Flowers for Hurricane and Lessons Learned

Seven years ago I found out that I just don’t handle hurricanes well.

I had to Google search the name of the one this week, Isaac.

It isn’t that I don’t read the news or keep abreast of current events.

Seven years ago today Hurricane Katrina was bearing down on our southern coast and I watched, with the rest of the country, its progress on television. I am not watching Isaac descend on the anniversary of Katrina.

Katrina was in the background while I was cooking and cleaning and folding clothes. There were reporters interviewing residents. They asked people if they were staying and riding the storm out or evacuating. Reporters told us that seafood prices would rise and that power could be out for days and that residents were being told to leave New Orleans.

New Orleans. I had not been to New Orleans but I had always been excited to visit the city one day. We had recently relocated to the south and New Orleans was on our list of cities to explore on a long weekend trip.

A few of the news programs I was surfing, as Katrina was approaching, were highlighting the levees and they were interviewing civil engineers. I sat and listened as one engineer spoke with such concern that the levees would never be able to handle a storm this size. He then talked about a study using a model to show what would happen to New Orleans and the surrounding areas if ever a hurricane of Katrina’s size hit land.

It was a devastating scenario.

Just then Jim walked into the kitchen to pour a cup of coffee and say goodbye before heading to the hospital to work.

I began sobbing.

I kept thinking about all the people who said they were going to ride the storm out and the danger they would be placed in if this man was right. I thought about the rescue people who would also be put in harms way while having to save people. I began thinking about the people who really didn’t have any place to go or the means to get there. The old people whom neighbors barely noticed were shuffling around their houses, inside. Who would offer them a place to go and a way to get there. Who will look for them when the storm passes?

Jim gave me a kiss and a hug. He told me that sometimes these storms fizzle out as they make landfall and he mentioned this was one persons opinion of a possible situation. We talked briefly that there is nothing I can do in my kitchen in North Carolina and he went off to work.

I sat at the kitchen table and said a prayer.

A little while later a delivery man rang my doorbell. He handed me the prettiest bouquet of flowers.

The card in the flowers told me I was sweet and that Jim loved me.

I couldn’t do a thing before Katrina devastated so many people and their families.

We pay taxes and we pay insurance and we hope the government and the media outlets inform people when they need to evacuate.

I grew up in the midwest and in fear that a tornado could form quickly and in the middle of the night. A tornado can give no warning and they are hard to track. We moved to North Carolina during hurricane season. We even bought our first house here without a basement.

It seems like such a gift that we know when a hurricane is coming, days in advance.

Katrina made me think.

  • I learned that Mother Nature sometimes likes to show us that she is smarter than us and our fancy engineers.
  • I learned that government isn’t perfect but from mistakes, lessons are learned.
  • People should value their lives more and their property less. After all, our possessions and even our property can be washed away in a day.
  • Keep a close watch and offer help to those that live around me, if everyone did just that then everyone would have someone watching out for them.
  • Know what is coming and if it’s headed your way, MOVE.
  • If your fortunate enough to not be in a disaster then help those who have.
  • I learned that getting flowers does make you feel better.

Happy 15th Anniversary Jim (tomorrow) and thanks for not sending me flowers seven years ago a day later but instead you sent me “hurricane flowers.”

You knew just what would make me feel better.

Abbie Gale

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“That is Because Their Parents Don’t Love Them.”

“That is because their parents don’t love them.” -Me. *(See Below)

“That is NOT true.  Caleb has a TV in his room and his mom loves him.” -Peter.

“I happen to know, because I am a parent and parents tell each other their secrets, that the only reason you put a TV in your kid’s bedroom is to get rid of your kids.” -Me again.

The Family Room is Good Enough

“Well, Mrs East must REALLY want to get rid of Caleb because they put a flatscreen on his wall and hooked up an XBOX.”  -Peter

“They are also, obviously, not concerned about him developing mashed potato brains if he can play video games in his bedroom.” -Yep, me again.

