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Darla Story – For whom the bell tolls version…

Darla Story – For whom the bell tolls version…

I know I’ve come a long way in the internet world.

For example, I can do things like … post a blog.

Order books from Amazon.

I google stuff all the time.

I tweet, facebook, follow other blogs … the like.

It seems almost impossible that it was only 11 years ago that we got this thing called internet (dial up!) in our home.

I can still remember when Bill told me about a site on the internet called ebay.  He told me how cool it was … that you could find anything.

And, sure enough, I found some very cool things.

Like these figurine dolls that are bells.  I have collected them for years and years.
There were more bells on ebay than you can imagine.

Bells for each holiday, bell collections, bells for this and bells for that.

A treasure trove of bells.

And I thought it would be fun to bid on them. 

I lost track of how many “bids” I submitted.   But I do still remember how much fun I had hitting the button that said “bid”.

You see, no one (ie BILL) told me that if you win the bid you buy.

I just thought someone would check with me first. 

Make sure I really meant to do that.

Unknowingly, the ebay account I was bidding from was linked to Bill’s work email address.

As he sat in a meeting the next day, he got email after email saying … “Congratulations … you won …. a bell.”

He knew.  

OH PEOPLE, HE KNEW what had happened but there was no way to stop the train wreck.

And for weeks and weeks UPS showed at my door delivering bells.  It was before paypal too so “as my punishment”, I had to send all those bell owners checks for my new treasures so as not to sully Bill’s “perfect” ebay record. 

Perfect because he’s never bought or sold anything!!!

Oh, but I have bought some things. 

I have this bell cabinet to prove it.
Darla Story – email version

Darla Story – email version

I’m back.

I took a quick trip to Arkansas earlier this week and in the process of catching up with myself and needing to explain to our entire middle school my lack of technological skills, there has been no time left for the blog.

My PTA “job” is to send emails, using a PTA database (is that even the right word?!?).  All the school asked me to do was to send a simple email – to parents of 8th graders – about the upcoming 8th grade dance.
I was supposed to include a picture order form as an attachment.

Only I forgot to attach it.

So I sent another one with the clever subject line that said “the attachment is … attached.” 
But I didn’t think it sent.

So I sent another one that said “oops” except that it only said “oop” because I accidentally hit send before I added the “s” and the rest of the message.  It literally ONLY said “oop” in the subject line … that was it.

And then I realized I had sent that to 6th grade parents instead of 8th grade parents.

I FINALLY sent the correct email with the attachment actually attached to the correct parents.

Then I found out one of the earlier versions had actually worked so people were getting multiple emails from me saying the same thing.

And I’ve spent the rest of the week answering emails that say things like … “oop   ????” or “nothing attached” or “did you mean for us to get this?”.
If I’ve said “sorry for the confusion” once this week I’ve said it a thousand times.

Bill and I both thought it was hilarious that I can’t even send the “oops” email without it being an “oops”.

The very fact that I have this PTA job just proves that scores of more knowledgeable people turned it down first before they finally got someone to say “yes”.
You wouldn’t think they’d make that mistake again.
Only they already have asked me to do it again next year when Brittany starts 6th grade.

And I already said “yes”.


Middle School Madness – is this a Darla story?

Middle School Madness – is this a Darla story?

OK, so two things you don’t want to happen to you in middle school.  

1.  Your mom coming around much.
2.  Your mom embarrassing you.

I did both today.

And I laughed and I laughed and I laughed.

Today was the day to proof the 8th grade yearbook ads at the middle school.  I went up to the school office, signed in and went to the 2nd floor yearbook room.  Just as I finished proofing our ad, the bell rang and for a split second I got kind of nervous … you know … who was I going to see in the hall, etc.  I was wishing I hadn’t worn my jogging clothes but I had to squeeze in a run – the weather was perfect and afterwards there was no time to shower or change.

But I remembered that I am 42 years old and it no longer matters what people think of me and so I waded out into the hallways of middle school.   

I saw Caroline right away … she’s kind of hard to miss … she is SO tall.  She was putting her books in her locker and I thought it would be fun to just kind of “surprise” her.  

So I went and stood right next to her.  She accidentally hit my arm as she was putting her book in her locker and said … “excuse me”.  About the time she got to the word “me” she looked up and saw it was … well, me.  

And her look seemed to say: ohmygoodnessIcan’tbelievemymomis
inthehallwayofmyschool  or something like that.

I thought it was hilarious.  I didn’t want to really embarrass her though so I just told her what I was doing there and went on about my way.

As I looked back and waved I saw she and her friends looking at me and kind of laughing.  I figured they were giving her a hard time about her mom showing up at school.   Thought it was kind of cute.

