Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Driving Around In My Automobile...

He was a Firefighter; tall, broad shouldered, and handsome.  She giggled when he asked if she would go out with him and responded, "I'd love to." 

Friday night finally came.  It was a non-traditional date in that they were going to help out with a firefighter training exercise.  She fantasized all week about her simulated rescue by the man of her dreams sweeping her off her feet and carrying her to safety.  He parked the car and they walked hand-in-hand up the hill to the closed off street where the training would take place.  The night was dark and cool, with a few stars twinkling while the moon playfully peeped in and out of clouds.

As they reached the top of the hill she was blinded by the flashing lights of the rescue trucks ready and waiting for simulated disaster.  Before she could say anything a woman in fire gear quickly approached them and grabbed her hand.  "Oh good!" she shouted over the wail of the sirens, "another victim!  Come with me."  Unable to protest she was whisked away in a flash and pushed into the front passenger seat of a car that was precariously perched on a slippery embankment in simulated peril.  The car door was slammed shut with the sleeve of her sweater caught in it. 

"Hi!"  A deep voice boomed from the driver's seat.  "I'm Biff.  Ever been to one of these?"  She looked over at him feeling a bit panicked about being stolen away from her date and having her arm trapped in a semi-tipped over rust bucket that smelled of beer and stale cigarettes.  She shook her head 'No' and went back to trying to retrieve her sleeve.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you!"  Biff reached across her and with a meaty hand grabbed her arm as she reached for the car door.  "At this angle, you'll fall right out if you pull that lever!"  He was right.  She was already pressed against the door because of the angle of the embankment.  If she opened the door to free her sweater she wouldn't have time to get her feet under her before toppling out into the mud and leaves.  She gave a deep sigh and pulled her arm out of the sleeve so that she could sit more comfortably with her back to the door.

For the first time she looked around at the car and her driving companion.  The back seat was littered with a variety of crunched up beer and soda cans along with several fast food bags and stray french fries.  Biff was a young, heavy-set man with a round face and thick blond hair that sat on his head like a wadded up rag.  "Drunk driving," he said with a broad grin.  She was repulsed, not only by the smelly dump of a car, but also because of Biff's exuberance in giving a convincing performance of a drunk driver.  Apparently he was a method actor and had snuck in a couple of full cans of beer that he began to crack open and guzzle down for authenticity.  "You want some?" he asked.  As he cracked open the third can of cheap hooch it sprayed all over the car.  The sticky liquid ran down the ceiling and the seat and, because she was sitting downhill from him, rained down on her.

Chuck Berry
"No!" she barked back in disgust, crossed her arms and stared irritated out the cracked windshield.  "At least I'll be rescued soon.  Then we can go out to dinner or something," she thought to herself.  But that was not in the cards.  Biff began to sing Chuck Berry's "No Particular Place To Go."  Not only was Biff unable to sing a single note in tune, he also didn't know many of the words to the song other than, "Drrrrrivn' around in my automobile..." which he proceeded to sing repeatedly.  After about forty five minutes, he decided to make up his own words to the classic song, which ruined it for her forever.  She would never again be able to hear a Chuck Berry song without using great restraint to keep from punching someone in the face.

She sat in the car seething, wondering what was taking her date so long to rescue her and take her away from this irritating man.  If it had been a real accident they would have been dead by now.  If they didn't come soon, one of them was going to be.  Just then, a bright spotlight shone through the dirty window.  She shielded her eyes from the blinding light and smiled at the thought of her hero coming to her rescue... finally. 

The door slowly opened and, not her hero, but a strange man dressed in full fire rescue gear slapped a neck brace on her and slid her out onto a body board.  She tried to look around for her date but was strapped down to the board while the young first responders-in-training shouted, "Don't move, Ma'am!  You could have a broken neck!" 

"Oh, yes," she muttered mostly to herself, "the simulation."  The flashing lights from the nearby trucks against the dark and wooded night began to give her a headache.  Suddenly, flames shot up from the engine of the wreck they had just dragged her out of.  She was set down in a ditch still strapped to the body board while the responders grabbed a hose off the fire truck to put out the fire. 

The water from the hose ran down the muddy embankment and began to collect in the ditch below. She felt the freezing water first smack the top of her head then run down her back. She tried to move, but apparently the first-responders-in-training were quite skilled at lashing people to body boards, but not as skilled at keeping track of their patients. The water came faster and faster and soon there was a small river forming. The board began to slide. She began to rock back and forth to try and free herself, but she soon started to drift down the gravel road. She tried to yell for help, but the ill-fitting neck brace prevented her from screaming loud enough for anyone to hear.

She shot down the hill at top speeds like she was a contender for Olympic Gold in the luge, bounding over bumps and narrowly missing potholes until she reached the curve at the bottom of the hill and rocketed over the curb smashing into a tree.

She lay there, still, at the bottom of the hill in a puddle of mucky mud and moss, the splintered remains of the body board still lashed to her wrists. She looked up through the dark trees at the night sky, suddenly thankful for the neck brace, and breathed a sigh that she could no longer hear Biff singing.

Sadly, this would not be the worst date she would ever go on.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Christmas Story

I decided to start a new little tradition in my family.  I asked the kids to tell me the Nativity Story in their own words while I typed everything that they said.  I'm going to do this every year to see how their interpretations change as they get older.  Here's what each of them told me this year:

Mya, Age 8
Mary was going to have a baby and her husband asked all the inns if Mary can stay here.  Eight said no, but one said, “I have a stable you can sleep in.”  And Jesus Christ was born, lying in a manger.  The horns of the angels blew and shepherds were watching their sheep.  And they were so frightened. And the angel said, “Do not be afraid.  A savior has been born in the town of Bethlehem.”  And some wise men followed the bright star of Jesus Christ.  Angels blew their horns and cried out to the Lord.  The wise men gave the baby Jesus presents of gold and silver and seasonings.

Emily,  Age 5
Mary was cleaning up and an Angel came to visit Mary.  And the angel had good news.  And Mary was going to have a baby and its name was Jesus.  And they had to go to Bethlehem, but all the houses were full.  But in a barn there was emptiness.  But there was a little cradle for Baby Jesus.  And as the sun went down, they slept straight through the night.  And the next morning they awoke and the baby Jesus was already in there.  And the shepherds came to see the baby.  So the wise men followed a star until they saw the king.  And they followed the star to baby Jesus.  And when they saw baby Jesus they were amazed!  And they all lived happily ever after.  The End.

Jack, Age 2
Jesus coming.  Jesus on a boat.  Jesus a baby.  Christmas Jesus birthday.  Jesus in my heart.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Death Tastes Like Chocolate

I noticed that one of the people whose blog I follow hadn't written anything in a while and had recently posted something.  When I read her latest post I discovered that her grandmother had died and that she was having a difficult time with it.  She talked about how she had never really had anyone in her life pass away before.  My heart went out to her and, as I finished reading her post, I realized that my mouth was watering.

Pavlov trained dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell by
repeatedly ringing a bell then feeding the dog.
Let me explain.  I know this sounds weird, but hearing news of someone passing away makes me think of hot fudge.  Specifically, of Friendly's hot fudge.  Much like Pavlov's dog, I have been classically conditioned to want a hot fudge sundae whenever faced with death.  It's my Grandma's fault.  And quite frankly, I think she would be pretty proud that she inadvertantly left that little subconciuos nugget in my brain. 

Here's the story.  Unlike my cyber-friend, I have gone to many, many, many funerals starting at about the age of six or seven.  We had a pretty large extended family full of older people who I would see once or twice a year; enough so that I knew who they were, but not so much that I was devistated that they were gone.  I actually think that going to all these funerals was good for my developing psyche.  I learned how to mourn and how to move on from the sadness.  My Grandma was my greatest teacher on how to move on.

Grandma was a terrible influence at funerals.  She would crack jokes like, "This party is really dying," or "The host is a real stiff," which would cause me to giggle, then get the look from my parents.  They never believed that it was Grandma causing the problem. 

Grandma had a larger-than-normal sweet tooth.  So, since the whole family was already gathered for a funeral and we were still alive and needed to eat, she would insisit we go to Friendly's after every funeral.  Since most of my family members inherited her sweet tooth, there wasn't much argument from anyone.

I think it took no more than a half dozen funerals with Grandma before death became synonymous with hot fudge.  Thankfully, my mind took comfort in the hot fudge and made funerals less depressing instead of the alternative, which probably would have left me sobbing every time I ordered a Cone Head Sundae.  Perhaps I would be thinner now if hot fudge made me sad, but I don't think I want to live in a world where hot fudge is depressing.