When it is 95 Degrees Outside I Have No Issues WIth a Video Game That You Move To

“Mom, no one can really get mashed potato brains because there is no such thing as mashed potato brains and why don’t you ever want to get rid of me?” -Peter.

“Peter, go to you room and read a book. See, I love you AND I want to get rid of you” -Me.

Keep Digging Peter

* I threw all other parents under the bus out of frustration he wouldn’t stop asking for a television in his bedroom.  Each child is different as is each circumstance.  I am not one to judge, as I know I am doing the best I can, this day.  So if you have put a TV in your kids bedroom, I am sure you still love them and know that our boys have a “kids living room” with a TV in it in the center of their bedrooms.  I think a TV in their rooms would be redundant. 🙂


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Watching Old Sitcoms With Our Kids

Watching “old” sitcoms with our kids.

Do you remember Doogie Howser, MD doing things like an “emergency” pelvic exam…ON HIS GIRLFRIEND?  Well, he does.

Our three boys love watching Doogie Howser, MD with all its nerdy, dated glory and friend Vinny makes them belly laugh.  We didn’t remember the show dealing with such “racy” topics that have required some previewing by us before letting our little guys watch.   If you could have seen my husband and I running for the remote when Vinny was showing off the condom in his wallet he was planning on using that night.

Doogie and Vinny, as played by our 12 year-old IDENTICAL twins, were last Halloween’s hit, (only with adults over 35 who knew who they were.)  It took an entire can of black hairspray to turn Avery into Vinny.

This picture shows how much they look like normally…

“Who wants to watch Little House on the Prairie with me tonight?”

Peter, “Why would anyone NOT want to watch Little House on the Prairie!”

I’m thinking Peter would make an awesome Laura Ingalls next Halloween. You have no idea how happy it makes me to watch Little House

Peter wearing my scarf and offering me a poison apple.  Wrong show but you see what I mean with thinking he could rock Laura Ingalls this fall. 

I always find it hilarious when the kids don’t connect that the actors are not REALLY the characters they portray.

We rented Smurfs to watch with our boys.  Peter, then seven, announced when he saw Neil Patrick Harris, “DOOGIE IS IN THIS MOVIE!  THERE IS DOOGIE HOWSER!”

Avery, who is twelve, looked at his younger brother with a very annoyed and sophisticated look said to Peter, “That is NOT Doogie.  I read this book and Doogie is not in the story at all.”

I don’t know if I should be worried about them all but I did what came natural.

I laughed at them all and told them they are all a bunch of DING-A-LINGS!  

I explained, for the thousandth time that these are all actors and that was indeed Doogie but playing the part of another person in a different movie because he is an ACTOR!

Good Lord.  I know one day they will be adults and watch “Harold and Kumar go to White Castle” and I would LOVE to be a fly on the wall when they see all the things “Doogie” does in that movie.

It may wreck my boys forever.

Do your kids watch any “old” TV shows?  You have to love the DVR.  It may turn my kids into super geeks, but I am ok with that.

Thanks for letting me share,

-Abbie, All that makes you smile, laugh, think, love, cry or cry laughing.

P.S.  ALF terrified them!  Bahahaha!

Botox is Really a Marriage Saving Device

Ok, folks.  I have another a confession.

I have visited the Botox fairy a few times, (he is a friend who serves wine on his couch.)  He has been good to me.  More importantly, He has been good for my marriage and my personal relationships with anyone I have to deal with face to face.

If the Mayans are wrong, I will turn forty on “12.21.12.”  I am getting a lot of slack from friends accusing me of staging this whole “Mayan-End-Of-The-World-Thing” so I can be thirty-nine FOR-EV-ER.  It seemed like all my girlfriends were trying the Botox and all of my (pretend) girlfriends on TV had been doing it for years and so I said…

“Sign me up!  All these woman are making me look old!”

The first time “I did it” I didn’t tell my husband, Jim.  I wanted to see if he noticed.  He didn’t but hilariously found a moment to go on a tangent to our boys about how good I look and that “I don’t need any kind of assistance” when they asked why some women on TV look shellacked.  I was dunking and laughing around the corner.  How do you tell him after that?

