Pretzel Logic – The Art of Giving Monday, Nov 24 2014 

I had something special happen to me today. I guess special little things happen every single day and sometimes it takes a tap on the shoulder to recognize a sign. I’ve been worried about making ends meet for my little family quite a bit lately. I’ve been in a holding pattern of sorts trying to decide whether or not to make a career move in the hopes that any financial gain would be enough to supplement what I now need to support us. It’s HARD! I’m also pretty unconventional and frequently act on impulse so I may have even made it harder on myself by proclaiming that I may have to leave…. To. My. BOSS. I actually asked him to help me. Let me repeat that… I ACTUALLY asked my boss for advice on whether or not to leave.

I knew what I was in for when I took the job. Nobody accepts a position without knowing the financial compensation. I also knew the intrinsic benefits that were being offered to me and the kids. I’m close to them every day. They walk over after school and finish their homework while I finish working. They’ve also both laid down on the couch by the fireplace in the prayer room when they are sick and I can’t leave to take them home. It’s not a bad deal because what kid wouldn’t rather shoot hoops in the gym when they have to tag along with mom because school is cancelled for the day due to an ice storm? That’s all happened. I haven’t taken full advantage of the blessings I’ve received though – at least not to the best of my ability. I should be running on the track and swimming laps. Kicking back in the steam room would relieve some anxiety too. I haven’t given up all of that anxiety yet. In some ways I’m still clinging to old habits and hoping for things to change when they aren’t just going to change without a focused effort.

I took over my boss’s office today. I mean, I didn’t exactly usurp all of his power, but I did physically take it over with about 10 large boxes and my snack bag of pretzels. While I was sorting through things, both literally and mentally, we had a chat. I’m pretty much an open book, so ask me a question like, “Can I ask you something personal?” and I’m likely to give you anything you ask for plus an awkward 5 minutes of things you didn’t as an extended bonus edition. He KNOWS this so I’m fairly sure the question was calculated though he probably cringed shortly after. He asked me about what I give and do I designate a certain amount of my monthly income to be given. My answer was that I give WHAT I can WHEN I can monetarily meaning that when I’m comfortable giving I do, and when I’m not I save for a rainy day. He suggested that I rethink that idea, and give ESPECIALLY when it’s uncomfortable, and that we take a leap of faith in doing so despite being afraid. He’s been reading up on the subject because he has a speech to prepare on stewardship and tithing, and I’ve seen his actions far surpass what he preaches in this area. He gave his opinion, and then he TOOK my last pretzel.

Boss: “Are these mine?”
Me: “No. Did you buy them?? They’re mine.”
Boss: “Well, you only have 1 left anyway.”
Me: “OK. You can have it.”
End of conversation.

I continued about my sorting, folding, labeling & shooting the bull to alleviate the kind of awkward silences that can only happen when you’ve shoved your way into your boss’s protected little corner of the world & made a colossal mess. I even asked him if he wanted me to scoot on over to my own office so I wouldn’t be a distraction while he worked on his speech, but he said nah.

And THAT’S when it happened! My friend who works with the youth group and their concession stand was cleaning out a closet and sashayed in with her own box.… NO, it was a CASE… of pretzels. She wanted me to give what was left to my kids and keep them for snacks at the office. Boss stared at me and looked at me with disbelief.

Boss: “Are you kidding me??! Do you see this??! WHAT were we just talking about?”
Me: “Um, about my mess here??”
Boss: “No! We were talking about giving. You gave me your last pretzel!! Don’t you see??! You gave me your last one and you were repaid tenfold! I can’t believe she just happened to walk in here to give you a case of pretzels!!!”

But she did! She had no idea about our conversation or what we’d been discussing. She just happened to think of me and how my kids are always digging through my wallet for money for the vending machines. In a twisted & roundabout way, she was the catalyst that got me going and thinking of my friend Videssa who’s been going through a hard time lately. She and her family have been struggling with husband’s medical issues and he’s been unable to work while she supports that family on a teacher’s salary. She & I went to high school together and it was a very close-knit class. Every now and then, a request is sent out to alumni via a facebook group to help someone in need. Videssa didn’t ask for it, but her friends did, and I know she’s been grateful. I had not yet donated to my friend in need when my other friend came stumbling into the office today with her case of pretzels. We’re all intertwined.

I don’t have a lot to give so I frequently hesitate. I worry and wonder over the daily stresses that keep my stomach tied in knots when I probably shouldn’t. So far, everything has been ok. I’m not starving, and neither are my kids. My mom won’t let me starve and neither will my grandmother. They are both getting ready for Thanksgiving and sent me home tonight with Ziplocs full of their “practice turkeys” until the real thing comes along this Thursday so I think I’m doing just fine. Sometimes it’s scary to give when you’ve gone through periods in your life where you’ve been conditioned only to save. I think lots of people out there have been in the same boat and are just struggling to stay afloat sometimes. If you haven’t, then some day you may be.

If you feel so inclined, please consider a donation for the Owens family here:

Food for thought:
Pretzels have been around for almost 1,400 years. History has their origin about A.D. 610 when a baker in a monastery in southern France or northern Italy twisted leftover strips of bread dough into the shape of a person’s arms crossed in prayer, traditional posture for prayer in those days. Pretzels were also a convenient way to give food to the poor and became typical alms for the hungry. Those who gave pretzels away were considered particularly blessed. 🙂 Give, and you shall receive tenfold!

Seeing the forest for the trees… I need to be less DRAMATIC! Tuesday, Nov 26 2013 

This will just be one of those posts where I ponder aloud about something awkward that happened to me today. It’s like I go through life with a big ball and chain, and the ball is Awkward. It’s not just that it’s cumbersome & awkward to carry around (although it is); I mean the ball is awkward personified and rather than let it sit there unnoticed, I
usually find a way to push Awkward into areas that even IT doesn’t want to go.

I knew a year ago that I had a dermatology appointment today. I knew a month ago when I sat nervously in the office wanting the doctor to biopsy something new on my face that I’d be back in a mere month’s time. I knew yesterday when the receptionist called (twice) to remind me of my appointment at 3:15 today, and I even knew last night before I left work when I told my assistant to remind me of my appointment this afternoon. I just didn’t remember THIS MORNING which is when I shower, dress & primp for the day. I didn’t remember this afternoon either until Assistant said,

“Miss (um…) Erica?!? Aren’t you supposed to be somewhere?”
“Ohmygod… Yes!! Yes I am!!!”

And I checked my calendar and saw that I’d make it there in time and not even be late and full of

I checked in and waited with all of the other responsible people who ALSO made it to their appointments on time and wondered what all the idiots out there who were currently missing their appointments were doing obliviously with their time. I was proud to not be included in their ranks for once.

