The Tales of Mother (and the) Goose Wednesday, Sep 21 2011 


I often think, speak, and write in analogies. It’s just the way I am, and it helps me to make sense of things around me especially when life gets a little chaotic. The other morning while sipping coffee on the balcony, a tiny little hummingbird flew up to me, hovered about five feet in front of me for about 15 seconds and then flew away. We looked at each other and for once I did not attempt to take a picture for fear of scaring off the little creature. I was Quick Draw McGraw on the symbolism according to Google however and posted my discovery on Facebook to share:

A hummingbird just flew up to me on the balcony & stared at me for about 15 seconds so I googled symbolism: timeless joy and the Nectar of Life. It’s a symbol for accomplishing that which seems impossible and will teach you how to find the miracle of joyful living from your own life circumstances. Right On!! Today is MY day, suckas!!

I’ve never seen hummingbirds near my new little castle, and it’s not like I was wearing a big red hummingbird feeder costume to entice some new little creature into my blogging realm. As I continued my research and delved into all things hummingbird related, I also discovered that the sprite little creatures also represent perseverance. Have you ever realized that unlike other birds who can just glide and coast through the air, the hummingbird must constantly beat its little wings to stay aloft? That’s like people too, isn’t it? For some people, at certain times, things just seem to come easy to them allowing them to coast through life while others must swiftly and continuously flutter their wings to keep from falling. Somewhere in my reading, I found some theories that spoke to me that morning and talked about savoring the Nectar of Life. These tiny birds are constantly beating their wings, but they are also capable of hovering in place in order to take their time and savor their nectar. Their ability to fly backwards can show us how we may all be able to look back on our past in order to learn from it yet not hover and dwell on it forever. I’ve never seen a hummingbird ONLY fly backwards! I want to be like a hummingbird!! And if I were ever to get a tattoo, it would be a hummingbird. (But I won’t. Because I don’t like needles. Or permanent body art that could sag and morph with an aging body. And because I’d be embarrassed if 30 years from now someone looked at my sweet little misshapen bird and mistook it for a vulture once everything stretched out and spread.) That hummingbird was a MESSENGER bird and my Google app said so!!

I carried on with my day and headed into The Shop with an extra spring in my step despite the dreary weather and Monday blahs that float about and seem to hover over so many people. I call our store, “The Shop” because that’s simply what we’ve called the beauty and cosmetic business for 50 years now, but I like to think of it as The Family Dynasty and since I run a lot of the daily business that makes me The Empress. All the women on Mama’s side of the family have worked there at one time or another – my grandmother, mother, aunt, cousins, sisters – and drama is the norm as in the televsion version of Dynasty. As I was covering some of the menial duties that should really fall onto servants and perhaps some day will, Mama scurried into the store with her OWN bird tale from that morning. She was visibly shaken and her feathers were all in a ruffle as she recounted what had happened to her while walking along the seawall that morning.

It seems somewhere along her route, Mama encountered a flock of geese. Assuming they were harmless and that she herself appeared friendly and non-threatening to all of God’s creatures, she continued along the walking path and approached their ground. THAT’S when all hell broke loose. According to Mama, the birds began squawking and the flock of furious feathered fowl chased her! Mama got flustered and sped up to no avail. Apparently there was a ringleader in the bunch and as it closed the gap between the group and Mama, she quickly responded like any modern-day woman would and threatened it with the pepper spray attached to her key chain. By threaten, I mean she screamed because it was doubtful that the goose would have been worldly enough to simply catch a glimpse of her unsnapping the spray and been all like, “WHOA!!! We picked the WRONG mama to screw with! This wild-eyed crazy bitch is armed with SPRAY! And that’ll burn my eyes and throat sumpin’ FIERCE! This goose is COOKED!” No. Uh-uh. Holding out the menacing mace in a threatening manner and screaming at it to move did NOT work on the flock, and unfortunately Mama couldn’t get the little twisty nozzle to twist open. God help her because the curious fisherman watching the spectacle most certainly did NOT. She did her best to racewalk like an Olympian with full on hip swinging and arm pumping and managed to escape the menacing bunch and seek shelter in her car with the doors LOCKED I’m sure for added protection. This is the point in the story that Mama came to the conclusion that the foul ringleader was RABID. She watched it fly out onto the lake after the group retreated and feels pretty confident that its feathers were all astray like a MAD goose’s feathers would be. “Oh. Dear. God,” thought Mama when she next realized what was happening; the other geese had TURNED on the ringleader and were trying to peck it to death. There is no way Mama could be wrong about this either because she saw it happen with her own two eyes and surmised that the other geese had realized the rabid nature of their leader and turned on it. “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” thought Mama and smugly watched its evil demise as she rounded the corner to retreat to her own side of the lake.

I relayed the account of the attack to my friends on Facebook and even posted a couple of pictures of Mama telling her bird tale as a follow-up post to MY morning encounter with MY bird. The whole bit was ridiculous really and had turned into a farce of sorts as people made their suggestions as to what they thought was the significance of our separate encounters. One friend pondered that perhaps my messenger bird had been sent to warn me of Mom’s impending attack. Maybe. Could be. Who knows. I didn’t throw out all the crumbs of information to my own flock of Facebook followers at the time though.

What many people don’t know is that my mother is an amputee. Just a few years after my father died suddenly, Mama was diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive form of cancer. In layman’s terms, a cancer of the sweat gland in the heel of her foot caused her to lose a portion of her leg below the knee. She rarely limps, never opted for any handicapped type parking permit, and people who meet her or even see her walk have no idea that she has this disability. She wears pants and long skirts and boasts a collection of cute little Mary Jane shoes that work for her and keep her in step with the fashion forward set for the most part. What she cannot do – and really has no desire to do – is run… EXCEPT when she’s been chased by a rabid goose. When she was telling us about her real life re-enactment of The Birds, she said that when her pepper spray failed to flip open, she quickly had to think of another option should she not be able to out pace the flock. Never one to just simply sit back and take things as they come, Mama devised a plan whereby if 1 or more geese were to get within brain or eye pecking distance, she would use what the good Lord had given her…. and beat hell out of the birds using her artificial leg as a club. Better not mess with THIS Mother, Goose!!!! I wonder what the by standing fisherman would have done if THAT scenario had actually played out?!

Mama left the store shortly after her tale and returned with a brand new purple can of mace. She was a little disheartened to learn from the clerk at the police supply store that the spray may not turn a goose into a quivering heap like it would for a HUMAN attacker since geese are not capable of inhaling the fumes in quite the same way that a boogeyman would. That’s OK. Mom is up to the challenge. She will aim directly at the offenders eyes taking especially careful aim if a predator is of the non-human variety. I will not be surprised if I pull around to the back of the house and find her practicing her shot in the wood pile while properly choreographing her ninja-like moves and KAY-YA noises in preparation for her next encounter. She will NOT stop walking the seawall because of geese nor will she let the mockingbird types keep her down.

I warned the kids that night to stay away from Mimi’s new purple can and that it will burn their eyes like fire if they even get anywhere near it which means that I have also relayed the two vastly different bird encounters of that day to them as well. Sometimes, kids say things that really help you to see things in a whole new light and shock you with their simplistic wisdom. As we talked about what I had Googled relating to hummingbirds and Mama’s big adventure, my daughter made a pretty insightful analogy. She recently auditioned for the lead roles in The Little Mermaid and drew a couple of parallels. She won’t be playing her dream role of Ariel, but she WILL get to play a mermaid and isn’t that like the “miracle of joyful living from your own life circumstances” as I had copied to my Facebook status that morning?? And HEY!! What about how the three of us installed our very own wireless modem and wireless printer ALL BY OURSELVES without calling anyone to help us?!! That is a HUGE accomplishment and people would never have thought we’d be able to do THAT if they’d seen the two-hour long drama that preceded it.

