Sunday, May 31, 2009

Have you missed me?

I have family in town, my brother and his wife and their adorable twins are here from Virginia, my dad is here from Germany, and my grandpa flew in from Denver. We've been doing a lot of this...
And this...
 If you are interested you can read all about it here. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I guess you could call it a lose/win situation

Over the holiday weekend we took a road trip to Disneyland for our extended family vacation. 3 families, a grandpa and the Tomtom. I think my husband has a crush on her. He can’t resist a gadget and this one talks to him, a woman telling him which exit to take, not so appealing, but somehow in an instructional device, heavenly. She says things like-“After one half mile merge to the right on to highway US202 semicolon, loop 202”, and should I force him to deviate from the plan because say I need to use the restroom or get some French fries or something, she says things like“busyplanning new route” or “turn right to return to highway US202 semi-colon, loop 202”. She's so smug.

There were other voice options, and I tried to talk him into letting the Tomtom sound like Enrique Iglesias, but nothing doing. Do you remember the episode of the office when Michael drove into the pond? That could have been us; my husband was completely taken by the sound of her voice. What is it with men and technology? We’ve been to California before, in fact my husband is usually one of those people who are disproportionately proud of their navigational skills, but give him the option of a talking map and he just can’t resist. If he starts taking his meals in the car, Tomtom might end up sleeping with the fishes. I’m not about to lose my man to a talking atlas, I don't care how good her directions are.

On the other hand, if Tomtom steals my husband, I might start dating this little beauty-

Thanks to the genius who invented DVD players and wireless headphone for vehicles I was able to ride in virtual silence (except for Ms. Smarty pants-“veer left in 2.4 miles”) all the way to the magic kingdom. Making our car a close runner up for the happiest place on earth.


I have been trying for 30 minutes to post, but blogger is not letting me upload my pictures. 

Any suggestions?

Monday, May 18, 2009

If that doesn't work, you could always scream into a pillow

I’m kind of annoyed. Well, pretty annoyed, I get that way sometimes. Don't be alarmed.

I was irritated about something last week and then I noticed everyone else writing about it, so I decided to let greater minds than mine hash it out, besides, I’m easily annoyed, it’s not like I wouldn’t have something else to complain about soon, but it kept coming up over and over in different situations, not the original irritant, but similar ones, like a theme, or a plague, that’s when I knew I just couldn’t keep quiet; I was going to have to write about not only that first thing that was bugging me, but a whole lot more.

What? Oh, you wanna know why I’m annoyed?

Here’s the thing, I like reading about other people’s lives. I like to watch them on TV, and give me some neighborhood drama and I can analyze it like nobody’s business. Can I get an "Amen!"?

I’m not the only one. Writing your life story is big business. It doesn’t even have to be interesting or inspiring half the time, I mean, Paris Hilton “wrote” a book. Please. Gossip magazines and websites are huge. Everyone wants to know who’s eating what, wearing what, and falling down drunk. We love to read about tragic childhoods and bad marriages. “Reality” television is smoking hot, we don’t even care what they’re doing, some of us will happily watch puppies nap. Seriously, if push came to shove, you could twist my arm into watching a whole lot more than I already do, and I don’t even have cable. We’re voyeurs (I know, I know..... speak for myself), it’s fun to think about someone else’s problems or judge their choices; it’s a comfort to know that there are other weirdos in the world making the same mistakes or bigger mistakes than we are. Why not escape into someone else’s mess for a while?

A few days ago I read an excerpt from Elizabeth Edwards' new book Resilience. She writes about her husband’s affair and her cancer, she also writes about how she and her cheating man are making their way through the whole mess one day at a time, and about how in the mist of it all she couldn’t stop wishing she could have her old life back, the one she was living before her husband betrayed her. It’s really pretty sad. As I read it, I couldn’t help wondering why anyone would want to take that part of themselves to Oprah if they didn’t have to.

Then I read that Sarah Palin is planning to co-author her story. She's such a giver. Oh, and you can’t even buy a pack of gum at Circle K without seeing Jon and Kate and their sad tale. But when the mother of my son’s friend went into detail about her court ordered anger management classes and the events leading up to that court order….IN FRONT OF MY SON!!! I was shocked that this sense of "openess" had reached every corner of my life.

How about just a tiny bit of discretion? Is that seriously too much to ask? The fact that people want to watch your train crash is not a good enough reason to let them. They'll find something else to do, I promise.

