It Matters

Dear Mom and Dad,

Remember how you wished like nobody’s business that there was even any small indication that your words and efforts were making a difference?  Especially when it seemed as if you had the most thankless (not to mention endless) job on the planet with nothing to quantify it?

Those days when time after time (quite possibly the 3,459,812th time) you packed everybody up, including 2 or 3 friends, for a youth event or special evening? When reality stated that you would rather be home in your own pajamas relaxing and enjoying some much deserved down time?

Let’s talk about costuming and the planning, shopping for, and eventual execution thereof? And I’m not simply referring to the holiday beginning with “H”.  Rather, I’m encompassing every outing, Boy and Girl Scout function, church youth group extravaganza, and whatnot…where they pled for that extra effort so their team could “win?”

Finally, there are the books.  Endless stacks, piles, and myriads of sing-songy, rhyming types that when you are weary, make you long for an adult book group.

And the Where’s Waldo picture books.  If I had life experience for every time I went looking for him…chances are the best of the best detective agencies would clamor for my hire.

Maybe, just maybe, you are beyond most of the above…in the home stretch with only one or two children left under your roof. Your days consist of “checking in” with young adults while still directing older children. And yet at times, you still wonder.

Until you receive a text the likes of this:

“Helping our youth group leaders with a Real-Life Waldo event. So fun!”

Accompanied by this amazing picture:

Where's Waldo Reagan and Tabitha1

And in that moment, once again, you are reminded that example trumps words every time, that what you are saying is molding, shaping and leaving an indelible impression on hearts and minds; serving to shape future values and priorities. And that your influence is stretched beyond yourself, producing residuals beyond anything you could have ever been paid to do in the “here and now.”

What you’re doing today and every day?

It Matters.



You know how you go along in life as the parents/adults?  And often you “think” you know what this kid or that kid would be great at or should possibly do?  And then…then? Well take a look at this! I’m still in shock, and it’s the very best kind! The punk stellar young man on the left, is the son of my friends Cathy and Dave Brown. Chad attended FanFest for Mariners baseball last Saturday, and snagged a spot in the Roots Sports booth.  Holy Cow!  It’s like he’s been a commentator for years!  My older kids were so pumped,while my youngest (rabid Mariners fan) sat with his mouth hanging open. Literally.

Just goes to show you…you simply never know.  Life is full of interesting things.  And chances are, you really haven’t a clue as to the talent, potential and possibilities belonging to those individuals with whom you live.  What a privilege it is to dwell with greatness.  It is an even greater one to watch it unfold!

While it is often said that parenting isn’t for whimps…it is most definitely for the privileged!

GO CHAD! He’s got the “head nod” part down really well, dontcha think?!



This could possibly be the longest, biggest “sports blitz” I have ever been on in my life! Over and out.


Out On A Limb

The title is where I’m headed today.

For you see, I know quite-near-next-to-nothing about the NFL. And yet, Sunday’s game has left me very troubled in a lot of ways. This is quite an understatement.

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks

For me, there are issues involving “the incident” with Richard Sherman that come from a definite rookie angle; but are the topic of much conversation in the Helm’s Household, as well as out of it; for I have texted voraciously with Son #1 and others.

In the spirit of the Leadership Education principle “You, Not Them,” I have a confession to make. It involves a basketball game in 1993 that my brother was coaching.  I was visiting Seattle with my two oldest (and only at the time) sons. My brother invited us to ride the bus to the game, thinking that the boys would love it. They did. (At least on the way there.)

Perhaps the game became rather intense, and perhaps I felt that one of the refs was blind (my brother Tim later confirmed he was, but that is still to this day beside the point) and perhaps I stood to my feet and screamed this fact, until the principal of the school left his post on the other side of the gym; taking his time to get to where I was seated, asking me sincerely if I needed to step outside.  He was absolutely right in what he did, and I was mortified. So was my brother. I remember one of the kids on the bench choosing to seize that momentary awkward silence in which the entire game stopped, and everyone’s eyes were on me by stating, “Geez, lady, you have serious problems. This is only a game!” That bus ride home was awkward at best and I was very alone in my seat near the back.