The nurse called me back and I silently thought of nice words to tell Doc to thank him for my recent negative biopsy. (It’s always nice to thank others even of they didn’t actually force a desired outcome, right?) Then sweet little
nurse confirmed that I was there for my annual head-to-toe checkup that people with pale freckle scary skin get every year so that Doc can find things before they become a problem. “Here’s your gown and a cover, and we’ll be back in a few minutes.” <Smile> I smiled back but I slowly realized that I’D FOUND A PROBLEM and the following words escaped my mouth…

“Ohmygod!!! I can’t do this! I don’t know how else to say this but… (Very sheepishly) I. Forgot. To. Shave. My. Legs.” And the nurse looked relieved. And I grew more panicky.
“Honey, it’s ok. Everybody says that!”
“Oh, no, Honey!! I really mean it!! I mean it’s cold, ya know? And it’s just me.
And nobody else sees it but me & I just haven’t had time, ya know? I mean, it’s been like a really REALLY long time, and it’s not even prickly now… It’s… It’s… It’s SOFT!!!!!”
She politely laughed and said, “It’s fine! He’s not going to care!”
“But, but, I went to HIGH SCHOOL WITH HIM! I mean, I KNOW him! And I’ll see him
again before next year’s appointment. I mean… It’s. that. BAD!!”

Aaaaand she left. And I stared at the gown. And I got so self-absorbed and self
conscious that I forgot all the professionalism that this guy had acquired
through years of training and hard work, and I set my mission as one to strictly
save face. I didn’t care if I had a lopsided grotesque mole somewhere that I
couldn’t see because I could no longer see the forest for the trees that WAS the
hair on my legs. Plan concocted and set, I waited patiently for the doc (whose kid is in my kid’s
class… and Cub Scout group… and basketball league) to enter the room. Door
opened… Brief pause… And then a belly laugh from the sweet nurse when she
saw me sitting there (like the hairy cat who’d just eaten the canary) wearing
the paper robe… + socks + pants.

Doc looked at us wondering what he’d missed. I asked about the wife & asked
about the kids and then kinda winked at Nurse who obviously felt she’d just
breached some professional ethics code by laughing at a vulnerable patient. I then explained that despite what my chart indicated, I was only going to need him to check HALF of my body today because unfortunately the other half came close to resembling the nastiest hairiest man he’d ever encountered. Doc assured me I was being dramatic and so I probably should’ve left it alone, but instead I gave him the stink eye. Probably feeling irritated that I would even consider him breaching ethics & making fun of me to everyone in our common social circles, he proceeded to explain that he isn’t even allowed to tell anyone anything about a patient for privacy reasons.

“Oh, PLEASE,” I thought AND said. “I get it. I KNOW you won’t say anything but you’re
going to THINK it!”
“I’m not even allowed to THINK it,” he tried to reassure me.

Unconvinced and unpersuaded to remove the pants that would expose my Quasimoto lower half, I explained to him that his natural reaction would be to recoil and think of nothing else the next time he saw me. I’m completely self-absorbed when I get self-conscious, and there isn’t a person on the planet that can talk me down sometimes.

BING! An idea came to mind and it shot out of my mouth before I could stop it…

“Do you see many hippies, Doc? Because this is acceptable if someone were a hippie. It’s only embarrassing to me because I am NOT a hippie, but I can pretend to be one in order to get through this exam. TELL me that there’s a hippie commune within 30 miles and you are their primary physician, Doc.”
“Um, NO.”

WHY DIDN’T HE LIE?!? I think he regretted it the minute the words came out of his mouth, but obviously the guy can’t lie. He probably did well during his psychiatric rotation though because he seems comfortable in enclosed spaces with complete wack jobs. He offered alternatives: I could simply skip the bottom half if I was uncomfortable and he noted that he hadn’t previously found anything with which to be concerned on my legs (or feet.. or toes the last time I made him check them too) I shot him down with the notion that I’d simply worry for AN ENTIRE YEAR now that cancer was growing somewhere on the back of my leg where I couldn’t see it. “Well, it’s simple then,” he stated. I’ll check the top, then you can go home, shave your legs, come back, and THEN I’ll check your legs.” JEEZ! Don’t be RIDICULOUS! That’s crazy. I can’t do that! (Because I’ll probably forget the next appointment + pay for TWO office visits which I simply cannot do. I’m pretty sure I already owe you money anyway, Doc. Let’s not compound the problem here!)

Sooo… Sloooooooowly…. Ever so caaaaaarefully…… I pulled up the cuff of my pant leg and well, lookie there! For the 1st time in ages I chose to wear those cute little unprofessional knee socks with the bulldogs on them since they were hidden by my BOOTS that I hadn’t planned to remove. It took five whole seconds for Doc to comb through the brush in search of something unsightly (other than my hair) that needed to be removed. “All done,” Nurse Honey said. And I was relieved. I don’t have cancer anywhere obvious, but most importantly I didn’t have to take off my pants in front of someone who I’d see again probably within a week because by this time I’d just realized that I was wearing the kind of 10 yr old underwear that my momma taught me NEVER to wear in case I were to get in a wreck and end up in the hospital.

Such are the woes of living in a small city, but there are plus sides too. When I checked out at the front counter, I ran into a nice lady that used to work for us in the family business. We were catching up and giggling when the sweet nurse who had to endure my awkward exam came to apologize to me, Bless Her Heart!!! She apologized for laughing, and then I apologized for making her feel like she had to apologize and assured her that laughing is what makes me more comfortable so I guess that’s why I do it. I push my big awkward ball away and stumble over it until I find people who will giggle with me and then I drag it with me again to our next stop. I’m thankful for people like my doc who are nice and professional and would never even consider telling anyone about my hairy legs. I have my big awkward ball with me at all times though so I’ll just end up telling everyone myself. Like on the internet.

Sit Here. Think of you. Smile. Repeat. Sunday, Nov 24 2013 


A few days ago I received an anonymous gift. This is the story of how it unfolded and what has resulted. I quit blogging a while back when I just seemed to run out of hours in the day. I set a deadline this time though of 5:00pm on Sunday to throw out a thanks in whatever way I could to someone who did something for me that meant more than they’ll probably ever know. So I sat down a couple of hours ago and this is where it went.

Thursday afternoon I came home for lunch as I usually do. I’m fortunate; I live only 5 minutes from where I work and that allows me to step away from the office, clear my head, and eat whatever I have at home to save a bit of money rather than eat through my meager funds. Upon arriving I noticed that my mailbox was full. I’ve started checking the mail more regularly now that I’ve signed up with various manufacturers & coupon groups in hopes of “high value” coupons and coveted freebies. I also nearly missed another birthday party for the kids last weekend because I’d been avoiding checking the mail and was pretending to be blissfully unaware like the bills weren’t really there. That mistake left me in a frantic 30 minute rush on a Friday night to grab a gift and send my son to a birthday party so that he wouldn’t be the only kid left out of bouncing in the jump houses on a sugar high. I’ve been waiting for free samples to arrive and those are WAY more fun than the usual bills. My little mailbox was overflowing with various offers that I would have to sort through like a miner for gold, but there was not a single free coffee sample. The bills were thrown unopened into my nice little bill box, and I put the top back on it so that I wouldn’t have to look at them and spoil my appetite. Some would be opened next month and some would probably sit there until I got a friendly reminder from “Peter” who I’ve been robbing to pay “Paul.”

Buried in the middle of the bills, coupons and credit card offers was a white handwritten envelope. Oooh! I got all excited! Someone likes me and is inviting me somewhere. Someone is probably getting married, and I’m super happy for whoever it is but mainly because I’m going to eat SHRIMP I bet! And I’m going to have cocktails! And I’m going to visit with ADULTS that I haven’t seen in a long time and I am going to be FUN again! I am GOIN’ SOMEWHERE like Cinderella to the ball! I flipped over the envelope as I was opening it and discovered something odd. The return address ALSO had my name on it but with my office address below. Hmm. How did I do that? How did I manage to invite myself somewhere? OK, someone’s a ding-dong but that’s funny because that’s just like something I would do too! Someone must’ve just been in a hurry.

