Saturday, March 29, 2014

You say tom-ay-to, I say to-mah-to.......

I love language. And by that, I mean, I love all the versions of the English language one hears when traveling to different parts of the good 'ol US of A. Our recent trip to Ohio did not disappoint. Besides the "accent" that makes them sound different, there are the delightful words and phrases that confused and charmed me.

Now, before you think this is a post slamming another part of the country's language/accent/phrases, let me be the first to say I spent some time in southeastern Ohio myself and upon moving to other states, was often told I had an "accent." Later, someone clarified to me that it was my "Midwestern accent" and was more about where I put the emphasis on certain words. Since I've lived all over the United States, my "accent" is more of a mash-up of several states' and probably not as easily identifiable as it once was, but I know I have my own funny way of talking and using phrases that would befuddle another American.

So, for example, while I might "push" something (emphasis on the "oo" sound, as in "book") my relatives would "poosh" it. When I'm "tired" they would be "tarred." It's not that we don't both know what the other is talking about, it's just that our mouths form the words differently.

My sister giggled when she found out what a "foldover" was. I, myself, had no idea until my aunt explained it was what I would call a half sandwich. It's simple - you put what you like on the bread, and fold it over. A foldover.

The main purpose of this trip was to attend a huge surprise party for my Aunt Laurie. My other aunts, Mary and Leah (my namesakes!), along with my aunt Margi and some friends prepared all the delicious food for the party. My aunt Leah was worried she didn't have enough homemade (!) noodles - can we just stop here and admire someone who goes through the trouble to make HOMEMADE noodles? - and so she asked my sister to pick up some "cheater" noodles at the store. You know, cheater noodles. Not homemade.

One day while we were there, my husband wore a beanie on his head. You know those stretchy knit hats that are ever-so-popular with all the teenagers right now? His was more of the tight-fitting, logo-inspired variety, but you get the picture. Only, in SE Ohio, it's called a "toboggan." You know, like the sled? In fact, I called those hats toboggans for YEARS until someone corrected me and said a toboggan was a sled. REALLY? I had no idea. Now, I just call it a beanie because that's what all the kids call it. But my Ohio family still calls it a toboggan, and at least I know what they're talking about. My husband can learn.

During a conversation at my Aunt Margie's house (my dad's sister) the conversation amongst the older set turned to health. Everything from who had which cancer to who's heart had recently been catheterized filled the conversation until my cousin's significant other asked if we "got sugar?" Noting no sugar bowl on the table, I had no idea what he was talking about until my sister figured it out as a question pertaining to diabetes.

My Aunt Leah makes some killer apple pie. Also, they put milk and sugar over their pie. Isn't that just the craziest? I don't know, it sounded pretty good to me, although I was always too full to even try her pie, so I'll have to take their word for it. My brother-in-law inquired as to the secret of her fabulous pie. She began to list off the procedure, explaining that she used a "knuckle buster." A what? We soon learned that a knuckle buster is actually a cheese grater. But, c'mon, who hasn't busted a knuckle on one of those things? Makes perfect sense to me!

Jeff and I spent a lot of time driving aimlessly through the beautiful country for no other reason than to enjoy the completely different geography and beauty that Ohio has to offer. It was fun to explore, get lost and found, and take pictures of the rural loveliness. We were discussing where we'd been when my Uncle Joe started telling a tale about days gone by. He storied on about a particular road when he mentioned how the "meat wagon" used to go out there a lot. I thought, wow! They had meat delivery? I mean, I still get my milk delivered and I love that small-town charm of getting my milk from a local dairy out here in suburbia. Meat delivery would be awesome! Until my Aunt Leah noticed our expressions and clarified that a "meat wagon" referred to an "ambulance." Which, incidentally, they call a "squad" in their neck of the woods.

But my favorite "lost in translation" moment happened when Jeff and I were discussing the following day's plans to hike a nearby state park. My Aunt Leah and Uncle Joe were full of great information, including which hikes to take in our short time allotted and where to see the highlights of the many beautiful sights the park had to offer. While discussing one particular hike, Uncle Joe suddenly said "You got wind?" Thinking he meant the gassy variety, I shot a menacing look my husband's way. How dare he fart in mixed company? Both Jeff and I stopped talking and a beat of uncomfortable silence followed, until Jeff suddenly realized he was referencing our aerobic capacity, not the state of our intestines. Whew!

I love my family. I love language. And I love that we have so many words to mean the same thing. I really pity anyone who has to learn the English language. It's so confusing. And so much fun!

Friday, March 28, 2014

By air or by ?....

Airplane travel is a way of life. But that doesn't mean I have to like it. I recently traveled from my home in Washington to Ohio for a family visit. You should know that I REALLY don't like to fly, but unlike a ten-year period where I successfully avoided flying by making all manner of excuses (there was only one: my anxiety), I now fly, but I don't do it happily.

Of course there's the obvious - the plane might crash. I have sick, vivid mind-wanderings about what it would feel like, and if I would know for several minutes before the crash, and what would I say to my seatmate or would I just be quiet, or would I pray fervently, or would I just pass out from fear? Would it hurt? Would I survive, and if so, how would I forget the grisly scene? Like I said, I have a sick mind. I can't help it.

