Friday, December 31, 2010

I say it's not about me, but it's really about me. - UPDATED

This is me and my friend Nicole at a New Year’s Eve dance in 1987.  

  
A “photographer” (a.k.a. neighbor of the party planner who happened to own a Polaroid) was taking pictures of couples as they came in.  Having arrived without dates we thought it would be amusing to assume the position and poke fun at “The Prom Pose”, but we also watched Strange Brew about 78 times during high school and considered it hilarious so we obviously didn’t know anything.  Nevertheless, we continued inside where Nicole proceeded to snag the cutest guy there and dance with him all night while I stood patiently on the outskirts waiting for my satin blue skirt to say all the right things.  I attracted boys the way Ozzy Osbourne attracts full sentences, but I win because at least I never bit the head off a bat.

The point is, it’s not about me anymore because tonight my 14-year-old daughter is headed to her very first New Year’s Eve dance.  To my Samantha, I offer you this:  There will be fun songs, slow songs, a countdown to midnight, and adults posing as Fun People waltzing the perimeter.  “Love Shack” is not a slow song, “White Lines” is not supposed to be a fun song, the band Mr. Mister is actually made up of FOUR misters, and I don’t care how cool you think you are if the “Electric Slide” comes on, do it for your mother.  

Finally, if you see your Sunday School teacher poised with a camera taking pictures as you come in, SAVE IT.  What was(n’t) funny in 1987 raises all sorts of questions in 2010, beginning with, “Is that really you or did ‘The Facts of Life’ lose a roommate?”

UPDATE:  I made her take a picture before she left and I don't care what you think, I'm convinced she was the prettiest girl at the party.  Oh, and the smartest.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Current Events

Last night I dreamt I got an email from Sarah Palin.  I also dreamt that I called her on the phone and she answered, “Oh, hi honey!”  I’m not anti-Sarah Palin but I wouldn’t say I’m “PRO” either, yet I have to admit I softened when she called me “honey”.  Minutes later my dreams swept me to Hawaii where I learned how to properly roast a pig, except I’m pretty sure it doesn’t take 6 years like my dream said it did.  But all in all, considering I went to Alaska and Hawaii in about 8 hours I’m thinking it’s not a shabby night’s work.  I woke up feeling well traveled but craving pork.

In other news, did you hear the Unabomber has his house up for sale?  Well, technically it’s just the 1.4 acres of land he used to own, which he doesn’t anymore because, you know, HE’S SERVING TIME FOR MURDER.  The current owners are asking $69K for it, which, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that’s a very good deal.  Apparently the realtor is trying to market it as an opportunity to own a piece of history, which I would be all for if it was, say, Elvis’s house, Michael Buble’s bathroom, or Jon Voight’s car (5 points for the reference).  But, an oversized outhouse with no running water or electricity on an acre in the middle of Montana?  You see the realtor’s dilemma.  The posting also says the property is “very secluded” as if that’s a good thing.  My friend Jill already lives in Montana WITH running water and electricity and I still have to talk her down from the ledge every day.  “Secluded” alludes to having a place to relax, but if a Harvard mathematician can’t even find a way to wind down out there I think I’m better off here in the Denver suburbs.  For the record, so is Jill.

Finally, did you see the article on this chick?  Beauty queen turned criminal – crowned Miss Desert Sun in Arizona in 2006.  I’m envisioning a cactus on her tiara and that was during the good times.  Things went downhill after that, hence leading to this mugshot: 

I’m taking this picture to mean one of two things:  1) She’s either REALLY sorry or, 2) she’s auditioning for the part of Nick Nolte’s cellmate.  One thing is for certain, the Miss Desert Sun pageant did NOT need this right now.

Monday, December 27, 2010

We Got A Wii. I Made A Mii.

Sometimes my favorite part about Christmas is when it's over.  Not like it isn't awesome for your kids to open a Wii on Christmas morning and exclaim, "Now we're like a normal family!" but there's only so much cheer I'm capable of spreading and it stops short of doing cartwheels over the alarm clock I got for Cory (it reflects the time on the CEILING!).  The bad news is I couldn't take one more day of all The Stuff.  The good news is I think this reduces my chances of ever being featured on "Hoarders".

So today the kids and I spent ALL DAY taking down lights, throwing trees, garland, nativity scenes and whyistheresomuchcrap into boxes, and sweeping and vacuuming in order to get our life back.  I can breathe - all is well. 


But before that there was the Wii, Britney Spears, and Drew:

video

The kids showed me how to make a Mii, so I tried to make Hugh Jackman:
Drew had two things on his list this year:  jeans, and fake facial hair.  We splurged and got both - we already had the sombrero:


Ooh!  And remember when we went to the Bahamas?



That reminds me, did I ever tell you that Cory was a redneck for Halloween and Drew was a Chipotle burrito?


I could keep going, but if I'm not careful, before you know it we'll be talking about the time I sang "Happy Birthday" to some Jehovah's Witnesses in an elevator several years ago.  Now, time to go set some goals for 2011 that I have no intention of keeping.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

For The Guy Who Doesn't Have Everything, Because We Can't Afford It

Cory wants new golf clubs for Christmas. 

I'd also like to learn how to say, "Excuse me, would you please pass the creme fraiche and massage my shoulders?" in French, but we can't have everything.

Actually, Cory has a plan for getting his golf clubs that technically won't cost us anything and also won't get us arrested.  I have to say I am in favor of this plan.  However, the extent of my personal involvement in this scheme is that someday Cory will open the garage and say, "Look!  My new clubs!" and I'll refrain from saying, "To think we could have bought a new couch!" and instead go, "Other than Extreme Makeover Home Edition, that is the most awesome thing I have ever seen!"  Whoo - that was a lot of exclamation points.

Basically what I'm getting at is that I have no idea what to give the one person in this world who agrees with me about which way the toilet paper should fall, for Christmas.  I've looked at the Gap, Kohl's, JCrew, and Best Buy to name a few.  Today I ended up at Costco where I was bound and determined to get something for Cory so that I can officially declare my shopping to be O-V-E-R.  He's not much into sweets so I figured the fudge counter was a good place to start. 

The fudge booth is an excellent location to apply the following strategy:  saunter up to the counter but look to the side as if you are completely engrossed in the mid-rise boxer briefs on display in holiday plaid.  Wait until the lady dishing out samples is distracted, sneak one quickly, then return to the boxer briefs as if you never left.  This time pick up a box and inspect the price as if you are really interested.  Keep an eye on those samples though, because they go fast and people are greedy.  Then go get another one as if you were never there - this time nod your head up and down like you're interested but not fully committed.  A more engaging customer is sure to arrive soon, at which point you may reach for your third sample and no one is the wiser.  Also, if your kid grabs for two be sure to say aloud, "Honey, just take one.  They're not here to feed you dinner," so that others around you will mistake you for a responsible parent.

I approached the booth to execute my strategy.  I successfully kept my eyes on the briefs before inching toward sample #1 when my unofficial "decoy" turned and in an unprecedented move, attempted to gain my attention as he talked to the employee.  "Hey, do you know what God said to Adam the day before Christmas?"  I looked at the employee who stared back at me and shrugged her shoulders as if to say, How about YOU take this one?  "What?" I played along.  "It's Christmas Eve!" he answered.  I nodded and did my best to convince him that I was amused. 
"Wow, you should take that on the road," I lied.
"Oh, well, I've turned Improv down three times," he said. 
"Oh yeah?"  Dude.  I'm supposed to be 3 samples down and onto the cheese section by now.
"Yeah, I've got THOUSANDS of jokes."  Abort!  Abort!
"Last night I had this terrible nightmare all night long - I dreamt I was a muffler."  Wait, was that the punchline?
"Yeah, I woke up exhausted!!"  Aaaand, there it is.