So, that's my story.  I'm really sorry about my friend's loss, and I hope she finds her own version of hot fudge to comfort her during this time.

If you'll excuse me, I'm going to get some ice cream.

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's been nearly a year, and here's what I have to show for it.

I've had this blog now for nearly a year.  In this year I've written an average of 2.5 posts per month.  Sadly, about 20% of them are left unfinished or un-posted lingering in the limbo that is "draft" status.  This is pathetic and, to the three people that may or may not have been regularly reading my posts, I sincerely apologize.  I am making an early New Year's resolution to take a few minutes to write down my thoughts in a way that might be interesting for other people to read.

Worse case scenario, you can read it and be glad you're not as nutty as me.

During the year I started writing about several different topics but didn't seem to be able to wrap them up satisfactorily.  Here's my genius that all three of you have been missing out on:
  • I started writing a post comparing my life before and after having kids.  It started sounding way too whiny, so I gave up on it.  Plus, my baby needed a diaper change, so I never got back to it.
  • I wrote one about how I will argue with anyone about almost anything including topics like Ewoks, which pudding is the best pudding, and if ping pong should really be an Olympic sport.
  • I started a list of little things that bug the heck out of me.  The highlights of this post were people who pronounce the 't' in often, and how I dislike toilet paper commercials with the same intensity that Madonna dislikes hydrangeas.
  • I wrote about how I was obsessing one day about the "what if I had done this instead of that" moments in my life and how a church sermon set me free.
  • There's an unfinished piece about a rough day I was having that included a raccoon in the chimney and a fire in the basement entitled "Hardship is inevitable... Drama is optional."
  • I wrote a Haiku about the lousy March weather, but didn't finish it until April.  So... stay tuned for that little nugget.
I've also written a couple of things that haven't even made it to the draft status.  Mostly little pieces of stories with no real beginning or end.  They tend to end very abruptly.

Well, that's pretty much all I've got for now.  Hopefully I will find some time and inspiration to write something a bit better soon.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Things To Do: Write New Blog...

I'm a list maker.  I think I always have been.  To-do lists, grocery lists, wish lists.  I've made them all.  When I was a kid I had a list of homework assignments and when they were due.  When planning my kids birthday party I make a list of all the supplies I'll need including special plates and napkins and what kind of food I'll be serving.  I have a Christmas Card list, an Address List, a list of frequently called phone numbers, and an long list of bills that need to be paid.  I find the list a very helpful tool in life.

Every fall I make an extensive list of gifts that is several pages long.  Between the months of September and March my family celebrates nine birthdays plus Christmas.  In order to avoid missing someone's birthday or spending more on one person for Christmas than another, I make a list of all the gifts I've purchased, who they are for, how much they cost, if they're a birthday or Christmas gift, the total that I've spent on that person, and if the gift has been wrapped yet.  Some people make fun of my list making, but nobody has ever been lacking a gift!

My most recent list was a packing list.  No, I didn't go on vacation.  I made a packing list for all of the things I needed to bring with me to spend the day with my husband and three children at the New York State Fair in Syracuse.  Yup.  A whopping hour-and-a-half away from my house.  The list took up an entire page from a yellow legal pad and was organized into six categories: First Aid, Backpack, Diaper Bag, Car, Cooler and Snacks with an additional check box to indicate if the items were loaded into the car.  Don't believe me?  Here's the list with each item checked off as I packed it!
Notice that "Antibacterial Hand Gel" is written in several places.  I had some stashed in each bag.

You may mock my extensive list.  Many have and I'm sure that many more will through the years.  My husband laughs that I pack band-aids and neosporin whenever I leave the house.  But do you know who doesn't laugh?  The little excited kid who runs too fast and and falls and skins their knee and needs a band-aid, that's who!  You know who else?  The lady in the next stall in the Ladies room who has a blister on the back of her heel only to discover that her friend doesn't have a band-aid either.  That's right.  Those people were grateful for my obsessive compulsion to plan for every possible disaster for a day at the park.  Everybody laughs that I pack things like salt and pepper in the cooler, but I didn't hear my husband complaining when he had a nice bottle of horseradish to squirt onto his roast beef sandwich.  And I think we can all agree that it would have been a long ride home without the kid's stuffed monkey, Taggie, and Barney in the car waiting for them after a long day out in the sun.

So this is for all you closet list makers out there.  Boldly write your lists for all to see, be it on magnetic refrigerator pads, Post-It Notes, legal pads, or even on the back of your hand.  People may mock us, but we know what we're doing.  After all, we have a list!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Muscle Car

I sat at the traffic light in my bright yellow 1967 Chevy Camaro.  The throaty rumble of the engine as it idled filled the air and it spoke to me.  "Yeah," it said, "I look awesome.  And you look awesome in me."

It was true.  I did look awesome.  The noon-day sun reflected off the chrome finish, blinding anyone who dared to gaze at my resplendence.  When the light turned green, I pressed my foot to the floor and took off like a shot leaving nothing but a cloud of dust in my wake.

I drove for miles as the wind whipped through my hair, engine roaring.  There was nothing but me and the road.  I slowed down as I approached another traffic light.  Any other day I would have plowed right through the red light, daring any law enforcement to even attempt to catch up with me.  But today I wanted to make sure everybody saw me. 

Heads turned at the rumble of the engine.  Passers-by nodded in approval.  The sun shone bright on my face and the warm breeze tousled my hair.  I closed my eyes and breathed in the sweet summer air. 

As I slowly opened my eyes I was violently dragged back into reality when a sippy cup hit me in the head.  The top flew off and cranberry juice splashed everywhere turning my minivan into what looked like a grizzly crime scene.  The rumble still filled the air, but I sank low in my seat as I noticed people staring at my 2000 Windstar that was shaking from the growling engine.  I sank my head in shame.  When the light turned green I said a little prayer and rocked myself back and forth willing the van to move forward and pick up speed.  I pressed the gas pedal to the floor, reaching a top speed of 25 miles per hour in about thirty seconds. 

Reality stinks.

Friday, August 19, 2011

It's How Dinner Is Done!

I set off the smoke detector while making dinner tonight.  This used to be a fairly regular occurrance in my house growing up.  In fact, we used to tease my Mother and joke that dinner wasn't done until the smoke detector went off.  It hasn't happened to me personally in quite a while and, even though only my kids witnessed me looking like a buffoon, it was pretty embarrassing.  This is clearly one of those moments my Mom warned me about when she said, "Just wait until you <fill in the blank>," and I know she is reading this with a contented smile on her face.

I've been making my own bread for the past month or so because I've become frustrated at paying nearly $3 for a loaf of bread that is half gone after one lunch with my kids.  I've been pretty successful with the bread so for dinner tonight I decided to move on to pizza crust.  I even have a pizza stone that I have never actually used but is carefully wrapped in a kitchen towel in the bottom of my cabinet.  I pulled out the instructions that came with the stone and it recommended sprinkling corn meal on it to keep the pizza from sticking and warming it up on the bottom rack of the oven. 

This was bad advice, but not right away.  At first there was a very pleasant smell that made my kids run into the kitchen and yell, "What's for dinner?"  About two minutes after that, black smoke started rolling out of the oven and the smoke detector started to wail.  I pulled out the stone and dumped the ashes of corn meal into the sink while I frantically turned on fans and opened windows.  All the while, my kids were yelling, "Stay low and go!!  Stay low and go!!"  After opening the front door they all clamored out onto the porch and were grabbing at my shirt as I went back into the house.  "Don't go back in, Mama!"

I grabbed the thickest magazine that was nearby, Wegman's Menu, and began furiously waving it at the smoke detector.  "It's okay, kids!  Just a little smoke!"  I tried to assure them.  After a few minutes the smoke cleared and I was finally able to convince the kids to come back inside the house.

At least I know they remembered the fire safety rules from the State Fair.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Linen Closet

My linen closet is a disaster.  Towels are shoved in, bottles of shampoo are tipped over, there are a large number of outdated nail polish jars teetering on the edge of the shelf.  And don't get me started on the various medicine bottles. For an area that was originally intended for sheets and towels, there's an awful lot of other junk in there.  It's a mess.  If you don't believe me, take a look at this.

Messy Linen Closet

It's been like this for quite some time and I've just worked around the mess by quickly shoving towels in and slamming the door shut before something else got pushed out.  But for some reason, last night was as long as I could take it.  Maybe it's due to a growing sense of a complete lack of control over anything in my life, but while my three kids were in the bathroom brushing their teeth before bed I decided that it was the perfect time to empty out the first two shelves of the linen closet and reorganize.  I mean, how bad could the top two shelves really be?  It's not like I really use them.  What could possibly be up there?