I'm also not particularly fond of letting a stranger fly the plane. I mean, what if he had too many cocktails? Is he on medications, and if so, which ones? Is she sleep-deprived? Does he have a history of making bad decisions? How many near-misses has she had? Is he a cocky jerk who won't pay attention and do something stupid? How many bird strikes has she experienced? These are the things that haunt me.

Then, there is the plane itself. WHY are the aisles so narrow? It's virtually impossible to walk down the aisle pulling a suitcase behind you without banging into someone. Then, you have to sit SO close to strangers. The seats are not wide. I'm a big girl, but I pity the poor soul who is even more overweight than I am. Double pity on the strangers who have to sit beside them. There is simply no way NOT to be cozy on an airplane. God forbid your seatmate has offensive body odor or a nervous stomach.

Much of this can be avoided by sitting in a window seat because you are able to turn your attention away from the offensive seatmates. In this case, my seatmate was my husband and he was slightly less offensive than the average person. Actually, he was a saint because he willingly gave me the window seat every time and suffered through the stranger sitting next to him.

There is virtually no privacy on an airplane and everyone can hear your conversations. Believe me, they can. On one flight, a man talked so long and so loud, it was all I could do not to tell him politely to shut the hell up. Because, seriously? Not only was the girl next to him SO not interested in what he did for a living, but neither were the two hundred other passengers on board who couldn't help but suffer through him waxing poetic about his success.

It's nice that they still offer beverages on airplanes, but WHY do they serve them in little short cups with no lids? Why can't they just pass out water bottles to everyone? Inevitably, something spills, or you're done with your drink and want nothing more than to get rid of the little cup with melting ice in it, but you have to suffer with it until the flight attendant comes through with a trash bag. Which is never, or exactly three minutes before you land.

It's a good thing they hand out those snack bags, too. On this trip, we actually got peanuts, which made me wonder - did they contact all the passengers and ask about peanut allergies? Because there are not enough Epi-pens in the world to combat the consumption and subsequent recirculation of that peanut-charged air. What if you DID have a peanut allergy? Can you get a special seat? Maybe the jump seat in the back of the plane next to the toilets?

Speaking of toilets, what the hell? Do they really think that's a bathroom they've fashioned in the back of the plane? There is barely enough room to turn in a complete circle in there, plus, why are there no seat covers? I had to delicately arrange three tissues on the doll-sized seat. When I flushed, I'm pretty sure the powerful suction took some of my DNA with it. Then, the sink only works if you push it with one hand while attempting to wash the other. Which we all know doesn't work because washing hands is a two-hand job. And the sink pretty much just blew a gust of air with a few spittles of water in it. Why even bother? Just put a big bottle of Purell in there and save some time. I despise going to the bathroom during air travel and will only do it when I'm in physical pain from my stretched bladder. Being in the window seat ensures I will "hold it" even longer because I don't want to disturb my seatmates.

Also? Turbulence. That's Latin for "holy-shit-we're-all-gonna-die." When the pilot takes the time to say over the intercom that it's going to get "a little bumpy" that means you will drop 5,000 feet in 0.00006573 seconds and your drink will fly out of that stupid little short, plastic cup. People will scream. Your imagination will go wild and you'll start promising God you'll become a nun if you can just PLEASE, this one time, NOT die, because you're NOT READY and you still have so much good to do in the world.

Speaking of the intercom, the only thing you ever hear the pilot say is "Bzzzz....31,000 feet.....the seatbelt sign....bzzz....bumpy....sorry folks.....bzzzzzz...thank you for flying Southwest Airlines." It's especially helpful when he/she announces gate changes over the intercom, because you will only hear "gate changes...bzzz" and you're basically screwed because your gate is B49 and you're flying into A1 and those terminals are seven miles apart and you have a 23 minute layover.

But you WILL hear the flight attendant's speech about safety regulations. You WILL look over the placard in front of you and you will commit to memory the most important parts of the safety speech: 1. The oxygen is stored overhead in a compartment that will supposedly open in an emergency, but isn't an emergency the actual BEST time for something to glitch? Why store the AIR in an inaccessible container? They let you push open the DOOR of the plane, but you have no access to the life-saving oxygen unless the plane decides to let you. 2. Your seat cushion doubles as a flotation device. Which is GREAT when you've crashed into a vast body of water, probably teeming with sharks, and you've had the good sense and presence of mind to remember to remove your seat cushion and take it with you. You know, along with your children, and any other handy items you might want to keep with you while simultaneously swimming away from sharks with the one arm you have left after the crash and trying to NOT drown.

Another thing......why do flight attendants dress in tight little navy blue polyester dresses accessorized with pearls and heels? What the fuck is that? How is a smartly-dressed, petite woman who weighs 93 pounds soaking wet supposed to help save MY life? Those women (and men) should be wearing survival suits and a tool belt filled with essentials like pocketknives, granola bars, emergency beacons and water bottles. Plus, sensible shoes. If I'm going down with the plane and there is ANY chance of survival, I want a cast member of Survivor with me, not perfectly-coiffed Tammy from Dallas with her acrylic nails. Although, those could come in handy peeling tropical fruit should we be lucky enough to land on an island.