I don’t think it altered my looks that much.  For me, I am a face maker as I am pretty animated, it is probably just keeping deep grooves from forming between my eyebrows.

Here is what I learned though.

People don’t need Botox for wrinkles.  The real reason why all women should be getting Botox?

Because you cannot make the, “You are such a dumb a$$ face!”

Your husband will instantly think you love him more.

I also cannot figure out why Botox is not being marketed to people with these tag lines…

“Get Botox and make your husband feel like a genius!”

“Botox makes everyone wonder what your secret to happiness is.”

Botox is really missing the mark here.  There is an entire market of people that they haven’t even tapped into.

Even those suffering from mental health issues could benefit from a little Botox love.

“Suddenly, people find me more approachable!”

“It makes the voices in my head stop making the poop face.”

“Why are you looking at me?!!!  Is it because you think I’m pretty?  Do you think I am pretty?”

If this stay-at-home-mom thing doesn’t work out I am sooo going into marketing.

Have you tried any procedures to make yourself feel refreshed or younger?  Would you?  Are you more of an “age gracefully” kind of person?

If you have had Botox, did it go well?  Did you have any problems?  I ended up with a black eye once because I took ibuprofen before the injections for a tooth ache.   I looked so cute with my black eye.

No other mammas gave me any lip at the bus stop.  I looked so tough with my black eye and scary emotionless face.  Yet another benefit of the Botox.

Abbie, All that makes you… at 

Even spicy buffalo sauce, coffee flavored beer and Nevada excitement did not cause a forehead wrinkle!  I don’t look a bit crazy, do I?

Two Broke(n) Girls…

Nine years ago we moved our family south.  The day we moved in, another family was moving in just across the street from us.  “She” was a mom with two little girls with bows in their hair that matched their dresses and their dresses had monogrammed little initials on the front. The family went to church every week, never yelled and they attended “play dates.”  “She” drove a white Volvo station wagon, (uh-huh, one of those.)

“She” was going to hate me.

The first time we met it was dark outside and I was walking down the street.  I was pregnant with our youngest.  I will translate that since you don’t know me well enough yet…

I was crazy, loud, screaming at my twin four year-olds to stay out of the road and I had my own moons orbiting me, (If you read my story about giving birth to farm animals and how my bellybutton is now a cup holder you understand and if you didn’t I will put a link below.)

“She” was, thin and blond and she had her front door open and the glass storm door closed.  Who does that at night AND with the lights on?  Sure, I have done it but I have threatened my husbands life if he turns a light on.

So, “She” has two small children AND her house is clean.

I hated her.

Due to proximity and the fact that I would NEVER schedule a “play date”, (what is that about) we exchanged phone numbers.  It doesn’t mean that my kids don’t “play.”  We just play with kids when play happens.

Our kids would often hang out in the driveways together.  They were a great match.  My boys don’t have sisters and her girls don’t have brothers.  My boy’s mom is a fast blinker and her girl’s mom is a slow blinker.

Blinker Definition: I define people that I come into contact with as either slow blinkers or fast blinkers.  You have to have something to size people up by.  You do it too!  You can “blink both ways” but you are mostly one or the other.  I know I am a fast blinker because when I talk, slow blinkers look out of the top of their eyes at me.  I am sure “Conservative, Connecticut, Catholic, Cathy” found me a bit overwhelming.  This was never going to work.

One day I called Cathy regarding a neighborhood issue.  I asked the rhetorical question, “How are you?”

She replied, “You know, I am trying to figure out what to do about a little girl at school that is being mean to Chloe.  Chloe came home from school crying.   This girl wont stop calling her names.  I tried telling their teacher before that this little girl is mean to Chloe but the teacher keeps saying the girls have to work things out on their own.”

“Do you know where this girl lives?  I will go straighten her out.  Come on, you and me!  We’ll show her what it’s like to have someone bullying you.” Yeah, it was me that said it.  I was threatening to go shake down a preschooler.  I wasn’t really going to.

Guess what?  She decided, at that moment…

“She” liked a little crazy.  