The medicines are particularly jumbled... and expired.
Top Two Shelves, Before Picture

What could possibly be up there?  Aside from the basics, (band-aids, cotton balls, Q-Tips, and expired medicines) here's what:
  • At least a dozen of those plastic bags with zippers that sheets, blankets and comforters come in.  I had a vision of making all sorts of crocheted blankets and keeping them fresh and clean in these bags.  Surprise, surprise, this never happened.  Just another one of my bag issues.
  • A Homedics back massager, which looks like some sort of heavy duty torture device.  Mike remembers using it at our apartment before we had kids.  I don't know.  It's really heavy.  Maybe I'll keep it handy to fight off intruders.
  • Some sort of gigantic Conair machine that is supposed to turn your bathtub into a relaxing Jacuzzi.  Now this I remember using... once.  It didn't attach to the tub correctly and ended up falling in and nearly breaking my leg. 
  • Breast pads from when I had my daughter in 2003.  Why I felt I might need to save these, I have no idea.
  • Tiny little soaps and shampoos from Disney World.  The last time we went to Disney was our honeymoon ten years ago.  I don't think I can bring myself to toss out anything with those ears on it.
  • A full bottle of Nair for Men.  ??? 
  • Three different brands of nearly full tooth whitening systems.  Apparently I have often wished for whiter looking teeth, but can't be bothered with those messy strips.  That must be when I moved on to whitening toothpaste.
  • A lint roller.  Just the roller.  No tape.  So really, some sort of weird, inefficient whisk type device.
  • Four packages of opened razors.
  • Three different sized baby aspirators.  Or, as I refer to them, Boogie Snatchers.
  • A gallon jug of shampoo.  No conditioner in sight. 
  • Three huge boxes of tampons.  That should last me a while.
  • Some sort of plastic ring with suction cups.  We couldn't quite remember what it's function was but it had something to do with the bathtub.
  • 29 bottles of nail polish.
Discovering these items right before bedtime was a bad idea.  As soon as the tooth brushing was over I was bombarded with questions of "What's this? What's this thing do? Why do you have this?"  My response was the same for all three questions; "I have no idea." 

The worst thing I found was a box of Crayola Soap Scribblers.  It's soap shaped like crayons.  The idea is that the kids can color themselves and the tub walls and it will all wash off, lickety split, because after all, it's just soap... right?  WRONG!  It comes off of the kids okay, but there is about 45 minutes of scrubbing before you can get it off the walls, the tub, the shower curtain, and the floor.  I remember having something similar when I was a kid.  I would always beg my mom to let me use it and she never would.  I couldn't understand it at the time, but I get it now.  Sorry Mom.

Once I got everything off of the top two shelves I had to decide what to do with it all.  I threw enough junk out to fill a full sized Hefty bag, including a whole bunch of expired medicine.  I know, there's something else that I'm supposed to do with expired medicine, but quite frankly I don't have time to try and figure out where to drop them off.  So all the junkies can come raid my trash can.  At least I didn't flush them (which is a whole other blog.  I don't know what's more disturbing, that flushed medicine ends up in our drinking water or that what we FLUSH ends up with the drinking water!  Just another reason for me to drink bottled water, I guess.)

Anyhow, I managed to get the top two shelves put back together in a more organized way.

Top Two Shelves, After

I was hoping it would look a lot different.  Only four more shelves to go.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Rainy Memories

It's raining, and it's raining hard as evidenced by the water that is rushing in underneath my porch door as it tends to do in heavy rain.  So off I go with one of the bright orange ShamWow towels purchased in bulk from the State Fair last year guaranteed to soak up all that water from the floor in a jiffy.  Although I have watched countless infomercials and witnessed endless demonstrations at the Fair, I can't seem to get the darn towels to soak up much of anything, let alone an entire 2-liter bottle of soda.  (Yeah, I said "soda."  My husband is from Syracuse and he's been a bad influence on me.  I know it's really called pop, but I've grown weary of the argument and have decided to humor him.)
Some people get so upset when it rains.  I don't mind it so much.  Rain smells clean and fresh most of the time.  And for some reason I seem to have a lot of happy memories in the rain.  When I was a teenager I was on a walk with a boyfriend when we got caught in a sudden sun shower.  We started to run for shelter but realized we were already soaked, so instead we jumped in puddles like a couple of little kids.  It was really fun. 

When I was dating my husband we went to the Park Ave Fest.  When we were as far away from the car as possible a horrible storm hit and we were instantly soaked by torrents of rain so strong that I had to cover my face so my contact lenses wouldn't get washed out of my eyes.  Mike took me by the arm and we strolled through the downpour.  People screamed and ran for cover, tents blew over, I remember seeing a hot dog wash down the road between my feet that got me laughing uncontrollably, but we strolled.  While some people grumbled that the storm had ruined the festival and their whole day, I was just happy that I had decided to put the roof back on the Thunderbird before we started out.  Convertibles do not make good swimming pools.

I have been to the State Fair every one of my 35 years.  My family used to hitch our old pop-up camper to the back of the station wagon and camp at the KOA not too far from the fairgrounds.  We would camp and visit the fair for several days at a time, and drive past the "stinky turkey" farm on the way there.  No matter what the weather report said, we would always bring our umbrellas for the first day we were at the fair.  It would ALWAYS rain on the first day.  I liked the rain at the fair.  It forced people into the buildings leaving the roadways clear to browse the various junk tents without bumping into everybody.  And when we would return to our camper I was lulled to sleep by the patter of rain on canvas.  My Dad would warn me not to touch the canvas or it would leak, and every year I would test that hypothesis.  It leaked.  Every time.  I'm sure it irritated Dad, but it was just another tradition like gobbling at the stinky turkeys and mooing at the cows.  Even the year that a tornado touched down and pulled the roof off the 4-H building, we still had a good time.

Just so that you don't think I've gone perpetually optimistic, I would like to point out my slight irritation that I can't hang my laundry outside because of the rain.  Folding the laundry inside isn't as nice or refreshing as folding it out in the bright sunshine and warm breezes.  Plus, I don't like my laundry room.  I dream of someday having a crisp, white, clean smelling laundry room and not what I currently have; a dark, dirty corner of the basement with a spider infestation that my husband is purposely keeping in an attempt to lower the population of even creepier bugs in the house.  Also, we're all trapped in the house, the kids found some kazoos, and I'm pretty much going insane.

So, it's raining now.  And I don't really mind it.  I'll sit by the window and listen to the pitter-patter as nature waters my neglected garden and leaves the air smelling fresh and clean.  In the meantime, I have to sop up the giant puddle on my porch.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Thor the Wonder Dog

My sister has a dog. She got it a few months ago. This has caused a problem in my house. You see, Thor, the blue Chihuahua, is adorable. He's tiny and soft and could probably fit in some of my larger purses. He likes to run and jump and will sit in your lap when he's tired.  I admit I have held his little face in my hands and used baby talk on more than one occasion.

Thor the Wonder Dog with Mya, Alyssa & Emily.

You can see for yourself how stinking cute he is! This is where the problem comes in. When my kids see their friends or cousins with something cute, adorable, and seemingly fun, they can't help but pester us for the same thing.

I don't want a dog. I admit I wanted a dog when I was a kid, but my mother convinced us that she was allergic and that having a dog would kill her. That turned out not to be entirely true, but it was enough to keep us from pestering her for a dog quite as much. It's an angle I'm considering using.

There are several reasons that I don't want a dog, none of them being that I don't like dogs. I really do enjoy other people's dogs for the same reason I enjoy other people's babies. Namely because I can give them back when I begin to find them annoying. That is something you can't do with your own kids... I mean dogs!!

One reason I don't want a dog is that I have noticed, not in every case, but for the most part you can tell a person owns a dog as soon as you step foot in their house. Dogs have a special kind of stink. Now, my sister's house does not smell like dog and I promised to tell her if it ever became a stink hole. I doubt I will ever smell dog in her house because she follows the dang thing around with antibacterial wipes. My sister and I are not a lot alike. I do not have the energy or desire to follow an animal around cleaning up after it. I barely clean up after my own three human kids. My kitchen floor is in a constant sticky state.  I don't imagine a dog would help with that.

Another reason a dog is out of the question is that, like many goldfish before, I will be the one who ends up taking care of it. And unlike fish, dogs will bark when they're hungry, neglected, or swimming around in their own funk. This is really my main objection to a furry pet and the reason I am trying to convince my kids that a lizard or a snake would be just as fun as Thor the Wonder Dog.