Next up … the post office where I asked how much a stamp is these days.  I seriously said … 27 cents?  Pretty much all the postal people laughed and said … NOT IN ABOUT 20 years and told me they are now 44 cents.  Inflation will get ya everytime!  And where have I been? 

Then I went to the elementary school to pick up the younger three.  I stood right out in the middle of the school yard talking to moms when one (good and honest) friend came up and said … “Darla … did you know your shirt was on inside out?” 

Of course I died out laughing but it didn’t really bother me … I mean how bad could it be?  I thought just a little tag was kind of under my hair.

Until I looked.  It was right on the side and it was HUGE and white.  HUGE.  How could I not have noticed on a run, in the post office, in the middle school?!?  Reminded me of the day I went to Caroline’s volleyball game with the sticker that had the size of my jeans still attached to the back of my pants. 

And when I got in the car I realized I HAD WALKED DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE CROWDED MIDDLE SCHOOL HALL in front of all of Caroline’s friends with my shirt on inside out.  And not like a “you don’t really notice” inside out/but a really bad inside out.

It was like a middle schoolers worst nightmare.  Everyone was laughing at me and I had no idea why.

I thought Caroline would be mad when she got home … you know, the whole … “why did you do that?” speech.

But instead (thankfully) when I asked her if she noticed, she said … “oh yeah, but I didn’t want to tell you because then I’d have to talk to you.”

And if that doesn’t just about sum up middle school, I don’t know what does.

I think I might even be getting a pimple now.

Darla Stories – Bloggy Break Edition

Darla Stories – Bloggy Break Edition

OK, so y’all know I just kind of live with funny stuff happening.  It’s kind of  how I roll…

But the other day, it wasn’t just me that was rolling.

The girls and I stopped off at Costco to fill up with gas after a soccer game.  If you remember, my people (especially Brittany) are VERY afraid of bumble bees.  And bees sometimes hang out at soccer games and one apparently decided to come on home with us.

We didn’t know this until we were sitting patiently waiting for a very shiny FORD F150/Dodge RAM-ish type truck in front of us to fill its tank.  

All of a sudden Brittany starts to scream and, in less than like one/one millionth of a second, jumped clear out of our Suburban.  Well, we Baerg girls stick together in crisis situations, and if Brittany jumps…well you better believe, we all jump.

Only one of us forgot the car wasn’t in park.

And we were screaming because of the bee and unloading like some kind of clown car and next thing I know my shiny-ish Suburban was heading straight for the urban cowboys truck. 

Now not to worry… I jumped in and slammed on the brakes and there was about one/one millionth of an inch left before I had to buy that urban cowboy a new bumper … but I made it.

I’m still worried about the Costco gas guy though.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone look so stunned in my life (and that includes when I told Bill we were expecting our fourth child!).  

Somehow he mustered up the courage to say, oh so tentatively, … “mam, everything all right?”

I said …”oh yeah…we’re good.   Just had a bee in the car.  No worries.”

And I filled up and we pulled off.

As we left I kind of waved at the Costco guy who still looked like he had been a witness to some crazy kind of crime. 

I’m just hoping he’ll recover.

Darla Stories, school supplies edition

Darla Stories, school supplies edition

My mom sent me an email today about someone who got in the wrong car and then left their food in that car and …. it went on and on. It was hysterical and for a second I thought I might have been reading about something that happened to me.

Cause y’all all know I’ve gotten in the wrong car before.

Anyway the whole thing reminded me of another Darla story. I haven’t posted one in awhile because sometimes these things happen to me so often that it’s just part of my day. And then I’m reminded that not everyone lives like this … or maybe they do and just don’t laugh about it as hard as I do.

So, about two years ago I received a call from one of my kids at school who started out with this phrase … “you remembered it’s your day to bring ______”. I don’t even remember now what it was, but I quickly answered ….. “yes, I’ll be there. You got it … I’m on my way.”

And I packed up Jacob and ran off to the Wal Mart rushing like crazy so no one would know that actually I didn’t really remember it was my day to bring whatever it was I needed to bring.

I loaded up my cart and looked at the time and panicked. I had to HURRY.

So I paid for my stuff and pushed my cart out to the parking lot and took Jacob out of the cart and drove off. Without ANY of my stuff.

All I remember is being on my cell phone with someone and screaming …AUGH! and hanging up. And I did what I do in these types of situations and called Bill. And I asked him to call Wal Mart and ask them if my cart (with all the bags in it) was still in the parking lot.

And his response was this … “you seriously want me to call Walmart and tell them my wife drove off without any of her stuff?!?”