Several bad jokes and fudge samples later I was no closer to having a gift for Cory.  Moments after that I sat in a leather recliner and weighed my options - space heater or ceramic garden gnome?

Sucks to be Cory this year.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

You've Got (To) Mail

Did you know that I am super organized and awesome?  I know this because I have been to the post office three times in the last four days, and that takes a serious amount of planning and skill.  You start with an idea in October, good intentions in November, the right addresses in December and before you know it you’re standing in line behind Michael Jackson’s funeral procession.  Three times. 

The other thing I’m super awesome at is knowing JUST the right time to beat the crowds.  Unfortunately I didn’t pick any of those times which means whoever said “Knowledge Is Power” is smoking crack.  I say power is showing up at 11am when no one is in line and they are handing out free hot chocolate.  Do you know of any places like that?  Me neither.  What I do know is that the guy working register 2 at my mall should stick with his day job and forego singing along to “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” while readying his cargo with more packing tape.

I also know that I don’t miss having to take small children to the post office.  The lady behind me walked in with two small boys.  “Come here honey, which envelope should we use to mail your binkys to the new babies in the hospital?”  I turned around and inquired in a low voice, “Is this some new strategy I haven’t read about?”  She answered back in hushed tones, “He’s 3 years old.  It’s time.  We’re actually mailing them to my parents but I told him they’re going to some new babies in a hospital to make him feel better.  Let’s just say tonight is probably going to be a bad night.”  I acted supportive and wished her good luck but what I was really thinking was, This couldn’t wait until AFTER Santa comes and the lines at the post office don't exceed the city block?  Whatever, I’m sure she had her reasons.  And I’m sure her kid had his reasons for overturning the sale rack of greeting cards that sent envelopes and well wishes across the floor.

What I’m saying is there are advantages to making multiple trips to the post office.  If not for my three visits I wouldn’t have met the lady behind me who held a stack of cards and berated procrastinators for waiting until the last minute to mail their packages as I stood there like the Cat In The Hat holding a teetering stack of
“a cup
and a cake
these two books
and a rake
a toy ship 
a toy man
and look!  A red fan!”

I never would have had the opportunity to watch a lady in front of me who was wearing enough make up to paint a Renoir, a faux leopard coat and heels that could hold up the Golden Gate Bridge pack and address all of her boxes AT THE COUNTER while we all waited patiently in line and sang Silent Night.  (not)  I wouldn’t have had the chance to watch the scores of individuals rush up to open the store door only to witness their obstacle, roll their eyes and turn around to leave.  I wouldn't have learned that it costs $25 to mail ten homemade caramels to a 19-year-old boy spreading the gospel in Brazil (but he's so worth it).  And last but not least, I never would have heard the aforementioned cashier sing along to the Footloose soundtrack that played overhead which was critical, because Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without that.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lowered Expectations

"Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people once a year." 
~ Victor Borge

Writing Christmas cards once a year shouldn't be that big of a deal, right?  This is something I normally look forward to but this year, it's proving to be a major chore.  The problem is, I sent the Best. Card. Ever. last year and there's no way to top it.  I'm not trying to be boastful, it's just that I had SO MUCH FUN sending out last year's cards that no matter what I do now, I know it won't measure up. 
 
So I lowered the bar.  I chose an average picture, uploaded it to Costco's website and called it good.  Yesterday I picked them up.

When Cory got home from work he saw the stack sprayed all over the counter and with a spring in his step said, "Oh!  Are these our Christmas cards?"  He opened them up and the enthusiasm escaped like a deflated balloon.  "Hm.  Not a very good picture of me."  Samantha headed over to see what the fuss was all about, picked up a card and said, "This?  THIS is the picture you're sending?"  Drew's turn.  He grabbed one from the stack, disregarded the picture and looked on the back for more and then asked, "Where's the comedy?!"

Now I know how Dean Cain feels.  Once you've played Superman, it's kind of all downhill from there.  One minute you're flying through the air with a hot chick tucked under your arm, and next thing you know you're guest starring on Smallville.  
 
Maybe next year my Christmas card will be awesome again - then Dean can talk about me on his next episode of Ripley's Believe It Or Not.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Have A Holly Jolly Christmas

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve been a little slow on the blog front lately.  One of the goals I have made about this blog is to never apologize for not writing, so take that.  I am NOT sorry.  The reason for that is because if I say “I’m sorry” it suggests that I think I’m a big deal, as if you're all waiting by your computers wringing your hands and waiting anxiously for my next post.  I know better.  Besides, if I was a “Big Deal” I don’t think I would look at my snot after I blow my nose, take big bites out of a block of pepper jack cheese straight from the wrapper, or Google “Celebrities named Holly” from my home computer just so I could make this stupid joke:

Also, did you know that there aren't very many celebrities named Holly?  Google taught me that.

Anyway, I think I’m just tired.  There’s an auto shop here in Denver that runs really dorky commercials all year long but during Christmas they run ads that just show a picture of a winter scene and play soft music with their logo in the corner.  It’s their special way of giving permission to take a breather, but I like to think of it as their gift to me that I don’t have to exert the gargantuan effort to hit the “mute” button as soon as I see his red and yellow hat appear onscreen.  I think I’m feeling the same way – I’m dorky all year long, and I guess I feel the need to take a breather.  Not that it’s hard work to be a dork because it does come incredibly naturally.  But…well, here. Just stare at this, hum along to Yanni and let me know how it goes.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Surprise!

I've been surprised a few times in my life.  When I was 16 my parents had a surprise birthday party for me and I was surprised that Steve, the basketball hot shot who I hoped would become the father of my children, was there.  I was surprised when my audition tape for Regis & Kelly didn't get a call back.  (Although in hindsight, NOT surprised.)  I was surprised when I shared a sidewalk with Pierce Brosnan, stole a kiss with a fellow intern at a party in Washington D.C., and didn't get mugged by the creepy German businessman who followed me and my sister out of the subway in Munich.  I was surprised when Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman broke up, when Donald Trump got his own show, when John Travolta became a Scientologist and when Cher's daughter became a man. 

Most recently, however, I was surprised Friday night when I thought I was going to dinner at a friend's house and walked into a room full of people.  There were black balloons claiming "Over The Hill" messages and shouts of "Surprise!" that emanated from the family room as I rounded the corner. 

A surprise birthday party.  This time there was (thankfully) no Steve, and I already stood by my favorite person and father of my real children.  I stared in amazement at the small crowd gathered in the room, but ultimately fell on the real shocker:  my friends who had FLOWN IN from Idaho and Montana to be there.



I'm not sure what Jill was so surprised about, but I'm not surprised that her mouth is this big:



I wasn't surprised to get an "Old Fart" pen as a gift from a friend who affectionately greets me as "Butthead" or "Dork" when she sees me, or to witness Jill forcing Ganelle and Lorie to sing a song about my favorite things.  However, I was a little surprised with my new, pink Snuggie from Ali.  (With a bonus night light!)  I have longed for the Snuggie for years, never imagining that my dreams would ultimately be realized.  But look!  I decided to pose next to the official Snuggie girl just to show that the infomercials are SO. TRUE.