So far I haven't been able to convince the girls that a reptile is a cool pet. For that matter, my husband is not on board either. That might be because as I was falling asleep one night I promised that I wouldn't train the snake to kill him in the middle of the night. Let me explain... no, that will take too long. Let me sum up. I had just finished reading a Sherlock Holmes story called "The Adventure of the Speckled Band." In the story a man trained a poisonous snake to climb into his daughter's bed and administer a lethal bite before returning to him in his own locked room. In my sleepy state I wanted to reassure my husband that my suggestion of getting a snake was not for nefarious reasons.  I don't think I put his mind at ease since he had not read the story and had no idea what I was talking about.  I suppose the sentiment of, "I promise not to kill you in your sleep," isn't conducive to a good night's rest. 

The final reason that I do not want a dog is that my son is not potty trained.  I can only handle one creature at a time pooping inside my house.  My little guy, as cute as he is, can make a horrible smell.  He is the main reason that I went to my friend's Scentsy party and bought one of those flameless candles with the pretty smelling wax.  It's remarkably effective and has added to the quality of life in my house.

But not enough to get a dog.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Stream of Consciousness

I don't have a lot to say today.  Which is weird, because I always have something to say about just about everything.  I'm one of those people who likes to put her two cents in.  But today... nada.

My husband ended up staying home from work today due to the sleep deprivation caused by our screaming son last night.  It was horrible.  There was nothing wrong with him.  He just didn't want to be asleep so, apparently, neither could we.  He finally fell asleep in bed with us.

It always amazes me how much space a tiny person can take up in a queen-sized bed.  Any parent can attest to this phenomenon.  You would think a 30-inch person would be able to fit right in such a big bed.  But not so.  What happens when you have a baby in your bed, even a teeny, tiny newborn baby, is that there is this giant bubble that forms around them and pushes both adults to the very edge, almost to the point of falling out of bed.  (I admit, with one of my kids, I can't remember which, I actually did fall out of bed because they were taking up so much room.)  I don't know if it's because as parents we don't want to accidentally squish our kids in our sleep so we move ourselves to the edge, or if it's the awful feeling of baby toes digging violently into your ribs in the middle of the night that send us teetering on the edge.

My kids were playing on the teeter-totter attached to the swing set in our backyard.  My almost five-year-old and my two-year-old were perfectly balanced.  I don't know if that's an indication that I over-feed my baby, or under-feed my kindergartener.

I finally pulled all the carrots out of my garden.  Since, according to the seed packet, they were supposed to be full grown about two weeks ago, I figured they had grown as much as they could.  Most of them were as thin as dental floss, but there were a few that were relatively fat and about three or four inches long.  Regardless of how big they are, they smell great and are surprisingly flavorful.  I guess I'll try to make carrot muffins or puree them and mix them into sauce or something.

I made homemade bread yesterday and today.  It's really very easy to make, especially since I just dump the ingredients into a zip lock bag and smoosh them up.  Fewer dishes that way.  Besides, the absolute worst part of baking is cleaning up afterwards. 

I've been hanging my laundry outside to dry for the past couple of weeks.  I've only turned on my dryer twice in that time, mostly because I don't like my underwear dangling from a string in the yard for all the neighbors to see.  It's just weird.  Also, the clothes are kinda stiff from a lack of fabric softener and quite frankly, I don't want crispy undies.

I guess if I just let my stream of consciousness flow I have more to say than I thought.  I suppose that doesn't necessarily make it worth reading.  But if that's the case, we'll blame it on my lack of sleep.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Graham Cracker is NOT a Cookie

I recently got an email with a teaser line about making “Quick and Easy Donuts at Home!”  Well, how could I pass up reading more about making a delicious confection that was so quick and easy?  I clicked on the link and was directed to a recipe for "donuts" that involved cutting a hole in the center of a refrigerated buttermilk biscuit, deep frying it and then sprinkling it with confectioner’s sugar.  Now, I like biscuits, they don’t even need to be homemade for me to appreciate them, but a biscuit, even a deep-fried one, is not a donut.  Not by a long shot, my friend.

When I was a little kid my Mom was in a bowling league.  Every Saturday while the moms bowled the kids would be sent down to the basement of the bowling alley to the day care.  (There is either a horror movie or a 20/20 special in there somewhere.)  Anyhow, while in the basement of the bowling alley the baby sitters would roll out these nasty old mats and make all of the kids lie down and take a nap.  A nap… in a bowling alley… with bowling balls and falling pins above our heads.  Really?  Even at the age of 4 or 5 I knew this was a fruitless effort.  Even an exhausted child isn’t going to sleep well under a bowling alley!

The highlight of this weekly misadventure was always snack time.  Once we got popsicles.  Sometimes we got chocolate chip cookies.  There was one woman who made the promise of cookies, but it was always a disappointment.  After lying on the nasty mats for what seemed like an eternity we would be called to the endless row of folding tables for a cookie. 

She called it a cookie, but it was a graham cracker. It wasn't even the kind of graham cracker with cinnamon and sugar on it.  Just a plain old cracker. One day she held out the graham cracker to me and asked, “Would you like a cookie?”  I replied, “I would like a cookie, but this isn’t one.  It’s a graham cracker.”  She told me that a graham cracker is like a cookie.  I don’t remember if I actually voiced my disagreement with her statement or if I just thought, “I don’t know what the heck you’ve been eating all your life, but this is not a cookie!”  Either way, my mom didn’t bowl much after that day.

It’s been about 30 years since the bowling alley incident, but my belief is as firm today as it was then; No matter how it crumbles, a graham cracker is not a cookie.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


People like to talk about baggage.  "He comes with a lot of baggage."  "She's got a lot of baggage."  "I can't believe I have to pay $50 to fly with extra baggage."  Everyone has their 'stuff' that they bring into a relationship.  Most of it is trivial; carry-ons, if you will.  For example, my husband can't eat dill pickles if he plans on kissing me within the following ten hours.  Also, use of the word "moist" is prohibited in my house.  I, myself, haven't had asparagus in ten years because my husband doesn't like it.  We make little sacrifices to accommodate the baggage of the people we love.

Speaking of baggage, I once saw Dom DeLuise in the Los Angeles airport. I will always remember him getting his luggage off of the carousel not only because of his great stature covered in a vibrant Hawaiian shirt, but also because he had no fewer than 137-thousand tiny little pieces of luggage. He had three or four of those big huge luggage carts you used to be able to find at the airport (back in the days when your luggage got to fly for free) filled to toppling with bags that were no wider than my laptop. Not only did it seem odd for such a large man to have so many dainty bags, I don't think he could have fit more than one shirt in each one, I was also struck by the fact that not a single one matched another. There was one that was a bright, shiny red like the seat cover in a '50's style diner. Another was neon green. There was one that had airplanes printed on it. There were none that were plain black or blue like almost all of the rest of the luggage being pulled out of the bottom of the plane. As my family pulled our own luggage off of the carousel I thought to myself, "Our luggage may be olive green hard cases from the '60's, but at least it's a matched set!" The other thing that struck me about Dom DeLuise was that he was not smiling... at all. Maybe it's because he had to schlep 137-thousand tiny cases around the country when he traveled.

I seem to be a collector of bags.  Not purses, although I have my fair share of those as well.  I'm talking about bags.  My mother-in-law will send us home from her house with several items for the kids and she'll put them in a nice, sturdy shopping bag.  Or I'll go shopping at Ann Taylor (with a gift card, of course) and they'll put my new clothes in a shopping bag with a ribbon handle.  For some reason, I feel compelled to save these bags.  I have no idea why.  I don't think I have ever re-used such a bag.  They mostly just sit around and collect dust until I go insane and finally throw them out in a fit of angry cleaning.  I've also started collecting re-usable cloth or nylon shopping bags, you know, to save the environment.  I have one that folds into a perfect 4"x4" square and one that tucks into itself until it looks like a strawberry.  I have never once remembered to bring any of these bags to the grocery store.  But luckily, I have a very reasonable use for saving the plastic Wegmans bags that I bring home instead.  My son is not yet potty trained and some of those stinky diapers need some serious wrapping before being tossed in the trash.

I heard a story about a bag boy at a grocery store who was mentally handicapped.  Each night before work he would think up a "thought of the day" and print it out on a bunch of strips of paper.  He would drop one of these strips of paper into each grocery bag he packed.  After about a month, the manager of the store noticed that all of the customers were lined up at one lane.  He tried to direct them to other open lanes to get things moving, but they all told him no.  They wanted to be in this boy's lane just so that they could get his encouraging thought of the day.