It is still not one of my finer life moments by any means. And there have been others not related specifically to sports.

I do have a small measure of comfort in the fact that my brother, Tim, (who clearly can no longer defend himself, but could also not deny one thing here in print) has been kicked out of many a game; using up his quota of technical fouls.  His reputation for quietly and professionally goading refs and other coaches lives on in infamy.  Son #3 and I were laughing last evening over the fact that during one particular visit with my brother,while at a high school game, he had mentally uttered to himself, “What the h*ll is your problem?!”

Be that as it may, I believe we are faced with some big ones.

For after Richard Sherman’s “unprofessional outburst” (and it was, there is absolutely no question,) a fire storm within social media venues everywhere ignited.

Sadly, the blaze continues and has burned both bridges and opportunities in its pathway down the slippery slope of things not even pertaining to football.

Leadership Education also encourages knowledge that is both broad as well as deep.  I have zero depth in the world of the brown pigskin ball, other than what my brother Tim, my father, and my BFF Cathy have graciously passed along.  In an effort to understand a wee bit about the game, I read this book,

Tony Dungy

and had many a discussion with Tim about its contents.  It was a wonderful, insightful and eye-opening read and I highly recommend it. Since then, more than once, I have heard a zealous but well-meaning parent declare, “I would never want my child to go into politics! Oh no! A career in sports is where we’ve got them headed!”
I laugh, for I can’t decide which is more fraught with political strife: the career or a professional game!

Somehow, in today’s America, the fan/observer/enthusiast has come to be expert, gospel-truth-providing political pundit; taking the convenient form more often than not, of an anonymous-but-influential package.

Know this: I am not defending poor sportsmanship or unacceptable behavior. But there is plenty of it coming from the 12th man, and they aren’t just Seahawk’s fans.

The 12th man in my book, is the crowd that weighed in and then, from the comfort of their own easy chair, complete with an array of snacks only an arm’s length away; began fueling an age-old fire, that in many arenas is still blazing.

It concerns me that inappropriate behavior somehow managing to be redefined as expert opinion or even “fact” can be manipulated and reworked into equally absolute truth with influence, by those all too quick to seek immunity, safety and absolution behind a keyboard and a screen.

I know from personal experience, being a passionate person who shares opinions and ideologies too freely at times, that there are simply those moments, when after the fact; one wishes they had done things differently.  I can’t speak for anyone other than myself, but I find it horrifying that a gross error of judgment escalates to blanket statements encompassing things one really knows very little about, and never will. And just that quickly, gaining even more followers, also armed with blanket-statements-and-stereotypes-turned-truth, it focuses relentlessly on an individual’s ethnicity and stereotypical prejudice which still, after all these years, slides too easily off both tongue and fingertips…despite yesterday’s holiday being all about honoring the headway this man made for the cause.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Undoubtedly, professional athletes have significant influence over youth in America. Who am I kidding?  They have influence over all of America as a culture!

But do they honestly possess influence at its greatest?  It is my opinion that the answer is no, for real genuine relationship trumps iconic moments of glory every time.

Face-to-face, consistent, accountability is what is life changing in the end. And what kids (mine in particular) see me living, texting, writing, and what their ears hear me saying about and to others, is the greatest influence to abolishing hyped up, misdirected fear there is. Dr. King was all about this particular angle and made staggering headway using it towards fear’s demise.

Fear serves no one well. Responding to inappropriate actions with further inappropriate action, gives way to an even greater foothold where it is concerned. It limits and produces myopic vision that sees snippets and parts rather than the whole.

Fear feeds on opinion rather than fact. It takes root quickly and tenaciously where stereotypes of others based on culture and color are used to qualify those opinions whether they are relevant to occurring actions or not.

The oldest of my children asked me after the principal walked away that day, “Mom, are you in trouble?”

I meekly and humbly replied, “Yes.” It went far deeper than that one word answer.

One of Webster’s definitions of bravery is “showy display, magnificence.” Richard Sherman’s prowess and play are certainly in that category, are they not?