Inside was a brown card and on the front it said, “Sit Here. Think of you. Smile. Repeat.” “Oh. OK. It’s a thank you card,” I thought. “I must’ve given someone something, and they’re appreciative. That’s nice. It’s always nice to thank someone for being nice. I must be nice.” Inside the card was a plain white envelope and the handwritten words, “Thanks for the Facebook laughs. Have a safe Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas! –an admirer. ok – a fan. it’s not like that! :)” Then I opened it… the plain white sealed envelope… and my hands started shaking… and I counted 5 crisp new $100 bills. I looked at the dog, and she looked back at me because I must’ve made a noise or something. And then I looked at the envelope again that I had thought was addressed to me because I must’ve been wrong. Nope. Nuh-uh. It had my name on it – front & back – with both my home and office addresses.

WHAT DID I DO!!?? And WHO could have done this?!? Was it a joke? Almost anything can be funny if you look at it the right way, but this wasn’t funny. This was serious. This was a LOT of money, and it must belong to someone. There are hungry people out there and I’ve still got red beans and sausage in the freezer from leftovers that my mom gives me when she cleans hers out. Oh yeah – I’m hungry now. Oh, yeah!! MOM! I can tell my mom! Who else am I going to tell because this is really awkward. Someone else needs to know what just happened here in case I get hit by a bus or something. It’s also not real yet unless I say it out loud and to someone else. So I called her. And she said WOW. And then she said it must be someone who thinks I’m funny. “Maybe it’s someone who knows you need the money,” she said. Then she asked who I thought it could be… and I realized that I didn’t want to know. Not yet. If I KNEW who it was then I might feel guilty because I must’ve said something to someone that made them feel sorry for me, and that’s just wrong and now I’m TOTALLY EMBARRASSED. Maybe I’d posted on facebook about not having a heater or air conditioning and someone figured out that I just couldn’t afford to fix it. Oh. My. God. What have I DONE?!? It was that damn screen shot I took of my bank account a while back I bet showing my $0 balance because it was ironically funny that my last few bucks had been spent on anxiety medicine. I had pondered aloud on facebook about positives and negatives and how everything evens out resulting in an exact balance of $0.00 in my checking account. But I deleted that post within an hour?!!? I deleted it because I thought that even though I had resolved to finding the humor in my situation, it may sound like I want people to feel sorry for me. Oh. My God. This is low. I’ve gone and poor talked my way somehow into acquiring funds that should probably have gone to the homeless and hungry. I must’ve somehow asked for it, and now here I am tasked with deciding what to do with it. Maybe I can figure out who did this, and I can just give it back. Surely I can narrow down the facebook friends into a reasonable pool of suspects who have both the means and the heart to do such a thing. And then it hit me… like a brick to the head. WHO AM I to do that??!? Who am I to assume anything about why someone would do such a thing?? Who am I to steal the wind from their sails and attempt to “out” someone who obviously went to great lengths to remain anonymous. My self-imposed guilt is all mine – not theirs. Who. Am. I?!? I’m a lot of things I guess, but right now I’m a tired struggling single mom who’s been trying to figure out how to make Christmas work for us this year while someone else just did that for me!!!!

I headed back to work with the intention of hiding out in whatever way one can in a glass enclosed office. Whoever sent this knows where I work and maybe they’ve seen me over the last few days scanning my face and behavior for any indication that I’d received their gift. I’m anything but predictable in my dramatic reactions so I just needed to lay low so that I don’t do something embarrassing. Here’s an idea: I should TOTALLY tell my boss and assistant, two “guy” guys that aren’t on facebook because I KNOW they weren’t the ones who did it. One of them will probably come up with something very practical to say that will diffuse all of my nervous energy and keep me from doing something SUPER DRAMATIC. Yep! That’s a STELLAR idea because I’ll walk away feeling WAAAAAY less awkward…

And then I did it. I pulled my male assistant and my male boss into the boss’s chambers to discuss my mail very dramatically as if the CIA were watching. I kind of live like reality tv cameras are following me, and they know this so they humored me and were patient. I checked the lobby for eavesdroppers and then sat down and very dramatically (without trying of course) WHIPPED the card out of my pocket. My minute-long preface had them staring at me wondering what had sufficiently freaked me out, and I’m sure they braced themselves for another bizarre story of one of my characters that I encounter around town that will probably make their way into the lobby at some point for a free cup of coffee or to tell me stories at my desk while I try to work. Nope. Nuh-uh. This was different. This time it was a MYSTERY and someone had managed to throw me off my game in a way that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to recover while still at work. So I plopped the card onto the desk and told them to read it. And they said, “Wow” and “That’s nice” and it was very anti-climatic. I had COMPLETELY forgotten that my intent in telling the guys was to settle myself down a bit so I started over again, and I explained that sometimes I write things and post pictures on facebook like the awkward moments after the dog has just spewed the contents of the lava lamp all over the floor, or I awake to find the kids setting up a lemonade stand in the yard, or the 1/2 price JUG of wine I discovered and purchased while sorting through Halloween sale candy to purchase with coupons and save for Christmas. And then I describe how I used to blog about everything before I got so busy that I didn’t know which way was up, and one of the guys says,

“What IS a blog?” to which the other replies, “People just write what they think about things and put it out on the internet so everyone can read it.”
“I don’t know.”
“Maybe I should get a facebook page.”
“Yeah, I’m going to figure out how to update mine.”

OK, well they don’t totally get it yet so I asked what they thought I should do to somehow let the giver know that I’d received the card. And one said, “Just say on facebook, ‘Thanks to whoever sent the card'” Oh, OK. Because that’s TOTALLY my style of handling things, right? And THAT’S when it happened… the flood gates opened, and I CRIED. I cried in front of my boss and assistant. I could see by their body language now that this was going to develop into an emotional display that assaulted their manly senses as if I’d just sprayed them with perfume and just suggested we all sit down and do our nails together. One: I got emotional with the guys and Two: I’d just done it at WORK with my superior and subordinate TOGETHER! People are right when they say I’m like a real life Ben Stiller movie.

I left that night, and when the kids asked me as usal to pick up dinner I surprised them by agreeing. Usually they ask for an icee or something, and I say no. Then they ask to pick up dinner, and I say no because we have food at home to eat. We have the same conversation nearly every night on the way home in the car, and it usually ends with them being irritated at me and me being irritated with myself. Tonight though I asked if they would like Wendy’s and they kind of looked at me and said, “Um. YEAH!!” And I even stopped at the store to buy some drinks. When my daughter asked if I could please buy REAL Sprite instead of some generic lemon lime soda, I surprised her again and said OK this time because I had $500 still burning a hole in my pocket. (I bought FOUR bottles because they were on sale for $1 each if you purchased 4 + I got $1 back onto my rewards card. WOOHOO! This is how the fancy people live!)

That night I sat down to write. What could I post on facebook to let someone know that I’d received the gift but not say something stupid? I needed to be funny though, right? The only hint I’d gotten was that it was a facebook friend and “Thanks for the facebook LAUGHS.” I wanted whoever sent it to know that it hadn’t gotten lost in the mail because that would really suck for them, and things get lost in the mail all the time! I know this is true because surely DOZENS of invitations have gotten lost for me this year alone. It’s not like I have gotten invited to the ball… my invitations just never made it to me, right? I didn’t want to say anything stupid though that made me sound self-righteous. All I felt comfortable saying was that I’d received a card and was thankful for my facebook friends. When I was able to, I’d write about it and in the mean time I’d be looking for a way to pay it forward.

