Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Dakota and my sleepless nights: a true story.

Rebecca has been gone for two weeks. Yes, that sounds like a long time and yes, it actually is a long time and yes, we miss her lots. But you want to know who really misses her? Like, so, so much?
Her dog. Her dog misses her so, so much.

Sean and I are doing our best to fill in the gaps for the poor, sad puppy. Each morning, I toss around his favorite toy duck for him to chase. Each evening, Sean and I take the dog for a long walk, where we end up carrying around a bag full of poop. I guess cleaning up our children’s poop just wasn’t enough; now we get to clean up the poop of one of our children’s pets…

As much as I detest carrying around that nasty little poop bag, there is something that is even worse that I have to do when Rebecca is gone: get up in the night with the dog. See, when Rebecca is home, the dog sleeps in his little crate in her room. Turns out, he won’t sleep in her room without her. So I put him in our room, thinking that would work. Two problems: first, he likes to see someone in the room as he's going to sleep, and he won’t sleep unless he is certain someone is in the room with him. Our bed is taller than Rebecca’s, so he can’t see that we’re there. Second, because he can't tell if someone is in the room, he roots around all night, straining to see if he can make out a human in his vicinity. He makes so much noise throughout the night that he wakes and keeps us up.

So I have resorted to putting his crate in our family room, facing the couch. And I then sleep on the couch.

Yes, people. I am sleeping on the couch so that the dog and Sean can get some sleep.

I have not been this tired since Rebecca was born and I was up in the night with her. A human child. Which was understandable. But now, I'm up in the night with a dog...

Am I counting down the days until Rebecca returns? Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Six more nights and I can finally get back to my own bed.

New Duffy rule: Rebecca may no longer leave the house for more than 16 hours. Ever.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

For the ‘rents

I originally started this blog to keep family in the South updated on our adventures up north. The blog has morphed a bit into other topics over the years, but sometimes you gotta get back to your roots. With that in mind, I bring you, “What We Did Over the Weekend with Amy!”

The CMU Summer Theatre tour made its way to Beaver Island, a quaint place off the west coast of the Mitten. At the last minute, Sean got Friday off, so we quickly planned an overnight to see Amy and the rest of the company. In addition to getting a surprise day off, Sean got a surprise car to drive for the weekend, and even bought me a hat to go with it:
I have never in all my life worn a baseball hat. But it served the purpose and I must say, I enjoyed not having to worry about my hair!

There are only two ways to access Beaver Island: ferry or plane. The ferry takes 2 ½ hours. The plane? Fifteen minutes. I will make any excuse to fly any day, so we opted for Island Airways. I booked our tickets via email and had to give our weight… that almost pushed me to the ferry, but I was assured it was a secure connection and the information wouldn’t be published anywhere so we forged ahead with the plane.

Now, the only other time I had to give my weight to fly was in Africa, so I knew this wasn’t some jumbo jet we’d be taking. I didn’t however, expect to sit quite so close to the pilot: 
After a successful and incredibly short flight, we landed on Beaver Island and hailed a taxi. To be clear, we hailed the ONLY taxi on Beaver Island. She drove us to the Beaver Island Lodge, our home away from home for the night. Can’t recommend the Lodge highly enough. It is right on Lake Michigan. We listened to the waves all night long! The décor is stuck in the 80’s but we weren’t there for the décor - we were there to see the girl. We were a four-block walk from the theater, so we set out to find it and her.

Since we were a little early to meet her (shocking, I know), we stopped to rent two bikes. There wasn’t a lot of time we could spend with Amy so we thought we’d ride around the island and see what we could see in-between her breaks. The first thing we saw was rain. Rain on us, rain on our bikes, rain, rain, rain. But as quickly as it came it passed over and we saw sunshine and blue skies the rest of our stay.