Wisdom, on the other hand, which is defined as: “a wise decision, good sense showing in a way of thinking, judgment or action”, seems to be what is lacking. Not just on the part of the athlete, but a lot of 12th man individuals who continue to weigh in.

Perhaps pursuing impact through relationships with the power of our personal influence in mind would serve to honor the legacy of Dr. King’s dream. A dream, referenced often, and revered much, that involved abolishing fear so that understanding could reign.

Let’s be leaders who stick to the real issues, readily admitting fault when there is a need.

Courage: it “involves qualities of the spirit and personal conduct.”

In the future, even when I “lose it”, have need to apologize and own my errors, may it always be void of color.


Linden tree

You know how you attend any number of large gatherings, and someone invariably takes to the podium, announcing that they have a few housekeeping items?

What in the holy heck DOES that really mean?  You’re generally in a hotel, surrounded by people being paid to accommodate you, and this is the best we can do for this title?

Well, today, is just a quick rant on my part, 14 days into this new year.

I went from a happy-but-significant post about my brother , commitment, friendship and the power of traditions, to the following statement on a photo:

“There comes a point when you have to realize that you’ll never be good enough for some people. The question is, is that their problem or yours?”

A bit of a wind suck/energy drain, is it not?  And yet, if you will allow me, I think it needs to be addressed just a bit further.

In recent days, I have had a rather daunting series of negative, critical, and unsolicited input regarding any number of topics; but inclusive of: my personal intents and actions,(albeit misinterpreted) business decisions, children and their choices, several of my personal choices…you get the idea.  And have I mentioned this is only a partial list?

As I see it…

Decisions, priorities, choices and convictions should reflect the unique, significant and beautiful diversity of your own life and calling.  It is honestly baffling to me how many opinions, influences from peers, and societal expectations, influence often significant choices and personal actions.  If we “go against” any of those expectations by honoring conviction that is personal…and lo and behold it works out…then we are simply “lucky”, or better yet…actually admired for not listening in the first place!

Don’t get me wrong.  I believe that criticism can be and often is, a wonderful tool that is there to mold, shape and influence. It can be a catalyst for an idea, which possibly gives birth to a concept; ultimately even bringing about change.  I’m talking abut criticism that is there for the purpose of building up rather than the kind that was wielded with destruction as the intent of choice.  They are very different beasts indeed.

Charting the course of one’s life in order to have the end result be a reward of significance and making a difference is serious business.  And it involves evaluation, engaging and encouragement on many levels.

Perhaps if everyone spent as much time analyzing PERSONAL intent, work ethic, commitment, and conviction…the need to “keep house” contingent on the approval of others, could give way to greatness occurring on a regular basis that emphasized an extroverted focus rather than an introverted neurosis.

You have but one life. Live it, love it, and lead in such a way, that your own house is in order.

Oh, and know this: great leadership doesn’t sacrifice conviction and excellence for popularity; whether or not people of significance are doing it.

If you aren’t being criticized by someone, chances are…you aren’t risking enough.

And someone needed to hear this today.  Possibly me.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I have some further personal housekeeping to do!


Reality Is Often Humorous

Blogging  actually all forms of social media are often interesting.  People can sterilize, manipulate and stage their lives in such a way that things look darn near perfect.  But in reality, they’re not.  No really, this applies to everyone. Yes, even that one individual you are currently thinking about. 

I am blessed with an amazing family.  A family that is loyal, strong, talented, and well…not perfect. Regardless, if nothing else, they are hilarious.

Yesterday consisted of a doctor’s appointment for my father, followed by a visit to a notary, (also for my parents) and some errands.

Son #3 was at the house with our two youngest boys.  This can go either way, as evidenced by the following text message response to my inquiry of:

“How’s it going?  Everything okay?”

Son #3: “We’ve been VERY productive!”

Austin's Compressor Shot1

“What happens when we’re the only ones home and the “adult” at the house has just gotten a new air compressor!”

I hope this makes your personal confidence where parenting, education, and all things responsibility soar!

Clearly, the term adult here is referenced very, very loosely. Carry on, friends.