And I said … “you heard me correctly”.

And I can’t for the life of me remember why I couldn’t make the call myself but I’m sure I had a good reason (ahem).

But good ole Bill called them and called me back and said they located it. Just sitting out there in the middle of the parking lot, stacked with bags.

And y’all, worse than the having to make that call was the walk of shame I had to take up to the customer service desk to tell them I drove off without my stuff.

I tried to not really make eye contact with them while I took my stuff and high tailed it back to the elementary school where I handed over whatever thing my child needed.

And I’m sure I smiled and said something sweet like “you didn’t think mama would forget now, would you?”.

Darla Stories – Camp Edition

Darla Stories – Camp Edition

Seeing how I’ve been talking about family camp and our 3 girls are at Kid Camp in Tyler this week, I thought it would be a good opportunity to tell you a few Darla Stories, Camp Edition.

In other words…a few things I’ve done that have really embarrassed my kids.

For starters, when you arrive at Family Camp or Kid Camp, the counselors are lined up and cheer as you drive in the camp. They jump up and down in 100 degree heat and yell their lungs out and act thrilled beyond belief to see you.

And I think it’s so much fun.

I also think it would be rude to not reciprocate. So, I roll down my window and yell and high five with the best of ’em. That is until my kids (except for Savannah who would love to hang out of the sunroof and yell too) beg their dad to roll the windows up.

And lock them.

The first year of camp when the counselors cheered like this it was a total surprise to me. And I did, just as I told you, and hooped and hollered as we drove into camp. After we got home, the camp sent us a video of our week. It was so much fun to watch and see all the things we had done. Each family had a 2 second spot where we said our names and where we were from. I always wanted to jazz it up a little with a cheer or something but, yet again, 4 of the 6 members in our family vetoed my idea.

When we received the tape, we saw our spot.

And we also saw a segment where I was hanging out of the car cheering upon arrival.

I thought…”how nice of them…they personalized it for each family showing them arriving for their week.”

And I called my friend who was with us at camp but hadn’t yet received her video and told her how fun it was to see your own family drive up.

When she got her video she called and said…”Darla, it’s you on the video.”

I thought there was a mistake (honestly). I really thought they had sent her the wrong tape and that they accidentally put my family on her video.

But no, it was me…for all time…on every family’s video…hanging out of the car acting crazy.

And after this, the kids said…”Now do you see that not everyone does that!? Will you please STOP?”

And so now, year after year…I show remarkable restraint as I keep my hands and cheers inside the car.

For the most part. 🙂

The second, oh so embarrassing thing, that I have done regarding camp was during Caroline’s first year. On the list of “things you need to bring to camp”, it said “laundry bag”. One day when I was out I saw the cutest pop up laundry hamper you can imagine. And I thought…”why this will be just perfect for camp.”

That is until we got there. When Bill popped up the “pop up” hamper it seriously took up like 1/2 of the middle of the room. It was huge. Well, it wasn’t that big, but neither was the cabin. The bunks lined the walls and so the only place for a HAMPER was in the middle of the floor.

We quickly put it back together (only have you ever noticed that pop up things don’t pop back down as easily as they popped up?) and gave her a trash bag for her dirty clothes.

A trash bag that could fit under the bunks just like eveyone else’s bags.

We now laugh every year about the time “mom packed a HAMPER” for the camp laundry.

And although these next two aren’t really Darla stories (unless you count the fact that I didn’t send my daughter to camp with everything on the “required for camp” list), I thought I’d share with you 2 letters we’ve gotten from Brittany over the years from camp.

The first one was after second grade (her first year of camp).

It read:

Dear Mom:

You forgot to pack me a belt.

Love, Brittany

(apparently her jeans were about to fall down during her horseback session)

The next year I got this one:

Dear Mom:

You forgot to pack me a hairbrush.



No “having a great time.” No “please come get me.” Just “hey mom…look what you forgot.”

I’m currently on stand by to see what I might have forgotten this year.

I’ll let you know.

Darla Stories – overseas edition

Darla Stories – overseas edition

Other than causing a scene on the airplane, looking like a convict on our Italian shopping spree, a clothes situation and a swimming pool incident, there weren’t a whole lot of Darla Stories on our Italy trip. Maybe there were and I just don’t remember.

The plane situation wasn’t really my fault.

I have to blame it on the movie “Marley and me”. A better title might have been “Bill, Darla and Looper.” You see, we have a golden retriever that we got before we had children. She was my first “baby” and I love my dog. And she’s been with us through the birth of four kids, a move…and now she is getting old. And well, ole Marley got old and they had to put him down.

And I was watching this movie as we were flying over the ocean.