So this is it. That sweet card WAS both a thank you card and invitation rolled into one. And maybe if I just speak like I always do, then I can bumble through without intentionally putting my foot in my mouth. No worries about making my blog look professional or reorganizing all of my thoughts into something that wows anyone. And so this is me three days later saying thank you to someone whose generosity hit me at just the right time but that I can’t thank personally. Maybe they know a lot about me, but maybe they don’t. What no one could have known though was that the previous evening the kids had gotten mad at me because I told them I couldn’t give them the requested $7 each for shipping for their Operation Christmas Child boxes that they’d lovingly filled for children somewhere across the world. I just didn’t have it. I had less than $40 left in the account to last us a week and that’s better than some weeks. They wouldn’t have the chance though to receive a nice thank you note from a child in an impoverished country telling them how awesome their little crayons, soap and toothbrush were, and worse they were going to be SO EMBARRASSED to be the only ones who sent their boxes without paying for shipping. I managed to convince them that although it would be neat to track their boxes and pay for the shipping, perhaps this would be better anyway! We could use our IMAGINATIONS and think of all sorts of scenarios that someone wouldn’t be able to convey if they didn’t speak the same language. Giving isn’t about being recognized I told them not knowing that 12hrs later I’d be on the flip side of that assumption. I also know that I didn’t tell anyone what I had been thinking the prior week when I’d gone to a funeral for someone I knew who had just died fairly suddenly and left behind a new baby, stepkids and the husband she’d always dreamed about. I went to the funeral to honor her but also because I was looking for something to make me feel better because it’s scary to realize that EVERYTHING could change in the blink of an eye for my kids. She had told her husband when they met that she was “kind of a big deal” and those words were said again when her friends eulogized her. Promises were made to make sure that her precious baby girl would know how great she really was, and I saw pics on facebook of an 8 month old princess wearing an itty bitty t-shirt that said, “My mom is kind of a big deal.” I think we all want our kids to think we are a big deal and not just once we’re gone. I don’t want my kids to remember all the times that I’ve lost my cool but if they do JESUS let them also remember me bouncing back the best I knew how. I want them to laugh at me all over again and pick themselves up when they need to if I’m not around.

The card and money helped me to believe a little more in the things I tell my kids but don’t always buy into whole-heartedly. We don’t always need to be thanked for the gifts that we give, and we don’t always know when we’ve impacted someone even if it’s something as simple as laughing at ourselves and the hilarity of every day life through pics and quips on facebook. As far as being a big deal, every now and then my kids ask me about the book I planned to write. I started blogging a couple of years ago and even set up my own little site through wordpress. I had big plans and was writing daily until I just could find the time amidst being a full time single working mom. I post frequently instead on facebook because it’s easy and quick and usually there’s someone else out there that sees the hilarity of our little three ringed circus here. I remember telling the kids that if I ever made any money off of my writing that I’d buy them a new laptop that didn’t have hot pink argyle duct tape holding it together. Well… I think I just sort of DID make money through my writing. Maybe that will make me a “big deal” to the kids in their minds if and when I decide to tell them about the mysterious card. I haven’t bought the laptop yet, but someday I will. This year they’ll get bikes for Christmas, and I’ll save a little bit as well. Someone just gifted me with an extra week’s pay, and I’m going to work hard at paying it forward. We’ll keep our end quiet though and private and maybe even hide out to see someone’s reaction to whatever random act of kindness we’re able to do. It’s fun to get a reaction, and I hope my “fan” gets to read this and know mine.

Sums up our last 2 years… A ROLLER COASTER. Thursday, May 30 2013 


“Life’s not about waiting for the storm to pass… It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

Let the games begin… Wednesday, Jul 4 2012 

By 9am on this Independence Day, I think I’ve squeezed in more activity than any mom should have to prior to a required morning cup of coffee. I saw this coming though so I should’ve been prepared. At bedtime, Sis informed me that not only had she fixed Bro’s little 3DS that I managed to reformat/erase by adding the previously downloaded games, but she had also prepared an entirely new set of games for the carnival fun that is my real life.

I was yanked from slumber after having stayed up WAY too late watching a movie. (See, that’s really the only time I get to watch a movie rated anything other than PG so I thought I’d be OK since today was a holiday and all with nothing planned but evening fireworks celebrations.) BOOM!! BAM!!! The morning light sparkled through my window bright and early though when the little firecracker announced that it was time to begin, and she wasn’t letting us sleep any longer.

1st game: It was her version of a ring toss – the kind you’d find at any county fair or carnival. She lined up the last of our disposable cups into a triangle formation. Each one was labeled with a point value in bright colored sharpie. Object: toss a crayon into a cup to win a prize. Bro & I managed to each score a point to win prizes: old shriveled water balloons that had sat in Bro’s special water balloon pump kit forming mildew. “Yay. Stinky balloons that Mom won’t let me blow up with my mouth,” he exclaimed. I guess he was looking for something better for his efforts.

Next up: A modified version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey AKA Pin the Purse on the fashionable self portrait of Sis. She lined up our sleep masks to use as blindfolds – the Angry Birds, rhinestone “Diva” & leopard print. (YES, we really use them and would probably sufficiently scare a cat burglar if one were to intrude while we were sleeping so they serve dual purposes.) After the rules were explained, she spun me. SHE SPUN ME! BLINDFOLDED! BEFORE I’d even had coffee. I almost threw up. I won though. And as is my luck, the little party planner failed to plan a prize for THAT portion of the fun even though I nailed that purse right onto the shoulder of the scrawny little poster portrait.

3rd activity in her bag of tricks after an elapsed and LONG 20 minutes or so: An Angry Birds take down of juice barrel pyramids staged over my sink with a festive 4th of July poster taped to the backsplash. NOBODY won this one, and I think she knew that would be the outcome as she giggled with glee when Bro’s stuffed Angry Birds plummeted into the dirty sink water eliciting a cry of shock each time from him. She gave us consolation coupons good for 1st player status on Nintendo for him & a “free” load of laundry for me. (The filthy Angry Birds covered in vegetable soup are sitting on my washing machine waiting.)

Finally, the main event: She presented us each with wii remotes & I saw the Katy Perry look-alike staring back at me from the monitor on my beautiful dining room table long ago converted to a game station. She just grinned. And said GO. And we Just Danced. And she laughed. In our pj’s, with hair uncombed & teeth unbrushed, we competed like court jesters on command while the crazed Mad Hatter exclaimed to herself between giggles from my head dining room chair, “This is even funnier than I thought!”

So there you have it. For anyone who has asked why I haven’t blogged in the last 10 months, I’ll just say that my life’s a 3 ring circus with my family, work & personal life. I’m just the ringmaster trying to juggle the various acts simultaneously and keep everyone happy. I don’t even have use of my own computer because Sis has reserved it for the day to record her Hollywood audition for the Disney Channel. Bro has already declared that he isn’t going to LaLa land if she wins due to possible earthquakes in the region, and I have have been forced to write this entire blog from my tiny little iphone thereby excusing me of any grammatical errors or incoherent thought sequences. We’re still going strong so thanks for checking in. 🙂

Oh… And pics???? You KNOW I have them so I’ll upload when I remember how to do that in the blog app for iPhone again because I don’t envision computer access being granted any time soon.

