Monday, December 31, 2007

A New Look

I added a couple of fun elements to my blog tonight. If you ask me how I rung in the New Year, now ya know...Take a look at the ClustrMap at the top. It will automatically register your visit on the map based on the location of your IP address. This should be fun! And at the bottom I added a pregnancy ticker. I picked the brown baby since our kids never seem to know what color our babies are going to be... LOL!

John Michael's Betrothed

My Internet friend, Sheila, and I were pregnant together twice - the first time I with John Michael and she with Grace, the second time I with David and she with Olivia. When JM and Grace were born we jokingly decided to bind them in betrothal. Our families have lots in common - they are a strong Catholic family with 7 children and on the Feingold diet. I couldn't do any better than that for JM! And, while Sheila and I have never met IRL, I know she'd make a great mother-in-law for him.

Well this year Sheila and I decided to exchange Christmas cards. Her picture arrived in the mail a few days ago and I handed it to JM yesterday and explained to him that he is "betrothed" to Grace. Once he understood what that meant, he grabbed that picture from me and carried it around for about the next 5 hours. Finally he came to me with consternation written all over his face and wailed, "I don't want to be married to Grace!" Then he tried to rip the picture. I stopped him by assuring him that it is just a funny thing and this really isn't set in stone. He tried to spit on the picture and we got him to stop worrying about it by suggesting that he think of something else bright in his future - like opening his own Food Store. Of course, mention of a Food Store put stars in his eyes and he immediately forgot all about Grace and started asking questions like "Would all the food be mine?" "Could I pick the food for the store?" "Will I make lots of money?"

This afternoon we were in the car together traveling to the Food Store when I brought up this whole issue of marriage again. "Why are you so upset about marrying Grace, John?" He looked at me with that My Poor Stupid Mother Doesn't Know Anything Look and said, "Mom, I don't have any money. I can't get married until I make some money." "So once you open your food store and make some money, then you can marry Grace?" He rolled his eyes at me, sighed heavily and said, "Yes." Apparently, I just don't know much about the responsibilities of caring for a future spouse.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Our Geriatric Dog

A friend of mine sent this to me. You may have seen it before - typical email funny forward that' s probably been circulating for years but it was new to me. The hilarious thing is that our poor 13 year old Pooka (a golden retriever, not a dalmation, however!) spends an inordinate amount of time across the street at "Auntie Renee's" house. She escapes there whenever she can...

An old, tired-looking dog wandered into the yard. I could tell from his collar and well-fed belly that he had a home. He followed me into the house, down the hall, and fell asleep in a corner. An hour later, he went to the door, and I let him out. The next day he was back, resumed his position in the hall, and slept for an hour. This continued for several weeks. Curious, I pinned a note to his collar: "Every afternoon your dog comes to my house for a nap." The next day he arrived with a different note pinned to his collar: "He lives in a home with ten children -- he's trying to catch up on his sleep."

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Hershey Park Happy!

Our big Christmas gift to the kids was a trip to Hershey Park for their Winter CandyLane Event. They had about 30 of the rides open, lights all over the rides and the park, free hot chocolate and arcade game with the admission ticket and a Christmas show (which we didn't see). We tried to take along Aunt Great and her family but that didn't work out so we got Ben's buddy Dan to tag along. The whole durn crowd went - including Noah and the twins who ended up more like luggage than participants. Surprisingly, it wasn't too cold, although the temperature did drop considerably once darkness settled in but that was the best time to be there as all the kiddie rides had cleared out and the littles could ride to their hearts' content. I was quite surprised at just how crowded it was up until that point, though.

I didn't get to go on many rides due to the presence of Pickles in my womb so I did a lot of babysitting of strollers. David managed to scare the willies out of me on the one ride I did manage - the Sky Ride - which is sort of like a ski lift which carried us over the sidewalk, the river and through a rollercoaster from about 6 stories off the ground. Ruth and I had him between us and he spent the whole ride leaning as far as he could get over the rail, throwing his arms out in front of him and singing "I believe I can fly!" Frightening.

We took the whole crew on a couple of the rides. Of course we all had to do the carousel (or the Mary Go Round as Miriam likes to call it) and the Kissing Tower. I tried to convince the boys that they had to kiss something on the kissing tower but it seems Daddy and Mommy were the only ones smooching. The bigs had some time with Adora to seek out and ride the big rides - the bumper cars were their first destination, followed by the big swings, the monorail and the Reese's Challenge which was a big hit (Daddy got to go on that one too).