And Bill was sound asleep.

I started crying harder than I might have ever cried in a movie before and then it was like I was sobbing and about to make noises. So I woke Bill up. Not sure why other than he could share the sad moment with me.

And here’s the thing.

When you are flying over the ocean and you wake someone up whose been sound asleep and you are sobbing…well, that person might just think the plane is gonna crash.

I’m just sayin’.

The clothes situation was this: I had bought some khaki shorts and a t-shirt that was from a designer store with a designer name on it. I d
idn’t care what it was really…I just wanted clean clothes that were 100 Euros or less. When I put the shirt on, it had a super long tag inside that went along the seam of the shirt. Instead of letting it itch me all day long, I decided to rip it out.

But when I ripped the tag…well, the shirt ripped 1/2 way up the side. Nice. My one clean, nice outfit and it was ripped. I tried tucking
it in and kind of holding it together, but it didn’t really work.

So pretty much the entire day I had to keep my arm positioned just so in order to avoid a big gaping hole.

In every picture.

Only I had a hard time remembering which side it was on. So there are some pictures where you can see it…and I’m not showing you those. Just trust me on this.

The swimming pool incident went like this:

Basically we looked like we were living the lifestyles of the rich and famous. The lounge chairs were the best I’d ever been on in my life. Mostly because the top flap on the chair could cover your face or you could lower it down and rest your book on it while you laid on your stomach. Which is what I did.

Wanting to get the best sunlight, I turned the chair so that my “book shelf” was over the water a little and I was reading it and enjoying myself immensely. I wanted everyone to know how much I was enjoying myself so I sat up and said…”isn’t this awesome?! I love these chairs.” And then I shifted my weight onto my elbows…I think…all I know is that before I knew it, the chair began tumping towards the water and I began sliding towards the pool. What I’m told is that I looked for a second like I was going to stop it from happening but about 1/2 way into the slide gave up and fell in the pool. Totally wet and totally dying laughing.

Lizzie swears that if we had it on video we’d win $10,000 on America’s Funniest Home Videos. Sadly, there were no cameras rolling. But Lizzie says she watches the whole thing in her mind in slow motion all the time. It was pretty funny.

So, since that’s all I can really think of, I will tell you of one other international incident I had back in college. This was before the terrorist threats we have today, however there were lots of car bombings in Ireland at the time.

I happened to be on the Baylor in the British Isles program. We had taken an overnight train from London to the Isle of Skye to see the Queen’s castle there and some beautiful scenery.

And I was really tired and my backpack seemed really heavy. Especially when some friends asked me to go climb a mountain with them.

The queen was not in the castle at the time but she had several black cars parked out front. Since she wasn’t there I figured the cars wouldn’t be moving anyway and really, who was gonna care if I stowed my backpack under one of the car’s tires for a little while.

The guards is who!

I climbed the mountain but when I came back down it was like an international incident and I was on the most wanted list.


Taken into the police station room which was attached to the castle where not only was my picture up on computers (and I was quite sure my mom and dad were going to see me on the evening news), they also had the state department or embassy or someone on the line. And I’d like to thank them for telling those people I wasn’t a threat.

Even though they had called out the bomb squad to detonate my backpack. Good thing they didn’t though because…foolishly…I had left my passport inside. I was young and naive.

But I learned my lesson.

The queen doesn’t take kindly to bags left under her tires.

I will never ever leave my backpack under the queen’s car or wake up a sleeping man while sobbing when in an airplane flying over the ocean.

Ever again.

Darla Stories – Disney Edition

Darla Stories – Disney Edition

Really and truly I tried not to embarrass any members of my family on our Disney vacation. Things went along pretty well, all things considered, until the very last night.

And I promise, I thought they said “Children, bring your parents.”

Rumor has it they said, “Parents, bring your children.”

And then I think they meant for you to drop them off.

I missed that part.

Which may explain why I was the only parent in the hula demonstration lesson/performance at the O’hana Restaurant at the Polynesian Resort on the last night of our vacation.

In my defense, there was a man next to me. When I pointed this out to Bill he said…”yes, but did you notice he was carrying a baby?”


Now I did see Bill and Caroline DYING laughing on the side while Savannah and I did, what in my opinion was one rockin’ hula dance… and it did cross my mind towards the end of the show that all I could see were the tops of the other dancers heads (by the end the baby carrying guy was nowhere to be seen), but I didn’t think that much about it. As you can see by this picture I was concentrating very intently on the lesson the guy in the Hawaiian shirt was giving.

But, for my extraordinary efforts, they gave me a floral lei and the whole restaurant clapped.

Thank you…Thankyouverymuch.