Jobs And Cancer Monday, Oct 17 2011 

It’s been two and a half weeks since my last post. I have been BUSY! For the first time in more than ten years, I found myself wading through the job pool and actually interviewing for full-time positions. I am a single mom now with the added responsibility of paying my own bills and covering my own health insurance. The last couple of weeks have brought to mind scenes from Working Girl and 9-5. I’ve referred to myself more than a few times here as the real-life Snow White with my bunnies and birds and little animal friends, so how could I NOT be reminded of that scene where Violet, dressed as Snow White, poisons the boss’s coffee and catapults him out the window while she and her co-workers giggle at theoretical ways to get rid of the “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.”

I interviewed for two very different positions. The first was the MONEY job which would have come complete with a shiny new laptop, cell phone and expense account. It was in outside sales in the hospitality industry and while I’m sure this would have afforded me the opportunity to get a sharp new wardrobe, the stress levels probably balanced out the pay scale. This was one of those positions that in order to even score an interview, I had to complete a 30-minute online “personality survey” that asked my opinion about various workplace issues:

  • Drugs in the workplace –  “I think people who use drugs should all be locked away in jail.” True or False
  • Sexual harrassment – “It’s OK to tell someone they’re hot and give back rubs at work.” True or False
  • Anger management – “I find it hard while at work to keep from punching someone’s lights out.” True or False
  • Company theft – “It’s OK to take things from the office because it makes up for my teeny tiny paycheck” True or False

The day of the second phone interview with the VP of Sales/Marketing, my children were home from school due to a teacher in-service, and I prepared them with strict instructions to stay in a bedroom with the door closed and not bother me unless there was a bloody emergency. I’m not British either so the emergency would require ACTUAL blood for me to be interrupted. The call came an hour ahead of schedule since the interviewer and I were in different time zones, so I quickly ushered the kids into a bedroom and LOCKED myself into my own room with my laptop and cell phone. I did my very best to sound professional while still wearing my pajamas, and when the first knock at my door came, I shut myself into my closet and sat atop a pile of dirty clothes while describing how I often work best under pressure. The conversation flowed well and while opportunity was knocking professionally speaking, the literal knocking at my bedroom grew exceedingly louder… and then stopped. Ms. VP was busy explaining to me a typical day and the ins and outs of the industry in which she felt I could be very successful when she finally stopped and addressed the commotion that had resumed outside of BOTH closed doors. I finally came clean about sitting atop the dirty garments in my not-so-sound-proof closet and emerged to find THIS!

The ever-so-clever kindergartener had shown his resourcefulness by retrieving a screw driver (the mechanical kind – not a drink for me which I undoubtedly needed at this point) and simply removed my doorknob – the first obstacle between him and a solution to his pressing problem. The emergency at hand? He needed to get to the store and buy a birthday present for his friend. At that moment, while I processed the facts that I had mixed up days thereby missing the party AND was living through what I thought must be the interview from HELL, Ms. VP busted out laughing and confirmed that I INDEED worked well under pressure. She admitted that she had been home-based for years and that while her kids were now grown, she had NEVER had an experience where a child had removed a doorknob to break into a room. I guess it endeared me to her, and she then explained the process of hiring and that she was lining up the third, fourth and fifth interviews in rapid succession for the next week.

While the morning’s events re-played through my mind, I re-grouped, re-focused and changed gears for my second interview of the day. The second position couldn’t have been more different from the first. While it involved a lot of responsibility with what was expected to be very little pay, the advantages were abundant. As this was my second interview for the position, I was hoping for an offer. I dropped the kids off at my grandmother’s house just blocks from the job location and set off with the self-talk that if this didn’t work out, then surely something else would come along that would be just as perfect of a match. A minute into the interview, “Mr. Heart” (as opposed to the evil Mr. Hart played by Dabney Coleman in 9-5) was offering me the position and explaining why he thought I was right for the job. He couldn’t offer the kind of money that most other companies could so he had been hoping for someone with the right qualifications that could see also the intrinsic benefits available to anyone with a personal interest in the position. As it turns out, I had both the qualifications and a personal interest in the position. Allow me to back-track for a  minute and explain…

Five months ago, my life changed. While driving down the road and listening to an Adele CD (yeah, I know, I’m THAT person that still buys ACTUAL CD’s!) a song hit me. Maybe the music and the lyrics that accompanied it actually exploded over me. There hasn’t been a way that I can accurately describe what happened to me that day other than to say I woke up. Instantaneously something hit me and I knew, FELT and could actually SEE that my marriage was over. I couldn’t see through the tears enough to drive though so I pulled into the first parking lot available. That parking lot “happened” somehow to be the parking lot of the church where I grew up attending mass every Sunday, where I went to school for eight years, where I still attend fairly regularly and now send my kids to school. The image that popped into my head was one of a picture a friend had given me several years ago.

This picture was taken the day after Hurricane Rita passed through the area and left destruction and devastation in her wake. It is a statue that stands on the church grounds and has symbolized for me such a feeling a peace and calm when chaos is present. Years later, as my world seemed to be in such total chaos and the remnants of my marriage lay around me like the broken limbs of the beautiful trees that had once stood and seemed so strong, I had found myself sitting in my car all alone at the scene of my favorite photograph. It meant something to me that I know another person will never fully be able to comprehend. That’s OK though. What hit me in the parking lot was that while I have been about to embark on a new solo journey, I was not entirely alone. There’s just no way that I ended up in THAT parking lot at THAT time on THAT day by coincidence. It was the middle of the day on a Thursday afternoon and the parking lot was packed while I sat along the perimeter with my engine running (both literally and figuratively) and crying. I saw people I knew that day walking out to their cars and hid under the dash-board so I wouldn’t look like a crazy cuckoo bird should someone spy me crying and feel the need to check on me. All I could think – though I never actually checked it out – was that someone must have died. Perhaps there was a funeral going on inside while someone else had just come to life in the parking lot. I thought about the picture and what had become of my marriage but KNEW that peace would come eventually and somehow I would be able to take care of myself and kids.

Flash forward five months to present day. That second job that offered little money yet countless intangible benefits opened HERE on THIS campus. I’ve only worked part-time for the last ten years and only while the kids are in school. They’ve never had to go to after-school care because I’ve always been the one to drop them off, pick them up, offer the snacks and complete the homework yet there just wasn’t an option for me to receive the healthcare benefits I was going to need without going full-time. I was offered the position and allowed time to consider the offer and respond within a few days. I didn’t need a few days. I accepted the offer and kinda shook my head at how surprising life can be. In just five months, my life both fell apart and came together in that parking lot. In just one week I’ll be earning what I need to pay my bills and have the necessary health insurance while my children learn and grow on these same grounds where my sisters and I attended both church and school. Life is cyclical and can be awe-inspiring when you look across at how far you’ve come. My days will get busier in the weeks to come but also more rewarding. I may not be the most pious of all the congregation and haven’t spent every morning or even every Sunday kneeling in the pews like perhaps others think I should. My church is all around me though and once again God has provided me with what I need. It’ll be even funnier now though to leave my office at the church and relax with a nice hot bubble bath and wear my red shower cap with the devil horns while locked in a bathroom with the tool-box to keep the kids from removing the door knob. I know better now, and when you know better you DO better.