YOU CAN WEAR IT WHILE WATCHING TV!


YOU CAN TALK ON THE PHONE AND STAY WARM AT THE SAME TIME!


HAVE YOU EVER BEEN COLD WHILE SITTING ON THE COUCH AND READING A BOOK?  NOT ANYMORE!  THE SNUGGIE KEEPS YOU SO WARM YOU'LL SMILE LIKE PAULA DEEN AT A BUTTER CONVENTION.


SPEAKING OF BOOKS, VERN HERE IS READING ONE THAT HER S.I.L. GAVE HER FAMILY LAST YEAR FOR CHRISTMAS.



FA-LA-LA-LA-LAAAA...LA-LAAAA...LAAAAA...LAAAAA

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

WeiRD

It's not the glittery snow, frolicking children or festive music that really tickle my fancy this time of year.  Come to think of it I'm not sure I even know what my fancy IS let alone whether it's ever been tickled - that's probably for the best.  Anyway, what really accelerates my heart rate during the Christmas season is THIS:


Whoa, I stand corrected.  I just felt my fancy tickle.  I would bathe by candlelight in this stuff if not for the cold factor, so I have to be careful not to buy it very often or the likes of my thighs might find themselves expanding to the outer limits.  The main struggle, however, is that my kids love it too.  I bought a 1/2 gallon a few days ago and after helping himself to some of Cory's birthday pie Drew asked for an additional serving of ice cream.  I said, "No, you just had pie.  Too many sweets isn't good for you."  What I really meant was, "No, because you leave for school tomorrow at precisely 8:30 am at which point the Dreyer's, a spoon and I have some bonding to do."  I know I'm a hypocrite, but at least I'm not alone.  Who sends a stronger mixed message, me or Marlboro?


Or Heineken?


Or Dove?


Oops.  How did this get in here?  Hi Carter. I love you, and not just because you're practically the only heterosexual male on HGTV and can whip out crown molding in an afternoon but because you're just...so...pretty.


Here's another picture that's not entirely relevant that I took in the Bahamas last week.  For some reason it reminded me of Dooce.


And what do you think is weirder, hypocrisy from Marlboro in ENGLISH or mixed messages from Camel in GERMAN?


I don't know what it is about German but it just seems like an angry language to me.  As I read that message on the cigarettes I don't even see the camel, I just envision a stocky woman with a braid wound too tightly around her head yelling at me while spit flings everywhere.  I bet that's why they picked a Camel for the packaging and not a German lady.


What's my point again?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Dude, What's With My Car?

Monday I drove my car.

When I got home I smelled burning rubber.

Tuesday I drove my car.

When I got home I smelled burning rubber.

Wednesday I drove my car.

My brakes made funny noises and when I got home I smelled burning rubber.

Thursday I didn’t drive my car because I was busy lathering butter on my thighs under the guise of gravy and potatoes and giving thanks.

Friday I popped the hood before driving my car.

I may as well have been Charlie Sheen walking into abstinence class.  Now what?

Saturday morning I called the mechanic.  “I think I need new brakes and something smells like burning rubber.”

Saturday afternoon the mechanic called back.  “You’re right, you need new brakes.”  “And the burning rubber smell?” I asked.  “Well ma’am, that was probably from the shopping back we found stuck to your muffler.”

Oh.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

14,600 Days Old

It’s official.

I am 40 today.

Unlike the first day of my birth I won’t cite my height and weight or how well I’m adjusting to the outside world. Suffice it to say that I’m tall enough for all the rides at Disneyland, small enough for one seat on an airplane, and while I continue to lament my inability to sustain any kind of a tan I am proud to say I am at least successfully weaned from nursing. You might assume this accomplishment goes without saying, but I guarantee there’s a Navajo Indian out there somewhere who just gasped and exclaimed, “Already?!” Still, it’s comforting to know that there was at least one moment in my 40 years where my weight was announced with joyous acclaim. Eight pounds, and the “smallest” of my parents’ 7 children.

I’ve also decided to declare it as pure coincidence that I’m somewhat feverish and constipated today, neither of which is likely to improve with the bacon cheeseburger and frosty I had from Wendy’s for dinner. One might think that a birthday spent preparing for Thanksgiving while battling an oncoming bug and monitoring my NyQuil stash would be a major downer, but that’s been the brilliant part of my day. It hasn’t.

I woke up to my husband nuzzling my neck on his way out to work as he whispered birthday wishes and was met a while later by Drew, who descended the stairs and promptly launched into the Happy Birthday song and greeted me with a hug. Friends have been ridiculously incredible, and my siblings and parents have rocked my world.

It’s not the first time I’ve felt like the luckiest girl in the world.

And I hope it’s not the last.

Monday, November 22, 2010

What I Know For Sure - Bahamas Edition

We're back.  I feel whole again.  All it took was a week at the beach with no cell phones or computers and built in entertainment for the kids where the only decision I had to make was whether all that time in the pool qualified as a shower.  I have so much to talk about and so many pictures to show you but I'm worried it will feel like I am rubbing it in your face.  I probably am, but I love you anyway.  It's supposed to be one of the benefits of getting older, that you care less and less about what other people think of you.  No time like the present to test that theory!  So here we go - the top 10 things I know for sure about the Bahamas.

1.  Supposedly Bahamians speak English.  I beg to differ.
2.  Speedos.  Why?  Why?!  WHY?!!
3.  I learned on one of the aquarium tours that Groupers have a life span of only 40 years.  Which means if I was a grouper I would only have three more days to live.  I think if I was a grouper and had a last request it would be, "Hey stupid little boy, stop knocking on the glass already.  I SEE YOU."  It's pretty obvious that groupers don't have a good sense of humor.  You can just...tell.  


4.  It doesn't do a whole lot of good to arrive at the Bahamas airport two hours early when your flight is at 6:30 AM.  It was just like hoping for a date with the boy of  my dreams on my 16th birthday - lots of places to get in line but not a soul in sight.
5.  The sign in our taxi read, "No Drinking!  No Smoking!  No Cursing!  No Sex!  No Drugs!"  In other words, if your name is Courtney Love you'd better arrange your own transportation.
6.  Triscuits are $9.00.
7.  Sunscreen is $26.00.  That's like twenty dollars, and then another six dollars, making twenty-six dollars.  Most people would bring their own from home to avoid such island robbery, but most people don't forget to put their sunblock in their checked baggage rather than the carry on with a 3 oz. limit where such products are thrown in the trash with reckless abandon.  It's okay, I wasn't mad.  I mean, what's the TSA supposed to do what with all those incessant rumors flying around about the Banana Boat company using sunscreen to camouflage all of their explosives?  I totally get it.
8.  Sometimes when you get up at 5:30am to see the sunrise you might notice the swirls of salmon and lavender blossoming and congregating on the "wrong" side, only to realize you're not exactly facing east.  The best thing to do in this situation is get a donut and go back to bed.
9.  My Dad struggles making a human "R" when playing charades in a hotel room, but at least my children are forever aware of the order of the fork. 
10.  From now on when I am stressed and need to close my eyes and go to my happy place, this is what it will look like:

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Vacation Haikus

ON HOW I FEEL ABOUT THIS TRIP:

The "Rabbit" is off,
beaches and palm trees await.
Better than Calgon.

CORY'S PACKING STRATEGY:

Hm.  How many bags?
For four people, ONE suitcase.
What does Vern say?  NOT.