Hello, Fall!

Fall Leaves in Kalispell, MT1

October’s poplars are flaming torches lighting the way to winter. ~Nova S. Bair

These past few days

I had the immense pleasure and privilege of taking this photograph myself, of standing in leaves being blown about by gusty winds, while breathing in air crisp and cold;

seeing pumpkins displayed on porches in different configurations, some carved others not.

This week, Halloween is here!  I’ve seen the donning of costumes early in anticipation of Thursday’s celebration, and the changing of young minds almost as frequent as the changing of said clothing, whether homemade or store bought.

I love Fall and all that it brings.

So very grateful!

Tattoo Parlor Trivia, the final visit

Yesterday afternoon, Son #3 and I, went in for his final visit to the Tattoo Parlor. ( Please, please, Jesus, let it be so!)

In the spirit of “Love to Learn,” coupled with “I-Teri-ALWAYS-learn-something-and-generally-get-taken-down-a-peg-or-two-in-the-process”, I share the following:

Ever wondered about the bookcases in the tattoo parlor?  Better yet…were you even aware of the fact that there ARE books and bookcases?!

I present the following:

Tattoo, round 21

I humbly submit, that perhaps the lack of 30-40 bodies sprawled out everywhere waiting to be “inked” served to assist some of today’s discoveries.


Tattoo, round 22

Tattoo, round 23

Your mind could take this collection of literature in a lot of different directions.

I apologize for the somewhat blurry presentation, as I was trying to be discreet. Again, today, this was rather difficult as it was merely myself, Son #3, and the guys. Four of them. Along with one other patron who was finishing up.

Otherwise?  It was an empty shop.  Apparently, mid-week in the middle of October is a prime time to go if you don’t want to wait.  (Mark that down somewhere in case you need it.)

Back to the books. Amongst those catching my eye:

Michelangelo~ Seriously.

Bottom Line’s Herbal Remedies

2 books on Marilyn Monroe and one on Hepburn

Oxford’s Dictionary Thesaurus combo

Farsi (Persian)



Rembrandt~Seriously again.


Become a Better You

The Filmgoer’s Companion

Sunlight and Shadows

The Mission of Art

Mastering Jujitsu~ While this makes perfect sense if you are experiencing this particular environment, I’m still not sure I really want to know, thanks.

I was greeted quite warmly by my buddy, Ray, along with Tito, who was just finishing a lunch consisting of serious nachos.

“Hey, Mrs. Helms!”

It takes a few minutes to set up for “the act’, and we were there for “touch up” and word addition.

The Halloween candy bowl on the counter was surprisingly normal and housed those cute little boxes of Dots…the downfall of a mixed variety candy bag for me.

“Come on back! Grab a seat!”

Ray pulled up a rolling chair for me RIGHT next to his work station.

As if to signify my presence, Snoop Dog began the thump,thumpity, thump. (Lord.Have.Mercy.)

Me: “Did you recover from the ‘Day the World Got a Tattoo Day’, Ray?”

“Man, was that brutal.  We tattooed for 3 days.” An instant vision of people sleeping in the parking lot flashed through my mind.


“We gave rain checks for waiting in line, which should explain the carry over.”

Tattoo, round 24

“Everything in these words spelled correctly and all, Mrs. H?  You checked?”

Yet another vision (nightmare actually) of those photos of dyslexic and inadvertent omission of letters tattoos loomed before my eyes.

Me: “Yes, Ray, it’s all good.”

“Glad to see the nice, clean, font, bud.”

While Ray got to work, I was frantically seeking the common ground. Searching…searching….searching…

 Son #3 was totally relaxed, head bobbing to that infernal thumping  er, beat.

And there it was…the glorious ice breaker!

Tattoo, round 2, beatles1


Thank you John, Paul, George and Ringo…for multiple generations, some of whom not even really liking you, can engage over holding your hand, driving your car, and letting it be!

Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow!  A rather dichotomous song choice, yes, but nevertheless common ground!