Really, it wasn’t until late that night while sitting on the balcony and listening to the frogs that I was able to recall the events of the day and put them into perspective. Tons of analogies flew straight into my brain while I pondered what I’d observed and learned from the day. I think I’m fortunate. In fact, I think I’m incredibly fortunate, and I’m also very grateful. I think life’s circumstances can vary so much from year to year but your outlook on life is what can make or break you. Sometimes that outlook is learned from the families we were born into or the people we choose to fly with. I think we can even learn valuable lessons from people with whom we choose NOT to associate. The geese in Mama’s story were the aggressors, and I know plenty of those types, but I also remember what my dad used to tell me about geese that relates to how we are as a family. Daddy taught me that geese fly in V formation. The lead bird at the point of the formation has a tough position. His job is tiring while the geese that follow benefit from the upwash of his position allowing them to reduce air resistance and better glide. The birds take turns leading the formation to reduce fatigue, and I guess that’s also how the birds in this family flock fly as well. We stick together, keep each other in our sights, and take over the tough exhausting positions when it’s our turn. We’ll squawk and honk at you too if you hang back and try to coast on our efforts for too long though so everyone has to toe the line.

Birds of a feather flock together.

There’s always more to every story, and there’s more to mine that not everyone knows as well. Just as Mama had a very rare type of cancer, I too was diagnosed and overcame cancer. Mine was an extremely rare cancer of the eye that was diagnosed when I was 6 and resulted in me losing my left eye. Not all mother-daughter-duos battle the odds and get brand-spankin’-new body parts custom-made for them either do they? It’s another way that we are unique. Mom’s cancer and recovery occurred while she was an adult so she had to adjust to new ways of doing every-day things and living while mine is just something that I grew up adjusting to so I can’t tell you that I’ve ever known anything different. I suppose people could look at both situations and make their own determination about which situation would be worse, but again I think it’s all about perspective. I sat through a law class one time in college when the professor used an example to illustrate personal damages in a way that stunned me. He was a wonderful teacher who had NO CLUE about my personal circumstances and neither did the rest of the class. He proposed a scenario whereby we had just gotten into a class fight and someone lost an eye from a hurled piece of chalk and the class was challenged to discuss all the damages and reparations that could possibly result from being left with a life long disability. Assumptions were thrown out and even tasteless jokes only because they had NO idea that I lived with the “disability” they were describing. At nineteen, with my whole life ahead of me, I silently sat and listened to people describe what my life SHOULD have been like; freakish looking, would never be found attractive therefore limited ability to date, marry and have kids. One guy actually suggested that he would rather die and no amount of damages could be awarded to appease him. Certainly anyone without any depth perception could never compete in sports and some of these kids did and would have a limited set of skills that would hinder future jobs and earning potential. It was pretty grim and the jokes weren’t really funny, but after Dad did his best to console me that afternoon my perception changed and more depth was added to my character. I decided that I was pretty lucky to have the positive outlook and family support with which I had been blessed. Those poor little shits must not have come from a family that teaches you that when rabid geese attack, don’t lay down and die just because you can’t run!! Pull off your custom-made state-of-the-art artificial leg and BEAT THE FIRE OUT OF ‘EM!!!

I think that hummingbird WAS a messenger. It’s appearance set the tone for that Monday – a day that is sometimes easy to just coast mindlessly through while wishing for the far off weekend. I started my day actively looking for what it was that God must have meant for me to see. I have no way of knowing what I was supposed to have learned, but maybe I didn’t even HAVE to learn anything. Maybe the point was just to recognize the joy in the little things in my life right now. They are everywhere and most anything can bring on an appreciative grin or even belly busting laugh if I look at it right. I know that philosophy isn’t always easily maintained, so I’m going to do my best to be like the hummingbird and persevere while savoring the nectar. There’s ALWAYS some there and I just have to remember to look for it.

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Dinner & The Dynasty Wednesday, Sep 14 2011 


Sometimes I’m still a little intrigued by how amusing people seem to find my family because it’s only been in recent years that I’ve recognized how funny these people can be in a neurotic kind of way. Last night we went to dinner at my grandmother’s house. We call her Bebe, the moniker she was given when I was but a wee little one and tried to call her by her first name. In my family, the women don’t mind aging however they do not like to LOOK or sound like they are aging, and Bebe sounded more appealing than Maw Maw or Granny. Last weekend, Bebe called me on my cell phone to invite me and the kids over to dinner. I was out-of-town with my sisters at the time, and got weird looks when I said she had called to formally invite me to dinner. See, this just isn’t something my grandmother does. She’s always cooking and never minds us stopping over, but an INVITATION?? DAYS in advance?? The last time she “invited” me over for food was to offer me a chocolate cake. She had not actually made the cake for me or the kids or HERSELF for that matter, but we were the lucky recipients of her most recent awkward encounter.

It’s no secret that when I get myself into a pickle, I’m likely to say something very awkward or at least get myself into a bigger bind simply by opening my mouth. This is a hereditary trait handed down by the women in my family like a secret family recipe – one for disaster. One day, my grandmother’s neighbor came over to visit. Not feeling very neighborly that day, Bebe tried to politely excuse herself by suggesting to the woman that she had a very busy day and needed to get on with her errands. The sweet neighbor did not pick up on the cues my Bebe was throwing and asked what kind of errands and activities were on her 82-year-old schedule. Quick on her feet, Bebe said the first thing that came to her mind and LIED….

“Well, I……. have to BAKE A CAKE!”

“Oh,” replied Nancy Neighbor, “I don’t have anything to do today, so I’ll just keep you company while you bake!” (SMILE)

“Well, um, I have to go to the store though because I don’t have everything here but thank you anyway.” (EVEN BIGGER SMILE)

“Great! I need to go too so we can go together!” (I WIN, YOU LOSE VICTORY SMILE)

And the two women headed off to the store. Bebe didn’t actually NEED anything there, mind you and had already been early that morning so she perused the produce and flitted through the frozen goods picking up a few interesting looking items along the way and headed to the checkout.

“My goodness!! exclaimed Nancy Neighbor. You almost forgot your cake ingredients! It’s a good thing I came with you or you wouldn’t have gotten the very things you came to buy!”

“Oh, um, well, SHOOT! You’re right! Let me find the cake aisle.”

And the two of them headed across the store, but not even Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines could get my grandmother out of this sticky mess before she battered the situation any further. Feeling flustered, she bought a chocolate cake mix with white frosting forgetting that they don’t even LIKE chocolate cake and returned to pay for this calamity. When they arrived home, Bebe offered her thanks and farewells only to be rebuffed by the suggestion that while neighborly Nancy had nothing better to do, she’d be happy to visit while Bebe BAKED. It was around 3 o’clock that I received the phone call while sitting in the carpool line asking if I wanted any cake and we headed over after school. When she tried to send me home with the ENTIRE cake, I knew something was fishy and Bebe copped to her wasted day of baking and chatting, neither of which she had intended to do. Oh, well! So she hadn’t really baked that cake for us, but the fact that she called us as first in line beneficiaries was a compliment.