HOW BLOGGING WILL GO:

In a word, it won't. 
Daiquiri by pool comes first.
I suck at haikus.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Strengths & Weaknesses

One of my strengths is that I’m always learning stuff.

Unfortunately, one of my weaknesses is that I’m always forgetting stuff.

My problem is that I only learn what I need to for the moment and then I promptly forget it. For example, last year I organized a holiday service project that we have decided to repeat during these holidays. When discussing how to organize it this year one gentleman suggested, “Just do it like you did last year – it was very organized and efficient.”

Doh.

It didn’t seem like the appropriate time to explain that there’s a little man who comes in my sleep and robs me of my memories. I don’t think he’d understand. Why do you think I write this blog, anyway? Contrary to popular belief, it’s not solely for the amusement of having someone look at me quizzically and inquire, “Soooo…a blog, huh? What kind of stuff do you write about?” and have me answer, “Nachos, farting and Hugh Jackman.” No, it’s so one day when Drew comes to me with an assignment to interview me about his childhood I can say, “Check the July 2007 archives.”

On the one hand I suppose it’s good to know that I am capable of “organized” and “efficient”. On the other hand, it would also be nice to remember how to do fractions and who Harriet Tubman is.

I have so many other examples of this problem.

I sure wish I could remember what they are.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"No, I Need 'TUCKS' Not a 'Tux'"

What would you think if I told you I was going to an accounting conference to celebrate my 40th birthday?

Uh-huh.

Right.

Okay.

Now, what if I told you that the accounting conference was in the Bahamas?

And you didn't think there were perks to being married to an accountant.  Technically my birthday falls after we get back, but since the conference fell the week before I decided it was a sacrifice worth making.  I've told you, I'm a giver.  A giver who can't wait for someone else to make her bed already.

In other news, elections are finally over so I can watch "The Biggest Loser" without having to consider the irony of the ticker tape updates flashing at the bottom of the screen.  What is ticker tape anyway?  Am I even using it in the right context?  I'm sorta hoping it's something only old people know about and that by referencing my ignorance I can retain a portion of my youth.  Unlike the time I was listening to my retro iTunes and I said, "Turn it up!  It's by OMD!"  And my kids were like, "OMG?!"  And I said, "No,  O...M...nevermind."  Not to worry, one day they'll be raising their own kids and be all, "Remember Snookie and the Bump It?" and their kids will roll their eyes and go, "As if."

Besides, what do I care?  I'm going to the Bahamas!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tidbits From Dix: On Sewage Envy

Sorry, are you guys sick of me talking about my Dad?  I can't help myself.  When I wake up to emails like this, what's a girl with a Dad without a blog to do?
"You know how sometimes you just feel inadequate, or you just wish you had something really cool to show off to everybody else but you just don't?  Well, today in the paper I saw an article that made me feel like...well...maybe I'm not such a loser after all.  There is a picture (and I am not making this up) with the following caption: 'Sewage treatment plant operator Joe Polzin shows off a bucket of dried sludge.'"

I try not to be a prideful person, so I asked myself....If I had a bucket of dried sludge, would I show it off?  Would people with bigger or nicer buckets try to show me up?  Would their sludge be drier than mine?  Should I smile or look presidential next to the sludge?

Is there a possible reality show here..."Dancing In The Sludge"or "American Sludge"....So many questions!!  But, I have to hand it to Joe Polzin.  If ever anybody deserved to have his picture in the paper with a bucket of dried sludge, Joe is the man!!  Fair Warning Joe...Pride Goeth Before The Fall!!" ~Dad
 I was curious and googled the article.  Here is the picture of Joe with his sludge:


Sadly, he chose not to smile OR look Presidential.  He seems more like, "Who knew I'd have to muddle through so much crap just to get my picture in the paper?"  Or maybe he was silently chanting, "Only 2 more years 'til retirement.  Only 2 more years 'til retirement."  Uh oh, has anyone told Joe that his 401K is probably full of crap too?!   

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ghosties

This week is Fall Break with my kids, which means if I'm not careful Sonny Will Have More Chances than Cher, The Suite Life will cause me to jump ship, and the Wizards will claim permanent residence outside of Waverly Place in my family room.  So.  I decided that today we would make a Halloween craft.  For those of you who read the ending of books before you commit to the whole story, allow me to start with a picture of the finished product.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I Know Why The Free Bird Swings

Twenty-five years ago in a broadcasted speech by Gordon B. Hinckley he said, “There is so much of sorrow in the world. There is so much of pain. There is so much of loneliness and fear and misery. There are so many whose circumstances are desperate and who cry out in deep distress.”

I was fifteen at the time and probably thought he was talking to me because I had braces and couldn’t get Mike/Steve/Mark/Kevin to notice me. I am older now (29 days until I hit the big 4-0 – don’t procrastinate getting me my black balloons and Preparation-H gag gifts. The sooner the better – I’m getting really low on Preparation-H.) and as such have witnessed and experienced some For Real trials. Death. Violence. Betrayal. Discouragement. Stress. It’s all around me, and it feels heavy lately.

I felt the pressure mounting early this morning so I decided to exercise it out of me before I exploded.  Since the weather in Denver today had us confused with the opening scene from The Wizard of Oz, I opted for the gym instead of the outdoors. Kelly Clarkson got me going almost 8 mph to one of her latest hits – it boasts a ridiculous message, (“Being with you is so dysfunctional, I really shouldn’t miss you but I can’t let you go…”) and a chorus line that’s categorically lazy, (“My life would suck without you”) but what can I say, it makes me run faster.

I settled onto a machine that faces the wall of windows overlooking the outside. With the rhythm of my steps humming below and my iPod streaming through my consciousness, the tension started to find its way out.

I ran.

And I ran.

I felt a little like Forrest Gump.

Remember how he kept running?

Also, remember how he liked chocolates?

Forrest gets me.

Then, glancing out the window my gaze caught up with a bird attempting to take flight outside. There she was, suspended in the air and flapping her wings faster than a hummingbird on Red Bull – she seemed determined, (I bet she heard about the sale at TJ Maxx) but the winds were so fierce that she couldn’t move. Chaos reigned around her little, determined form. The unpredictable gusts pushed her up, thrust her down, and made her look like she had one too many glasses of wine but no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t move forward.

Moving fast and getting nowhere.

I know how she feels.

If birds could talk I would have invited her back to my house for hot chocolate so we could swap stories. I bet she would have accepted my invitation, flown over and then upon seeing my house she probably would have been like, “Hey, I’ve been here before. I built a nest on your porch and then crapped on it all summer!”

I would have forgiven her. And then poisoned her hot chocolate.

In addition to the aforementioned Hinckley quote, he added this a few sentences later:

“May your prayers be answered. May you have peace and strength and love and gladness in your lives. I urge you to lift your heads and walk in gratitude. Spare yourselves from the indulgence of self-pity. It is always self-defeating. Subdue the negative and emphasize the positive. Count your blessings and not your problems.”
Which means I should probably take back that part about the poison.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What I Know For Sure - Volume VI

I've watched Oprah sit across from many a guest and ask them, "What do you know FOR SURE?"  Their answers are typically uninspiring but every time I've heard the question posed I've silently wondered how I would respond to the same.  The result has been a series of Top 10 lists I started a couple of years ago (archived on the sidebar) - it's been a really long time since I've had a fresh one, so here it goes:

1. We need to find a different word for “titillating”.

2. Same with “pianist”.

3. Eating healthy gives you gas. Anyone who refutes this has never had a “Fiber One” bar and 5 servings of vegetables in the same day.