But the worst possible casualty (see what I did there?) of plane travel is the claustrophobic boredom of a long flight. Full disclosure: I have never traveled much more than 6 hours at a time on a plane which is why I am certain I will never make it to Europe or anywhere outside the United States unless they knock me out and keep me sedated until landing. I go absolutely stir-crazy when I have to sit for any length of time. I bring my entertainment, I attempt to nap, I read, but in the end, I make myself crazy waiting for those blessed words "We've begun our final descent into......" Those words are never so sweet. Unless they ARE our final descent, in which case I can only say "I told you so!"

Air travel. It's for the birds.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Five minutes.........

It all started with a Benadryl. Remember last night when I said I was going to have a Benadryl and a Bailey's? Well, I skipped the Bailey's but I did take one Benadryl before bed - I've been getting allergy-type headaches the past few days and thought this might help. But since Benadryl knocks me out, I decided to just take one at night and sleep it off.

Well, sleep I did! At 6:10 a.m. my husband woke me up saying goodbye and I groggily asked what time it was. "6:10" he replied, and I rolled over to get some more sleep. My alarm was set for 6:45. Except.....not.

I woke with a start at 7:55 a.m. It seemed a little too "light" out for my normal morning awakening and I scrambled for my glasses to look at the clock. Holy crap! I had a meeting at 8:20 so I knew I had NO option but to RUN.

Luckily, the night before I had picked out an outfit. I ripped off my pajamas, threw my clothes on, quickly put in my contacts and thanked the good Lord above that my bangs were still nice and straight from the day before and the rest of my tangled mess of hair could be pulled back into yesterday's ponytail (plus, the "dents" were still visible in my hair from the ponytail holder so it was like a nice guideline).

I skipped makeup - I keep a bag of "emergency" makeup in my purse and figured I could apply it at stoplights. No time for breakfast, so I just grabbed my bag, my purse and flew out the door for my 20-plus minute commute. I managed to put on a little makeup on the road, but it was minimal. I did get stopped by a school bus and an especially long stoplight, but I made it to the meeting only five minutes late!

Bless the soul who brought homemade banana bread to work today, because that was my breakfast. Bless even more the sweet person who brought cheese and crackers, veggies and hummus, because those were my mid-morning snack.

But the real moral of this story is for my children, who, more times than I care to count, have slept through their alarms and panicked when they were going to miss the bus. You CAN get ready in five minutes and be out the door. It IS possible.

Still, I hope I never have to do that again..........maybe I'll skip the Benadryl tonight.......

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Scribbly cloud over head.........

Remember in the old "Peanuts" cartoons when one of the characters was feeling particularly grumpy, there would be a scribbled cloud over their head?

That's me, today. To begin: I woke up with a headache. An hour before my alarm was supposed to go off. I got on the scale, and the needle pointed in the wrong direction. I realized I haven't taken one of my prescription meds for three days because I couldn't get a refill. And I noticed on my calendar that I had not worked out for five days straight.

Then came the pants. I went to my drawer to grab a pair of jeans and found a pair of black, Lee "comfort waistband" pants in my size and shortness and thought: why don't I ever wear those? Those would be a nice change of pace from jeans. So, I wore them. And now I know why I don't wear them. Number one: they are "petite" sized which means they are too short. I'm only 5' 2" but usually things sized "short" or "petite" end up being just slightly too short on me. However, if I buy anything BUT those specifications, they are at least four inches too long. Hem them, you say? Kiss my ass - who has time for that? So, there was the "slightly too short" problem, which made me uncomfortable, and there was also the "just plain uncomfortable" feeling that I got from not wearing my usual jeans. And... these pants were the most mom-ish pants of all time and made me feel frumpy and fat. As we all know, when your outfit is working against you, the whole day goes to hell in a hand basket. Or is that just me?

But there was good news! I had fifteen minutes to eat breakfast this morning! Or so I thought. Instead, I spent those 15 minutes looking for a piece of paper that was on my desk last night that contained an important insurance code I needed for today. It was nowhere to be found. Completely disappeared. In frustration (and near tears), I had to hurry and fix something for the road so I wouldn't be late for work. I went to reach for a paper towel, the same paper towels I asked the girls SIX times to replace yesterday, and the holder was bare. I cursed them in a murderous rage under my breath and retrieved a fresh roll of paper towels (and didn't die in the process!). I slammed the garage door and the microwave several times just because it felt good to do it. I was on a rampage!

Which brings me to the doctor appointment. My son is sick, so I scheduled a morning doctor appointment for him, knowing I could not take him but assuming that at least ONE of the other responsible adults in his life could. Wrong! His dad had "an important meeting" (he always has something else going on when I need him to step up to the parenting plate. Divorce = dad gets to choose when, how and where he parents, mom still parents 24/7).  His stepdad had "an important client" (for the record, he is almost ALWAYS available for these things, so he certainly gets a pass for not being available today). His sister was around, but without a car. I had to reschedule the appointment for later in the afternoon when I could take him. My frustration level only increased with the ten phone calls to my husband that went unanswered and the two phone calls with long hold times to make, then change, the appointment. I honestly don't even remember driving to work because I was on the phone the whole time. Talk about driving distracted!

