesting Blues Clues shirts tomorrow, I will throw up my hands and move us all to a nudist colony. They certainly couldn’t mess with that system and the thought of no laundry sounds blissful!