4. Noting #3, our investment in that King size bed is already paying off.

5. When your spaghetti sauce unknowingly explodes in a box that sits in the basement for another four weeks it gets moldy and ruins everything else in the box, including your plastic wrap.

6. Trying to get mold out of a roll of plastic wrap is about as productive as trying to scrape all the butter off of a piece of baklava.

7. There’s a scene from “The Office” where Jim is sitting at his station when he suddenly thunks his head face down on his desk. The camera moves to Pam where she explains that sometimes Jim “dies of boredom” and in those instances it is her job to revive him. Now that they're finally together, I think it's time to see Jim & Pam utilize this tactic on a road trip along I-80.

8. It’s embarrassing when your kid farts in front of your home teacher during his spiritual message.

9. It’s also really funny.

10. I’ve never met a woman who can legitimately pull off the phrase, “You go girl!”

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Why carve my own when there’s Google?

In case you didn’t know, I’m not the fun parent.  I don’t carve pumpkins, color easter eggs, make homemade valentines or whip up batches of Christmas divinity in a poinsettia embroidered apron.  So, you can imagine my delight when Cory and Drew came home from grocery shopping the other night with a small pumpkin.  Drew announced with enthusiasm, “Now we can make our OWN homemade pumpkin pie!”  I looked at Cory as if to say, “You couldn’t show him where the canned pumpkin was?”  But he totally misunderstood me and thought I said, “Excuse me while I check my fantasy football scores.” 

The pumpkin is resting on our counter where I’m confident it will stay until someone goes, “What’s that smell?” and I’ll sigh and put on my best fake disappointed face and say, “Don’t worry kids, Costco was made for parents like me.”  We’ll throw the spoiled pumpkin in the trash and I’ll drive to Costco to buy the eight dollar pumpkin pie, except when I get to the checkout line the cashier will probably say, “That will be five hundred and thirty-three dollars, please” because I didn’t anticipate such a screamin’ deal on corn.

Some of you might worry that Drew will be disappointed.  It’s okay, he’s used to it.  And if he’s really sad I’ll just show him this picture.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Rise and shout, the Cougars are out!

Every year our church puts on a carnival for our members in this area, and each year it's a pretty big hit, particularly for our younger contingent. Sno-Cones, cotton candy, hot dogs, and corn are always on the menu, and the cake walk, face painting, and whatever bouncy castle jumping thing they happen to come up with are typically included in the festivities. Our church is 100% supported by the members; we have no paid clergy, and hence we have no paid or qualified individuals to man the said face painting booth other than 15-year-old girls and their leaders (such as my big bad self.) But every year we show up with our year supply of craft paints complete with paint brushes seemingly qualified for cleaning tile grout and attempt to grant the wishes of the young children in attendance.

"Can you do a cheetah?" my first client of approximately 4-years-old asked. I hesitated because my specialty is not so much cheetahs but more like squares, stars, or perhaps items in the circle family. His grandmother sensed my uncertainty and jumped in with a suggestion of colored stripes down the sides of his cheeks the color of a Colorado Sports team. Thank you Grandma! I did manage to transform one little boy into a Ninja Turtle, but not before running out of green.

Further back in the line was a middle aged woman who I assumed was in company with one of the several youngsters who hovered nearby, and she kept lurking near the box of paints making comments about "the right color of blue". After putting the finishing touches on a little girl's rainbow, this woman found her way to the front of the line. I looked for the child who was waiting with her when she asked, "Do you think you could do 'BYU' on one side and then 'Go Cougars' on the other?" I realized she was requesting for herself, and so I replied, "Oh, sure." "Well, I was looking at your colors and you don't seem to have the right color of blue. [she picked up a bottle in front of me] This one's too light, I mean BYU has more of a royal blue to navy color. Do you think you could make it darker?" Why of course, lady. Nevermind the small children in line. I began mixing in purple and black, and finally came up with a stunning shade of gray at which point she confessed to being content with the original blue. I got to work.

"So, you're doing the block letters, right?" she clarified.
"Yes ma'am."
[pause...pause...paint over middle-aged hairy mole in the 90 degree heat...pause...]
"And are you going to outline it in white?"
"Yes ma'am."
[pause...]
"It's going to be a big game tonight!"
"Uh-huh." Lady, even if BYU is your alma mater, don't you think you're a little too old for this?
I began to paint "Go Cougars" as she struck up a conversation with another party-goer. As if it wasn't hard enough over a hairy mole in the sweaty heat, now she's moving her mouth???

I really should mention that this woman was not rude or unappreciative, I really don't believe she was trying to be difficult, but is it just me or do you think that a longing for a face paint job should dissipate somewhere between 7th grade and high school graduation?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tidbits From Dix: The Lamb & The Lion Series

In our extended family we currently have 3 nephews serving full time missions for our church in various parts of the world.  Given the beauty of technology, we are able to follow their experiences through weekly emails that are forwarded to us from their parents.  One nephew in Mexico recently recounted a phone call from one of his leaders who warned him to run for cover if he saw a helicopter hovering overhead.  Why?  "There was an accident with one of the circus cars and they are looking for a LION" on the loose.  My nephew and his companion ran for cover and survived without incident.  In response, my Dad drafted and sent the following:
I do not think the Missionary Handbook has a section on dealing with escaped lions so I will pass on some old wives tales about how to best deal with roaming big cats when confronted:


1) Roll over and play dead. (I am personally skeptical of this approach. That sounds to me like something a lion wrote just to save him a lot of effort.)
2) Look very content and purr in an EXTREMELY LOUD manner.
3) Do not act territorrial! (Of course this is my space but you are welcome to it.)
4) Act very territorial! (Of course this is my space but you are welcome to it.)
5) Try to look bigger! Have your companion climb up and stand on your shoulders. (You may use 'rock, paper, scissors' to determine who stands on whom.)
6) Look like a tree...(and if the lion uses you as one of his markers for his territory, don't drop your leaves.)
7) Pretend you are a veterinary dentist and show special interest in his teeth. ("You know you really should floss".)
8) Introduce yourself as 'Simba' and hum Lion King songs.
9) Try to interest the animal in the joys of vegetarianism.
~Love, Grandpa
He cracks himself up.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How Do You Like Me NOW?

When I was pregnant with Drew, like, REALLY pregnant and nearing the end, I had pretty much run out of things to wear.  One Sunday as I quickly eliminated one option after another, I finally ran across a pink number that I hadn't previously resorted to.  A stunt double for the county fair's canopy that draped over the pig exhibit, it was classed up with mother of pearl buttons and a label of "100% silk".  It wasn't pretty, but feeling frustrated and out of time, I exited the closet and asked Cory, "How does this look?"

His eyes darted left and right, no doubt in search of a machete to thrust his body upon to create a distraction, but finally met my gaze and shrugged.  "Seriously," I said, "tell me the truth.  I can take it."  "Well..." he stammered, "I mean...it looks BIG I guess."  I threw him out of the room and started to cry.  Poor guy never stood a chance. 

See, I didn't really want his opinion, I actually just wanted him to tell me I looked great, even if it was a lie.