The reoccurring thread in all of these stories is that, from what I can tell, none of these people seem to have any regard for their children. I can’t imagine what it would have been like as a teenager if my mother had written her memoirs. The shame and embarrassment of everyone in the world knowing our family’s secrets would probably have done me in.

I can absolutely understand Elizabeth Edwards hurt and anger. I can absolutely understand her desire to tell her side of the story, but when she does it like this she fuels a fire and a perception about her kids’ dad that they have to face when they go out in public. They’re just kids, kids who probably like their dad a whole lot and they should, that’s how it ought to be, no matter what I think of him. Because it’s really none of my business. Really.

Look, I can’t stop anyone from writing about their life; I can even understand why they would want to. I write, I know how therapeutic it can be just to get things on paper (or a screen, or whatever) and release them. I share things here with people I don’t know and they are free to judge me or to use my shortcomings to make themselves feel better. By all means, have at it, but you should know, there’s a whole lot more that I’m not sharing. Which technically means you should feel really good about yourselves, because the dirt in my closet is dirty. And private. Yep, it’s my dirt and even if I didn’t mind all of you knowing what a loser I am in real life I still wouldn’t tell you, because my dirt is all mixed up in a pile of dirt that belongs to my husband or my kids or other people I care about and like it or not when I tell people my deep dark secrets it’s not only me that they know something about.

So, here’s the deal, if you are a single gal who looks great in a bikini and you want to sign yourself up for the MTV spring break house, go for it. If you are a dragon slayer who would like your moment in the survivor sun, please, go, have a great time. If you want to write a book about a horrible time in your life, turn it into fiction, let the wise guys try to figure out what’s real and what’s not. But please, please, please, if you just want some extra attention find a shrink.

And I ain’t talkin’ about Dr. Phil.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Don’t make me beg

I have two questions-

Next week we are going on vacation. It’s a big family trip with cousins and aunts and uncles and grandpas. We’re driving to California and I need reading recommendations. Suggest away. I would prefer something funny, in that self effacing sarcastic ironic style that I enjoy so much. Surely you can recommend something. I do so much for you.

And B.-Providing we survive the trip with our relationships intact we will be taking family pictures. Ha! Just kidding, even if we come back hating each other we WILL be photographed together, so everyone better just buck up and get used to the idea. We will be taking group pictures, all three of my brothers and their families as well as my dad and my grandpa. It’s a big group. 10 adults and 13 kids. There will be group pictures as well as individual family pictures, which I hope to be able to use for our Christmas card; I see no sense in putting myself through the torture of family pictures twice in one year.

We have not set any matchy match rules for wardrobe. Each family is dressing in “nice casual” clothes. This is not my area. While I do know for sure I what I DON’T want us to wear, I can’t for the life of me decide what we should wear.

It needs to be something that will not stand out terribly in the larger group picture but will still look good in our individual family picture. It should be something that my teenagers will not look incredibly out of character in, yet it should not be their usual uniform of local band t-shirts and vans. I’m prepared to put my foot down and force people to wear what I pick, if only I could trust my judgment. Nothing pastel, that’s just not our M.O. Nothing cheesy, you know all the same or anyone wearing identical items. And… can we wear shorts if I am hoping to use these pictures for our Christmas cards? Help me…..

*This is a snapshot from last Thanksgiving, the old guy is my grandpa. If you click on the picture you can see upclose for yourselves how much stylistic help we need.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

That reminds me...............

Sometimes I feel like that little rodent in If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. You know, if you do this, then he’ll want this, and when you go to do that it will remind him he wanted to do this other thing, and on and on, never really finishing anything, just going around in a big circle.

I know there are never going to be any towels in my bathroom, so before I shower I have to go get one from the laundry room, which reminds me that I should do a load of laundry, I start to sort the clothes, then I look out the window and notice that the pool needs to be skimmed, so I leave the laundry half sorted and go out to do that, because it will only take a minute, while I’m out there one of the kids asks me if we are out of milk (the answer is usually yes) so I leave the pool half cleaned and go in to make a quick shopping list, which reminds me that I also need to plan tonight’s dinner (ha, as if I ever PLAN dinner!!!), while I’m making my list I realize that I still need to take a shower, so I get my towel and head upstairs, when I get there I see that I need to make my bed, so I make my bed, ……………….on and on and on.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Knock knock

“A joke is a very serious thing.”~Winston Churchill

This isn’t one of those fancy blogs with a staff. No siree, I write my own jokes, and sometimes—not very often mind you-- but every once in a while, I write something funny and no one laughs.

What gives?