Work was actually the easiest part of my day.

I came home, wolfed down a plate of taquitos in record time, scarfed a Bailey's Irish Cream chocolate cupcake (because I wanted to both eat and drink my feelings) and rushed to the doctor appointment. We left with a prescription which I went to fill after I dropped my son off at school for musical pictures (cue the mom guilt for sending kid to after school activity when he didn't attend school that day!). At the pharmacy, I filled the prescription and picked up a couple that were waiting. But not before I had to "activate" a coupon for the nasal spray the doctor had ordered. For that, I had to be on the phone for over twenty minutes, listening to the sales pitch and the ENTIRE terms and conditions of the coupon before they activated it. It was worth $20. That's a dollar a minute I spent on the phone.

On the way home, I got the mail and my sister sent me a box of shamrock sugar cookies. HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY!

Finally, blessedly, I was home and wanted nothing more than to sink my teeth into a big sugar cookie and zone out at my computer. But my contacts had other plans. They were blurry, stuck to my eyes, and begging to be taken out for the night - at 4 p.m! So, I went upstairs to take them out, and put on yoga pants instead of the horrific mom pants with the comfort waistband I'd been wearing all day. By the way, life is way too short to wear pants that make you feel like crap, so I'm getting rid of those ugly suckers as soon as I wash them. Also, when in doubt, always wear yoga pants. They are like a hug at the end of a long day. Plus, they give the illusion that you work out.

Then, we decided to give the cat Benadryl. He has a bald spot that he itches until it bleeds and we read that Benadryl might help, so we attempted to give the cat children's cherry Walgreens-brand Benadryl. What a mistake! Not only did the cat have a major freak out, scratching my daughter and flinging a mouthful of Benadryl all over my shirt, but he then started foaming at the mouth for a good five minutes, trying to hack up the offending liquid. All over my office floor.

In the meantime, I was trying to fill out my end-of-year evaluation form for work (I know it's only March, I work at a school). I put the final touches on it, saved it, and when I went to attach it to the email reply, it was gone! I tried over and over to retrieve it, getting progressively angrier and yelling at my computer. I finally found it after searching, and even then I had to send it to my documents in order to find it again. Grrrrr!!!!

It's dinner time now and the girls are making grilled cheese and fruit salad. I couldn't be happier about that. I feel guilty because I haven't worked out - day six - but I'm so tired I could lay on my floor and be out in five minutes. The scribbled cloud is a little smoother at the edges (I just heard the opening strains of "Criminal Minds" on the TV!). Perhaps a Bailey's over ice with a Benadryl chaser will be just the trick?

It could be worse. There was a horrible helicopter accident right over downtown Seattle today, in which two men lost their lives and another suffered severe burns. Their days might not have started so great, either. The irony of my whiny "bad day" is not lost on me. This was their last day. That sad news hung heavy over my head all day. Bless their souls and peace to their families. 

Tomorrow is another day..........

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Favorite things.........

If Oprah can do it, why can't I? Below, in no particular order, are some of my favorite (consumer) things:

* Gerbera daisies. These flowers are amazing and beautiful and come in all sorts of colors. And every time I have them in my home, people ask if they are real! I just love them - maybe because they're so symmetrical and perfect and I'm kind of into symmetry, sometimes. Here is a pic of the latest ones I received, from my daughter and her boy friend:

*Loacker Quadritini wafers. But only the dark chocolate variety. They are SOOOO good, and it's no exaggeration to say I could eat a whole bag. I haven't, but I could!

*Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls. The junk food to end all junk food. When I was younger, I was in love with Hostess Ho-Ho's. When we moved to Utah during my 9th year of life, we could not find them anywhere. I did notice the Little Debbie variety of cake rolls, and I tried them, but didn't think they were superior to Ho-Ho's. My relatives in Ohio used to send me care packages of Hostess Ho-Ho's! But, eventually, supply and demand couldn't keep up and I resorted to consuming Little Debbies. Now, I can't even look at a Ho-Ho! I'm a Swiss Cake Roll 'ho! And, truth be told, I usually eat two packages at a time. Because the twin-pack of chocolatey goodness just isn't enough. I must have quadruplets. Needless to say, I don't purchase these often, especially since I discovered they're even better frozen! Oh, Lord help me!
*Magnabilities necklaces. These are so cool! You invest in one necklace (or two or three) and simply change the magnetic insert to change the entire look of the necklace! Such a fun, cool idea. The magnetic inserts are under five bucks so it's fun to collect a few each time I find a retailer who sells this particular piece. Plus, the magnetic inserts double as magnets on your bulletin board when not in use in your stylish necklace!

*Soma Intimates Cool Nights pajamas. I LOVE these super-soft, super comfortable pj sets! They're not cheap, but I usually only buy what's on clearance. I first discovered these when I wandered into a Soma store in the mall and felt the fabric. It can only be described as buttery-soft. These are the most comfortable pajamas I've ever worn, and, BONUS, they are designed to keep you cool at night, for those *ahem* times when your age defies you and you bloom with the flush of menopause. Sorry, I said menopause. Another huge plus, is the camisole tops provide just a teensy bit of support so if you're well-endowed, you can skip the nighttime bra and just wear the cami alone. Oh, and I'm not skinny like the model shown here, but the XL is perfect on me. Love, love, love these!