I thought I took a picture of Son #3 and Rockin’ Ray face-to-face, smiling broadly. Sadly, it will forever remain in my own mind.  But it was beautiful nonetheless, for it sparked a discussion for the next hour about favorite bands, concerts, life, and a suggestion that perhaps drugs could enhance the experience.

Son #3: “I think I’m good, thanks.”

Ray to me: “I was kidding you know, Mom.”

To which I replied: “Actually, you weren’t, and I think I’ve pretty much got your number.”

Ray: “I’m certain you do.”

Tito is now on a couch in the front playing video games.

I inquired as to whether or not this was indicative of a daily ritual.

Ray:”I HONESTLY do NOT do that!”

And…those of you who really know me, knew this was coming…wait for it….

“Ray, I really must know if you’ve ever read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.”

He stopped, looked up and smiled with his whole face.  A handsome, beautiful face and smile, might I add.

Laughing, “Know why I have Frank on my neck?  It was my grandfather’s favorite, and I did it to bug my mom because she had feelings about a neck tattoo.  Frank got her, though because of her dad.”

(Lord, they not only walk among us in large numbers, they FIND ONE ANOTHER THROUGH AN UNSPOKEN FORCE OF NATURE.)

Son #3 is smirking at me, which I chose to blatantly ignore.

Me:”Well, you should read it.  It is quite a classic.”

“I’ve been told that, and you’re right.  You know, I really DO enjoy reading.”

Tito is now at my side, “Hey, I have quite a few red Dots in this box. Want them?”  He rocked my world and melted my heart all in the same moment.

Son #3: “This looks tight! I have to tell you that I was going for the straight medical symbol in the octagon, black with no shading.  My mom steps in and orchestrates this entire design, telling me it must look good!”

Ray is really enjoying this twist of events, where a rather “June Cleaver-esque” individual (relatively speaking) has just been ratted out.

I admitted my guilt much to his extreme pleasure, while Son #3 admits to following Ray’s work and that of others at Cactus Tattoo on Instagram. ( Deep, cleansing breaths.)

They’re discussing a tattooed index finger. ( I honestly can’t make this stuff up.)

Ray states, “That finger would be mine.”  He’s now finished with the reworking , as well as the new lettering, and takes off his gloves, placing the proof in front of us to see.” I actually did this myself.” (of course you did, RayMOND, thought in my most motherly tone!)

“You know, young people come in here and want me to do their fingers and hands.  I always ask them if they have figured out life and what it is they want to do. I won’t tattoo hands.

When we were about to lose our house, I went out to get a third job. Because of my hands, they wouldn’t even hire me at a fast food place; despite the fact that I said I would work the grill.”

Silence, while he kept looking down.“My sister is going to college.  I’m so proud of that fact.  She’s working hard.”

Me: “Did you lose the house, Ray?” He is visibly touched that I cared enough to ask.

“Nope!  My grandfather sacrificed all he had to purchase that home, and there’s no way I could let that happen.  But I have family that won’t pull their weight.  You know how you leave and things are cleaned up because you did it, but when you come home, they’ve been sitting there all day doing nothing, and there are dishes and things everywhere? It isn’t right.”

Tito from the couch: “This game is work.  It really is!”

We’re now finished, and in the in-between time I’ve also learned that Ray underwent major surgery at 6 months old, to create a soft spot he failed to be born with.

It is amazing what is accomplished when the common ground is found.

“I really don’t want to charge you much for today, Mrs. H. I mean, we have a shop minimum, but it’s okay.  I’m good.”

I paid him full price. “I appreciate both you and your work, Ray.”

There was that smile again.

As we left Tito yelled, “I can’t even look at you after that work ethic assessment, Mom! Have a great day!”

Son #3: “You were just referred to in an endearing tone as “Mom” at the local tattoo parlor.  Bet you never thought THAT was going to happen.”

True. But I am both moved and grateful that it did.

Influence: Where you are, for the time you’re there, and above all…Genuinely love.

That’s some trivia that isn’t so trivial after all.