Which brings me to my new blog header.  I would ask you what you think of it, but I don't really want to know.  All I really want to hear is, "Wow, I love that!  Who did it for you?"  And I would say, "Aly did!" and you'd ask, "How can I get me some of that?" and I'd say, "GO HERE."  Aly makes more food than she does blog headers, which is why I like her so much. It's one thing to be able to put fonts, colors and shapes together, but when you can also whip up a Peanut Butter Brownie Pie?  It's called, Are You Sure We Weren't Separated At Birth?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Sometimes

Sometimes I can’t sleep.

Sometimes when I can’t sleep I go online and read blogs.

Sometimes I read something that gets me really fired up, which, incidentally, enhances the initial No Sleeping Problem. One thing leads to another and before you know it you’re signing up for something, typing in your credit card number and checking the box which says you agree to the Terms and Conditions (which for all you know says that you will never again use the words “bodily fluids” in mixed company but you’ll never know, because you never actually READ the Terms and Conditions) and agree to pay the $1 to find out exactly which pedophiles live in your neighborhood.

Sometimes this happens and when it does, the red flag at the credit card company goes up because it’s not used to seeing Vern charge things on her Visa at two o’clock in the morning. Wal Mart at 3pm? Safeway bakery at 6am? (That’s when the donuts are freshest!) Children’s Place 15 minutes before any baby shower? These are all patterns of behavior that my credit card company is accustomed to tracking. But the 2am thing to spy on all the creepsters in my neighborhood really threw it off its game and as a result, it declined my card.

Declined. DENIED. DO NOT PASS “GO”. DO NOT COLLECT $200.

It was just what I needed to feel resigned to going back to bed.

The next morning I woke up to my phone ringing at 7am.

It was Cory.

My life companion.

The one who learned the hard way that when a woman asks you how she looks wearing a pink tent when she is 19 months pregnant you never, EVER tell her the truth.

The one who crunches numbers for a living and checks our Visa statements online every day.

That guy.

He was calling from work. “Hi Honey. Hey, I was just looking at our bank statement - do you know anything about a one dollar charge to a DATING AND ESCORT SERVICE?”

I was awake now.

Someone had tried to mess with me.

Sometimes when you try to be a good guy and go in search of the bad guys, the bad guys try to weasel their way in and give you the finger. Guess what, bad guys? You lose. Even though it showed up on our statement, my credit card company flagged the transaction and sought our permission before allowing it to go through because it seemed suspicious. It wasn’t consistent with my history and as a result, the access to my integrity was vehemently denied.

Which just goes to show you.

Sometimes, the good guys win.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fascists, Michael Bolton & Inflatable Bananas

It’s been an eventful few days.  Thursday I was recruited by a former military man to teach English in Korea.  I met him while getting frozen yogurt.  One minute he was recommending I get the “Blueberry Tart” and before I knew it he had accused me of being a Christian fascist and threatened to blow himself up if Sarah Palin ever became President.  I was like, “Buddy, I’m just here for the blood orange and vanilla wafer swirl with coconut.”  He was like, “It’s a weeknight and you’re wearing a skirt, don’t screw with me,” to which I exhaled a huge sigh of relief because, FINALLY.  We were on the same page.

Friday we went to Chili’s.  I ate nachos.  Nachos rule.

Saturday morning I listened to this guy say, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.”  We decided there was no time like the present to take that advice to heart, so we spent a glorious afternoon on the lake with some friends who have a boat.  We’ve decided we are very interested in making more friends with boats and are currently accepting applications.  Requirements:  You tow it to the lake, fill it with gas, supply it with ice cold drinks and haul our kids around on an inflatable banana and WE will bring the licorice.  Pretty much an ideal scenario for you.  (Did I mention that we share the licorice?)

The Word on the street is that Michael Bolton was golfing in our neighborhood today.  I’m not sure why he was here, but I’m also not sure how he ever got engaged to Nicollette Sheridan so I guess it’s par for the course.  (Ha!  Oh, COME ON.  Lighten up.)

What do you think, should I take the Korea job?

Friday, October 1, 2010

I'm Not The Embassy Suites

I was listening to a radio discussion last week and their theory about how good looking people have it easier. They argued that they receive more jobs, get higher pay, and weasel their way out of more traffic tickets. (I wouldn’t know.) I’m not saying they’re wrong, but I also think that Pretty comes with consequences.

The thought hit me recently while I was watching Undercover Boss. The premise of this show is that a company big shot goes undercover at his own business to see how well things are really going. He poses as an entry level employee to work side by side with his own staff – all the while the staff is thinking they are being filmed for a documentary. The Top Dog wants to know, are policies running efficiently? Do we employ punks or quality people? Is morale good or bad? (Thus ruling out carnivals completely.) The most recent episode was about a hotel chain. While staying at one of his own establishments, The Boss grew disappointed that he was not provided with free coffee but was instead expected to pay for it at the front desk. (What a ripoff!) (I know how he feels. I’ve paid money, like REAL American dollars, to eat at Casa Bonita.)

What I realized while watching is that I think hotels are kind of like people – many will base their expectations on appearance. For example, I understand that when I go to a Motel 6 I want to keep the black light packed away. Kind of like Sean Penn – we say we want to know what he’s thinking, but deep down we know better.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Afternoon Abroad

Cruising Craigslist - It's not the name of a band, but something I like to do when I feel like fantasizing about knowing how to do stuff.  I don't know anything about restoring old furniture, but looking through Craigslist makes me wish I did.  It also makes me dream of Ford F-150's and flatbeds, because it would make it so much easier for me to haul the furniture that I don't know how to refinish back to my house where I don't have a place to put it.  You know what else would be nice?  Free Chipotle on Fridays. 

So, lately I've been browsing more seriously in search of a refinishing project and one of the listings took me to a small town an hour away.  Unfortunately, it was for naught.  (Unless the $1 hot fudge sundae from McDonald's equates success, but seeing as there's one just down the street from me I'm thinking more along the lines of: FAIL.)  Having driven so far I wasn't ready to turn right around and go home, so I decided to browse a nearby boutique.  It wasn't that much fun looking at $20 lip balms and leopard print aprons, but I turned the corner and found some homemade trinkets that made my heart sing.  I even went the extra mile and wrote down some of the quotes I found so I could share them with you here.  First up, a refrigerator magnet that said:
"Between my therapist and my personal trainer, I have no "ME" time."
 Printed on a napkin:
"My reality check bounced."
and:
"I used to be driven but I pulled over."
On a couple of greeting cards:
"I'm so far behind I think I'm first."
 and,
"I'm pushing middle age.  That's enough exercise for me."
As for that last one, I don't recall giving anyone permission to read my thoughts and publish them.  Too hard to prove in court?

Monday, September 27, 2010

If I Were Lord Voldemort

It's been a while since I've heard any Potter chatter, but now that there's a movie coming out in November people are starting to talk.  In regards to this upcoming event I've decided to resurrect one of my posts from the now defunct Light Refreshments Served, not because I'm too lazy to write something new, but because I spent a buttload of time today writing something new when my computer Crashed.  And I mean, CRASHED.  Like, I might cry about how much information it ate, but I'm waiting for Cory to come home and tell me just how bad it is.  But guess what?  Cory is inspired, because two weeks ago he made me buy a new computer because he "just didn't have a good feeling" about that laptop and felt its days were numbered.  I thought he was being silly and a little frivolous with some of our disposable income, but now I will kiss him squarely on the lips when he gets home on account of his being so awesome.  He installed the new computer over the weekend, and the laptop bit the dust around 2 this afternoon.  And now for He Who Must Not Be Named... 
 ***
I haven’t read any of the Harry Potter books.  I’m not apologizing, just stating a fact.  However, the rest of my family is very into it and so everyone was excited about the newest release.  I didn’t want to be left out or serve as the party pooper, so I tried to get up to speed before going to the latest movie so I could at least follow what was happening.  And by "get up to speed" I mean I went on Wikipedia.  After seven very enlightening paragraphs, I hopped in the car with the family secure in my knowledge that Dumbledore was a good guy, Voldemort was a bad guy, and Harry was the guy with the glasses.