You can tell where I hung out since those are the only photos we have to show for our day.

We punctuated the rides with a stop for free hot chocolate in Mine Town along with everybody getting a shot at the Ring Toss game. We had coupons for the hot chocolate and I brought along homemade hot chocolate for our Feingold targets. Dinner was hotdogs and Fritos packed in a back pack and eaten next to the bumper cars. We ended the day with a late night romp into the Chocolate Factory for the tour ride which everyone loved. It doesn't seem to matter how old I get, I always love the feeling of being a little roasted coca bean....

All in all, it was a wonderful day - very fun for the whole family.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Thinking In Pictures

(I lifted this image from amazon just to give credit where credit's due I suppose and to let you know that you can't really search inside the book from this photo!)

I've been wanting to write this post for quite some time now. I am reading an excellent book by Temple Grandin and I want to shout about it to the world. For those who don't know who she is, Temple Grandin, a brilliant engineer and an excellent writer, is diagnosed with high functioning autism. She designs slaughter houses and other machinery which processes animals for various purposes. In this book, Thinking in Pictures, she describes how she sees the world. It is like having an interpreter for my son. I am so thankful for her perspective and her ability to write clearly and with a healthy dose of humility and her own brand of humor.

The most striking thing to me is how she understands *herself* in relation to the rest of the world. For her, the study of how non-autistic people function is just that - a scientific study. She has used her amazing powers of observation to figure out how the non-autistic population thinks and is able to critically examine her own abilities to function in that world. Priceless. I couldn't pay any medical specialist enough to give me the information I've gleaned from this book (and so far I'm only 2/3 of the way through it). In fact, after years and years of reading about and researching autism, this is hands-down the most useful source I've ever encountered on the topic. Her definition of the autism spectrum is the most concise I've ever seen. She also covers such topics as sensory differences, medications, empathy and autism, her own design process, the visual abilities related to autism and even dating (in the chapter she's rather tongue-in-cheek titled "Dating Data"). This book is rich.

This is the first comprehensive source of information about autism I've ever encountered which is written entirely from the perspective of a person with autism. All else is merely speculation since it implies an understanding of the autistic thought processes without any first-hand knowledge (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is the first example that comes to my mind - I hated that book! *see note below). This is especially helpful to me since Philip's language skills and mental level will never allow him to articulate his thoughts so clearly. Ms. Grandin has given me lots to look for in his behavior and thought processes that will help us both relate to each other.

This isn't a new book - the edition I have was copyright 1995 - but it's one I've been meaning to get my hands on and now I'm sorry I didn't do it much sooner. If you have an autistic loved one, run to get this book! Even if you have a child with any related condition - sensory issues, a visual learner, brain injury - there are so many applications of her ideas here I can't list them all. Basically, if you have a child with special needs you will glean something from this book. I just can't recommend it highly enough. Thank you Temple Grandin for taking the time to share your insights! The world is truly a better place with you in it!

*The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time was supposedly written from the p.o.v. of a boy with autism. However, it was written by a typically functioning author who works with children with autism. The story very acurately portrayed how misunderstood the main character with autism was but, more importantly, how the main character clearly misunderstood the world around him. His world completely fell apart around him, mostly due to his own inability to relate to others and to pick up important social cues. I found it to so accurately highlight my own frustrations that I learned nothing about the boy's perspective. Believe me, I don't need anything that highlights my own frustrations with autism! What I need is something which helps me understand the "why's" of autistic behavior so that I can be a more understanding and compassionate parent. Temple's book fills that bill!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

This year was quite different for us as we still haven't settled on a new church home so we had the luxury of going wherever our whims took us. Last night we spent Christmas Eve with my family at their Episcopal church where my sister is the youth minister and my bil is the music leader. Heidi gave a wonderful children's sermon which culminated with the whole congregation giving their "hearts" to Jesus (little felt hearts she and her youth group had passed out ahead of time). She has a real gift for evangelism and for sharing the gospel with the little ones - it was fun to see her in action. We had dinner with Muff and Granddad and a Christmas Eve final Advent service around their wreath - it was just like old times. As a special blessing Muffy had tracked down our wedding pictures which had been lost in the fire and made us a beautiful wedding album -what a sweet treasure!