Sooooooo, anyone can see how when I received the formal invite for dinner, my sisters and I thought something was amiss. Like ALL the women in my family, Bebe never does anything the easy way. She’ll swim upstream fighting the current until the fishiness is uncovered. Turns out PawPaw Jack hit the booze one night and got a hankering to visit with people and invited them over the next week for dinner. Mom got the invitation directly from the horse’s mouth, and Bebe followed up with mine as an afterthought. I’m not even offended by the fact that she invited all of us because they felt obligated after drunk dialing dinner invitations. Free meal! What did she serve?? SALMON, of course. And it was delicious, of course. And the dinner conversation got decidedly OFF course as the evening progressed.

Somewhere over dinner, mom was scolded for never saying “God Bless You” when her husband sneezes. See, he’s a little superstitious and it turns out that his feelings were a little hurt by Mom not recognizing what could be the beginning of a deadly virus or something I’m sure. Mom, always on the defense, offered up examples of how incredibly considerate she is and that choking or not BREATHING would warrant a response from her however a simple sneeze would not. How dare anyone think she is insensitive. She is after all the person who ran to the aid of an employee when she passed out in the store one day. Nevermind that Mama panicked and immediately gave mouth to mouth after checking for a pulse while my grandmother scurried to call 911. Or that she realized later that the GUM she had been chewing at the time could not be accounted for later. We are all certain that the sweet little model that had been working for her appreciated the FUSCHIA lipstick stains all over her face too. After all, she probably learned to start EATING so that she would never pass out in mom’s presence again.

We talked over dinner about computers and cell phones and how technology today just makes everything more complicated. My grandmother does indeed have a cell phone however she does not know how to use it. My cue to call her back is receiving a voice mail with her in the background saying something the likes of, “Well, crap! I don’t know how to work this stupid thing. I can’t even hear her talking. Just forget it. I’ll call her later.” I even programmed the thing for her with Mama’s number as well as my own so she only has to push one button but it turns out her fingers are too small. She has petite fingers she says that hinder her cell phone capabilities while PawPaw Jack has very large fingers forcing him to carry a pencil with an erasure when he has the cell phone. All the talk about keyboards and smart phones REALLY started to push MY buttons when they asked which kind of iPhone I would recommend so they could have one like mine. Dear God PLEASE don’t let them get an iPhone, and Steve Jobs PLEASE forgive me for saying it was a piece of junk so that they would not.

We ended the evening at the dinner table by taking a family picture with my daughter’s 3DS. If I can ever figure out how to transfer that picture to my blog (and only if everyone’s hair looks nice and faces don’t look fat) you’d see a group of four generations – quirky yet happy and grateful to have each other. You might also see my daughter standing in front with the same smile she shares with her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother (though it won’t be obvious because the older two generation’s jaws hit the floor when the youngest took the pic via voice command… priceless!) She wrote across the top of the picture, My Family Dinner, in rainbow letters so I hope this means we make her proud.

Cajun Mermaid Ballad Friday, Sep 9 2011 


I live in a state that ranks first in a lot of areas, mainly the undesirable ones. We have high poverty, illiteracy and obesity yet our culture is one that embraces the traditions of fun, family, food and revelry so everyone knows how to pass a good time. There are still areas where Cajun French is spoken  and not just back in the swamps. I’ve often heard old timers in public using it as a sort of secret language that allows them to express their heritage and keep outsiders from eavesdropping. The language and dialect are like music to my ears and in my mind I can almost hear those old accordions and fiddles playing the ballads of a time long ago.

I grew up fishing and crabbing the waters around here on the weekends with my family so this past weekend seemed like the perfect opportunity to take the kids out and make our own memories. Tropical Storm Lee had just passed through and left sunshine and cooler temperatures so Mother Nature seemed to be calling us to the Cajun Riviera. I guess my upcoming birthday was also on my mind and the idea of reliving my youth and the nostalgia such a trip would provide sounded enticing. On a whim, we grabbed our towels, binoculars and bucket for collecting shells and headed for the coast. Against my better judgement, I also phoned my mom just to let her know where we would be heading for the day and received a barrage of nervous chatter about my clunker of a car, bridges and AAA Emergency Road Services. I assured her that we would be fine and would indeed call if something happened. I also promised to stay in the car if we broke down and not sit on the side of the road like alligator bait.

Louisiana is known as The Sportman’s Paradise and the Creole Nature Trail is refered to as Louisiana’s Outback. I remembered visiting the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge as a kid and thought my own little ones would enjoy walking out to the wooden lookouts and spotting all of the beautiful flora and fauna native to our area. A day spent exploring and appreciating in the great outdoors was set to provide the refuge I needed from the TV, internet, and irritating video games the kids are obsessed with. In the spirit of full disclosure, we do not all live off the land like what you see on The History Channel’s Swamp People though the folks around here do not need subtitles to understand what’s being said like the rest of the country does. I’ve been to bars around here that are indeed only accessible by boat like The Prop Stop – home of The Worm Bucket – but that’s the exception to the rule and girls like me typically like to go out without the windblown hair and eau de swampwater smell.

As we cruised south with our windows cracked, I tried to spot gators sunning themselves near the road, but I had no help from the backseat. I could hear the reason why; that damn Mario and his friends, Luigi, Peach and Toad has joined us for this journey. I resisted the urge to throw the shiny little hand-held devices through the open windows and into the marsh and simply drove a little faster to our destination. The kids were excited and ready to see the alligators… UNTIL the youngest realized that we were indeed in the wild and that any alligators present would not be contained in cages.

It appears HE was the one disturbed and determined NOT to be food for the gators

We spotted several tourists but not a single alligator much to our disappointment, so we headed for the refuge our car, picked up steam and headed towards The Gulf of Mexico. A few minutes later we arrived and drove straight out onto the sand. We kicked off our shoes and grabbed the bucket  for the shells and bread for the birds and THANKFULLY the Nintendo DSs stayed behind as well. The water isn’t blue here and the sand isn’t white, but my kids love it and I reminded them of how lucky we are to live so close to the coast; Not just ANYBODY can go look for alligators and wade in the waves on merely a whim! I watched as the kids enthusiastically gathered shells of every size and color though what we took was merely a drop in the bucket. They soon realized that they couldn’t take EVERY cool shell and became more selective with their treasures. I promised them that we would keep some of the shells in a bowl at the apartment just like the one I left back at the house for them to enjoy with their dad. Hot damn! I even think I’ll let the little artists use HOT GLUE and create picture frames to display memories from this impromptu coastal excursion. There are plenty of smiling shots to choose from, but perhaps the biggest grin was from Sis when she explained to Bubba about all the sea life that had probably peed in the exact same where he had chosen to soak.

We tossed bread to the seagulls and named one of them Scuttle after the bird in The Little Mermaid. I watched lovingly as my daughter sculpted a mermaid in the sand and shells as she sang songs. She seemed to be channeling some inspiration. She had a milestone of her own approaching; auditions for the musical, The Little Mermaid, were just days away and MY little mermaid had gathered the courage and confidence to audition with all of the older girls for a singing speaking part. Though she’s the youngest of the cast, she chose to audition for the two lead parts because as she has explained to people who’ve inquired, “How would I EVER get my dream role if I don’t even TRY?!” The pride I feel when I see and hear her make such simple yet profound statements makes my heart jump out of my chest and flip and roll like the waves that tumble ashore. That’s MY girl, and I’ll be the lunatic fan in the audience that claps and cheers for her with whatever lines she utters.