A critical element of the story line comes to light in this 6th movie (and book) regarding horcruxes.  For those of you like me who have stayed away from the Harry Potter frenzy, let me briefly explain to both of you that a horcrux is a place where a dark wizard hides a part of his soul for the purpose of attaining immortality.  As long as the horcrux stays intact, so does the person’s soul.  At this point in the series, it is learned that this is precisely what Lord Voldemort has done, and now they just have to figure out what/where all of his horcruxes are so they can destroy them, and thus destroy HIM. 

Which got me thinking, if I were Lord Voldemort, where would I hide the pieces of my soul?  (psst:  I copied this idea from my friend Rachel.  You can read HER version here.)

Unlike Tom Riddle, my diary would not be a likely choice.  For starters, I have too many diaries, and I have too many lame diaries.   They contain startling details to the most ridiculous stages of my life, and I am certain that they are the first place people will be looking after I die for juicy information.  It’s where I document 5 years of Tuesday nights and use several exclamation points to emphasize how much I love “Remington Steele”, and where I drone on for months about a guy I refer to as “Mr. No Name” who I stalked but didn’t know what his name was until I finally asked him to dance at a party.  He said I was a good dancer and I thought he was serious and I planned our wedding to the tune of Madonna’s “Crazy For You” under the colored lights of the gym.  Surprisingly, it never went anywhere; a recurring theme through all seven volumes of my journals.  Like I said, “JUICY”.

Another place I would never use as a horcrux – my DVD’s of “The Office”.  Too obvious.  My computer?  Another dead giveaway.  The Costco size bag of chocolate chips – can you imagine?  Harry Potter would be all, “It’s like she’s not even trying.”  If I really had to be honest though, here’s what I think I would use.

MY CHAP STICK  Some people need meth, I need chap stick.  Only a few people who are close to me know how much I rely on the stuff and I have several stashes – one in my car, one in the kitchen, another in my bathroom drawer, and a final one in my purse.  For the record, I think I would pick the one in my bathroom drawer to store the horcrux, because I don’t care what your magical powers are you do NOT want to go rummaging around in there.  For as long as I can remember I have used Cherry Chap Stick, because it gives my lips a slightly glossy, pink tint and doesn’t require the stronger commitment of lipstick.  That was before I met my mistress, “Vanilla Mint” and we fell in love.  Except then I couldn’t find it anymore, and for months I had to revert to the cherry until Cory came home from work one day and said he had a present for me.  Could it be diamonds?   A laundry fairy?  Chipotle?  He handed me a paper sack and I opened it up to reveal FOUR PACKAGES of Vanilla Mint chap stick!  *Sigh* My hero.

THE TREADMILL  - Hellloooo, who’s going to think to look there?

A JOJO’S SHAVE ICE - I had one of these when Cory and I went to Kauai a few years ago, and as soon as I took a bite I knew we were meant to be together. 

THE AIR CONDITIONING VENT – I wouldn’t necessarily choose this, it’s just that I know myself enough to know that part of my soul belongs to air conditioning whether I’m a dark wizard or a stay at home mom.  It’s who I am.

Finally, if I really want to keep myself alive I think I’d hide one in Drew’s socks.  It’s basic common sense – Drew can’t ever find them, I can’t ever find them, and if I’m that desperate to live forever I think it’s my best shot.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bits 'N Pieces

This morning as I logged on to my email I saw the following headline on the Comcast homepage: “Full Figured Halloween Costumes”. Some might argue that this is not societal progress, and that trashy pirates and gothic vampires should reserve their rights to a size 4. I think they are overlooking the encouraging opportunity that this opens up for plus sized parrots.
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I still haven’t figured out who rigged my accounts for the wheelchair and hearing aids people, but I did come across this quote from Mark Twain: “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” My guess is Mark Twain never dealt with incontinence.
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Question: When someone sends you an email with a photo attachment of them getting a tattoo of your company logo, does that mean you’ve made it or that you just have a really tacky clientele?
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You know you’re a “has been” when you get booked for the county fair and there’s no cover charge. Hope you had fun in Denver Billy Idol!
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Calling And Election Unsure

Fact: I am a church going Latter-Day-Saint. I’m not supposed to drink, smoke, swear, have coffee, fornicate, or listen to raunchy music, especially not backwards.

Fact: I don’t drink, smoke, have coffee, or fornicate. Sometimes I listen to Lady Gaga, and I often throw in a “damn” or “hell” for good measure in some conversations. On very rare occasions I have referred to someone as a jack***, but that’s only because my friend’s ex-husband really is one, and calling him a “jerk” wasn’t satisfying enough. Oh, and remember that part about skinny dipping? I’ve done that a couple of times too.

You may recall that a little over a year ago I was asked to serve as the President over our Women’s organization at church. (Key operative word there is “asked” – that’s how it works in my church. With all leadership positions, whether it be a teacher, a pianist, or presidency member of some sort, we are asked to serve and we choose whether to accept or not.) I accepted the responsibility, and instantly inherited a stewardship over approximately 100 women. Along with my two counselors it is my job to make sure that the temporal and spiritual needs of these women are being met.

My quandary is this: As their leader I am expected to serve as an example. It seems reasonable enough, to count on people in certain positions to act a certain way – to “practice what they preach”. However, sometimes I struggle between the boundary of being myself and being a good example. The two should probably not conflict, but hi. Have we met? Here’s where things go fuzzy for me.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

If American Idol Was High School

I think American Idol has jumped the shark, but unfortunately people are still talking about it. Simon’s gone! Ellen’s leaving! JLo’s coming! Will Steven Tyler sign or are the risks too high that he will inhale contestants with his massive, vocal orifice when offering criticism? Still, the reports aren’t going away and I’m starting to feel like I’m in high school all over again.

Simon Cowell is like the Principal. He thinks he’s the smartest one there and that he’s better than everyone else but with visions of greener grass, he is switching teams and moving to another high school to do the same exact thing. Some feel betrayed, others are relieved, and everyone else doesn’t really care. (For the record, I am “everyone else”.)

Ryan Seacrest: he’s the cute guy from Choir who straddles the popular/unpopular line – popular with all the girls in the choir because all the other guys in the group are lame enough to make Ryan look like the hottest thing since Nutella became available at Costco.  UNpopular because, come on, it’s just Choir. Also? The boys like him too. I think it’s the blazers.

Paula Abdul: the head cheerleader – dumped by the football captain two days before Homecoming on account of being so short it really made slow dancing uncomfortable.  Plus, she wore too much eyeliner and people were starting to talk.  Other cheerleaders shunned her, forcing her to quit the team and start looking to the Chess Club for guys to date.

Kara Dioguardi: the new girl at school - not really that hot, but intriguing because nobody knows that in 2nd grade she had a mole the size of Wisconsin on her upper lip, or that in middle school she flunked PE -  she tries to be a friend to Paula and offers supportive feedback such as, “Paula, don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m beautiful and taller than three foot nothing. You take everything so personally.” She’s essentially the new head cheerleader, but no one really cares because, remember? The football captain is suddenly available!