All this talk of bags reminds me, I need to pick up some goodie bags for my son's birthday party this weekend.  I made a pinata (you heard me, I made it myself!) and it's stuffed full of little treats.  Each kid will need a bag to stash their loot in.  Maybe I just found a use for all those shopping bags!

Monday, July 11, 2011

I wore flip flops to Wegmans....

It's hot.  It's very hot.  And muggy.  The sky wants to rain but there's just something stopping it, as if the atmosphere is biting its lip trying not to cry when it's angry.  Anyhow, it's hot.

I have a general rule... flip flops are fine for the beach or the pool, but they are not appropriate footwear for general life.  I understand that some people "live" in their flip flops all summer, but I just can't do that.  The only exception to my no-flip-flop rule is when I am pregnant and so swollen nothing else will fit on my sausage feet.  Otherwise, there's just something about flip flops that rub me the wrong way.  I feel the same way about people who wear pajama bottoms as pants.  It's just wrong and should be stopped.

Feet, in general, are not at all attractive and, in my humble opinion, should be covered as much as possible.  I also firmly believe that if your toes are going to peep out from your shoes they should be trimmed, clean, and painted.  Toenails are gross in any scenario.  The only acceptable way to show the world your toe is to paint it.  Preferably bright pink.

Anyhow, back to the flip-flops.  Many years ago I had foot surgery and needed a shoe to fit over my bandaged, mangled feet.  I found a pair of bright red rubber flip flops with sparkly red beads on the straps.  They were $4.73.  I remember that because I went back and forth several times before I was willing to pay the whopping $4.73 for a shoe that I was adamantly against wearing.  I bought them and painted my toes red to match.  It worked out okay, but I was glad when I was able to wear normal shoes again.

Shortly before Independence Day this year I went to a family reunion and ended up getting a blister on the back of my ankle.  So the next day I searched the back of my closet floor until I came across my bright red flip flops and decided to wear them to my In-Laws house.  They live on a beautiful lake and my kids would be swimming, so I convinced myself that the beach attire was appropriate.  Also, I don't have a lot of clothes in "patriotic" colors, so I felt I needed to wear as much red as I could.

After wearing them all day at the lake, I decided to wear them to the town parade.  That lead me to wear them to the Independence Day barbecue at my sister's house.  Then I wore them to the fireworks.  When I finally got home, the red flip flops ended up with the pile of shoes by the front door.  For the rest of the weekend and into the week I would slip them on real quick to run outside to get the mail, or to dig in the garden, or to sit in the back yard while the kids played or splashed in the pool. 

And then it happened.  I ran to Wegmans real quick to pick up some diapers and ice cream.  (It's still hot.)  When I got into my car my shoe slid off my foot.  (This happens to me more often than you would think.)  I looked down at the black pavement and saw the bright red flip flop sparkling in the sunshine.  I couldn't believe I had gone to the store wearing them.  It's against my rule!  I'm sure it was just the heat that caused my lapse in judgment, but I'm afraid I may have gotten into the habit of slipping them on before I fly out the door and now I can't stop! 

These patriotic flip flops were the gateway shoe.  If you ever see me in church wearing my slippers, please organize a footwear intervention for me.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Water, Water Everywhere.... but do I really want to drink it?

I am picky about my water.  This is a realization that was a long time coming.  I remember when I was a kid and the tap water would turn brown every spring when the lake would turn over.  I would refuse to drink it and my parents would tell me, "Oh, it's fine!  Stop being so picky!"

But they changed their tune when the Culligan Man came around.  I don't know what that man put in the test tube filled with our tap water, but it turned solid and was full of amoebas, paramecium and other critters I learned about in 7th grade Earth Science whose names I have long since forgotten.  It was disturbing and from that day on we had a special little faucet next to our tap just for drinking.  It tasted like nothing, and that's how I liked it.

Years later, we moved to a new house.  Our skin and pallets had become accustomed to the softened and filtered water.  Within a month we all were suffering from dry, itchy skin and nobody wanted to drink water from the tap because it... well... tasted like tap water!  Another call to the Culligan Man and our skin returned to it's former self.  We were all relieved to slurp up the cool, flavorless liquid that now flowed from yet another special faucet.

My husband grew up in a beautiful house on the shore of Otisco Lake.  The family had a pump that sucked all the water needed for showers, toilets, laundry and drinking directly from the lake.  Now, it's a lovely lake, and fairly clean but I'm a city girl and, as far as I'm concerned, a lake is just a big toilet for fish.  I was assured that the water went through a filter with ultra violet light to clean it, but I just couldn't put the memory of the test tube of solidified tap water out of my head.  If all that gross stuff was in the water that went through heavy-duty, government-regulated filtering through a professional water treatment plant what was a little blue light really going to do?  I drank some once to be respectful, but never had another glass of water from their house again.  It's not them.  It's me.  When we got married and moved into an apartment in the city the problem was easily solved with a Britta Pitcher in the fridge.

Now, I was aware of my sensitive pallet when it comes to lake water.  Clearly, I prefer my own source of Hemlock Lake to Otisco Lake.  What I didn't realize until recently was that I am also a bottled water snob.  Not a total snob, mind you.  My water doesn't need to be French with no bubbles or anything like that.  I don't need water with extra electrolytes or vitamins.  And I don't care for the artificial fruit flavors on the market either.  I like my water to taste like, well, water.  No, not well water.  Just water.  I grabbed a bottle of water from my mother-in-law's fridge the other day and was surprised that it tasted funny to me.  "What is going on?  Bottled water is water," I thought to myself.  Then I read the source label on the bottles.  The 'foreign tasting' water was from Concord, New York and bottled in West Seneca, New York near Buffalo.  The water I usually drink is bottled at the source from Forestport, New York where, when viewed through Google Earth, is just green.

Apparently I am also raising a couple of young water snobs.  A waitress brought us some water before we ordered our dinner the other night.  After one sip my four-year-old announced to the waitress that she needed new water because hers "tastes like bath water!"  I was mortified and apologised.  I drank the water without complaint, but she was right.  It tasted like bath water.

So, I guess I am a snob.  At least when it comes to water.  I can live with that.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Good In A Crisis

I am an excellent person to have around in case of an emergency.  When matters of life and death are at hand all of my emotions shut down like a switch that has been flipped and what is left operational is rational and logical.  I am able to separate myself from the terrifying experience and look at it as a puzzle that needs to be solved quickly and efficiently.

I remember driving to my uncle's house one December evening in my parent's Ford Taurus with my mother in the passenger seat.  I had recently gotten my learners permit and was excited to get in some drive time.  I was going over the curvy bridge that connects the 590 South and 390 South expressways.  As I reached the end of the bridge I hit some black ice and started to spin... once... twice.... three times across the expressway and toward the ditch.  I vaguely recall my mother screaming; I'm not sure if she was saying anything or if it was just a noise.  My mind blocked out the sound because it was not useful information to correct what was happening.  I was not afraid, even when I saw headlights coming at us.  "Pump the brakes.  Turn gently into the spin.  Hands at 10 and 2."  That's all that there was. 

We eventually came to a stop and I put the car in park.  We were far enough off the road that we should have been tipped into the ditch, but the car was level.  I took a deep breath, put the car in drive, looked both ways and pulled back out onto the expressway.  I don't remember anything between that and when I pulled into my uncle's driveway to meet up with the rest of our family for dinner.  All I know is that by the time we got inside the house my mother was calm and I completely lost it.  It was finally safe for all the fear and panic to come out, and boy, did it ever!  But I was calm when it counted, and that's what matters.

In high school I was at a party at a friend's house.  We were all having some good clean fun when one of my friends suddenly said, "Are there nuts in these cookies?"  Apparently, our friend's mother had ground walnuts into a fine powder before adding them to the cookies.  This kid didn't realize that until he had downed about half a dozen of them.  The other kids started to panic as his face quickly swelled and turned the oddest shade of reddish-purple I had ever seen on a human being.  It was my first experience with a peanut allergy but before his tongue swelled up like a brisket I was able to get some basic instructions from him as to what to do.  I stayed calm and got him the things that he needed to recover from the attack of the legume.  The two of us ended up sitting outside on the porch in the cold with a glass of milk and a box of Kleenex until he looked... well, less swollen.  I kept my cool and periodically asked if he was alright.  "Emb oday," he would assure me and we continued to sit.  When I got home later that night I got physically sick.