Tattoo complete11








Seize The Moments




Today’s post is inspired by a lot of reflective thought about the brevity in the seasons of life.  This evening, I finished a book that I revisited for my TJEd book group.  In some ways, it still seems like yesterday that we were reading it together, Sons #1-#3 and I.  Tonight I had to text one, to inform him that I had finished the last two chapters with nearly the same number of tears as I did all those years ago. Sons #2 and #3 will be discussing this book tomorrow evening, only this time, rather than as children, they are young men.

Press on, dear ones.  The days are long, but the years are short.  The tyranny of the urgent is always a vice, pressing in to consume.  Slow down.  Breathe. Savor the moments…for they are, indeed what becomes the representation of our lives.


I used to race, I used to hurry,
I used to fret and frown and worry,
My children thought they had new names–
“Hurry Up” and “We’re Gonna Be Late”!
Even when we were at home–
Laundry, cleaning, answering phone…
I never had the extra time
To sit and cherish these children of mine.
But in His grace the Lord broke through
And I saw everything anew.
We have but only a few days here
To love and share and pull them near.
And while there’re things that must be done,
Our lives are like the setting sun.
While it’s light is burning bright,
Before we face, alone, the night,
Let’s stop the madness of this race–
Let’s take back a slower pace!
Look into those grinning faces,
Plan your day with lots of spaces,
Grab a hand and take a walk,
Listen while your children talk,
Let them show you childhood things,
Take turns laughing on the swing,
Snuggle up beside the fire,
Kiss the hurt left by a brier,
Meet them with a morning smile,
Go out and fish a little while.

Choose carefully how you spend your time.
Don’t wait until you suddenly find
The wrenching grief of a heart that aches,
Who loved too little and found out too late.

~ Kelly Crawford

Tattoo Sales, Bail Bonds, A One-Legged Man, and a 24 pack of Budweiser, conclusion

If memory serves me well, I left off with us standing on the sidewalk, outside of the tattoo parlor, watching invitation after invitation for the line to separate where those desiring piercings and “one word” tattoos were concerned. I failed, however, to highlight the opportunity that presented itself to enter the raffle for a tattoo that was the size of a baseball, to include my choice of both subject matter and placement.  Son #2 couldn’t resist: “I think Shakespeare would look attractive on my chest.” Lord, this was going nowhere fast.  Neither was the line.

Son #2, having an appointment that was beginning to loom upon this happy horizon, asked if we would like to stay and have him come back.  We had no idea this was a possible all day affair.  In the time we had been standing there, roughly 6 people had come out of the shop. Never mind the fact that a 24 pack of Budweiser had gone in!  I couldn’t resist, knowing Son #2’s propensity to OCD when it came to irresponsibility that 1) could affect him personally and 2) germs/pathogens to which  he could be unnecessarily exposed.

Me: “Wow!  A 24 pack of Budweiser.  Let’s hope your assigned artist wasn’t thirsty, or you could end up in one of those epic tattoo failure pics.”

Son #2’s face drained of all color.

At this point, the local lemonade truck had pulled up and parked.  Not kidding.  Apparently the radio station came later.  I wasn’t around for their arrival.

Thinking perhaps this was ever-so-snarky, I padded my statement with, ” I was kidding.” It fell flat.

Thirty more minutes, and a deadline looming, I boldly declared to #3,” My time is worth more than the bargain.  How about I bring you back on another day?”

The line on the sidewalk had at least doubled in size and was snaking towards the street.

#3 replied, “Yeah, that may be better.  I think we have to have cash for this transaction, and you were hoping to use a debit card, yes?  There’s an ATM in the hookah shop, Mom.”

I wasn’t budging.  “There is possibly one in the Bail Bond office as well, son, but I can assure you I hope to ever set foot in one of them.” Oh, yes.  I foolishly used the “N” word again.

Apparently the downturn in the economy has, indeed, hit everyone, because the bail Bond office and the Payday Loan opportunity appeared to share space.  I didn’t get any closer to confirm.  My apologies.  I can confirm upon our next visit.  Oh yes, there will be one! I’m getting ahead of myself…

We made it all the way to the car, and received this text: “Hey, where did you go?  Come back, and come on in.”