*Helicopter hand toy. I know, WTF? But hear me out. I have sensory issues, I guess, because I totally love running my hand along things - my own fingernails, my phone case, twirling a pencil, etc. So, I once bought one of these funny plastic helicopter toys in some tourist trap store. It was one of those spur-of-the-moment purchases that was fun for about five seconds and then it was just another useless piece of plastic cluttering up my house. I absentmindedly stuck it in the pencil cup on my desk and soon found myself twirling it in my hand while on phone calls or trolling the internet. I don't actually make it fly. I just enjoyed twirling the textured base in my hand. But they ARE fun to play with as well. Ok, I did occasionally let it fly to the ceiling. One time, my daughter's friends started playing with it and they broke it! I actually purposefully bought a replacement. I have no idea where it is now, but I'd totally dig another one.


*Bookstores. I could spend hours in a bookstore just browsing. The overwhelming supply of things I COULD buy usually keeps me from actually purchasing anything, but I could browse forever. Plus, I'm a sucker for all the extras - like cards, cute paper, calendars, novelty jewelry, etc. 

*Hallmark Stores/gift shops. Again, I love to browse these cluttered caverns of unnecessary delights. My husband says they give him a rash, which is why I rarely submit him to the horrors of these stores. But, alone, I could look for days. 

*Starbucks. I love the predictability, the comfort of a cup of warm, sweet, mocha, the social aspect (even if I'm not meeting friends, it holds memories of the many, many times I DO meet friends there), and the fact that there's one on every corner. Here's one of my favorite pictures of my husband at Starbucks.

*Feast. This what my family calls a meal that consists of fun food, appetizers, and whatever is leftover, all displayed nicely. We traditionally do feast for Christmas eve, and other times as well. I LOVE FEAST! 

*Candles. I think candles give off a warmth and welcoming atmosphere like nothing else. Plus, they smell delicious! I especially like the candles from Bath and Body Works, but even the Glade candles you buy in the grocery store are yummy-smelling. The candle in this picture is a Glassybaby, the only one I own and was given to me as a gift. They are crazy expensive, but I really like the heavy feel of the glass and the lovely glow it gives off (Glassybaby are actually just candle holders that you put a tea light in). My friend, Tonya says "Candles make your guests feel welcome!" and it's true! I love to walk into a clean house with candles burning. It's like my nirvana.

*Live performances. It's crazy expensive and indulgent but I love any live performance, from a school talent show to musical theater.

*Concerts. Again, my paycheck prevents attending too many, but there's nothing like seeing a live performance of great music. Especially when I can share it with my kids!

*Lucky Charms. My hands-down favorite cereal! I've loved it since I was little and my mom used to pick out all the pink hearts from my bowl and eat them. Damn you, mom.

*Homemade chocolate chip cookies. I realize this only "sort of" falls under a consumer favorite, since you have to actually MAKE them, but you do need to purchase flour and sugar and the like. So, this one qualifies and is my favorite cookie ever. Especially when someone else makes them!

*Cell phones. Because not only am I a touch away from my beloved email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Solitaire and other wonders of the world, but I can text my kids and sometimes they're keepers (the texts AND the kids).

*Fruity alcoholic drinks. I'm THAT girl. I can't shoot whiskey (apologies to Carrie Underwood). I love me a fruity, frosty drink with a slice of fruit, or, better, an umbrella or one of those cool little plastic swords in it. YAY!

*My Kindle Fire. It's not the latest and greatest version, but I love this little gadget. Not only does it hold hundreds of books for me to read, but I play Solitaire on it every night before I go to bed. Oh dear, I think I just sounded like an old lady.

*My minivan. Say what you want about the mom van - I absolutely LOVE my minivan and the one I had before. I've driven a minivan for eighteen years and I can't imagine a more comfortable road trip vehicle. It's like having an extra office on wheels. I keep everything in there. I feel lost when we drive another car. I could live in my minivan at a moment's notice. All you zombie apocalypse people, think of THAT next time you laugh at me for driving a mom-mobile.

*Hair products and contact lenses. Because when you wake up like this every morning, you thank the Lord Almighty himself for creating a beautiful world where we can all get a little help. (Full disclosure: this is what I looked like while typing this blog post. You're welcome.)

What are YOUR favorite things?

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Mountain men are expensive..........

The mountain man show is in town again! Yay. I agreed to go with Jeff, as I did last year, only this year I actually knew what I was getting myself into.

First off, I took exception to the signs that said "Cascade Mountain Men" everywhere with NO mention of the fairer sex and I pointed out that it was International Women's Day so why weren't the women being represented? Jeff took it upon himself to actually bring my complaint to the ladies at the gate collecting money and they were no help at all. They said "We just collect the money." Well, THEY are not going to change the world, that's for sure. 

This year, we actually went with a wish list. Jeff had many items he was looking for, in his quest to go further and further into the past until he actually BECOMES Merriweather Lewis. Or William Clark. Or perhaps just Scannon the dog. Fun fact, Scannon's real name is Seaman, but someone couldn't read Clark's handwriting back in the day so for years all of you Lewis and Clark fans have been calling the dog Scannon when he was Seaman all along. Anyway.