My job search over the past couple of weeks happened to coincide with the death of Steve Jobs and the dying struggle an old friend of mine is having from cancer as well. It’s heart wrenching to hear updates from the family of a 39-year-old man and his last days as he struggles with fear and pain but mostly the unknown. He will leave behind a daughter nearly the same age as mine, so I am especially grateful that this new chapter for me keeps her close. I’m appreciative of all the time I have with my children and sometimes when you have less time, you make that time more valuable. Acceptance and peace eventually comes for most but as humans, I think the unknown future may be often the toughest thing to accept. I know this though: my last few weeks have focused on jobs and cancer. It’s only fitting to close with the words of a man named Steve Jobs who left this world after having fought cancer himself.

Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me. – Wikiquote, as quoted in The Wall Street Journal (Summer 1993).

We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life. Life is brief, and then you die, you know? And we’ve all chosen to do this with our lives. So it better be damn good. It better be worth it. – Fortune

Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. – Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Address

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Address

Oh, The Places I’ll Go! Friday, Sep 30 2011 

This week has been one for change. Change isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but for someone like me, it can be a little anxiety ridden. One of my favorite books of all time is, Oh! The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Suess. It’s one of his books that wasn’t published until after his death and that I didn’t read until I was an adult, but perhaps I wouldn’t have related to the text anyway had I read it along with Hop On Pop and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. I love the video with John Lithgow reading the story, and I have it saved on my phone in the Youtube favorites so that whenever I’m feeling like I’m at some sort of crossroads in my life, the guy from 3rd Rock From The Sun can counsel me.

While sitting on the balcony Monday night reviewing the day and thinking about what was to come the following day, I thought about Dr. Suess’s advice and reminded myself that we all go through phases in our lives and that some of those phases are unpleasant. After 12 years of marriage, I would finally be going to court the next morning to stipulate for the record that my marriage had dissolved and that we would be doing our best to divide “things” appropriately and amicably without having to request the court do that for us.

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.
And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.

For the first time in a long time, I am as independent as I can be. I realize that none of us exist in a vacuum, so everything I do affects others including all of my decisions, actions, and inactions. I’ve always known that being independent can be fun and exhilarating but also anxiety inducing when you actually HAVE to be independent. I can make ANYTHING anxiety ridden and I don’t even have to try. I’m getting much better, but I can What-If things to death if I allow myself the time to do so. The biggest curse to anyone with anxiety issues is creativity and I have an overabundance of both. I can imagine a thousand possible scenarios while waiting for a train to go or a bus to come or a plane to go or the mail to come. I could tell you what’ll happen if the rain doesn’t go or the phone doesn’t ring or the snow doesn’t snow, or even how my life could be ruined if my hair doesn’t grow. And THEN I remember,

If things start to happen,
don’t worry, don’t stew
Just go right along
ou’ll start happening too.

And so I do. And you can too. And it’s all a matter of taking your cue. When I start to hit the point of no return, I simply turn down the meter lest suffer a burn. (OK, sorry! I got carried away.) I’m getting SO much better at recognizing when I’m starting to be irrational and it helps to remove myself from situations where people around me feed the fire and throw out their own whatifs. I think, “Take look at THOSE silly loons! I’ll just throw on my headphones and listen to tunes!” And so Monday night while listening to tunes and pondering Suess, I saw a shooting star and was instantly reminded of that song Airplanes by B.O.B featuring Eminem and Hayley Williams.

Can we pretend that airplanes
In the night sky
Are like shooting stars
I could really use a wish right now (wish right now, wish right now)

MAN, could I use a wish right now! How easy would things be if we were all simply granted our wishes and had things handed to us on a silver platter? I’m a grown adult and STILL have friends that don’t work for much and are handed whatever they want. I hate to say it, but while they are given material things, they are sometimes seriously lacking in character which is NOT to say that all of us aren’t at some time or another. I just think we appreciate things more when then aren’t always handed to us and that’s what I’ve tried to teach my kids. I live near an airport so planes are constantly landing and taking off near me, and I’d be living the dream if I could wish upon every one like a shooting star. I don’t know though… Don’t we as a culture find ANY excuse to make a wish?? I do it all the time; when an eyelash falls, when the clock hits 1:11 or 5:55 or 3:33…, when I blow the fluffy dandelions or birthday candles. It seems like the specific occasions to make wishes are supposed to be few and far between, but aren’t there so many TYPES of wish granting occasions now that we may possibly be taking them for granted? I haven’t really made a true wish in a long time and certainly wouldn’t just sit around WAITING for it to come true like in the pointless waiting room that Suess describes. I do look for signs though and perhaps that shooting star was a sign.

Guess what I caught myself doing… GOOGLING! Yep! I saw the star, caught my breath and then googled the meaning and symbolism of shooting stars. It only dawned on me a few minutes later that what I was doing was looking for someone else to tell me what the significance of THAT star (meteoroid, whatever) at THAT time in THAT place meant for ME. Forget it! I’m in a new place where I decide what has meaning to me and the significance (if any) to my current path in life. I know that I’ve seen them in the past after someone I know has died so maybe I’ll look at that as some sort of honor or recognition for the marriage that has passed on. I know for sure though, that just as shooting stars last but just a fleeting second, so too will this transitional phase of my life. Maybe the sign in the sky was just God’s way of saying, “Hey! I’m here!” Wishes are great, but hard work pays off in the end and noticing my blessings along the way can only make the road more interesting. When I headed off to bed at EXACTLY midnight and began to curse myself for staying up so late AGAIN when I had such an important day ahead, Bob Marley chimed in with HIS heavenly voice through my Pandora station and said,

Don’t worry about a thing,
‘Cause every little thing gonna be all
Singin’: Don’t worry about a thing,
‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right!

Rise up this mornin’,
Smiled with the risin’sun,
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin’ sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true,
Sayin’, This is my message to you-ou-ou

How about that? There you go! Both God AND Bob spoke to me in one night while pondering the rhymes of Dr. Suess and Eminem. I couldn’t have dreamed of a better panel of experts if I’d tried so I headed off to bed with a smile on my face and a comfortable feeling that every little thing was gonna be alright. I know it will.

We ALL Deserve A Break Today Sunday, Sep 25 2011 

Yesterday while walking through the park and around the lake, I had another one of those episodes where somehow just putting in my ear buds and grooving to my raunchy yet oddly motivating booty music seemed to put me in my own little world. It’s really a bizarre character flaw and not nearly as cool as when the Potter kids throw on their invisibility cloak, though it works in a similar fashion. The loud thumping in my ears somehow hinders proper brain function and makes me think I’m invisible to the lowly peons around me. It happens at the gym all the time. Well, not that I’m actually AT the gym all the time. I just mean that when I AM there, it’s likely to happen and thoughts fly out of my mouth aloud. I know this happens because I’ve gotten weird looks from people right after they’ve gotten in my way and I’ve thought to “myself” how annoying they are. Barring the possibility that they are actual mind readers, it’s highly likely that irritated sighs and sounds escape from my mouth. My sister thinks I’m crazy. I think it’s funny. I need the music to keep me going anyway so there isn’t much of a choice and alone with my private thoughts (hell, maybe not so private if my thoughts become vocalized) I sometimes make sense of things in today’s hectic life.