We got to the theater which also serves as the hangout place for the island. They have free Wi-Fi and a computer for public use. They also have the island’s radio station, WVBI, and I thought if I ever wanted to resurrect my radio career this might be the place I could start.
Two giant banners hung in the windows of the community center: Welcome Birders! If only we had Rebecca, our bird-lover with us! Apparently Beaver Island is a hotbed of bird activity. People head to the community center to log bird sightings:
We finally found the girl, took her for a quick dinner, then she was off to work again. We had an hour to kill before the show, so we rode around the island. Got back in time to see the show in the most adorable 100-seat theater. Which made for a lively conversation that continues to this day: How can we build a theater?!
Anyway, the show was great, we got to hug Amy’s neck quickly after, then she went back to work and we went back to our room.
Saturday she wasn't available until lunchtime so we took to our bikes again. There are so many bike paths – all you outdoorsy people would love it. We met up with Amy at lunch, took her to Daddy Franks, which is just as adorable as it sounds, and she was off again.
We couldn’t stay to see Saturday’s show because we had to get back for Sunday morning's church service since Sean was scheduled to play piano. Those who go to church with us will feel our pain, because as soon as we landed on the mainland we got word that church was cancelled due to downed trees and power lines… We tried to get back but we’d missed the last flight and the ferry wouldn’t get us there in time. So we headed home in the Camaro.

At my friend Carissa’s suggestion, we made one last stop on the way home: Cops & Doughnuts. Good thing that place isn’t around the corner – those doughnuts were insane.
I’m so glad we decided to go see her! Great to catch up, even for a bit. And we love seeing her work, on and off stage.

Those considering a trip to Beaver Island should definitely go – it’s a charming little place. It’s rustic and perfectly suited for those who love water sports and biking and being outdoors. And, of course, for those who love theater!

The view from our seat on the way back.

Here's a view of our takeoff. As we were still in the air, I sent this to my Dad, a former Delta pilot, and his first reaction was, "That's real flying! I didn't know they could take passengers with only one pilot." I didn't even think about that! But for the rest of the flight I was trying to figure out if I could land that sucker...

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Dust bunnies from heaven

God works in mysterious ways. He uses people, songs, scripture. And sometimes he uses dust. Great big, gigantic dust bunnies.

Our oldest graduated from college the first of May and began moving into his new apartment shortly thereafter. It was a gradual process, so gradual I could almost pretend wasn’t happening. But when the moving truck pulled up to take his bedroom furniture and all the boxes that had been piling up in said child’s room, the process hit me right between the eyes.

Pretty hard to ignore your kid is moving out when two young guys from a moving company are hauling out all his possessions, including the bed we gave him for his second birthday:
As the tears began to flow, (you're all shocked, I'm sure) I went up to the now-empty bedroom to vacuum. It's my thing - I love to vacuum. It's weird. I know, but the lines in the carpet are quite satisfying. And at that moment, I needed something to take my mind off reality.

As soon as I entered his room, a new kind of reality hit me: the kind that says, “You may say you like to vacuum but you aren’t very good at it!” Because the dust where the bed used to be was at least an inch thick:

Taking the bed down which exposes...
all this dust.
My tears immediately dried up as I faced the horror of my terrible housekeeping. I spent the next 30 minutes vacuuming. And in that time, I got my act together and had a good laugh at how gross the carpet was. And that translated into more good laughs throughout the day.

We got him moved out and settled in and shortly thereafter he started his Big Boy Job. And in the weeks since the move, I've been dry-eyed and pleased as punch for my first-born.

Who knew dust bunnies would help get me over the crying jag I've been on for, oh, four years?

I am thankful for the dust bunnies. I'm thankful for the way God used them to bring humor to the day I'd been dreading. But I think that little bit of reality calls for some serious spring cleaning because while it was comical at the time, I am so so totally grossed out that I can barely stand it. Watch out dust bunnies: I'm coming for you!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Feds for the Win

To say I’m no fan of government is an understatement. Huge understatement. Massive. But two weeks ago, our federal government came through for me in a big way and I must give credit where it’s due.

Last week I put Rebecca on a plane, waved goodbye and tried really hard not to be jealous that she was going to Paris with my mom and my sister’s family. But a funny thing happened on the way: her passport vanished. And no one realized it until she was at the gate, trying to check in for the international flight.