We came home and bedded everyone down in the basement (with the exception of the three crib-bound ones). Meanwhile, I shuffled around with armfuls of cereal boxes, fruit and juice boxes. Last year we began a tradition of giving each child a box of their favorite cereal for Christmas morning breakfast. The kids loved it so much, they insisted we do it every year and it keeps them busy in the basement with styrofoam bowls and little juice box straws while we get to sleep in a bit.

This morning, as usual, Daddy got up first, retrieved the baby and headed for the basement to torture the offspring while I took my time brushing my teeth and locating my slippers. By the time I got downstairs he had them pretty riled up and they were raring to get up the stairs. I had to torture them a bit more by only allowing them up bit by bit which drove JM to such distraction that he got to the basement door and pounded it in despair.

We finally let them go but we never really have mounds of gifts under the tree. On the way to the tree we had Noah put Baby Jesus in his manger.Then the kids ran into the living room to find it full of....puppies! A friend of mine graciously gave me a dozen Boyd's Bears stuffed puppies - just enough for each kid to have one. She also gave me enough new books for each kid to get a new book under the tree and, of course, there had to be clothing. The biggest hit, though, was probably the candy canes attached to the puppies' collars. Ben and Betsy and I found those at the Squirrel's Nest on our trip up to Delaware for Feingold approved candy. Nancy had special ordered them from Canada - red stripes and all! I don't know the last time my kids had real candy canes and it was like something out of an episode of Little House on the Prairie "Gee, Pa, real candy canes! Where did you find them?! Did you walk all the way to Canada in the snow for us?"

We took our time exhanging secret sibling gifts (for which they had done extra chores all through Advent to earn money to buy), getting dressed and then heading out the door back to Muffy's house.

They were eager to get to Muffy's house where they knew the bulk of their presents would be found in their stockings (another well-preserved tradition from my family). They weren't disapointed there, the bulk of their stockings holding enough Feingold-approved candy to last until Easter if they ration it well.

Every year Muffy and Granddad put a little something in each stocking and then take family pictures with the item-of- the-year. This year it was little flashlights and Jesus wrist bands and we even got everyone to almost smile for the picture.
We stuffed our faces with food, hung out with the aunts and cousins and then headed to the family gathering with Grammy and Tata and crowd. There we had more gifts, tons more food and the chance to visit with Becky and Tom and their two little cuties who had flown in from MN (although this a picture of Uncle Scott with his new little cutie).

We arrived home about 8 or 9, shuffled everyone off to bed and collapsed ourselves. Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night! May the season of Christ's Nativity resound in our hearts all year 'round!

The Christmas 2007 Christmas Letter

(Of course if you read my blog, none of this is news!)

Greetings to all our dear friends and family during this most joyous season of the year!

It has been another eventful year for the Klopcic's with lots of ups and downs, noise and business. It's tough to decide where to start!

I suppose the thing which occupied most of our family time this year was sports - with a couple of new, fun sports making their way to the weekly calendar. In the Spring, the girls tried out t-ball for the first time and decided their coach was so divine they would play this wonderful sport forever! I'm not sure they learned a whole lot but they loved those uniforms and getting cheered on around the bases. John Michael also tried out t-ball and decided soccer is more his sport - he's definitely JT's boy. Benjamin played both Spring ball and Fall Ball and had a blast. The Fall ball league was short a few teams so just two teams got together each Saturday morning and played each other. Ben enjoyed playing his favorite sport in a very laid back atmosphere. Also in the Spring, JT introduced us to the world of lacrosse -what a wonderful sport! As a rookie, he excelled on the field and really impressed his coaches. The look on his face the first time they told him he wasn't hitting other people hard enough was priceless! I think we're going to fast become a lacrosse family and we're looking foward to our second season this Spring. Philip has taken up bastketball which runs year 'round with the Discovery League. He's really enjoying being one of the best players on the court and has some delusions of playing for the NBA someday.