I’ve been wondering, if a person is trying to be funny, do they want to be laughed at or laughed with? In my case, I don’t really care, as long as you are laughing, which just goes to show how very needy I can be.

I don’t care WHY you are looking at me, just please make sure you are looking.

Except when I tell you to stop, when I tell you to stop looking at me and laughing with or at me, please turn away. Feel free to go into another room and phone a friend and make fun of me to your heart’s content.

The thing is, I don’t really think I’m all that funny. I can’t lie, I enjoy it when other people find me amusing, but I can’t always figure out what they are laughing at. Maybe I make them nervous. It’s possible, I do cut a pretty imposing figure, HA HA ha haHa.

Here are a couple of undeniably funny videos of people who either have writers or more time than I have to be thinking up funny things to say--

If I did have writers I would sound just like this-
The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
The Pageant of the Christ

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

It's not like I have anything else to do.

Last night, I’m hanging out, minding my own business, trying to decide if watching Dancing with the Stars is going to be the ticket to successfully unwinding from my day, when I start getting twitter messages from my brother. They say things like-“Hey, if you need some blog ideas, just let me know. I got tons.” Then I get one telling me to go check my e-mail, which of course I do, immediately, because I love my sweet brother and am respectfully interested in everything he has to say……only to discover that I’m on a one way street and he has decided to taunt me and mock me and suggest that I don’t post often enough, he goes as far as giving me topic suggestions-

“writer's block. that biggest fat people show that you watch. milk shakes. space ships. homicidal drivers. k-9 fatalities. movie reviews. My niece and nephew don't like me. swine flew, or "the boy who cried wolf flu". the depressed recession. broken bones. my annoying brother from va is coming to stay with us and... .”

Which under the right circumstances might have been helpful, but most of those things are not my area of expertise, like Space Ships, seriously? Who writes about crap like that? Writer’s block? What’s he getting at? And that whole “my niece and nephew don’t like me” thing? That’s something I have absolutely no experience with. ALL of my nieces and nephews adore me. On the other hand, the annoying brother business…..I’m all over that.

Yeah, so, since I’m way totally mature, I might have sent my brother an e-mail taking him up on his double dog dare and promising to post something fabulous everyday until his annoying arrival on my delightful doorstep.

Don’t worry, that’s just over a week away, then I will have topics out the wazoo.

Friday, May 8, 2009

I don’t want to talk about Mother’s Day.

I want to talk about greeting cards. I hate them. Sometimes. Other times, not so much. Today…..hate um.

Why is it I can never find the right card for my mom? I have probably read millions of cards by now and I have yet to ever come across one that says-


Thanks for the material.

Sure, you might be getting it together (finally), but since you didn’t have it together then and everything rolls downhill, now MY kids need therapy.

Crazy is catching, but I love you anyway.

Do you think I could just print that on some nice cardstock?

Okay, I lied, I do want to talk about Mother’s Day. Or mothers anyway, or my mom……or something along those lines.

My mother and I have a complicated relationship, which is, I’m sure, the most common kind of mother-daughter relationship known to all mankind. Lately though I have started to feel an appreciation for my mom. I can tell she’s trying to get her act together, and now that I know what it feels like to have your kids think you are an idiot, I’m feeling a little bad for thinking she was an idiot for all of those years, when really, I’m pretty sure that, like me, she was doing the best she could at the time.

I had planned to write her a nice letter and tell her just that. It was to be tender and heartfelt, the kind of thing you keep forever and ever.

Then she calls me up last weekend and starts one of her crazypants dramas and now I can’t remember all the sweet stuff I was going to write in that letter, because .....grrrrrr.....she makes me NUTS!!! So I sent her one of those regular “Hope Your Day is as Sweet as You are” cards.

Today is her birthday, I HAVE to call her.

Oh please oh please oh please mythic gods of motherhood don’t let my children feel this way about me.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Setting the record straight

I was in the Army. Did you guys know that? Well I was. It’s not the big deal that people sometimes think it is when they hear. To be honest, who knows where I might be today if I not made the choice to enlist. I wish I could say that I was a patriot who joined so I could serve my country but really I was just a girl headed down a slippery slope toward a career as a cashier at the Winn-Dixie who would have used her store discount to buy beer had she not lived in a dry county. I felt trapped, joining the military actually saved me from myself. It gave me a chance to start fresh and time to breathe. It was like going to a spa- without facials or fluffy white robes, you know, a budget spa.

In my zeal to be entertaining last week, I fear that I may have given the wrong impression about my experience. It’s possible, likely even, that I made it sound worse than it actually was.