The big-ticket item he was looking for was a replica 1803 Harper's Ferry flint lock muzzleloader rifle. Because that's the kind they carried on the Lewis and Clark expedition or something. We did find the gun and we bought it. But that's the super short version of the story. Because we had to talk FOREVER to the guy selling it. And a bunch of other guys dressed in buckskin with names like "Overload" and "Trapper." It was all ".58 caliber" and "modern sights" and blah, blah, blah.

We also found Jeff a tin cup, a thingy that you strike with flint and it makes fire, and a mini powder horn. And a bunch of other boring stuff. Oh, and a super cool hat! I picked it out.

Also? I threw a tomahawk at a wood target and it stuck! Ok, I also threw it at a fence and on the ground but on my third try it stuck! I felt like Pocahontas! I mean, if Pocahontas threw tomahawks and all.

But of course the best part was the people watching and "stuff." Such as:

These fur pelts. I don't know which poor animals had to die for this. But they were very soft. 

People dressed like this. Everywhere. 

Mr. Smee, of Peter Pan fame, was there.

This man, who told me he's been a pirate for the past six years. And by that he meant he dresses like a pirate and goes to bars with other guys dressed like pirates. I wanna be a pirate!

We are the Red Men, feathers in our head men, down among the dead men, pow wow! (Side note, I later learned that this man was wearing no pants. Why the jacket and no pants? I don't think dress blues and loincloths go together but maybe that's just me?)

I was so tempted, too! 

These dudes, who were dressed as Navy men from long ago. They talked to us for a LONG time about the different whistles and what they meant, and how only the whistle guy was allowed to salute with his left hand. All I asked was to take their picture and I got a history lesson. 

For the ladies! A whole table of corsets. And this one on display. Very pretty. I was carrying around a flyer from this booth and another guy asked me if I was getting married. He thought I was making my wedding dress. I mean, never mind the diamond ring on my left hand, which is generally the universal symbol for "I snagged my mountain man, yessiree, and I'm gonna go cook him up some vittles in this here cast iron skillet!"

A lantern. I dunno. I liked the red. And it's blurry. Sorry 'bout that. 

Eye won't say eye had a GREAT time at the mountain man show but eye guess it was o.k. 

The takeaway message is this: mountain man shows are weird and expensive. But you can learn to make fire and throw sharp things and those skills might come in handy during a zombie apocalypse. At the very least, you can pick yourself up a nice beaver hat or a piece of buckskin to make yourself buckskin underwear or something. And you just never know when you're going to need that.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Bitch, please!

Have you heard the story of Rachel Canning? She is the New Jersey teenager who is suing her parents. Rachel is 18 and has moved out of her parents home of her own accord. She wants them to give her $650 a month in child support, pay her attorney fees (her attorney, by the way, is the father of the friend Rachel has moved in with), pay her private school tuition, AND pay a handsome sum in college expenses. You can read more about the story here.

As my cousin said recently, no matter how flat you make a pancake, there are still two sides. Rachel's parents claim they are loving and supportive parents who are raising a spoiled brat. Rachel claims she has been abused and her parents have contributed to her eating disorder and pressured her to get a basketball scholarship. I'm guessing both sides are partially correct, but that is really neither here nor there when you consider the danger of this lawsuit.

The first hearing resulted in the judge warning that this case could open the floodgates for similar lawsuits in which children sue their parents for Xboxes and iPhones. He couldn't be more correct. In our already embarrassingly litigious society, this case could set a precedent for even more ridiculous cases of parents vs child in the "You're so mean/You're such a brat" category.

Consider this: there are no laws saying parents have to pay for private school tuition or are obligated to send their children to college. In fact, as long as a child has a roof over their head, food to eat and clothes to wear, a parent's obligation is fulfilled. Of course they should also be loving and supportive, attend to their child's needs, provide advice and supplies, and nurture their child, but choosing to pamper a child is exactly that - a choice. And it appears Rachel's parents excelled at it.

A child who is given everything will never stop wanting. A child who isn't handed everything learns to value things. They also learn gratitude and patience.

But let's face it. Most of us been indulgent parents at times, and most of us have had spoiled bratty moments with our kids. I still hear about how "everyone" has an iPhone because none of my kids do. So, they like to remind me. Often. And I don't give a rat's ass. They all have phones, so they're luckier than every kid who doesn't have a phone. My kids were never fortunate enough to attend private school. Even in preschool we did co-op because we couldn't afford what amounted to a car payment for them to play with blocks and eat graham crackers twice a week. My poor children were/are the products of public school and in-state college. Eh, good enough.

I've been told my house is a "hell-hole" and it's torture to live in it. I've engaged in many a screaming match with an angry teenager (a very dangerous creature), shouted until I was hoarse about gratitude and respect, and cried many tears over where I went wrong. I've been told I'm too critical, a mean mom, that I hate all their friends, that I'm bitter because I didn't follow my dreams. And I'll be the first to admit there's a shred of truth in all of it.