Over the Summer JT enjoyed a week of soccer camp with the Baltimore Blast players which got him in shape for the Fall soccer season. Although he wasn't on the most competitive team, he did play out to be one of his team's top scorers. He's still aspiring to play professional soccer and his coaches seem to think he has what it takes with a healthy dose of practice and determination. The rest of the Big Six attended jumproping camp where Ben and Philip really excelled. The girls came out of it with much improved skills and all of the Big Six decided to continue on with weekly classes. Mairs particularly has enjoyed watching them learn the same tricks she learned in her years as a part of an exhibition team way back when! Ben and JT have moved up another level and Ben is well on his way to being a part of the team. Ben and his Dad also spent several months in training for the county cross country series. Many of the children ran in at least one race - Ben, JT, Philip and JM ran in two with Ben coming out of his first race with a bronze medal and his second with a silver! All the other children met their goals which ranged from just finishing (David, JM and Betsy) to running the whole way without a walk (Philip). Somehow Ben also managed to get hooked to Alpine Climbing after a session at the Y's climbing apparatus. Jumpropes are a bit cheaper than climbing equipment though...

In the riding arena, Philip and Miriam traveled to the special olympics for the first time in June. They both did extraordinarily well taking home a handfull of gold, silver and bronze medals. Not bad for their first time out! In the Fall show at our riding school, Betsy took home Grand Champion for her division, with JM taking home Reserve Grand Champion and the others also were awarded many ribbons of various colors.

In the medical dept we've done pretty well considering our family size. Philip had major bone graft surgery, taking a piece of bone from his hip and using it to repair the final area of his cleft palate. He also had a lip revision to smooth out the appearance of his lip under his nose and then a second surgery to remove some scar tissue on the inside of his lip. He did manage to remove all of those stitches and will require a re-do as soon as he can prove that he won't pull that trick again! Ruth experienced her first major sickle cell pain crisis this summer. She was a real trooper with a strong desire to stay out of the hospital and we were able to manage the pain at home. But it was a doozy, lasting almost two weeks.

At the beginning of the year we announced that whoever turns an even age will get a birthday party with their friends. That divided it up evenly - 5 this year and 4 for next year. Philip kicked off the party season with his 10th birthday celebration at the neighbor's pool with a piratey theme. The party featured Cap'n Daddy and his Talk Like a Pirate contest and a dual shipwrecked pirate cake. Ben and JT helped to organize John Michael's 4 year old Bob the Builder party. Ben made a wonderful poster of Bob and had the children pin on various parts of construction attire. Next came Betsy's 6 year Princess Tea Party - the theme speaks for itself - which was followed by Miriam's horse party hosted by our riding instructor at the newly renovated barn. Daddy took over the plans for ten year old Ben's Knightly Adventure party - a live action role play event held at a friend's farm complete with a kidnapped princess, vicious attack goblins and a turkey leg feast. Next year should be a whole new adventure of even-aged partiers!

Adora and Nehemiah are still with us and plan to be for some time. Nehemiah and Nathan are now known affectionaly as the "twins" and are being raised as such, even down to the matching outfits. Adora has now completed 2 1/2 semesters at the local community college and she got her driver's licence. Our 21 year old "daughter" is now a family taxi driver in her "new" Mercury Villager she managed to buy (yep, all paid up already - could we be any prouder?!) from some kindly neighbors, making us a three car household. She is a treasure we plan to hold on to for a long time to come.

October brought some unexpected excitement in the form of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The family who runs the therapeutic riding program we attend was awarded a new house, indoor riding ring and renovated barn by the ABC network program. Our family became part of the "meet the family's world" segments of the show. We are likely to appear in a number of scenes when the show airs, supposedly on January 20th. Our children grew a special attachment to Rib Hillis who spent an inordinate amount of time rough-housing on the ground with them.

Some new adventures were to be had in our homeschool as well. JT and Ben entered a national stock market competition and have now learned to navigate circles around their mother within the stock world. They also participate in a monthly lego club and JT hopes to be able to join the competitive lego engineering team by the Fall of next year while Ben is enjoying filming stop motion animated flicks featuring lego min-figs. All of the Big Six participate in the Homeschool Choir, most recently performing a wonderful Christmas concert. Ruth and Philip especially seem to have a particular ear for music and we look forward to hearing much more from them! Of course all of the usual subjects are being mastered as well.

Fr. Joel and Mairs have made some changes in their lives. Last month, Fr. Joel happily got moved to a new project group at his software engineering job with UPS. In the church realm, he moved from Associate Pastor to Priest in Residence in order to focus more on being the priest of this crazy family which, we hope, will include a traveling family variety show somewhere down the road. The highlight of Mairs' job is schooling the children and facilitating a support group for other moms who homechool children with special needs. In her spare time, she's busy blogging all the family activities (and breathing).