A couple of years ago I got a phone call from my mother.  My Dad had been hit by a bus while waiting at a red light and was being taken to the hospital.  Mom was clearly shaken but I was proud of her for how well she composed herself.  I told her I would be right there and immediately packed up my kids and husband along with a bag full of bottled water and snacks and headed to the scene of the accident to pick up my mom.  I collected all the paperwork the police officer had handed to my mom and kept it safe and organized until my mom was in a state that she could submit things to various insurance companies.  I stayed with her and my dad at the hospital until things seemed under control, offering water and snacks.  I took pictures and made jokes to lighten the mood.  When I got home I crawled into bed and cried for what seemed like forever at the sight of my dad in a big neck brace.  And that was before we found out that he was going to have to have his spine fused together with a big metal plate.  But again, I was calm when it counted.

The point of these memories is to remind me that I am able to handle tough situations.  However, I'm not feeling confident that I will be able to shut off my emotions and think logically this coming Thursday when I hand my baby boy over to a medical staff to perform eye surgery on him.  I don't imagine I will be thinking about how this is the right decision and that I am preventing a future problem and the likely loss of vision in his right eye when they take him from my arms.  I can't believe that I will be thoughtful and practical while waiting for two hours while the doctor's cut into my little boy's eyes to readjust the muscles.  I don't think I can be rational, calm, cool and logical when it comes to my kids.  I think I'm better in sudden emergencies because I don't have time to contemplate everything that is going on.  I just take care of business.

Just this morning a friend of mine posted this on Facebook. 

Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.  Philippians 4:6

I know that God exists the same way that I know my husband, children, family and friends exist.  I have interacted with him.  I have talked with Him.  I have asked Him for help and listened to His voice as He guided me through trouble.  I know He will comfort me as I sit waiting for my son to come out of surgery.  I know His peace will be with me as it has been before.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I Am The Alpha Diner

My authority at the dinner table first came to my attention several years ago while enjoying a meal with my husband's family at The Cheesecake Factory.  After a few interactions with the waiter I noticed that he was really only addressing me.  Why, I wondered, were all of his questions being directed at me when there were three other women who have never held back on letting people know exactly what they want, plus my husband sitting at the table with me?  The answer was clear.  I am the Alpha Diner.  Whether I like it or not, I am in charge when dinning out.  For some reason when asked, "Do you need a few more minutes?" the table is silent and defers to me.

I remember my first date with my husband.  We probably went to a movie that I don't recall, but then we went to Friendly's for dinner.  (I remember it being Perkins, but Mike assures me it was Friendly's.)  Anyhow, we were in "Friendly's" and apparently, the waitress forgot part of my date's dinner.  This is when he did an abhorrent thing.  With a look of disgust on his face he snapped his fingers to get the waitress' attention.  It worked; she came right over.  I was appalled, and before he could even make his request I... well... explained to him how a restaurant server is a person, not an animal, and should never be summoned by snapping fingers.  I insisted he apologise or I would walk out of the restaurant, which he did.  I don't think the problem with his order was ever resolved.  I'm also not sure how he got a second date with me.  He must have slipped something into my Pepsi.  To his credit, he has never snapped his fingers to get any one's attention ever again.  This may have been the beginning of my Alpha Diner status.

My father is also an Alpha Diner.  When I was a kid Dad was always the one who would flag down the waitress and make a request no matter who at the table needed something.  Maybe it was because he was the only guy in a house full of women and he's a chivalrous kind of guy.  Maybe it was because my mom was always kind of shy and, like her mother, didn't like to be a bother to people by asking for things even if it was their job to do so.  Maybe it was because he was the one paying the bill, so we just deferred to him.  I don't know.  Whatever the reason, when I have dinner with my dad my status goes from Alpha to Beta.

I like to play a little game I call "Spot The Alpha Diner" while I wait in restaurants.  I look at each table around me and try to pick out the dominant diner.  Some of them can be a bit obnoxious, but sometimes it's much more subtle.  Usually, it's the person who makes the most eye contact with the waiter or smiles the most.  Sometimes you can spot the Alpha Diner because they are the one who calls the waiter by his name.  If someone complements the waitress on her pretty earrings, they are likely the Alpha Diner.  Go ahead, play it the next time you go out to eat!

I'm apparently influencing my children to grow up to be Alpha Diners as well.  Both my 7- and 4-year-old girls have independently flagged down our waiter or waitress to ask for a refill on chocolate milk, a bowl of applesauce, or a side of Ranch dressing without any help or prompting from us.  Actually, they did it without us even noticing because we were trying to prevent the baby from chucking his food into the next booth.  My surprise was not so much in the fact that they asked, but that they did it with so much authority and grace that the teen aged wait staff actually responded to them immediately!

So, who's the Alpha Diner in your family?

Monday, May 9, 2011

WebMD Is Not My Friend

I'm not the kind of mom that worries about every little sniffle.  My general philosophy is whatever doesn't kill 'em makes 'em stronger.  Don't get me wrong, I'm a modern mom who carries hand sanitizer in every purse, stroller, diaper bag and car I have.  Since my son is not skilled at keeping his food on his plate I always keep those self-sticking place mats on hand for restaurants.  And after my sister visited with her new puppy every one's hands and face got a thorough scrubbing.  But if my kids decide to try and feed each other dirt from the backyard or pop the occasional bug into their mouth, oh well.  A little extra protein for the day.

But on occasion, I get a little obsessed about my kids to the point that I can't think about anything else.  That's when the trouble starts because that's when I start visiting WebMD.  I've done it for each of my kids and drove myself crazy staring at disgusting pictures of rashes trying to figure out which disease to inform the pediatrician my kids have, as if my 20-minutes of research online makes me more qualified to diagnoses than the years of education and experience that the trained medical professionals have.  It's shameful.  I'm not proud, but I can't seem to stop myself.

I also turned to WebMD about two weeks before my planned C-Section and watched a video of EXACTLY what the doctors were going to be doing to me behind that big sheet that would separate my head from the rest of my body.  Let me tell you ladies, there's a reason they don't let you watch your own c-section.  It's grodey.  Nobody should ever, EVER see that happening.  Well, needless to say, I freaked out.   The thought of my insides being on the outside was just too much to handle.  I tried to convince my husband that the baby should just stay inside me like a kangaroo, but he explain to me that I am not a marsupial and a pouch was not an option. 

He made me promise never to visit WebMD again.   Well, I haven't gone to the site for a long time, but my son... my baby, was diagnosed with strabismus or "lazy eye" (by an actual medical professional, not me!)  He is scheduled to have surgery on May 19th and, once again, I turned to WebMD for more details.  The idea of having my little baby in an operating room under anesthesia is enough to make me cry.  The thought of someone, even a highly trained doctor, the best in the state, I'm told, cutting away a piece of muscle from my baby's eye makes my heart stop.  Seeing pictures of what they will be doing... no words.  Just tears.

I have to keep reminding myself that he needs this surgery to avoid loosing vision in his eye.  I need to remind myself that the doctors are there to help him.  I need to remember that God gave him to me and He will keep him safe.

So now, I'm off to the pediatrician to check out a sniffle and make sure it won't interfere with the surgery.  I can't wait until this is all over.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Sound a Bunny Makes

When you ask most children what sound a bunny makes they will usually just twitch their nose.  That's a perfectly respectable answer, but not entirely correct.  Rabbits do actually make a sound.  It's a sound that does not at all match the fuzzy reputation of bunnies and if you heard it, you wouldn't believe it had come from a bunny at all.  Maybe bunnies don't usually make a sound because all of the other animals would make fun of them, but this cry is saved for moments of extreme duress.  I know that they only make a sound while under duress because of one reason, my friend Mike.

When I was a kid we had a seemingly unending stream of pet bunnies that came, I assume, from the previous owner of our first pair of rabbits assuring my father he had two male bunnies.  We used to walk our bunnies up and down the street on little green leashes before they became raging alcoholics who would barely even move to eat.  That's another story entirely. 

Anyhow, on one of our little walks our bunny, Thumper, got tired and decided to rest at our neighbor's house.  It seemed as good a time as any to visit our friends, so we tied Thumper's leash to the porch railing and went inside for a visit.  My friend, Mike, was a charmingly curious little boy who would often wander off and have little adventures of his own.  It was during one such adventure that we began to wonder where he had gone off too when we suddenly heard the oddest noise coming from the porch.  It sounded like a small pony or a donkey braying and we couldn't imagine what kind of creature it was coming from.