Darla Stories…9-1-1 Edition – origin

Darla Stories…9-1-1 Edition – origin

Last week … I guess with the Swine flu scare and the flood and all … I completely forgot the weekly Darla Stories. I have been telling my 9-1-1 stories and thought perhaps I should now take you back to where it all began. You know, my earliest memory of needing emergency services.

And that is not to say that I have told you all of my own personal 9-1-1 stories, but I think I have told you all I’m going to tell because, well … some of them don’t need to be repeated.

But way back when … I was probably in the 7th grade … my family did need the services of 9-1-1 legitimately. And we used them. And I guess ever since I’ve been so grateful to know they would help in a time of crisis that I’ve called them … just every now and again.

So back then we had a dog named Barky. He replaced our dog named Sparky that ran away. I’m sure you would agree that we were very clever in the naming of our dogs.

Barky was a mutt. He was a small dog but not like the small tea cup type dogs of today. Unfortunately Barky never got the memo that he was not as big as the other dogs. He broke his leg so many times they eventually had to put a pin in it after he would go and “mix it up a little” with some bigger, bullier dogs.

Barky was an outdoor dog who only got to come inside on special occasions. Even in the freezing cold winters. And Barky got cold. Now we all know that “necessity is the mother of invention.”

And my dad…well, he loves a project.

And thus was created the “heater” for Barky’s house. It consisted of a lightbulb in a coffee can. The plan was for it to provide heat for the doghouse. But, the best laid plans … well, they often go awry.

Like the morning Barky…well, he barked. Like crazy. For a really long time. And when my mom looked out, there were flames. The wooden deck on which Barky’s house sat was on fire.


9-1-1 was called.

Firetrucks came.

Barky was rescued.

And my dad did not seek a patent on his invention.

So now, my friends, you know how it all began.

Darla Stories…9-1-1 Edition, Nashville

Darla Stories…9-1-1 Edition, Nashville

After 3 years of good times in Dallas, Bill up and decided he wanted to go to graduate school. (It was actually kind of always in the plan, but it sounded better to say “up and decided”.)

He chose Vanderbilt University as the place to get his MBA and before I knew it we had rented a townhouse within walking distance of the university. It was two-story, but quite small. So small in fact that…I kid you not…once, when we got our new puppy Looper, we had a friend of Bill’s come stay with us. He slept on our pull out couch downstairs. Looper was fenced into our tiny, tiny kitchen. The dog barked and cried the ENTIRE night. So I had to keep getting up and taking the dog out. Problem was, when the couch was pulled out, it reached from one wall to the other. So I had to keep climbing across the bed to get to the dog. I felt awful about it. Over and over it was “excuse me…excuse me.” “I’m so sorry….so very, very, sorry.”

Now if we’d been thinking better, Bill and I would have just traded and given him our bed upstairs and slept on the pull out couch near the dog. Apparently though common sense isn’t something they can teach you – even in the fanciest of business schools.

And come morning…well our visitor was gone. Left in the middle of the night to travel home. Said he wasn’t sleeping anyway. And come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him again. I’m still just so sorry about that.

But back to the 9-1-1 Nashville episode.

And I should say up front that it really did sound like we were getting bombed by the Iraqis. It really, really did.

And this was 1993 so we weren’t too far past the Gulf War and I guess I was still a little jumpy.

Bill was away at a study group and I was home by myself. It had been sleeting and snow was predicted. The ice started piling up on the electrical lines and pretty soon transformers began blowing all over the city.

Now I had never, ever heard a transformer blow before and had no idea that it could sound like a bomb exploding. And it was happening over and over and over again. And the sky would light up each time.

So I called 9-1-1.

And told them I thought we were being bombed.

By the Iraqis.

And Bill just dies that I ever could have possibly thought that the Iraqis had somehow managed to get all the way to middle America without being picked up on radar, shot down by our military, etc.

And I tell him I did not have time to worry about all those details.

The nice folks at 9-1-1 assured me we weren’t being bombed. And when they tried to tell me it might be transformers blowing, I told them it sounded more like a bomb…even though, AS I MENTIONED, I had never heard a transformer blow before.

And in my defense, on the news it said “loud explosions were being reported” – I guess they had heard I’d called.

It wasn’t long though before our own power went out.

And it was out for five of the LONGEST, COLDEST, DARKEST nights of my life.

I nearly froze to death.

Felt like Laura Ingalls except there was no fire for Pa to stoke.

And I probably would have considered calling 9-1-1 to tell them I thought frostbite was setting in, but we needed electricity for the phone to work.

And that might have been the only time I ever thought about calling 9-1-1 and didn’t.