As on any beautiful weekend day, the park was packed. There were hippies playing frisbee, couples sitting in the shade and on park benches, old men sitting along the seawall in their folding chairs with their fishing poles, boats launching, family reunions under the pavilions, and birthday parties. This Saturday night in addition to the flock of seagulls, there was a wedding party and groups of high school kids each with its own set of paparazzi taking pictures in front of the fountain all dolled up in their fancy gowns. So I ran. I ran so far away. I ran all night and day. I couldn’t get away. (Well, maybe I walked, but if I said that then you wouldn’t get the whole Flock of Seagulls song reference would you??) I didn’t want my picture snapped sans makeup in my funky sweat gear and ball cap photobombing all the beautiful people and becoming immortalized in family albums for years to come. I remember thinking when I saw the children’s birthday parties how I often wish my social set here would occasionally take things back to a simpler time when kiddie parties were simply cake and ice cream with pin the tail on the donkey.

Nowadays, things seem to be so much more complicated often resulting in unnecessary stress and expense. There are petting zoos and princess themes with teams of divas that show up at your house like Extreme Home Makeover to transform your daily “drab” inferior interior into a party fit for a queen but most importantly… the other parents. Look, I love those parties and the truth is, many people ENJOY throwing those kinds of parties so I don’t want to sound like one of the bitter people who simply can’t keep up and feels they must. I do think though that for the parents out there who feel discouraged and max out the credit cards trying to be the ultimate hosts and hostesses, maybe they should take a step back and think about what really matters and what it is their own children would really be comfortable with having. True, my own little ones attend these parties and want the equivalent, but perhaps they just haven’t been to enough of the simple ones where all they need is a bathing suit and sprinkler. Here’s what’s gone through MY mind when considering these options when money’s been tight:

  • Maybe my kid will feel like he’s the poor kid on the block – like the one who’s mama actually MAKES him where a homemade superhero costume on Halloween while Flash Gordon over there has real working light up stuff that shoots lasers or something at the big kids who get in his way of the candy. (GREAT! Now I’ve got Halloween anxiety which is quickly approaching after talking about my birthday party anxiety. 😦 )
  • Maybe if I don’t provide enough food for all the little children AND their parents, people will starve and kids will start asking their parents, “Where’s the pizza, Mama?” right in front of me so that I have to run and call Papa John like that was really the plan all along and give him my credit card so nobody passes out or worse… TALKS ABOUT ME!
  • Maybe if I go the cheap route and do it at home none of the kids will come. See, maybe their parents are kinda shy – or even bitchy – and feel uncomfortable having to sit on my couch with a bunch of other parents until all the cake has been eaten and the presents have been opened. That’s just awkward for some people and I TOTALLY get it. Maybe for them, sitting around on the backyard patio with all the properly coiffed mamas feels like high school all over again wondering which lunch table to sit at.
  • Maybe I need to casually walk my kid to and from class every morning and every afternoon instead of carpool line and chit-chat with the parents so that the new ones get to know me and think I’m friendly and won’t avoid the party because they don’t know any of the other parents.
  • Maybe some of these people can’t afford the barrage of parties every weekend and the presents that accompany them. I don’t want to make them feel like they HAVE to go, but I really WANT them to go just so my own kid doesn’t get disappointed that so-and-so from class isn’t there. (Don’t even get me STARTED now on the expense of birthday party presents every weekend when you’re trying to mask the fact that you’re flat broke at this particular stage in your life but are trying to please your own kids by allowing them to attend and the birthday kids by not disappointing them)

I remember last year when a friend of mine went through a similar dilemma. She was on a strict budget with three little ones and was pregnant with her fourth while her husband was serving overseas. These moms get my applause on a daily basis but ESPECIALLY when trying to throw together a birthday party all by themselves. I couldn’t remember all of the details this morning so I asked her about it. She actually had to ask WHICH party “disaster” I was referring to from this year. Was it the one where she stopped to pick up pizza and ice cream making her late for the party and arrived home with the only key to find the guests waiting in the front yard in the middle of January in COLORADO? Or was it the other one that she posted about on Facebook where hardly any kids showed? Damn! I felt bad for her, but I remember TONS of people commenting on her status and fessing up to trying to keep up with other PARENTS when what really mattered was the CHILDREN. She did a great job and her little man was happy which was really all that mattered. This is what she posted when she felt discouraged and all of  the festivities were complete:

Threw the world’s lamest birthday party this afternoon. But the guest of honor was happy so it wasn’t a total flop. My house was a mess. I took a nap instead of making cupcakes. (Luckily there were enough gluten-free ones that my friend brought for her son with Celiac to go around for all the kids.) We sang him happy birthday but there were no candles to blow out. He probably set the world record for speed-opening of gifts – all 6 in under 75(?) seconds. Then he played his new Wii games while ignoring all his guests.

I woke this morning to another old friend’s pictures from her son’s birthday party on Facebook. SHUT UP!!! I had no idea they still have birthday parties at McDonald’s. Are you KIDDING ME?!?! It looked like she had a few close friends for her son’s 5th birthday party and all those sweet little booboos wear wearing party hats and big ‘ol smiles. Not a grimace was to be found (and I DID look for that big purple blob. What IS he anyway??) I had a couple of birthday parties at Mickey D’s myself and lots of my friends did too. I have memories of the that chocolate cake with Ronald on top and the whipped icing with sprinkles. I still remember hand clapping to the all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun song. Who did NOT climb to the top of that big hamburger jail that used to be on all of the playgrounds and bounce on those spring-loaded Fry Guy things on Mayor McCheese’s turf? That was before Chuck E Cheese came into the picture and when the only THEME your party had to have was for the plates and napkins. I don’t want to sound like a hypocrite because I LOVE a good theme party, but I’ve caught myself sinking enough money into these themes to where I’d have sworn Hamburglar came along and wiped out my checking account. This year we simply couldn’t swing the super fancy party favors that are a gift themselves to every tiny party goer so I took the kids down to Party City with instructions to get some little things to fill the plastic goody bags. After roaming the aisles and perusing the party picks, we finally found the Cars 2 display and the sales clerk asked me if we needed any help. Leave it to my kid to smile and say, “No thanks! We’re buying a bunch of cheap stuff made in China to put in the goody bags!” CRAP!! I was mortified but crap is what we bought and none of the kids OR parents seemed to mind when we handed them out. In fact, I think I’m super lucky. We got strong armed into having the festivities at the roller rink but I seriously doubt any of those other parents would have said a word if we’d blown up balloons and thrown streamers around at the park. My own anxiety about these kinds of things gets to me, but I’m thinking that I’m not alone. Retro is in, and if any of the other sometimes-anxious-overly-eager-to-please-their-child-and-live-up-to-the-standards-set-by-today’s-world folks wanna give it a try, cop a squat at the local park and don’t feel inferior to the folks with the back-yard carnivals at their McMansions. I promise you’ll see others doing the same, and don’t we ALL deserve a break today?

(For anyone interested: Check out this article from I found when I started looking for picture. THIS will take you back!!)