The Little Mermaid

As the sun set, we set back out for home and a bite to eat. Much to my son’s dismay, I bypassed the fast food for some sit-down seafood, and he declared that he would SEE the food but not EAT it. Someday he’ll appreciate it though, and the smell will bring him back to a time when we went scavenging for shells on sand. He claims to appreciate what we have here but that doesn’t mean he wants to eat alligator OR be eaten BY an alligator so I let him get his “cajun” chicken strips and promised to cross the street and let him see the alligators that were fenced into a special CONFINED habitat. After all of the lecturing I had done throughout the day on appreciating our natural resources and native species of animals, plants and birds, a stranger came to us and helped put it all into perspective. While searching for the alligators behind the safety of the chain link fence, a nice tourist from out-of-state kindly pointed out the baby gator floating amid the algae. He quipped about how odd it must be for the alligator to smell the fried seafood wafting across the road yet it smelled so delicious that he and his family may just wander into Steamboat Bill’s for a bite. He explained that they had just driven past the beautiful old homes along the lakefront and how fortunate those people were to live there. His family had stopped here and checked out the area on their way back onto the interstate. I don’t think he just HAPPENED to stop there though after driving around the lake and the home where I was raised. Something brought that man to exactly where we were at exactly the right time so that my children could hear from someone who had just discovered the treasures of our area.

In other areas of the world, they don’t have the same sounds and smells and sights that we have here. I want to see these places and experience their cultures and appreciate their differences, but this is where I want to ultimately be. New people, places & things are exciting and valuable, but they don’t whisk me back to simpler times when my Sunday nights were spent sunburned and smelling of saltwater while complaining about Monday morning school. This place and this land makes me proud just as my children do even if we aren’t always on the “right” lists. It’s a place to be cherished and preserved, and visiting here should be on everyone’s Bucket List but I don’t have to tell that to anyone around here. I’d just be singing another old Cajun ballad to the choir.

Kickin’ Up Storms & Puttin’ Out Fires Friday, Sep 2 2011 


I didn’t sleep much last night. It’s my own fault though I guess. Actually, it may be my mom’s fault! See, there’s a storm brewing out in the Gulf of Mexico. When this happens, I can always hear my mom’s voice inside my head telling me EXACTLY what I should be doing to prepare. It’s gotten to where I no longer need her present to hear the nagging. There’s anxiety coursing ALL through my veins thanks to my maternal side, and when the weather vanes outside start spinning when the wind kicks up, EVERYTHING kicks up a notch. While pondering whether or not to race out and stock up on Spaghetti O’s and boxed wine for the inclement weather and possible power outage, I realized all of the things that I am used to having back at the house but do NOT have here at the apartment. THAT’S when I remembered the fire escape ladder that my mom purchased for us when we moved into the big two-story house, and I retrieved it when I picked up the kids last night from Dinner with Dad. The shitstorm that came from that was one for the record books. Hmmmm, hurricane preparations with Mom, or Fire Safety Lesson with the kids… I guess I’ll take the latter.

Mom, why do we need a ladder?

It’s just in case there were ever an emergency where we would need to climb out of the window.

The WINDOW?!?! What kind of emergency?

(This is when I remembered that fire phobia he “outgrew.”) Um, you know, just in case the doors didn’t work and we needed to get to our car.

You mean a FIRE don’t you! The box has a picture of a family with their house on fire.

Well, technically that could happen, but it can really be used for any type of emergency and it’s best to have emergency supplies on hand like how we keep candles and flashlights ready for hurricane season.

Why do you think we are going to have a fire?

I DON’T

Then why did you buy it?

I didn’t. Mimi bought it.

Why does she think we are going to have a fire?

She doesn’t. I mean, she KNOWS that we are NOT, but she always worries about everything anyway so she felt better buying this for us back at the house.

Then why did we bring it to the apartment?

Because we live HERE now and so I thought we’d keep it here.

But Daddy’s back at the house and now he doesn’t have anything to escape with. (eyeing me suspiciously like I’m an evil arsonist)

Daddy is like a Boy Scout and he has everything he needs there. He’s totally fine, I PROMISE.

So we’re going to attach it to the window?

No. It stays in its box unless we ever have to use it. I’m going to put it in Sissy’s closet because it’s right next to her window and that window sticks out the farthest. (Smile) So you don’t even have to look at it.

WHAT?!?!?! You are keeping it in HER room?! Why does she get to be saved???!!!

STOP. Nothing’s going to happen, but if there WERE some kind of emergency then we all go to her window and climb out. Period.

Her foot is probably going to get in my way and make me fall down the ladder and get a bodycast again!!!

(Long story short version: Yes, he DID have to wear a body cast for a couple of months when he was 2, but EXACTLY how he tumbled down the stairs isn’t TOTALLY clear. Everybody knows he tripped over Sissy’s foot, but there is no proof it was intentional and doesn’t matter anyway because she was SO WAY SORRY and TOTALLY freaked out that he broke a bone. Won’t EVER happen again. EVER. We’re paranoid people now and in a way like never before. There! Full disclosure.)

You’re not going to fall and you won’t get a body cast because we have a LADDER! (Sigh) Just follow her down and we’ll walk to the parking lot or something.

WHAT!?@!!? SHE gets to go FIRST??? That’s not FAIR!

Fine. If you want to go first, then you can go first. We’ll have our plan now like when you practice fire drills at school.

So you want to climb out now?

NOOOO!!! (God the neighbors would REALLY think we’re weird then. And I’m not going to the hospital with a broken bone on any of us from a PRACTICE RUN. Real deal only.)

Well, who’s going next you or Sissy?

Well, Sissy I guess. That is if ANY of us were able to quit fighting over what’s fair and what’s not fair. That’s why it’s best to decide now otherwise I’m thinking Daddy is the lucky one here. He just has to jump. I would have to convince two screaming kids that my escape route was FAIR before anyone even slung a leg of the ledge!

Well then we’d all die if nobody went, huh.

Nobody’s going to DIE! Go take your bath. (I’m going straight to the burning gallows of Hell for even planting this seed in my child’s head. Actually… TOTALLY my mom’s fault here again. SHE bought the ladder and SHE’S the one that threw that neurotic gene down my tree but never claims it and doesn’t know how any of us can be such ANXIOUS people. She’s like the cute little kitten that gets stuck in the tree and then claims to have been able to climb down herself if mass hysteria were to break out and the fire brigade sent to rescue her… after all she’d be the only cat on the block with her own LADDER!!)

10 Minutes Later… (Scene: Bathtub)

Is it fireproof, Mom?

What?

The ladder. because I’m not going to go down it first if it’s just going to catch fire or something.

The ladder is METAL, and we will never have to use it because there will NEVER be a fire.

So concrete catches fire easily then?

HUH?!?

The stairs. They must be going to catch fire even though they’re made of concrete otherwise we wouldn’t need the ladder and have to go out Sissy’s window.

Seriously. Just forget about the ladder. if there were an emergency, that’s the only time you’d even remember it.

Wait. I’m not gonna jump so we’re all just gonna be hanging there til the firemen come or something because that’s too far and I’ll get hurt, right?

No, sweet boy. The ladder reaches all the way to the ground because it says so on the box. (We both SMILE at each other. 🙂 Case closed!)

What if, when I get off the ladder, I step in fire ants though??? Heh Heh!! Get it, Mom?? FIRE ants!!! I made a joke!! 🙂

HAHAHA!!! Funny boy! I’m so proud of you. You must get that from me!