Randy Jackson: The dawg who name drops all the people he made famous. Nobody really knows who he is, or what he’s done, or why he’s on the panel to begin with until he says things like, “I signed Mariah Carey”. Which makes Randy the high school yearbook editor. He still dates the common folk, but at the end of the day he can sprawl out on his couch, lace his hands behind his head and smile knowing that the pictures he took of the Prom Queen at lunch that day were going to show up on page 18 of the yearbook and HE HAD EVERYTHING TO DO WITH THAT.

Ellen: Your band has decided to invite some friends over on Saturday to hear you play a free concert out of your parents’ garage. You know that your closest friends will be there, but you’re hoping to draw a bigger crowd so you advertise, “Concert AND Comedian!” But the two don’t really go together, and at the end of the day you realize you should have just promised free hash instead.

Jennifer Lopez: Voted Homecoming Queen ten years ago, hoping to return and have everyone remember her from her glory days.  (i.e. Before "Bennifer", and waaayy before "Gigli".)  Unfortunately, no one has any reason to care what she thinks anymore.  We're not fooled by the rocks that she’s got, we know she’s just Jenny from the block.

One major problem facing American Idol is that there's no clearly defined role of the Football Quarterback.  Has no one considered Chris Pine?  Hugh JackmanEric DaneJavier BodemJames Marsden?  Do you get me?  Who am I leaving out?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lucy

I met 19-year-old Lucy* about a month ago. Sunday she was standing next to her mother, holding on securely to her arm when I looked her in the eye, said hello, and told her how pretty she looked. She glanced off to the side and moaned something undecipherable, as her mother patted her hand and said, “Okay, Lucy.” The mother turned to me as if trying to explain, “Whatever she says, I just say ‘okay’!” Some might argue that Lucy’s not really saying anything, that she doesn’t understand me, and that there’s no point in trying to communicate with her. Perhaps they’re right.

But what if they’re not?

Lucy, you see, has Down’s Syndrome. I only know a few things about this birth defect. I know that some people with Down’s are highly communicative, some are aggressive, and others are very affectionate. I know that many are both. I know that Lucy is neither. And I know that had my niece been required to endure this life here on earth, she would be over 4 years old now and living, however so, with this same defect.

Soon after my sister delivered our darling Clara Grace, stillborn in 2006, I was unable to look at anyone with Down’s Syndrome without growing immediately emotional and introspective. I observed them in airports, grocery stores, and schools and asked myself all kinds of questions as I watched. Would Clara have done that? Would Clara have looked like that? Would she be that beautiful? That vocal? As demonstrative? Would she love me? And more importantly, would she know that I love her?

We didn’t get to find out, which is why I look Lucy in the eye. Whether she understands me or not, sometimes I feel like she is my chance.

My chance to hug.
My chance to love.
My chance to learn.

I say her name deliberately. Several hours after the funeral for my niece I watched my sister and brother-in-law open cards of condolences, and my sister commented on something I will never forget. “My favorites are the ones where people say her name,” she said, further explaining how valid and real it made her feel to have others acknowledge it.

I’ve only known Lucy for a month, and I don’t know if she understands me.

But what if she does?

I want her to know that I see her.

And that she’s beautiful.

*name changed

Monday, September 13, 2010

I've Got Skiiiiills, They're Multiplying

My mom has mad skills.  When I am in my 70's and someone asks me, "Hey, what did you do this weekend?" I hope to talk about how my maid scrubbed my floors while I was at the movies.  A few months ago I asked my mom that question and she was stoked because she had just, "finished building the retaining wall"!  Or was it a deck?  I can't remember.  The point is, I am lazy and my mom isn't.  For example, I just bought nine trees for my yard, paid someone else to deliver them, and then paid another someone else to plant them.  If it had been my mom at the nursery, selecting trees and plotting the strategy for getting them home she would have grabbed a shovel and pointed to some rope and said, "Give me that!"  That's why when anyone says, "Oh, you're just like your mom," I dig in my heels and say, "Don't talk about her like that." 

But sometimes not even I can argue with the similarities.  For one, we draw the same.  Remember when I told you about my lame boss and how he said, "Guys, we're really under the hourglass," so I made fun of him and drew this picture and posted them all over the office?


And then remember yesterday's post where I made fun of the "Sit And Be Fit" lady on television?  For starters, my mom could so take her out.  But for finishers, I got an email today from my mom who said she found a cure for her back pain that was better than acupuncture, drugs, and suicidal fantasies.  However, as she tried to describe the process to us her description fell short, and she had to draw a picture.  GET THIS...

Friday, September 10, 2010

This Might Be A Long 2 Months

In two months and fourteen days I will have completed my 4th decade of life. In case this math is too complicated, I am almost 40 years old. Don’t you think I’m taking it really well? It’s probably because I know in my heart of hearts that I don’t look a day older than 39 ½. Plus, the beauty of old age is that I get to watch teenagers recycle the fashion from my prime while thinking it was their idea first. I like feeling smarter than them, with or without the big belt hanging off my hip.

The other bonus is that I’m inching closer and closer to being able to do the Sit And Be Fit Workout and declaring that a success. Unfortunately, I’m still young enough for people to expect that marathons are possible, so when I get to the point that being able to move my thumbs in and out is an impressive feat I’m prepared to celebrate that. Plus, someone needs to keep an eye on that lady – I’m not sure I trust her, but I figure it’s not my business yet. But the point is, I’m CLOSER to that being my business, and I can’t wait to corner that lady and find out once and for all what her secret is – I think we all know it’s not the nude pantyhose.

The down side to aging, however, other than the increasing viability of needing bladder repair surgery, is that somebody is trying to mess with me. At 9:30 this morning the “Scooter Store” showed up on my caller ID.
“Hello?” I answered.
“Hello,” the other end replied. “Is Vern there?”
“This is she.”
“Hi. I’m calling in response to your inquiry about motorized wheelchairs?”
“As if! I haven’t used one of those since they stole my ovaries and I couldn’t walk but desperately needed some milk from the Super Wal Mart!”
“Sorry ma’am, it says here you tried to call. I won’t be bothering you again.”

I went down to check my email, where I came upon a message from a guy named Tommy. The subject line read: “Your Path To Better Hearing”. What the crap? Delete. Thirty minutes later I got a phone call from Tommy.
“Hi. Is Vern there?”
“This is she.”
“This is Tommy from the better hearing store. I see you’ve downloaded our free information guide on the internet. I called to answer your questions about our hearing aid?”
I thought it would be funny if I yelled, “What?! Speak up! I CAN’T HEAR YOU.” But instead I started to chuckle. “Here’s the thing Tommy, someone is screwing with me. I’m sorry you had to get involved.”
We hung up with a promise that he would delete my information from all files.

So far I’ve asked three people who have vehemently denied any involvement, and I believe them, but this is no coincidence. I’ve only got one more call to try and weed out the instigator before I’m out of ideas – in other words, if you are the chick who put your bust measurements into the online calculator only to have it respond, “If these measurements are correct, you don’t need a bra”, (true story) then expect a phone call. If you are a crazy stalker desperate to be part of my fascinating life and this is your twisted way of trying to work your way in, you are overestimating my cool factor. And your check is in the mail. Other than that, I don’t know who’s toying with my head but whoever you are, be nice. I’m steps away from raising my arms over my head while sitting in a chair and calling it “exertion”.