When we got to the porch, there stood Mike holding in his hand the little green leash with a very nervous bunny at the end.  He looked up at us with his big, brown eyes and quietly said, "He sat on a thorn."   Worst.... liar.... ever.  It was clear that the little boy decided the bunny was lonely and would have more fun in the house with the rest of us, so he grabbed him by the leash and attempted to lead him up the porch steps like you would a dog.  Except, bunnies don't really move like dogs.  Thumper, believing that he was going to die by being hanged from his own ridiculous leash (I mean, come on, who puts a rabbit on a leash?) gave out one last cry of desperation.  It's that cry that stopped the little boy in his tracks and attracted a house full of spectators to the scene, saving the bunny's fluffy little tail.

I hadn't thought about that day in quite a while, but was reminded of it when I heard that vaguely familiar sound very early this morning just before sunrise.  "Another bunny in duress," I thought.  Later that morning I went to my backyard and found a fluffy bunny tail.  No bunny.  Just the tail.

UPDATE:  We found a second bunny tail in the back yard.  Apparently, our yard is a fantastic hunting ground for a very skilled night creature!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My Reaction to bin Laden

I'm sure many people will always remember where they were and what they were doing when the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed broke.  I won't because it was Sunday night and, since there wasn't anything good on TV, I was watching DVDs of The Big Bang Theory until I fell asleep on the couch.  But I will always remember the next morning when I logged onto my laptop while the kids watched "The Cat In The Hat Knows A Lot About That" and I saw the horrible man's face on every news page.  The sound of Martin Short singing the happy ditty "Here we go, go, go, go on an adventure..." will forever be associated with the end of an evil man for me.

I was surprised at my reaction to the news.  I have the kind of personality that likes to see people get exactly what they deserve, especially if they've been horrible.  But my response was one of shock then sadness.  I realized that this man was really, really in hell.  He is really, really burning and suffering.  He's being tormented and abused, and it will continue for eternity.

Don't get me wrong.  He TOTALLY deserves eternal damnation.  But in all honesty, we all do.  You see, sin is sin in God's eyes.  There aren't levels or degrees of sin for God.  This horrible man who was responsible for the death of countless numbers of people, this man who used women and children as human shields in order to continue his evil life, is no more or less of a sinner that the mother of three who lied about having a headache so she didn't have to go to zumba last night.  A sin is a sin.  The price of sin is death.  Osama got what he deserved, no doubt.  But he got what we all deserve.

Thankfully, you and I don't have to suffer the same price.  Jesus paid the penalty for our sin.  The penalty for MY sin is my death.  It's not optional.  This fee cannot be waived.  I owe it.  I owe it, and Jesus paid it for me.  He died in my place.  He sacrificed his life for me so that I can live.  All I had to do in return was to thank Him, ask Him to be in my heart and to help me change and be a better person.  Yes, I still sin.  But I have a Savior to go to who forgives me when I ask for forgivness and sets me free. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

An Abrupt End

I've been writing a lot the past several days.  It's been mostly drivel based on vague memories from high school and college, and I usually don't get much further than a paragraph or two.  I'm finding it helpful in these instances to not have a very good memory for reality.  For example, I remember going miniature golfing with friends in high school, but that is about all.  I don't remember when in high school and I don't even remember which friends I was with.  I just remember being on the golf course with a small group of friends.  Since I don't remember the actual events or people involved, it's easy to have some fun with the story....

The invitation to mini-golf was legitimate, but everyone involved knew that it was another attempt by the group of friends to get Tiffany and Steve together.  Tiffany was quite comfortable being single even though the prom was fast approaching, but her friends disagreed.  Since they were her friends and she wanted them to be happy, or at least to stop bugging her, she went along with the ruse and found herself paired up with her handsome, yet awkward companion.

Steve pulled out all his best cheesy date moves.  As Tiffany was about to putt on the fifth hole he wrapped his arms around her.  "Let me help you with your form."  It was a cringe worthy moment.  His arms were strong, fingernails clean and he smelled nice so Tiffany was willing to overlook the ridiculousness of it all.

By the end of the round Tiffany had agreed to get some ice cream with Steve.  Pleased at their success, the rest of the group made their excuses not to join them so the two "love birds" could be alone.

The pair meandered down the boardwalk and onto the pier while eating their ice cream and nervously talking about what a great time they had that night.  As they stood at the end of the pier watching the sunset melt into the lake Steve contemplated kissing the girl he had been dreaming about for months.  Without warning, Tiffany grabbed Steve and threw him over the edge.  She turned and casually strolled back down the pier to the beach.

Crazy can come out of nowhere.

Monday, April 25, 2011

I Do Not Heart Zumba!

I do not love Zumba.  This is not a popular opinion.  It's been my experience that, for the most part, people who like zumba love it, and people who don't love it rarely go back for a second class.  I do not fall into either of those categories.  I grudgingly return to the gym twice a week, every week to endure the humiliation that is me attempting to dance and be even remotely funky while doing it.

I get through it by standing behind a really tall girl in the class so I don't catch a glimpse of myself flailing around in the floor-to-ceiling mirrors that surround the room.  I imagine myself being just as coordinated as the lovely and tall instructor who has been a dance teacher for 25 years.  When she stretches her arms out from side to side looking graceful as a swan, I imagine I look the same and not, as I notice when the tall girl was out one day and was exposed to my own reflection, looking like Kermit the Frog having a seizure.

Guilt is a big factor in me returning to the gym for zumba.  My kids take dance lessons from my instructor and when I pick them up from class she gives me a doubtful look and says, "Are you coming tonight?"  She has a gift for getting people to do things that they have no motivation to do; a gift I am sure is helpful while she is trying to get a room full of 3- and 4-year-olds to pirouette all at the same time.  She is lovingly motivational and pushy in the best possible way.  :-)

I think the most motivating factor in getting me to go back to zumba is friendship; friendship with my instructor who keeps me on track, and friendship with the other ladies in the class.  One friend in particular keeps me coming back.  We share a similar sense of humor about ourselves.  We snicker at the same ridiculous moves.  Class is not the same if she's not there to laugh with.

So no, I do not heart zumba.  But I do love all the friends I have made while going.  And that's what will keep me coming back.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Unwelcome Tenant

Raccoons are horrible creatures.  I know this because there is one living in my chimney.  He (I say "he" because I'm praying it's not a "she" who is ready to have babies in my chimney.  Yuck.) as I was saying, he has been living in there since February.  My husband and I were coming home from a date night (which we get to do about once a year, but that's an entirely different post) and saw the horrible beast perched on top of our roof against the moonlight.  We grabbed a flashlight to determine what it was and, sure enough, the masked bandit peered back at us.  Then he got spooked and ran towards our chimney. 

"No!  No!  Noooooo!!!"  I yelled as he squeezed his fluffy butt into the tiny hole leading to our fireplace.  We could hear him banging around inside for several months.  We would hear him leave just after dusk and return at around 5:00am each day.  Sometimes he would bang in the middle of the afternoon and my kids would start pounding on the wall near the fireplace yelling "Get out of our chimney, you filthy beast!"  My husband wouldn't get him out because of the ice on the roof.  It was too dangerous to climb up there.  He assured me (repeatedly) that there was no way for him to get into the house.

So finally, Spring came (sort of).  At least the ice melted from the roof and we were able to get up on the roof to put a cap on the chimney.  But first we would have to have a fire in the fireplace to smoke the stinking thing out.  So we collected all of the old bills and credit card offer that I've been meaning to shred and had ourselves a good smokey fire.  Unfortunately, the flu was stuck closed and the living room filled with smoke.  But don't panic!  We got a hammer and smacked that darn thing opened.  The smoke began to rise up the chimney, but there was no critter going out.  Apparently, he had met some friends for lunch that day, so the fire was for nothing.

No matter.  My husband happily climbed up the roof to install the chimney cap.  Once he was up there he realized he needed a different screw driver.  He wanted me to throw it up to him, but I refused because that just didn't seem safe.  So I decided to climb up the extension ladder leaning against the side of the house.  This is when I discovered two things; 1) I do not like heights and 2) I think aluminum is a stupid material to make a ladder out of.  It does not give any feeling of stability or safety.  I almost called my dad to come and get me down, just like when I was a kid and climbed that 30-foot pine tree and couldn't get down.

The cap made it on the chimney without any further problems and we cleaned up the mess from the fire by shoving the cold ashes down the little chute at the back of the fireplace.  Everything seemed fine until about half an hour later when we noticed the basement was full of smoke.  There was smoke streaming out from behind the basement wall right under the fireplace.  We opened the ash door in the basement and found nothing.  Not even the ashes we had put down the chute earlier.  Weird.