At the top of the Eiffel Tower
My sister called to tell me the news. And as soon as we hung up, I placed a phone call to Senator Gary Peters’ office. I started with the Lansing office, but the kind gentleman there directed me to the Detroit office, where they handle passport issues. I was immediately connected with Michael Tash, a Constituent Service Representative who helps people with issues related to federal agencies. Since my issue was with the Department of State, Mr. Tash was my guy.

I had no sooner told him my issue than he took my number and said, “I’ll get right on it and call you back.”

My cynical self thought, “Well, that’s the last I’ll hear of him.” I had barely finished the thought than my phone rang. Mr. Tash needed more information from me, which I gave him and he was off to the races again.

Long story short: my sister and her family flew on while my mom and Rebecca stayed in Atlanta. I flew down to Atlanta to go to the passport agency with them the following day since a parent of a minor must be preset to obtain a passport.* (Thank you, Dad, for flying for Delta which made my last-minute trip possible!) But I was not going to the office alone; Mr. Tash was a presence with me. He had called ahead, made an appointment for us, and because of his intervention, instead of waiting hours in line and then hours more for the passport, we waited 90 minutes total and had the passport in hand in time for Rebecca and Mom to catch the flight to France. They were only delayed by 24 hours.

In those 24 hours, Mr. Tash worked miracles. I don’t know how he did what he did but it is because of his hard work on our behalf that Rebecca was able to only miss one day of her European adventure.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mr. Tash. You made a difficult situation so much easier than it rightfully should have been.
Rebecca in front of the statue of Marquis de Lafayette. Man, can that guy rap...

*Thanks also to our Congressman John Moolenaar. While I was calling Senator Peters’ office, my sister was on the phone with Moolennar’s people, who were trying to make it possible for me not to have to fly to Atlanta. It became obvious that my presence would make things easier, so we did not end up needing the help they were offering, but they were more than willing to offer assistance. They even called the next day to make sure things had gotten worked out. Republicans and Democrats working hard for their constituents. Imagine that.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

No hugging. Absolutely none.

I have sworn off hugging. Well, not for all time, but certainly for this week.

I’m in Denver with Sean. He’s attending a training conference where he and several co-workers will be learning all about the fascinating world of training and… other stuff. I don’t pretend to know what they’re doing, but I do know that when I meet the co-workers, I will absolutely not hug any of them. I don’t care who they are or who I think they are - I will not go in for a hug. Just to be on the safe side, I may not even hug Sean. Because I am not having a repeat of the last time I went to a conference with Sean. Don’t remember? Here’s a reminder, from May 2014:

faux pas (/foʊˈpɑː/ plural: faux pas /ˌfoʊˈpɑːz/): a socially awkward or tactless act, especially one that violates accepted social norms, standard customs, or the rules of etiquette.

I am trying to recover from a faux pas I committed this morning. Sean and I are in Orlando; he’s on a business trip and I was able to tag along. (When your husband’s business trips are usually to Detroit, you jump at the chance to go to the one in Florida.) A few of his coworkers also brought their wives, a fact important to the aforementioned oops.

This morning, I went to the conference area with Sean to see where he’d be and plan our meeting spot for lunch, which I could attend with his team. That’s when several of his co-workers arrived – there were a few men and one woman. The men all had nametags on, but I didn’t see one on the lady. So as introductions were made, I shook hands with the men, and, assuming the woman was one of the wives, went in for a hug. Until I saw her nametag sticking out from behind her jean jacket. As soon as I spotted the nametag I tried to switch to a handshake, but it was too late. I was hugging the Salaried Safety Supervisor.

Upon realizing my mistake, I quickly got involved with small talk, hoping against hope the hug would go unremembered. And thankfully, the meeting began, so I got out of there as quickly as possible.

What to do now?! I’m supposed to meet up with them for lunch. And again for dinner.  And it’s only the first day – we’ll be together all week! I’m trying to figure out if I need to go hug everyone to make it seem less weird and sexist that I assumed the only woman was a wife or if I should just head back to the airport to make things less awkward for my sweet husband…

Let’s  think this through: on the one hand, I could go with hugging everyone. I am Southern, after all. On the other, I could have Sean tell them I got sick and won’t be joining them for anything. Which wouldn’t be a lie because I do feel pretty nauseous.