But what about my stuffed animals??? I love them! We’ll have to carry all of them out with us.

Nah. The firemen would spray the whole place with water from their big hoses and that would keep stuff from burning.

Then they’d get wet and ruined.

Fine. We’ll see.

I KNOW!!! We’ll keep some backpacks by the ladder to carry all our stuff out! I’ll be the one who says, ‘EVERYONE GRAB AS MUCH AS YOU CAN!!!’

No. That’s someone else’s job. Get out of the tub.

Will the firemen say, ‘All clear!’ and then send us back for our stuff?

Yes.

I’m going to show all my friends any time I have a sleep over so they know we can climb out the window if we need to, OK?

Um… Fine. (AWESOME! Mamas are going to think I’m nuts. And if I ever catch him using it when he’s a teenager to sneak out and get a 6 pack or something, he might as well be in a bodycast because he won’t be going anywhere for a long time. Sigh.)

I’ve got the jibbers.

Don’t have the jibbers… whatever those are. It’s fine. Everyone will be safe and everyone has a job for anything unexpected so we’re TOTALLY good. Now get out of the tub. (HOORAY!! He SMILED which means he’s good and I must be good at calming his nerves then. Yay!)

I’m going to have nightmares. Can I sleep with you?

(Sigh) Fine.

HAHAHA!!!! SISSY!!!! I get to sleep with mom and you don’t!

(Sissy runs into the bathroom and starts off with, Moooooom!!! That’s not FAIR!!!!)

Dry off. Brush your teeth. Everyone get in my bed. Go to sleep.

Hey, Mom!

Whaaa-aaaa-aaaaaaa-aaat?!?!

I’ve been eating lots of fiber, SEE! I’m growing THESE!! (Points at his nipples and smiles proudly in the mirror)

Uh… I’m glad you’re eating fiber. Good. That means this conversation is over.

(I realize that he has changed the subject and this is my chance, so I sing the prayers and then threaten to kick them out of my bed if they don’t go to sleep. It’s a freakin’ SCHOOL night and I’m not going to get ANY sleep because they’re in my bed, but I feel so bad now about letting them see the ladder and ponder burning flesh that I must now deserve to be kneed in the back all night without any covers.)

Where does this kid get this from?? ‘MY MOM!!! It’s HER fault,’ I say to myself as I remember to go take my anxiety pill. As I gulp the water and feel the pill sliding down my throat, I get one of those movie-like flashback scenes where I suddenly have Deja’ Vu and realize I just took this pill while standing in this exact spot just a couple of hours ago. Am I going to overdose? Should I try and throw it up?? I throw up my hands instead and settle down to read a book. I mean, I HAVE to be awake now, right? I probably have to stay awake to make sure I don’t start getting woozy or drowsy from the double dosage… but it’s BEDTIME?!?! How will I know if it’s the medicine or just being tired??? BING! I have a margarita in the freezer that would TOTALLY calm me down, but now I’m too scared to drink it because of what it may do to me after taking two idiot pills!!! UUGH!! I think I have a stomach ache now. Finally I decide with the help of some friends on facebook that the heightened anxiety I’m experiencing will counteract the increased medication thereby cancelling out any harmful side effects and leaving a zero net effect. TA-DA!!! I’m a genius AND I’m still a good mom. The kids are sleeping soundly, and I’ll be right next to them on my 3-inch portion of the bed if they need anything. And if I don’t have what they need or an answer to some crazy question, you know what I’ll do??? I’ll call MOM and let them wake HER up. It’s all her fault anyway, and someday I’ll tell them that so they’ll be sure and blame HER and NOT me or blog about all the weird things I do on the internet or whatever it is that their generation will be doing then. Hell, I probably won’t even know what they’re talking about anyway, and I’ll just sit there oblivious like MOM does with MY blog. 😉

I’m Officially TRASHY Tuesday, Aug 30 2011 


SCRAM!

I’m trashy and it’s OFFICIAL so you can add that to my list of character flaws. Actually it’s the fault of my self-diagnosed A.D.D. that will force you to add it to the laundry list so I’ll carry on and air my dirty laundry via my blog and maybe someone will relate. Guess what I did yesterday! I took my trash to work with me. Yep!! NO, it wasn’t like one of those “Bring your daughter to work” days designed to raise any kind of awareness or educate the nation’s youth. I simply brought my trash with me on accident, but I did educate myself a little and manage to bring about a higher level of self-awareness. Let’s hope it sticks and congeals.

This is how I handle the unglamorous chore of taking out the trash which makes a LOT of sense I think: I bag my trash at night and then put it outside my front door in my direct line of sight where I can’t simply get distracted and walk around it. Then when I leave the next morning, I carry my bag of refuse to my car and place it on the hood since my SUV does not have a trash platform/trunk. See, no matter how junky the inside of my car is, I refuse to carry refuse INSIDE my car whether it’s bagged or not. What if garbage juice leaks out onto the floor or seats of my car?!? That would stink LITERALLY! I then drive VERY SLOWLY AND CAREFULLY to the dumpster since my view through the windshield is somewhat obstructed depending on how much trash I’m towing and toss it gingerly into the receptacle on my way out of the complex. Sure I get looks when I sometimes hang my head out of the window to see where I’m going but I manage to navigate my way safely around the obstacles and reach my destination which is not far away.

I decided yesterday, after some yahoo threw me a dirty look like he was hurling a rotten tomato at me the day before, to double bag my trash and carry it in the backseat down to the dumpster on my way to work. Well, Hell! I got distracted and forgot to dump my baggage before starting the new day. CRAP! I didn’t realize til I was half-way into work so I trucked along and pulled out the trash when I exited the car and disposed of it outside the mall where the security guards were probably watching me on camera and shaking their collective heads. Whatever.

My mind started going on some analogies though that I HAVE decided to try and carry along with me now. I should’ve stuck with my guns no matter how quirky I sling them. If I’d ignored the guy’s stupid look, then I’d have carried on with what works for me and slung my baggage into the proper bin without carting all the way across town. I’m doing that from now on so that I don’t get discombobulated and one day TOTALLY forget the bag in the hot steamy car while putrid gases and who knows what accumulate before I have to sit in the carpool line. I’ll embarrass the hell out of myself if the duty teacher opens the door to THAT so driving a little eccentrically through the complex is nothing. It’s a simple theory so why make things more difficult and complex for myself?

I’m going to take my time, in my own way, and leave all of the trash and baggage behind in other ways too. I think it’ll start my day off right and help to keep from cluttering up my mind and schedule. What if I actually took all of the mistakes made from the previous day, threw them into the trash and started with a fresh new silver lining for the new day?! THAT’S what I’m going to do!! Wallowing in my collected trash will just make me grouchy like Oscar anyway. I may carry it around for a minute for the world (wide web) to see while pondering things on the blog, but then I’ll toss it out for someone else to carry away and start fresh. If anyone gives me dirty looks again I’ll just tell them to SCRAM! God probably doesn’t want me weighed down and towing everything along as it accumulates like a big ole burden anyway. I’ll just hand things over, recycle what can be made better, and toss the rest. It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, and I’m feeeeeeling good!