I was raised around the military so I had a pretty good idea what I was getting into. I knew the worst part about the training would be the mental games. It was physically hard, and I was more tired than I have ever been in my life, I don’t think I have even been that tired when I had an enfant. I didn’t LOVE being in the Army, but I certainly don’t regret it. I was able to travel and meet some great people (like my husband) as well as tons of crazies, and those are the things you can’t put a price on. It was a good option for me. I was challenged and given opportunities to do things I would likely have never done on my own, like walk 12 miles uphill through a sandpit in my uniform carrying a rucksack in the wretched humidity of a North Carolina summer day or become a licensed exterminator or drive a really big truck or learn how to wax a floor to a mirror-like shine.

It’s obviously not for everyone, but in my case it was the right choice.  I just wanted to clear that up.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Kentucky Derby Update-

My horse, well not literally MY horse, but the horse I picked using the very scientific method commonly known on the racing circuit as the Bubble Gum Bubble Gum in a Dish technique, Mr. Hot Stuff, finished 15th,—let's face it, that’s what happens when you give a horse a name like Mr. Hot Stuff, it goes to his head and pretty soon he forgets that winning is what it’s all about.

For those of you that forgot to block out 5 minutes of your time yesterday to watch the race here it is---

Friday, May 1, 2009

Mayday. Humph.

Everyone knows that the most important day in May isn’t May Day, or Mother’s Day or even Queen Mother’s Day (which is what my mom makes us call her birthday). Noooo…. The most important day in May is the first Saturday, otherwise known as Derby Day. The Kentucky Derby is the bluegrass version of Cinco de Mayo, the main difference being the hats. I know because I grew up in Kentucky.

Mine was a quaint childhood, filled with hoopskirts and plantations.

Then I grew up and joined the Army.

The night I left my old Kentucky home for basic training I was a little nervous. In the seat next to me was another Kentucky girl. She was nervous too. I know because she told me, over and over, as she continued talking, non-stop, the entire flight. She was nervous and excited to be leaving her small hometown for bigger and better things. At one point she paused and said to me “Sorry about my hair….I had a little accident with the stove last week.” Sure enough one side was quite singed. (Let me tell you, there is no way in the world my mother would have let me leave for the army with my hair looking like that. Poor girl.)

My father was in the Army and at one point in his career had been a drill sergeant. He used to tell us bedtime stories about the many ways there were to humiliate trainees so I had a pretty good idea what was waiting for me at Fort Dix, and one thing I knew for sure was being associated with Chatty Cathy and her bad hair could only lead to trouble.

I was relieved when we were not assigned to the same platoon, we were however in the same company so I did see her from time to time (A battalion of soldiers is made up of smaller groups called companies, companies are then divided into platoons, got it?), though not really socially, because, contrary to popular belief, you don’t really have much down time in basic training.  It’s pretty much the same thing day in, day out. Early to rise, get screamed at and belittled all day, fall asleep before your head hits the pillow. After a while I didn’t care what day of the week it was. It didn’t matter anyway.

One morning as I was trying to get my breakfast in the mess hall without making eye contact with anyone (invisibility is the key to survival in Basic Training) I heard a loud southern voice proclaim “Happy Derby Day!!!” Time seemed to stand still. It was like that scene in Frosty the Snowman when Frosty shouts “Happy Birthday!” and everyone is confused because it's not anyone's birthday.  I looked up and there was my old pal with the singed bangs. Everyone was staring, my drill sergeants were looking at us, all that time I had spent perfecting my under the radar status vanished in an instant, we were the center of attention. (To be fair, so few interesting things happen in basic training that it doesn't take much for all eyes to be on you.)  I wanted to die!! “Huh?” I practically whispered. She just grinned “Did you forget? Today’s the Kentucky Derby!”

Um, yeah, I had been so preoccupied trying to live through the daily brutal assault to my self-esteem that I had forgotten all about a horse race. What had I become?

But so help me Stephen Foster that has never happened again.

Tomorrow morning my brother will call me and say “You pick a horse yet? You want me to call my guy?” Like he’s some goombah from New Jersey instead of a Mormon from Arizona who makes one $5.00 bet a year (unless of course he’s going for a trifecta, then he might bump it up to $10.00). I’ll probably read a little about the horses and then I’ll turn on the TV 10 minutes before race time. I’ll get all choked up for the winning jockey and his supportive family, then I’ll get back to my ironing.

It's important to remember your heritage.