#2: I have cash, Mom.” Note: He always does. “And I can come back and pick you up.”

With that, we walked back, went to the front of the line, and into the “parlor.”

Nick was behind the counter and greeted me enthusiastically. “Mrs. Helms!  It’s great to see you!”  I felt like Eddie Haskell from “Leave It to Beaver” was prepping me.

“You don’t have to worry about a thing! I’m hooking you up with one of the BEST!”

I was half lip reading, as I could hear about every other word above Snoop Dog’s thumping. There were people everywhere, lying, standing, sitting and measuring. Nothing could’ve prepared me for this. Son #3 wasn’t helping a whole lot at this point, either as he commented, “Wow, this is a smidge rough, isn’t it?”

Time to take charge.

Nick, who had clearly become a personal canvas for every possible competition and new technique, was assuring me of how great this was going to be.

“We bring in artists from lots of places to accommodate today’s traffic each year.  We’ll be here until at least 3:00 a.m.”

I had counted 6 open Buds.

“That’s really lovely Nick, and I’m happy for your boom, but two things: 1) I want someone you know personally, please. 2) “Budless” would also be appreciated.” He laughed. I didn’t.

Shortly thereafter we were introduced to Ray. I must admit, I was pretty caught up in the process this involved.

I was also introduced to this gentleman, who proudly showed me the diorama on his head, signifying the fact that he had gone from a life of poor choices and wrongdoing to one of redemption.  I was literally speechless. The tattoo had taken 4 hours.

Austin's Tattoo2

I found myself leaning heavily on the counter.

I managed to move to our station.

Here’s Eddie Haskell aka Nick, a picture of excitement and hospitality.

Austin's Tattoo3

I was dying to ask Ray if he had enjoyed Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” immensely, but I refrained.

I was about to get quite a lesson.

Austin's Tattoo4

Ray: “So I take it this is a medical tattoo. What’s your story?”

What a simple but profound thought. Your story. That thing that shapes, molds and defines you to a certain extent. Everyone has one, each is unique. And mine, coupled with my circumstances, makes me no better than another. Simply different.

In the cacaphoney of a tattoo sale, where at least 4 people coming and going commented on the wisdom in getting one for medical reasons, I got both an artist and an expert.

Peers asked: “You using an six needle approach, Ray?”

“Nope. Doing a Caduseus with tight lines initially outlined in black.  The spacing is so tight, I needed a one needle liner.”

To #3: “Relax.  I’ve done this a few times, and have a really light touch.  It’s going to look great.”

Austin's Tattoo5

He was wicked quick and extremely adept.

“Okay, bud. This has to heal, and then we’ll add the words.  Remember, nothing too fancy, it bleeds a bit with age, and for you, this is life and death. Be practical.”

“And I’d love a picture, (pulling out his phone) as I’m very pleased with how it turned out.”

Austin's Tattoo6 Austin's Tattoo7

“Me, too, Ray. Me too.”

#2: “Thanks so much!  My mom chose it.”

P.S. None of the beers were his.  I asked, he laughed. And he will be doing a stellar job on the lettering.  Why? ( I tipped him far more than the $13.00 cost.  I am still the Mother…hear me roar!)

Until Wednesday,


Tattoo Sales, Bail Bonds, A One Legged Man, and a 24 pack of Budweiser, part 2

Today, I’ll get right to the recanting of the adventure, which will explain the title. It’s still so fresh, I find myself wondering if it is, indeed, true.

It is.

Several months ago, I stood in a jewelry store at our local mall, admiring an expensive and virtually indestructible medical ID bracelet.  Yes, I mentioned Wednesday that Son #3 was 5 at the time of the “Penicillin Revelation.” Yes, we have purchased countless necklaces and bracelets that served to identify said anaphylaxis. ( Great spelling bee word, by the way.) I digress.

In fact, I had considered purchasing a foundry so as to simply step out back and cast another piece of this jewelry, due to yet another loss. I highly doubt anyone was stealing them for fun. The reality is, the bracelets lasted two weeks before succumbing to destruction on some level, and the necklaces?  There are most certainly enough of them floating around to nearly be representational of those plaques they mount in honor of someone being “here.”