My Very Own MAJOR AWARD Friday, Sep 23 2011 

Wednesday night I got the most unexpected and giddy-inducing honor that could have been bestowed up me. Another blogger nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award!!! I really felt like screaming from my little balcony and letting all the neighbors who see me constantly typing on my little iPhone know how super important I am now, but I’ve figured that may just draw attention to our little corner here and someone may use that as an opportunity to express their disdain for all of the chalk drawings that I’ve let my kids create on the sidewalks. Who knew that the expensive “rich and vibrant” colors would take weeks to wash away? I’m still considering it though because my building is now CHOCK-FULL of pilots living in corporate apartments, and I have a vision of them gathering together and singing, “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” in their snazzy uniforms like Maverick and Goose after they read MY Mother (and the) Goose Tales. I’m TOTALLY going to print it out, plaster it all over the walls and hang it next to the kids’ fridge art now that we are some crazy printing fools having installed our very own wireless printer after only four months without capabilities.

The super fabulous and Good Humored Paprika Furstenburg nominated me for this award, and anyone who follows my blog will get a kick out of what she has to say. Her husband even wrote a guest blog piece on her love of shoes which is worthy of a mention as well.

This award comes with a couple of rules and this is where I get a little nervous:

1. Publicly thank the blogger who bestowed the honor upon me by putting a link to her blog on mine

2. Share the award with 15 other bloggers whose writing I enjoy so much I am always left waiting for their next post

3. Divulge 7 random facts about myself

I’m good with the first and third, but I’m getting a little sweaty thinking about the second. My friends and readers by now know that my creativity is kind of a curse that goes hand-in-hand with my anxiety. I’m still really new to the blogging world, so OMG! What if I nominate some of these blogs that I’ve discovered who have probably all been nominated already and then I’m like that freshman kid who’s trying to hang out with the seniors? What if I nominate THEM and they’re all like, “Um. OK. I’ve already achieved popular recognition with the masses and received numerous literary awards through my agency and publishing company, but whatever little girl.” But see, I REALLY want this award and so I’m going to spread the love and link to some WordPress blogs that I have recently discovered, and then go back and add to the list later after I sort through the talented masses. See, I haven’t really read a lot of blogs because I’ve gotten worried that reading them will somehow influence what I have to say and then subconsciously I’ll adopt their style and tone as my own and become a PLAGIARIST!! I’m going to suck it up though (actually gulp it down – that little blue and green pill that’s supposed to be keeping these thoughts at bay) and tag them like I’m leaving a nice little gift on their doorstep and then run away before they answer, OK? Here it goes in no particular order:

Ramblings – ALWAYS witty and insightful! I literally laugh out loud. I also think she has the best illustrations and pictures with every post.

The Jackie Blog – This chick can churn out daily posts like nobody’s business and EVERY one is a winner!

The Good Greatsby – This guy is hysterical. He has a Dear Good Greatsby column as well for anyone seeking advice. He has a pretty high following who contribute their own words of wisdom as well.

WHATIMEANT2SAY – A gal after my own heart… She digs bulldogs and her Wonderbutt tales are fun to follow.

H. E. ELLIS – An edgy and entertaining biker chick. She calls it like she sees it and makes no bones about it. (She apparently does like to use the word “boner” a lot in her writing though) 😉

I’ve Become My Parents – This guy writes and tweets from Canada with humorous advice on parenting directed at keeping his kid from making some of the same mistakes he did (though probably will inevitably.)

IMONTHEBANDWAGON – I dig the guys here and their banter. They’ll make you laugh out loud on just about every topic imaginable. The blogger is on tour with a popular British band who wants to remain anonymous with lawyers that do their best to keep them from getting sued for saying anything too scandalous. When you read it, be sure and talk to yourself in a British accent because it makes everything even funnier.

Tinkerbelle – This is another blogger from across the pond that I’ve just discovered who’s smart, sassy & witty. I like to read her posts aloud with my best Bridget Jones accent.

THE IDIOT SPEAKETH – I’m new to this guy, but MAN!! I can’t believe what I’ve been missing! He posts lots of 70s & 80s flashbacks, and if you do NOT like the new Facebook format then you WILL like his post, Why The New Facebook Ticker Sucks.

The Brown Road Chronicles – Somehow I stumbled across this guy. Actually, I’m not sure how but I think he may have stuck out a foot or something and virtually tripped me. He likes to do that to unsuspecting gullible visitors like me. He’s like that kid that sits in the back of the class that pulls your hair and teases you, and you REALLY don’t want to laugh but totally can’t help it. Oh yeah – he’s a grown adult that still likes to make prank calls too. You gotta check him out! (Don’t tell him I sent you there though because well, I dunno, I think any attention from him might make me nervous.)

My 7 Randoms

  • My last two years of high school were spent at a public boarding school for the “gifted and talented.” I thought it was going to be like Fame which I believe was one of the greatest television series of all time. I don’t remember the Fame kids having work service duties like washing dishes in the cafeteria or vacuuming the halls of the high school building, but overall I appreciate the experience now more than I did back then.
  • I spent most of my childhood and teen years dancing (hence my love of Fame) however do not expect me to win any notoriety with my smooth moves on the dance floor anymore. Once a few cocktails take over at wedding receptions now, something takes over my body that I can’t control and Spirit Fingers take over.
  • One of my dream jobs would be to sit back and write the names for beauty products like nail polishes and lipsticks. My family has owned a cosmetics store for 50 years now which is fine, but I really think those chicks who dream up the funky sounding names have the cushest job of all.
  • I quote old TV shows and movies all the time. Not new ones – OLD ones. Wait – not OLD ones because that would make ME old which I most certainly am not. I mean AWESOME ones like from the 80’s and 90’s and if I ever throw out something random that you think doesn’t make any sense, then YOU are probably the lame one that doesn’t realize that I’m actually quoting awesomeness.
  • I love bulldogs. And bulldog slobber. And funny bulldog tails. And tales about their tails.
  • I know all the words to Ice, Ice Baby and if you ever say, STOP!, then if I don’t say it out loud you can at least assume that I’ve quietly said, “collaborate and listen” to myself even if we are talking about something very serious.
  • One of my favorite movies of all time is A Christmas Story (which I can quote, of course) and even sent out our own version, Our Christmas Story 2010, last year on the Christmas cards. I was sad to leave behind my real working leg lamp when I left the house this summer, but NOW I have my very own NEW MAJOR AWARD… The Versatile Blogger Award! 🙂

Our Christmas Story 2010

Friday, Sep 23 2011 

This guy’s on to something here. Personally, I think O is demonstrating our new policies on global terrorism but that’s just my opinion. It’s the Safety Dance. We can dance if we want to. We can leave your friends behind. ‘Cause your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance well, they’re no friends of mine.

The Good Greatsby

Perhaps you’ve seen this photo of Obama blocking the face of Mongolia’s President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj in a world leader group picture during a UN summit:

Obama has been ridiculed in the media, but you can’t trust reporters have given us the whole story.   They saw a funny picture and immediately assumed Obama had made a faux pas without asking any questions that may have proven an alternative explanation.

Alternative explanations:

The man in front of the Mongolian President is wearing his country’s traditional high-five hat.

Obama’s iron fist was unexpectedly attracted to Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj’s magnet face.

The Mongolian President did rabbit ears behind Obama in the previous picture and Obama is paying him back.   Where’s that picture, media?

Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj was born with a hand-face.

Or Mongolia’s President underwent cosmetic surgery to make his face more hand-like in order to appeal to high-five loving Mongolian voters.  With a…

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