On the other hand, my kids have been viciously mean to me and their siblings, have hurled insults that stung, have been bratty beyond belief, rude, disrespectful, and exhausting. I've told them they're spoiled, inconsiderate, mean, obnoxious and rude. And there's a shred of truth to all of that, too. And still, at the end of the day, we're all on speaking terms and no one's hired an attorney. Yet.

But the case of Rachel Canning (or "Cunning" as the case may be) appears to go beyond that. It's a sad reflection on the ultimate breakdown of love and respect between parent and child. It's a testimony to how things can get so out of hand, so beyond resolution that neither side can see the forest for the trees. No matter what our parentage, ultimately we are all responsible for the kind of person we become. We can blame our upbringing or our economic circumstances or the abuses we suffered, but how we choose to overcome them is really what defines us and makes us the individuals we are. And we can never truly grow up until we get rid of the scapegoats and take responsibility for ourselves.

Maybe Rachel Canning is telling some truths. Maybe her parents are the victims. But they are all losers in my book. The parents have lost their chance to enjoy the adult daughter they worked hard to raise. Rachel has lost her parents' support and guidance. They've all lost respect by dragging their dirty laundry through the court system. My advice to Rachel is to get a job and foot the bill for her own college tuition. Her parents should enjoy a nice vacation with the money they'll save. And I'll keep NOT buying my kids iPhones lest we end up in court.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Zumba: Latin death.

Tonight my friend Sheryl invited me to join her in a Zumba class. This was my very first Zumba class, so I didn't know what to expect. I'm kidding - I knew exactly what to expect. Because I did my research, people! I read TWO whole articles online about what to expect at your first Zumba class. In one article, there was a photo of some very fit-looking women jumping like gazelles. I figured that was just for advertising effect - surely there would be no actual JUMPING in a fitness class? I'm more of a low-impact girl myself, and by that I mean no impact.

I'm sorry to report there WAS actual jumping. Had I known, I would have worn two sports bras. Or six. Or perhaps duct-taped my boobs flat against my chest so as not to knock myself out. I sort of improvised my jumping and by that I mean I didn't really jump. I just sort of moved my body up and down to make it LOOK like I was jumping, but the instructor was moving so fast I'm sure nobody noticed. I mean, I am terribly uncoordinated. I own it. I flail like no other. But I expected at least sixteen counts of a movement series before things changed up. That way, by eight or so counts into it, I would have the basic movements down. But no. Everything was in four counts or less, it seemed, so there was no time to even cover up my awkward movements and do the whole "Haha, did you see what I did there? I was off by a count or two, but I'm right in step now!"

I was NEVER in step. Also, it turns out I can't do a box step. I actually know what that is, and now I know I can't do it. Additionally, I fail at the grapevine, which is probably the easiest dance step, ever. Instead of crossing my feet in back of me, I was alternating back to front and everything in between. I also learned that my hands cannot move in sync with my feet. That whole lasso over the head movement? My hands collided in mid-air.

It was apparent from the first five minutes that I would simply have to keep moving in order to get a workout in and look like a willing participant (although the jury is still out on that). I tried very hard to follow the instructor, but I realized when there were only five minutes left that I had a much easier time following the older lady in front of me, who, for her age, could still pretty much shake her groove thang, but more like a normal person. Also, in the middle of the class everyone was suddenly facing each other and another lady took over and did some super sexy dance moves which she expected us to follow. I'm pretty sure I was born with a couple of fused vertebrae because my hips refused to move like hers. Instead, I'm afraid I looked like a twerking gorilla.

Also? There was no intermission. Or snacks. They expected us to move like that for a whole HOUR with no breaks. Barbaric, I tell you.

The gym had one of those upper levels with a walking track, and there was a guy on a stationary bike in the corner who I swear was looking at me every time I looked up. I may be mistaken because of the blur of sweat in my eyes, but I hoped I didn't look TOO sexy while gyrating to the Latin tunes. I mean, that would have just been embarrassing. Sorry, random gym guy. I was NOT trying to flirt with you, although I can see how you could have been misled by my provocative flailing.

The hour went surprisingly fast, and I never quite got out of my bewildered "What the hell are we doing now?" state. Before I knew it, we were doing moves at about half the pace, which was just about "fast" for me. Then, there was stretching, which was good, because I know how to do that. All my years of yoga and all. Yep, I'm a champion stretcher. Overall, I was very sweaty with a tomato-red face when it was over, but I survived.

I talked to the instructor, Kelly, as I was leaving, and explained it was my first Zumba class. She said to just keep coming back, that it would get easier. I think Kelly sits on a throne of LIES. The good news is, my pedometer measured over 7000 steps, which is, like, 3.5 miles, so basically I just did a 5K in an hour. BOOYAH!

I don't think I'll ever get the hang of Zumba - I could barely do aerobics in the 80's when it was all high-cut leotards, leg warmers and Jane Fonda. But it was a fun change of pace and I'm not complaining about all those calories burned. Still, it would have been nicer if they had handed out mini cupcakes or perhaps ibuprofen as we left. I leave you with this picturesque reminder of my evening and first experience with Zumba. Enjoy.

I don't f*cking want to!

I don't know why, but I always have a hard time actually writing out the "F" word on social media, or anywhere else, really, except in texts to my husband, so I put that little star there like that makes it any better. But, I really enjoy the "F" word as an adjective (and occasionally as a noun or verb) and so I continue to use it because it's really quite eloquent in its own way.