Cathy laughed at me.  I then pretended that I was joking and I laughed back.

At that moment we became friends.

I have NO IDEA why we are friends.

Have you seen the television show “Two Broke Girls?”

That is us.  

We even look like the characters, (a little older, you didn’t have to point it out!)  She is so polite and mindful of what she says at all times.  She says “yes” to being a “scissor mom” when the teacher stares down the classroom of new parents and I am dunking behind someone snickering.

When my husband was done with training we bought a larger house in a neighboring town.    Within a year a lot went up for sale around the corner from us and I called her as the guy was pushing the “For Sale” sign into the ground.  They bought it it that week and built their new home.  She has been as close as a sister and her husband has been my husbands partner in crime.  Our kids go to the same school, we belong to the same club and we have spent Christmas with their families.  They are ours, without the family tree.

We are yin and yang.

We have laughed for years, before we even knew what a “sister wife” was, that if we could just share our work it would be so much easier.  I like to cook the savory dishes and she likes desserts.  I like to play in the dirt and she likes to clean dirt.  I like to wash and she likes to iron, well we don’t “like” to but someone has to do it.  She does the homework help and I do the shopping, (mostly because I didn’t do homework when I was a kid and I’m not starting now.)  If we could work it out with separate houses and husbands and beds and it would be _____ amazing!

Then her husband was offered an awesome new job.  In another city.  It is too far to commute. He has been trying for a year to drive 2 1/2 hours each way or stay in an apartment a couple nights a week.  I cannot complain.  I keep telling myself, I cannot complain.  I know she is torn up about moving from a place and a community that they all love.  I know she is a good wife and wants her husband to be happy.  I know he is a good husband because he tried to make it work.  I know it is wrong of me to think about ways to make him “disappear.”  I am kidding people!

We have five gloomy kids between us and now it is my turn to be happy and supportive.  I am finding all the reasons they should move, because I know it is best for their family, and because they need to be together more.

They might have an offer on their house and I am saying prayers for them because I know this past year has been hard.  The reality is hitting home and I realize they will be moving away.  I count my blessings to have met her and know they will always be a part of our lives.  I think I will write a personal reference letter for her to give to any of her new neighbors in case any of them are fast blinkers.

Dear Fellow Fast Blinker,

I am writing this letter as a person that has known Cathy for nearly nine years.  Please give her a second chance as a friend.  I know that when you met her you thought she was a “Hard Right” republican and that she doesn’t know how to have a good time.  You probably figured she has a blog about cleaning tips.  She is none of those things.

She can drink you under the table and she drinks scotch on the rocks.  When you have had too many cocktails and are trying to take off your saggy tights she will get down on the floor and yank them off by the toes, (and then display them in your house for you to find the next day.)  That is a good friend that can be both helpful and bad at the same time.

When your boys catch something really gross and they want to go show her she will rustle up a scream to make your kids proud.  She bakes gourmet desserts but keeps Little Debbies in her pantry because she knows the neighbor moms wont buy them for their kids, (because  I  the mom’s will eat the entire box before the kids get home from school.)

She will cry if someone hurt you or your family but first she will comfort you.  Don’t expect her to come to your football parties, she is a snob like that.  She cannot stand football parties because all the women talk and she can’t watch the game.  She will send a dish to pass at the football party with her husband but she will stay home and watch the game, uninterrupted.  Do not be offended.

So if she gives you this letter, you just won the neighbor lottery.  Be good to her but not too good.  She will be a little homesick and will need some attention.  She takes harassment well.  She hates Halloween so do things like leave fake body parts in meat packs in grocery bags on her front porch.  A simple bloody handprint on her front door does double duty as scary and dirty.  She will thank you later.


PS.  If you aren’t nice to her, I know where you live.

Abbie at

(I totally fuzzed her out so she doesn’t get kicked out of church)

Taking applications for a “new” local BFF.   Big shoes to fill and must be willing to move. 😉
Which friend would you be?  
Are your closest friends more like you than different?
My bellybutton is a cup holder stories…