(Just so you know, my brain was tossing around yesterday’s post combined with this one and hummed the TRASHY lyrics from She’s Crafty by The Beastie Boys the whole time I was writing this. I almost started with, “Now here’s a little story I’ve got to tell…” but I’ve just thrown in a little Nina Simone into the mix and the soundtrack for today seems a little garbled like it’s all mixing up and being crunched together in the back of my big truck compactor. I should make a disc… a COMPACT disc!! BING! Nevermind… I’m going to work :-/ )

Crafting A Cast Monday, Aug 29 2011 


This weekend my sisters and I had a conversation. It was sort of an ongoing conversation that picked up where it left off several times because there was no clear resolution to our dilemma which was this: Who in the world is going to be capable of playing us when our life story hits the big screen? This is a conversation everyone has, right? My poor brother-in-law went from amusement to bewilderment when he realized that we were actually serious about the topic. He also wisely shut his mouth and offered no real suggestions once he realized the seriousness of the topic. One small comment or observation about which actress carried similar personality quirks or physical resemblance could lead to him being ostracized from our conversation and very likely shunned until the subject was dismissed. Worst case scenario would be that we’d cast someone awful in his part but threatening him with such an outcome didn’t seem to evoke the kind of horror that it would with the rest of us. I don’t understand that really. Is that just a gender thing or something because I think we are the normal ones here. I’ve actually known girls to get FURIOUS if you tell them they look like a certain celebrity that they do not admire or so-an-so could play them in their life story. Do guys not sit around and talk about these things??? That’s weird.

Here’s my thinking: True actresses are cast into parts based on their ability to portray a character, or real life person in this case, in a way that captures a person’s personality, mannerisms, and character traits as they are. Simply “having the look” isn’t enough to win someone an Oscar for an accurate portrayal, right? Hair can be dyed, weight lost or gained, and fashion sense can be mimicked, so why would someone be so simple-minded as to choose an actress based on their hair color and skin tone?? It’s a good thing I’ll be in charge of casting when this happens. I suggested that when the time comes, we have several actress audition for the various roles while we sit in our cute little director’s chairs with our names and titles monogrammed on the back. This TOTALLY makes sense and is a reasonable request Brother-In-Law, so why is your jaw hanging open?? Shut it!

(Disclaimer: these are merely suggestions and are subject to change at any time or with any whim though the participants in this screenplay have been cautioned to not make any rash decision especially while drinking or PMSing.)

The role of Miss um… Erica?!?! is set to be played by the one and only Julia Roberts. There. MY decision is a good one and perhaps the ONLY one not open for discussion. This is MY screenplay and therefore MY decision and it is a good one. Both Diane Keaton and Blythe Danner will audition for the role of Mom,  and Cloris Leachman gets the part of my grandmother hands down. We tossed around ideas for the two other sisters and came up with the following potential actresses for the youngest: Ann Hathaway (she looks just like her but most importantly has displayed the ability to be beautiful, quirky, naive, and a little neurotic all at once) Mila Kunis, and Natalie Portman. Middle sister was a little more difficult to cast, and Brother-In-Law smartly kept his suggestions to himself lest some unfortunate actress be deemed to have horse-like teeth or something and offend everyone at the table. He did offer one idea when the poor guy still thought the conversation was for amusement purposes only but the BACKLASH to his Shannen Doherty idea produced a FIT and evil eyes the likes of which really only Shannen herself could pull off. Um… if the shoe fits!! I’m JUST sayin’, he might have been onto something there. I’m KINDA thinking Neve Campbell or Courtney Cox for her (and not just because she makes me Scream sometimes) but right now we’re thinking of the dark hair pale skin attributes both of these carry and their ability to portray and professional working mom.

Look, we’re not conceited or anything. I mean, we KNOW this whole thing may not ever get to the big screen. THAT is why we have devised a secondary list of actresses should this go straight to Lifetime. Picture Robin Tunney from The Craft and The Mentalist playing the role of Moi. I know… that’s good, right?!? We haven’t ironed out all of the backup cast here yet, but some combination of Neve Campbell, Alyssa Milano, Shannen Doherty would probably be appropriate. Hey! I’m wondering here if it is NOT a coincidence that all of these actresses have played WITCHES?!?! I’m just now realizing that and it kinda creeps me out. We’ve crafted quite entertaining lives for ourselves here but we’re TOTALLY not Wiccans. I mean, not that there’s anything WRONG with that I guess. (Dear God, please don’t let them hex me or throw out some voodo gris gris on me for offending the witch people by thinking they are creepy! I’m looking to cast a screenplay here NOT have spells cast upon me. Amen.) Oh and while I’m thinking about The Craft, do you think I will I be able to choose the caterers for craft services, because I TOTALLY want those Viva La Waffle truck guys!!!

OMG! This is EXACTLY what BOTH of my sisters look like when they are PMSing! She could play EITHER of them!

Adventures In Wonderland Wednesday, Aug 24 2011 


Early in the summer when I was focused on the bunnies and birds and new little creatures around me, I caught my rabbit Roger digging a hole in the flower beds below me. I also caught video, of course (which I’ll post later), and it got me thinking about this crazy summer. All I could think of was Alice in Wonderland and her strange little adventures following the rabbit. I did not PUBLISH the analogies that were scampering through my brain at the time partly because I wasn’t fully confident yet that people weren’t going to make all the same drug references that many see in the book and think I was on drugs myself after leaving my husband, house and seemingly normal happy life behind. I also thought I’d let this summer play itself out and see if my adventures or life calmed down for me. Um… not really, but I took notes so here it goes!

I’ve thought of myself as similar to Alice these last few months. I was well raised and taught to be polite. Sometimes my naivety can be seen as childlike and often times my adventures and sense of humor are immature. The bunnies I discovered early in the summer seem to be taking shelter from the heat or simply moved on when some jackhole cleared the land behind my fence. I mean, didn’t someone KNOW that Snow White herself was sitting up in this little castle writing about her adventures with the critters? I have my pictures and I have my notes however so my mind is open to the other things around me now. New characters are being introduced every day and some of them are as wacky and entertaining as the ones in Lewis Carroll’s book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland or the movies that have since followed. I’ve referred to this summer as starting a new chapter, and with school back in session I feel like we are on to the next.

I’ve tried my best to really find myself this summer, and at times I’ve simply quit looking to find what WAS there and simply see what’s BECOMING. You know how they say when you quit looking for something is when you are most likely to find it? Well, it’s something I remind myself often. When I need courage or strength, I look deep down to find it but discovering new things about myself sometimes takes quiet self observation and that’s usually found on the balcony over coffee or my vanity table/writing desk. Simply sitting down and answering questions from some of those self-help workbooks that aim to get your life, career and finances in order don’t always come easy for me because they stress me out a little. Actually, they stress me out a LOT. When quiet doesn’t exactly come easily around here, that’s when I learn about others especially the kids. I’ve learned more by listening to them than I have talking AT them. I can almost guarandamntee you that I don’t really learn a lot in the midst of the chaos WHILE it’s happening, but I do my best to jot something down here or there throughout the day thinking that an interesting thought or idea may sprout from what we did or did NOT do well. I hope my little baby boos have learned from me too, but only they will be able to tell you that and perhaps not until they are adults. Maybe some of the things they get angry about now that are too difficult or inappropriate to discuss with them will make sense to them later. Maybe they won’t. Maybe all that they will learn from this summer is that not everything can be explained when the same experiences between two different people produce two vastly different perceptions. That’s a lesson itself, isn’t it?