As the smoke got thicker, we had no choice but to call the fire department.  Apparently, there was nothing else going on because we ended up with five engines from two different fire houses, plus three volunteers in their own cars, and about 30 gigantic firefighters in full gear stomping through my kitchen and into the basement.  I thought having that many people in my basement might violate fire regulations, but I figured I'd leave that detail up to the experts.  After a while, the fire fighters came out of our basement with a smoldering bucket of small planks.  Apparently, the previous owner of our house had shoved three or four small boards and a foam ceiling tile up the ash trap.  There was a single ember that was still warm enough to start the tile smoldering.  Who stores flammables in a place you put ashes?

Once the fire fighters and their engines were gone, we thought everything was fine.  Then came the windstorm.  The next day we heard some banging on the roof and the chimney cap lifted up and blew off.  Later that night we heard the all-to-familiar sound of the raccoon climbing down the chimney.  The stinking thing is back.  And the wind and rain haven't let up enough to get back up there to put the cap back on the chimney.  We might just have this unwelcome tenant until summer.

Which is why I was so annoyed to see caged raccoons on display at the zoo today.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Love Affair With The Buffet

I met him at my cousin's wedding.  There he was, standing at the edge of the dance floor beckoning to me.  I walked across the floor not knowing what I would say. 

"Chicken or beef?"  He asked coyly.

"Both," I answered.  "I like to live dangerously."

He swept me off my feet with offers of Chicken French, Prime Rib and Green Beans Almondine.  He put me at ease with his subtle signs;  "French"  "Italian" "Bleu Cheese".  I knew it was happening and I couldn't stop it.  I was falling in love with the Buffet.

We spent the entire evening together.  I never left his side.  After his dazzling display of sweets from decadent cake to chocolate-covered strawberries, it was time to say goodnight.  I didn't know if I would ever see him again, so I tucked a few pastries in my purse to remember our one amazing night together.

I thought about him quite often after that night, but I never heard from him until I went on vacation.  I was traveling on a gorgeous cruise liner.  I had just settled in my room and decided to explore the ship.  I wandered into the dining room, and that's when I saw him, even more glorious than before.  He stood in the center of the room and seemed to go on forever.  He showed off with a six-foot display of crudites; an indescribeable display of pineapple, papaya and mango the likes of which I had never seen before and would never see again.  We spent the entire week together.  It was amazing.

I saw even more of him after the cruise.  We would meet at different family restaurants around town.  Each night he would have a different theme; American Fare, Chinese, seafood.  One morning he surprised me with a breakfast buffet with sausage gravy and made-to-order omelets!

But soon, my friends started to notice a change in me.  They said I was gaining weight and that he was no good for me.  They told me to just back away.  But I couldn't imagine my life without him.

And then one day it happened.  I went to the Ponderosa to surprise him for an early dinner, and that's when I saw it.  Another woman was standing with him.  I watched in disbelief as she reached again and again for more chicken fried steak and steaming hot mashed potatoes.  My heart was breaking.  But then came the unforgivable.  She leaned UNDERNEATH the sneeze guard.  My heart went from broken to shattered.  I ran from the restaurant and never turned back. 

It's been several years.  I still run into him occasionally at some weddings or extravagant business meetings.  I nod politely from across the room, but we're through.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Finger Flicking Good

I recently discovered something.  I don't like reading books online.  Don't misread that last sentence.  I like reading books.  I like it a lot.  Truthfully, I'd rather read a book than watch TV, but by the time I get through my day, work out, get the kids clean and tucked into bed, I'm exhausted.  I just want to turn off the lights and let the glow of the idiot box fill the room.  I flop down on the couch and veg out until my eyes just won't stay opened.  The thought of turning on a light bright enough for my coke-bottle glassed eyes to actually see small black print on an ecru page gives me a migraine.  I would love to read a good book during the day when there is plenty of natural light to read comfortable by, but with a 1- and 4-year old with me all day, I don't get a lot of chances to read books that don't rhyme and have a picture of a cat wearing the same ridiculous striped hat my husband used to wear when he went skiing in high school.  I can't count the number of pages that have been ripped out of books and magazines by pudgy, sticky fingers covered in cheese dust from fish crackers while I sit trying to read them.  It's a pointless exercise.

I remember the first book that truly moved me.  It was Amelia Bedelia.  Specifically, it was the part of the story where she "dusted" the living room with the expensive dusting powder she found in the bathroom.  In her family they "undusted" the furniture but, when in Rome. To my 4-year-old mind this seemed like a great idea.  I was moved to action.  I found a container of baby powder and began sprinkling it into all the places upstairs that might need some freshening up.  I sprinkled a little in the hamper, some in the closet, a touch in the bed sheets.  Then I moved across the hall to freshen up the bathroom.  My mother suddenly realized that I had been upstairs for several minutes and was very quiet.  She stood at the bottom of the stairs with the trepidation of a mom that is not yet sure of the disaster that surely awaits her and began to speak.  "Kiiiiimmm, what are you....."  Her sentence was interrupted by a blast of overpowering sweet fragrance wafting down the stairs in a powdery, white cloud.  She ran up the stairs and found me at the top with a nearly empty container of baby powder under one arm, Amelia Bedelia under the other and a big, proud smile on my face.  The entire second floor was covered in a fine dust that was quickly settling in between the slats of the hardwood floors. My mother was so furious that she couldn't even spank me.  She took away the powder and the book and sent me downstairs.  Every few minutes I would hear a cry of, "What the!  It's in the...!"  She never finished shrieking any of her sentences.  I've never seen my mother so mad.  But the house never smelled so sweet.

When I was a kid a couple of my friends and I had a book club.  We each had a binder where we would list all of the books we read.   (Yeah, we were super cool.)  We would get star stickers and had to write book reports.  I was certainly the slacker of the book club.  My friends out-read me all the time.  I remember thinking to myself, "Why are we wasting the summer reading books when Heather has a pool!?!"  It really annoyed me that we couldn't swim until we finished our book club meeting.  I remember the final book club meeting that I attended with them.  I had only read two books that week compared to their five.  I'm pretty sure I lied about reading the two books.  I wasn't taking the book club seriously and they were considering taking official action to kick me out.  I remember saying something along the lines of, "Stop forcing me to read!  It's not fun when I have to write book reports just to play with my friends!"  I don't know how much longer the book club lasted after that, just that I was never invited to another meeting.  Maybe I should have tried a little harder.  My friends are now successful and well read while I'm a house wife perusing my extensive library of Fancy Nancy, Pinkalicius and Golden Books.

When we were a bit older, my father started reading books out loud in the evening to the family.  He would read a couple of chapters each night from books like "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" or "Animal Farm."  I loved listening to my Dad read.  His voice was so deep and clear that it was easy to picture Jonathan diving at top speeds through the sky, or Snowball leading a revolution.  It terrified me to think that animals could rise up and revolt against their human keepers, but I really enjoyed listening to my dad read.  It was worth the nightmares and unrelenting fear of pigs.  I think that's why I don't eat sausage.

In middle school, we started reading really good books; the classics.  The first book I read in school that I really loved was "The Hobbit" by J. R. R. Tolkien.  A short while later, my Uncle Tom loaned me his copy of "The Chronicles of Narnia."  I love reading the chapter about the creation of Narnia.  Long before it was made into a fantastic movie, I had a very clear image of the huge and powerful lion, Asland, in my mind.  A few years ago, my Mother bought me a hard copy of the Narnia collection.  About once a year I take it off the shelf and my husband and I read it out loud to each other.  I can't wait for my kids to be old enough to enjoy it.

Just this past Valentine's Day my husband bought me the two volume set of Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  Romantic, no?  The romantic part wasn't so much the books, as the promise to give me time all by myself to read them.  These books will remain free of all fish cracker dust.  Plus, they bring back fond memories of my logic class in college.  I don't really remember much about the class except that we got to read Sherlock Holmes and that "the men in white coats" came for the professor one day.  We never saw him again.

I like to hold a book in my hands.  I tried to force myself into the 21st century and recently brought my laptop into the living room to find a good book to read online while the kids were playing.  I started reading "The Time Machine" by H. G. Wells.  Reading a classic from a screen is just not the same.  The gentle glow of the LCD screen just can't duplicate the smell of a paperback book whose pages have been pressed tight together for so many years. 

Where are we going with this technology?  I understand that it's convenient, cheap, and probably saves a few trees.  But I don't care.  I've seen the Kindle commercials where people are sliding their finger across the screen to "turn" the page.  Do we really want to replace the sentiment of "that book was a real page turner," with "that book was a real finger flicker."  It's just not the same.  Hope you found this entry finger-flicking good.