This is starting to feel like a Seinfeld episode.

Guess I’ll just suck it up, go meet them for lunch and pretend the whole thing never happened. Perhaps the lecture on Safety in the Workplace will have been so thrilling that they’ll have forgotten everything that happened this morning.

A girl can hope. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Considering how many tissues I trashed during his high school graduation, the fact that I did not shed one single tear during Michael’s college graduation was a major accomplishment. I thought I had conquered the tear ducts. I was in control of the crying! Hip, hip, hooray!

I was wrong.

Seems those tear ducts must have felt neglected over graduation weekend and last week they decided to make up for lost time. Was I alone in my home where I could cry in peace? Was I alone in my car? Was I at least somewhere alone? Oh, of course not. I was at the bank. The bank of all places! 

Michael and I went to local branch to separate our accounts. Ten years ago he opened a checking account under our names. Each time I checked my account online, I could check his. At one point that was helpful; now, it’s completely unnecessary. Plus, now that he’s getting paid for his big boy job, it feels a little mom stalker-ish. And that is not the vibe I’m going for right now.

When we got to the bank, I confidently walked up to the teller, explained that my son just graduated from college and we needed to take him off our account and have him open his own. The minute the words left my lips I teared up. Big, glassy tears that just spilled right onto my checks. The teller stood there dumbfounded. Michael, now used to the spectacle, just patted me on the back.

The teller walked away to get some paperwork – I think she just left to give me a chance to compose myself. And I did. Thankfully there was a box of tissues at one of the teller stations, so I was able to blot away the moisture and get myself together. By the time she came back with a new signature card, I was calm, cool and collected. We finished the business at hand and walked out the door.

I would like to say that was an isolated incident. I would really, really like to, But when we got home, I had to call the moving company to schedule the truck. When the lady on the phone said, “Because this move is over 40 miles, we consider it a long-distance move…”

Thank goodness for tissues.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Work on the long game

Dear Michael,

Twenty-two years ago, you made me a mom. Last weekend, you made me a MOECG, a Mom of Employed College Graduate. (Kudos to your Uncle Rodney for that acronym.)

The speakers at your graduation ceremony made a big ol’ deal about all the hard work you and your fellow graduates put into your degrees. There was a lot of talk about how successful y’all will be. Even the man who offered the benediction prayed for favor and success for you and your fellow graduates. As I’ve written before, graduating and getting a job has always been the expectation in our family. And the fact that you’ve done just that is a wonderful accomplishment! We are very proud of you.

But as you move into this new phase of your life, you will be tempted to find fulfillment in new experiences or new stuff. Your job and your new apartment will bring you happiness for sure. Having the resources to take care of your own expenses is, indeed, fabulous. (Dad and I are quite excited that you can take care of your own expenses!) There is much good to be found in your job and apartment and 20-something experiences – they will hopefully bring you much happiness.

But as you’ve heard us say more times than you can count, your happiness is not our main concern. We actually care very little about your happiness. Don't get me wrong - we don't want you to be unhappy. We aren’t cruel! We just prefer to focus on your long game, which is why we're way more concerned with your comfort. And what is your only comfort in life and death?

That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.

Does that preclude having a sweet new job? Does it mean you shouldn’t enjoy that new TV you bought with your very own money that you’ll put in your cool apartment? Nope to both. But it does mean that you should hold all these gifts loosely, knowing that when you go through a time of difficulty – be it a job loss or a heartache or some other issue that is sure to come as you live in a fallen world – that nothing happens to you that catches God off-guard. Everything, the ups and the downs, good and bad, works together for your good.

So enjoy your first apartment. Enjoy the job in the dream location. Enjoy these once-in-a-lifetime experiences. But remember to give thanks to the one who provides them. Put your hope in Him and seek every opportunity to give God the glory.

Much love,

On the way in...

On the way out - all graduated!