Chapter 1. Down the Rabbit Hole

Alice fell into her hole. I jumped! I went headfirst not merely out of curiosity because that would be irresponsible as a parent to make life changing moves and pull the kids down with me through the twists and turns of some knucker hole. The only thing I knew for sure was that one day a switch in me flipped and the reality I thought I’d been living was realized to be a fantasy. One day while driving down the road, I finally saw my life clearly and knew I was not going to be able to lie to myself anymore. There’s a strong difference I guess between the fictional character Alice and the new real-life me in that I left the fantasy behind. My hole led to a new reality. There was no certainty about the future and there certainly was no money. What I did have was a little apartment leased on borrowed money and a PLAN to spend my summer enjoying the kids because the big changes would affect them, and I wanted to take care of them as I did my best to take care of myself. I also knew that I may never get the chance to stay home with them part-time or full-time again, and I wanted to cherish that time. Of COURSE I knew they’d be fine going to after-school care if a new work schedule left me unable to spend all of our time outside of school together, but you know how you never TRULY appreciate something until it’s gone or you no longer have the daily luxuries you perhaps take for granted? Well, I went into this summer with the kids knowing that it may be my last. (I mean HOME with them – not last as in DEAD – though there were times we could have killed each other I guess.)

Chapter 2. The Pool of Tears

We have a pool here, and we’ve had a lot of tears however I can definitively say that I have not gotten swept away by the current. My current is strong but will not be defined by my past and crying while treading water won’t get me any farther on to future adventures. Why swim upstream?Dry the tears and it’s easier to keep your head above water and swim. Besides, pools are for fun and the kids have definitely had their fill here with tan lines to prove it.

Chapter 3. The Caucus Race and a Long Tale

In Alice’s Adventures, this is the chapter where Alice meets many other animals and birds that have been swept away in the pool of tears and when they reach the riverbank, they decide to race around in a circle with no clear finish line as suggested by the mouse, in order to get dry. Um… no thanks! I’m out of that rat race. I TOTALLY dig all the little real life animal friends I have found here, but I’ve also met and talked with women this summer that want to commiserate. They’ve found themselves alone for one reason or another and want to drown our sorrows over drinks or grow decidedly bitter together because misery loves company. Isn’t that the same as just running in circles? I’ve TOTALLY bitched, don’t get me wrong, but it’s usually to my family because I’ve found that bitches feed off each other and just walk away fatter and madder. Good for Tweedledee & Tweedledum if they choose to do that. I’m happy to not feel so alone when we find something in common, but it’s just not my desire to sit around and bitch or convince people to stand on my side of the river bank and throw stones at the other side. Sitting on the other side is the man who was once my teammate in every way, and we still have to carry these kids together to the finish line.

Chapter 4. The Rabbit Sends a Little Bill

Alice grows, gets stones thrown at her which turn into cakes, eats them and shrinks. Hmmm… I ate cake this summer, and I PROMISE you I DID NOT SHRINK. I mean, I wish that when people hurled stones at you via insults or unwarranted criticisms they turned into little cakes because that would certainly be turning a negative into a positive, but for God’s sake don’t eat the damn cakes! Real life does not always coincide with fantasy here. Again this is an instance though where the Alice character and my own diverge. You know the bottles in the beginning that Alice drinks that say “drink me” and she shrinks? Yeah well I’ve done that too and the Skinny Girl Margaritas & Skinny Girl Sangria do NOT make you skinny. And the more you drink, the more likely you are to eat that box of goldfish that you bought for the kids and the “that’s one snack they like that I don’t so I’ll be SMART and buy those knowing I won’t eat them!” strategy fails. Eating AND drinking makes you grow bigger in REAL LIFE so don’t even try to be Alice.

Chapter 5. Advice From a Caterpillar

OK. This was always my favorite part in the movie because the caterpillar looks so cool and groovy smoking the big hookah, but just DAYS after spotting the rabbit digging its hole in the garden, I KID YOU NOT, I spied some women at the pool smoking a HOOKAH!! They frequently grilled their dinner at the pool and spent hours out there letting the kids play while they cooked, visited, and smoked. I kept thinking how exotic and very cool they seemed and how this just wasn’t something that we would have seen everyday back at the neighborhood pool. I REALLY wanted to go up and see if they had any advice to offer me, you know, because I was sort of having an identity crisis similar to Alice’s and I pictured them asking me very wisely, “Who are YOU?” like the caterpillar. I didn’t do that though because I thought I’d feel a little like one of the nerds from Dazed and Confused asking about their cool bong. As the summer progressed, I decided whatever advice they may give me may not be sound because the kids pointed out one of the moms one day driving the kids through the parking lot to the pool on TOP of the car. My kids pointed out how unsafe that was (SMART KIDS!) and so next time they ask me what those ladies are smoking in that thing I may just say, “DRUGS!! Drugs cause people to make poor decisions like riding on TOP of a car instead of IN it!” Don’t judge me for this either. It was totally cool, but when I have to think of an explanation for reckless behavior then NOTHING is off-limits. My kids are young and impressionable, and I think it’ll work like that egg in the frying pan commercial did for my generation.

Chapter 6. Pig and Pepper

Chapter 6 in Alice’s story is where they introduce The Cheshire Cat – intelligent, mischievous, funny and perplexing with a large smug grin. That’s my son! He’s the living breathing version of the character. So far this summer, he has accidentally spray painted a wall, clogged up a couple of sinks and toilets, attempted to ram passersby with his remote control cars and jet, and frequently hides from us though is easily found by the glow of his Cars 2 light up tennis shoes and night vision goggles. He’s even got the grin!

Chapter 7. A Mad Tea Party

Yep! Been there done THAT this summer! I met some old high school friends in New Orleans this summer for a “Fancy Dinner Party.” I did not know some of them well in high school, but have most certainly determined them to be MAD in a lovely, hilarious, endearing way. Ladies and gents donned fabulous threads and feathered boas while sporting fancy Ivy League sounding names. I was Donatella – as in VERSACE – and cursed every poor lad that thought my name was derived from The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. We sipped cocktails and even mingled with the commoners strolling down Esplanade Avenue. I proved myself to be young again by parading through the French Quarter until FOUR in the MORNING with a tiara on my head. WOOHOO!! I can still party with the best of them, and I consider that a jewel in my crown for Miss um… Erica?!?!

Chapter 8. The Queen’s Croquet Ground

We’ve tried all SORTS of games this summer! The kids have loved playing cards and bocce ball back at the house with their dad and from what I hear, chaos has erupted that would rival the scene in the Disney movie. Remember my sweet girl’s Summer Art Camp where she made The Queen Bee, Tetris pieces, board games, and playing cards? Well I can tell you that many times my little Queen Bee has called for the head of her brother, the Cheshire Cat, but he usually managed to escape with a handful of Monopoly money and a mischievous grin.

There were some characters from the story Alice in Wonderland that were eliminated from the movie versions so I won’t carry on with the chapter references anymore. I’m really more familiar with the movie versions now anyway thanks to the kids (even the creepy Tim Burton version with Johhny Depp) Here’s where I think I’ve ended up though now that the chapter, Summertime 2011, has come to a close: I’ve grown in some ways, shrunk in others (YAY!), experienced the highs and lows that come with any new journey and adventure, and I’ve managed to keep my head above water and be excited about what the future holds. I’ve been put through some trials and judged too, but as Alice says in the story everyone grows and that just can’t be helped. I guess I’m not really very quiet about it either so people can come after me like the guards that set off after Alice, but you know what? I can follow suit and call them out as mere cards that can easily be played or change hands with whatever way the wind blows. I’ll bet you that I can take the cards that I’ve been dealt and produce a winning hand at some point too. I just won’t hold up a house made out of them.

The End.