Because of these facts, I sincerely thanked the woman behind the counter and headed home. Jewelry-less.

Remember the parameters and boundaries I mentioned Wednesday?  The violator flopped onto my bed at some convenient hour past 10:00 p.m. one evening with a proposal.

For those of you who have a child like this, the conversations won’t be necessary.  For who don’t, it is possibly surreal.  Hold that thought, as we have found that every family is blessed at some point or another with one of these stellar people. (Can you say grandchild, if you have managed to dodge the bullet thus far?)

In any regard….


Me: Yes?

#3: Have you done any research into the responsible trend of medical tattooing?

( I had due to “Mother Angst”, and I invite you to Google them, as there are oh-so-many variations!)

Of course, one of the images we were presented with, involved a senior citizen standing in front of a white board filled with what initially looks like Stephen Hawking-type theories.

Yes, this kid has fine tuned his approach to near perfection.

He went on:

“Nick (of music store fame) works at Cactus Tattoo, and they have an anniversary sale every July 13th, where you can get any tattoo of your choice for $13.00, so long as it fits a 3″ radius. He says because I’m a friend, he’ll hook me up, and I won’t have to wait.”

On July 13th, where we live, it is (guestimating here folks) a balmy 120. Yes, those are degrees.  Son #3 was impressed that I knew the location of the parlor he was referencing.

Me: “There is no shade in that complex. Define “hook you up” and “won’t have to wait.”

#3: “He will put me to the front of the line.”

(LINE? Seriously?!)

“It’s a bargain Mom, it really is.”

“Good night, son.”

That was us, (Hero Hubby and myself) implementing the one NEVER that really has managed to stick through thick and thin…Never Let Them See You Sweat. EVER.

Truth is, we had already discussed the history, our propensity for medical personal who somehow interpreted anaphylaxis as faking it in our family, and the possibility (God forbid) of arriving in an unconscious state.

Me: “Thirteen bucks isn’t bad.”

HH: “You taking him down there?”

Me: “I’m always up for an adventure.”

It was, to my recollection, a balmy 116 when we arrived. At 11:30. Because the “anniversary bargain” started at noon.

The line already stretched across the front and down the side of the strip mall, and out onto the sidewalk.  It was very apparent that many of these folks had set an alarm to be here on time.

I was pretty sure after standing there for 20 minutes, that we would expire of secondary smoke inhalation before we ever entered the front door.

Son #1, texting  from his balmy-breeze beach office locale: “Any ink yet?”

Me: “Oh, I see plenty. Pretty much everywhere around me! Check out these nails in line in front of us. Clearly, we aren’t in Kansas anymore, Toto.”

Austin's Tattoo Nail lady

Me, to #2 (who graciously tagged along, waited for what we thought would be a quick minute, and then came back to pick us up) and #3: “Has this line moved? Even 5 inches?”

It was apparent we weren’t amongst the regulars, who were asking one another enthusiastically, “So, what are you planning on getting today?!” I chewed my tongue to refrain from blurting out that “today” would represent a choice that remained for the rest of one’s life.

At this point, it had definitely reached 120.  The line was stationary. And then…

A door burst open, and out came a one legged many on crutches.  He blurted out the following inquiry/command:

“Any piercings here today? Piercings?  How about words only tattoos? Please form a line down the other side of the mall sidewalk.”

This vignette was repeated three times during the duration of our personal wait.

#3: “This honestly isn’t what you’re thinking, Mom.”

Me: “I think you may want to seriously reconsider that statement, as these circumstances would be pretty hard to act out for fun.”

#2 was trying desperately to hold back.

“This is BETTER than acting! Mom, you should see yourself right now.”

Trying desperately to maintain an “open-minded approach”, I collected myself. For about the 1,010th time.

This is getting too long, and there’s still a ways to go.  I shall finish Monday…when we discuss Bail Bonds, the 24 pack of Budweiser, the “deed” and several lessons learned.

An indelible memory for certain.

Happy Friday,






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