Of course the annual missive wouldn't be complete without announcing our newest family members. Two year old Noah joined our household in July and, presuming the overcoming of some tremendous obstacles, will eventually be officially adopted by us. Noah comes with a 4 year old brother who will probably also become part of the clan down the road. Their custodial grandmother has become an unofficial grandmother to the whole crew and a close family friend. One complication in the adoption process has been the announcement of our 6th pregnancy. Mairs is due in June with our 6th homemade blessing! In case you're trying to count it up, with Noah, his brother and the new baby that makes 12! Add in Adora, Nehemiah, Sydney the cockatiel, Pumpkin the guinea pig, BoPo the hamster and Pooka the geriatric dog and you have a very busy household indeed!

Of course, none of this is possible without the prayers of our friends and family lifting us up daily. You are all an integral part of our family life and we feel and appreciate every prayer spoken, every warm thought directed this way and especially all of your kindnesses and love towards our whole household. God has been so gracious to surround us with such a tremendous network of support and love through those of you who hold this letter in your hands. And what better time to express our love to all of you than in this season when we contemplate the incarnation of our God in the Infant Christ. So many of you have been the embodiment of Christ to us and we do love you!

May God bless you and yours richly in the coming year. Thank you for being a part of our lives!

Fr. Joel, Mary, Miriam, JT, Philip, Ben, Ruth, Betsy,

John Michael, David, Noah, Nathan, Adora and Nehemiah

Please keep in touch with us! Visit Mairs' blog at Leave a comment and let us know you visited with us!

Sunday, December 23, 2007


David's been learning his letters and their sounds but apparantly he's not putting two and two together quite yet. He was looking at a personalized ornament on the tree today and he came to the following conclusion:

Look, this says J - O - H - N. Hey! That's spells my name! That spells David!

Friday, December 21, 2007


David is next up for an even-aged birthday party and he's been thinking long and hard about it. Now, his birthday isn't until August but that hasn't stopped his wheels from turning. We were in the car today and I was ignoring his constant car chatter until he piped up loudly


Yes, David.

When I have my next birthday, can I be six?

Well, no, David. You'll be four.

Oh, well, can I be six?

Why do you want to be six David?

Will I still get a party if I'm six?

Yes, David. That's an even number. You still get a party if you turn six.

Oh, good, then I want to be six for my next birthday.

But why can't you be four David? You'll still get a party if you're four.

But.....heavy sigh....we already *had* a four year old party!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Happy 7th Birthday to Ruth!

Well, Ruth didn't get a party except for the other 13 people who show up at our dinner table every night which seemed fine with her. She picked out pancakes, eggs and bacon for dinner (a popular dinner choice around here) which was enjoyed by all. After dinner we had chocolate cake with cashew butter icing. Ruth really doesn't like cake but she did enjoy blowing out her 7 candles. She got some gifts that she really enjoyed: A new stuffie from Muffy (hey! and it rhymes!) a computer game from the ever-popular Let's Ride series and a tea set were among her favorites. She was also entertained by Grammy and Tata who called from Ohio to sing Happy Birthday.
Happy Birthday Ruthie! May there be many blessings for you in your 8th year!!

Friday, December 14, 2007

The New Pickles

Suddenly I've been having very vivid memories of my college lunches. One of my favorites from the Bucknell caf was the vegetarian lasagne they served for the meat-challenged folks. I've never been a vegetarian but I was crazy about that lasagna. I mentioned it to my dear husband who responded with something like, "Ew. I think they just stuck a pan of Stauffer's in the oven and called it dinner." Hmmm...could be and it would seem that Pickles is ready to graduate from Pickles to something more...substantial. So I haunted the frozen food section of our grocery store and found this:

BINGO! Didn't I marry a smart man?! The picture exactly matched the one forming in my gastric memory bank as did the taste of it once I got it home and dug in. Pickles is now a happy camper....but I don't think I'm changing the name to Lasagna - baby's still Pickles!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Big Christmas Concert