Now that I've explained myself, this post is about things I really do not want to do.

I don't want to drive my kids around everywhere all the time. So, today I didn't. Now that two of my three still living at home can drive, why should I have to drive anywhere, really? I already went to the grocery store today, so my daughter took my son to the dentist. And it made me realize how often I'm someplace I really don't need to be, except to be the driver. How many hours I've spent watching dance classes and baseball games in the rain, reading People magazine at the dentist (wait, that's actually a plus), being pissed off at the ortho because their WiFi sucks so I'm forced to read some inane parenting magazine, sitting in the parking lot at rehearsal because it's only an hour and I don't have time to go home, all my errands are done, and if I go anywhere I'll just spend money I don't have on stuff I don't get the picture.

Sure, sometimes that's fun stuff - like when your kid makes a good play or sticks their cartwheel on the beam and you got to see it. I was never the drop-off mom - I stuck around to watch or help. But now that they are old enough to drive, does my kid really need me to stick around for an hour while they get their teeth cleaned? Nope.

I also don't want to make dinner. Like, never. Well, that's a lie - four or five times a year I'm struck with some domestic virus that makes me actually enjoy cooking and I glow with pride that I've prepared a home-cooked meal. But most of the time, I cook dinner because I have to. Or do I? It's not like I'm feeding toddlers anymore. No one needs me to cut their meat or scream at them to eat their vegetables. Everyone is capable of putting food in their mouths, even if they are too lazy to make more than cereal because taquitos take a minute and fifteen seconds in the microwave. So, DO I have to cook? Sometimes I just don't f*cking want to.

I never want to clean up someone else's mess. This includes cups, cheese stick wrappers, dishes that have not been rinsed off, discarded socks, and used napkins. But I do it. On the daily. I've spent almost twenty-one years running in the never-ending circle of cleaning one mess while creating another. What if I just stopped? Hmmmm...........

Some days I don't want to do anything. I just want to come home from work, sit on my ass in front of the computer trolling Facebook, or binge on repeat episodes of "Criminal Minds" or just crawl into bed and read a book. And, really, what's stopping me? Sure, there's the guilt that I "have" to feed everyone or do something productive. But sometimes, I just don't f*cking want to. And that's just fine with me.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Tuesday musings.........

Tuesday just seems like a good day to ruminate on things. I like that word. Ruminate. Anyway.....

The Midnight Truffle Blizzard at Dairy Queen does not contain actual truffles. I'm not sure what those little squares of chocolate are, but they are DEFINITELY not truffles, which makes me question truth in advertising. And now I have trust issues.

Today something amazing happened. A parent of a child in the kindergarten class I work in came up to me after school and, for no reason at all, offered me the use of her beautiful cabin for a week! She said she remembered us talking about our failed trip to Hawaii (in which Jeff had emergency back surgery, in which we had to cancel our plans the same day we booked the tickets, in which we received NO compensation from the travel insurance) and she thought it would be fun for me to plan another family getaway at her cabin. For FREE, y'all. That is some amazing generosity right there. She said it was for being a "wonderful educator." Oh, my goodness. Day made!

Arlie got a job today. She will be crafting pizzas at our FAVORITE pizza joint, Uncle Peteza's (for those of you local, seriously, SO GOOD). We are going to be so fat because how easy will it be to just have her bring home a pizza when I don't feel like cooking? Yikes.

I'm seriously excited about some upcoming trips - my blogging conference and some others. Still planning spring break, too. I think I would like to just travel from now on. So many places, so little time. And money. Sigh.

I really need to start a bucket list - an official list - but in the meantime, in the past couple of days, I've been thinking it would be really awesome to see a whale in the wild (because I've been reading about them showing up near here) and also see and/or photograph the Northern Lights (which have also been visible from my neck of the woods recently). But I read an issue of Outdoor Photographer and it was so confusing and overwhelming it made me want to cry and never be a professional photographer. Not that I wanted to be one.

I went to the dentist today and here's a thought I had: why do we have to have separate dental insurance? And, for that matter, vision insurance? Our teeth and our eyes are IN our heads and so our medical insurance should cover all of that stuff, right? So, why do I have to pay $400 for a nighttime mouth guard so I don't grind my teeth down so far that all I can eat is pudding? I've been avoiding it for years, but I wake up almost every night from grinding my teeth, so I really need one. But my insurance doesn't cover it. WHY NOT? So stupid.

I really did NOT want to work out today, but I forced myself to do the bare minimum (a 20 minute workout DVD) and then the kids brought me that damn Blizzard. I shared it with Jeff, though, so... half the calories. Still, my 20 minute workout probably burned like 36 calories, so I'm still deeply in debt with my fat cells. Fuckers. Worse, I agreed to attend a Zumba class tomorrow night. This is a problem because, 1. I don't dance, 2. I don't dance 'cause I got no rhythm, 3. I don't like working out in a crowded room of people because of numbers 1 and 2, and 4. I'm pretty sure the class is an hour long and that means I'll spend at least 40 minutes of that hour hoping I don't die. I'm not sure what I was thinking. Stay tuned.

Happy Tuesday!