The kids had their homeschool choir Christmas concert this evening. As usual, it was wonderful. Catherine, the choir director always manages to put together a great program. This year she had two choirs. It just so happened that the boys were in the Harmony choir (in blue) and the girls joined them for the whole choir. Here's a picture of the combined choir getting ready to sing together:
I love this picture. It makes the boys look so.....angelic - particularly JT who is very difficult to get good pictures of since he is camera shy. He had quite a number of speaking parts as well but the only picture I got of those was one of his retreating backside.
Philip and Ruth are proving to be quite the talented little singers. They both really have a knack for it. With a bit of work, they could become rather accomplished. Here's Philip singing his "O Holy Night" solo (if he'd only learn to open his mouth - I'm trying to get funding to get him private voice lessons and call it speech therapy)
and Ruth singing her solo:
Miriam got to star in the acting out portion of the program as her own personal hero, the Virgin Mary. She took her role very seriously.
Meanwhile, Betsy enjoyed her part as a donkey, singing "the donkey says hee-haw, hee-haw" most enthusiastically.
Ben, also had a solo as well as several speaking parts. He loves any opportunity to be in front of an audience - a true performer at heart!It's been a fun couple of days. Yesterday they did a dry run at the mall for the teeming masses of Christmas shoppers and then this evening's concert. I was quite proud of the whole choir. They worked hard and it paid off! And they got to sing about Jesus to the whole mall - how cool is that?!

Adora's Great Idea

I needed to go do our monthly shopping at BJ's but, well, I'm pregnant and things like that really tire me out. Adora, on the other hand, is finally done with her classes for the semester and is bored. So here's her great idea - "How about I go with you and we take everyone along?!" I believe the last time I suggested this I asked someone to beat me on the head with a hammer before I walked out the door but this time Adora suggested it so the idea picked up some momentum. We loaded everyone into the van and took off. In all honesty, once we got past JM whining because there were actually 4 people younger than him who took up the four seats in the two carts, the kids were pretty durn well behaved. David had some trouble keeping his hands to himself and off of Nehemiah and everytime Adora scolded him I reminded her just *whose* idea it was to bring them all along.

We filled those two carts, got in line, loaded all the groceries onto the conveyer belt. While we were unloading the groceries from the cart the gentleman in front of us was staring at our brood with a big grin on his face. "Are they all yours?" Ah, here we go again. "Well, sort of all. They're all part of my household." "How many children do you have?" "I'm pregnant with number eleven." "Wow, that's fantastic! Just think of it...when they all grow up your family can obtain world domination!" Huh? That was a new on me and I liked the sound of it! "Yeah, world domination...that would be great!"

I was thrown out of my reverie when the cashier asked me for my BJ's card. Oh, sure, let me just get that wallet! For some reason I had my checkbook but no wallet (the two are generally inseparable friends). Since I did have my checkbook the cashier sent me to the customer service desk to look up our membership number. While I stood at the desk, Adora ran to the car to check for my wallet there and Philip got put in charge of the carts (hey desperate conditions call for desperate measures). Of course my name was nowhere to be found in the BJ's computer system (nevermind that we've been members there for about the past FIFTEEN YEARS!). So I was handed a temporary membership number. Good. Moving on. The cashier finished checking us out and got to the point where she was going to push the button to ring up the total. "Are you ready?" She said. "Uh, sure." I couldn't really figure out why she was making such a big deal out of giving me the total. "676 dollars, 65 cents" I got out my checkbook and started writing the check while she looked at me increduously. "You weren't surprised were you? You didn't flinch." Uh, no, why should I flinch at an almost $700 grocery bill? I have 14 people living in my house, lady. (ok, I didn't say it but I thought it.)

So I wrote out the check and handed it to her and....the cash register refused to accept it. ...sigh...another manager called over (Fortunately the elderly gentleman stuck behind us was most forgiving) who informed all of us that there is no way to accept a check on a temporary membership...grrr... but have I mentioned the fact that we've been members here for FIFTEEN YEARS! But really I was completely exasperated with ME for forgetting my wallet in the first place. A new manager was called over and a new search begun for our membership. This time it dawned on me that fifteen years ago I was still going by my hyphenated name (yet another reason not to hyphenate your name ladies - so that when you get tired of doing it and just sort of drop it over the years you don't forget that you once did it and had every document - legal or otherwise - printed with that stupid hyphenated name on it!). The hyphen worked, my membership was approved as was my check and we were off to home! But I was pretty much done for the day. It took all I could do to rally myself for the big choir concert.