Second To Nun & Flying Monday, Aug 22 2011 


Yep! It’s Monday. Not just ANY Monday though; today is the first full week back to school for the kids and back to work for me. I’ve really missed the routine. Summertime’s great, but as the days go by and the heat really starts to kick in all of us tend to get a little grumpy. The kids and I were no exception. I slacked on the Post A Day blogging challenge because I started to feel a little bit like one of those crazed writers you picture with their hair all a mess and hygiene falling to the way side. No matter what time I tried to sit down and write, the kids needed me for something. Usually, what was needed was attention and throwing out the, “Please give Mama a little private time to write her blog” began to morph into, “The next person that comes into my room to whine had better be able to show me blood or they’re punished and I’m not kidding!” Not so good, huh? That probably wouldn’t win me parent of the year or anything, but more importantly I wasn’t getting any points from the little ones that matter. I kept thinking to myself that I’d made a PLAN. That PLAN was to blog every day and get some writing under my belt so that once the school year started, I could perhaps venture into the professional writing world and start bringing in some peanuts to feed the circus animals because the part-time gig at the family beauty dynasty simply isn’t going to cut it. Maybe I’d even get a book deal and impress the kids with their own laptops and a car that didn’t have tape holding up the little black rubbery thingy by the door. See, I made the MISTAKE of checking out some other bloggers one day and realized that they have professional experience in the publishing world with literary backgrounds from top-notch universities and have their resumes posted on their blogs for free-lance writing jobs. My PLAN was to show that while I don’t have literary degrees under my belt, I can churn out daily posts with the best of them from my ancient little laptop at my make-up table. Disappointment and guilt kicked in as the days between blog posts stretched sometimes into a week. It’s crazy to sit back and realize that you’ve actually let yourself feel guilty about not sticking to a PLAN that you devised yourself and has no dire consequences if it fails, isn’t it? Actually, the crazy part is feeling guilty while the SANE part is recognizing it I guess. I think part of my problem is still that I want EVERYTHING I do to be great. I mean, I don’t actually think that’s the case, because one look around this little apartment will tell you that I simply can’t keep up with the artistic creative geniuses that rule the roost here with all of their “projects” and the scraps of paper and snippets of pipe cleaners lying around are evidence enough that I’m either terribly inept at instilling discipline into the little artists or sorely lacking the energy and motivation necessary to follow them around with a waste receptacle. Heh heh! I’m actually really good at NOT doing either though. There ya go!

I think I’m just going to change up my plan. Just a tweak. Just a tad. Saying it “out loud” on the world wide web may help motivate me to see through to my goals, but the big change will be reminding myself not to get burdened by the guilt of not accomplishing something the way it was PLANNED. I’m in charge now. ME. MOI. And I’m not going to replace the negative criticism that I used to get from others with self doubts and flogging on my own. Self flogging for lack of blogging?? That’s bananas!! I guess when you get used to hearing things a certain way, your brain steps in to perpetuate a habit. I’m VOWING to break the HABIT! If I’m not going to break it, since the standards I’ve set for myself have typically been higher than what others require, then I’m at least going to wear that habit high and proud on my head and use to catch some wind and fly like that nun. Yeah, Baby! That’s going to be me now – The Flying Nun! I’m still going to pursue the writing. It’s something I enjoy. I’m also reinstating the fitness goal to get back to the gym at least three times per week and make it a habit though my motivational songs would make the ladies of the cloth blush. That’s OK. The Flying Nun is second to none and cut from a different cloth – one that takes Eminem at high volumes to keep from throwing in the towel. I just don’t think that’s going to send anyone to Hell either especially since I’m not teaching it to my kids or playing it in church. Organ music just wouldn’t get me moving, you know?

I think I could totally pull this off! Replace the crown and catch some air with this cool new headgear?

Novice Nun & Novice Writer? TOTALLY the same.

Bravo to ME & MY Reality! Wednesday, Aug 10 2011 


It’s been basically 2 1/2 months since I have watched cable TV. If you had told me that I’d have gone this long without my Bravo, E! or reality TV fix, I’d have called you all Pretty Little Liars. For most of the last decade, both daytime and evening television have revolved around kid shows with the only time available to watch my own shows being late-night. Even that only came in the last few years when we discovered the wonders of the DVR. As the kids grew, I graduated from Baby Einstein to Playhouse Disney and Noggin. PBS Kids taught me how to craft, like I really cared, but none of that was anything I’d ever sit and watch on my own. Actually, maybe I lie… I’ve TOTALLY caught myself doing something in a room with the TV on for background noise and looking up to see what kind of trouble Zack & Cody get themselves into next. Pathetic! This isn’t quite “The Suite Life” but it is sweet and the apartment transition has been eased by the antics of those Disney twins since the kids see & relate to how similar apartment living can be to hotel living without a big yard separating us from neighboring houses. It’s so social here! (Zero room service here though and I’m pretty sure the kids have tried. Bummer!)

My plan was to save up a little money once I got back to work to buy another digital box, the time killing boob tube recorder, and watch my guilty pleasures again once the kids went to bed. Maybe I don’t really need that box though! Back at the house, that’s what I did nearly EVERY SINGLE NIGHT; I caught up on my shows and would watch all the reality I could handle after everyone was asleep because sometimes the sensationalized reality made my own look better. Shocker!!! Most of the reality on TV while entertaining is pretty negative too. We still watch it though, don’t we, like flies on the wall and talk about the “characters” and the big hot messes that embarrass themselves on TV while preparing their tell-it-all books and spin-off shows. The Real Housewives are tons of fun to watch and have fabulous lives and friends yet inevitably drama ensues when friends call each other Moose and Hefer and pull each others hair out. (God!!! If you didn’t see THAT one you missed out!) Here’s my deal now though: My reality is pretty freaking entertaining ifIdosaysomyself!! At the end of each day now, I make an effort to replay my own day’s episodes of calm, hilarity, drama, TLC & occasional hair pulling violence from the kids. I like to sit on the balcony, listen to the crickets & frogs, and take down notes from the day. I’ve learned some lessons this summer:

  • I’m a Survivor dammit. I’ll outwit, outplay and outlast. I already knew that, but I remember thinking on May 21st – the day the wackjobs said world was “supposed” to end – that nothing is ever really a catastrophic as it seems. I had somehow thought my precious little world would end if I didn’t follow the big house/white picket fence/2.2 kids & a dog route that I had somehow believed provided security in every way. Life goes on and I’d rather be in control of my own strategy in this game. My “perfect” world didn’t end the week after that when I left either just because other people had predicted it would. Wackjobs… all of ’em!
  • My sisters and I have more fun together than the Kardashians and have never gotten arrested for ANYTHING. EVER. YET.
  • I’ll never be a Top Chef, but I can manage to cook with less supplies & gadgets than before. Good knives are important!! I wish, “Please pack your knives and leave” had been running through my head when I packed up and left.
  • I can still cook my own outstanding version of The Soup but I’m glad Joel McHale doesn’t have any clips from THAT meltdown.
  • There are enough inherited OCD traits contained in these 1100 square feet for episodes of Flipping Out every day yet my sense of humor is back so it’s usually easier to handle in spite of the close quarters.
  • I don’t need Million Dollar Decorators to make my kids happy with their rooms. We’ve conquered THAT issue with tape, thumbtacks, posters & candy wrappers. I would’ve been embarrassed for my friends to think I had such poor taste or discipline to have decorated my HOUSE that way. Who CARES!! My kids think their rooms are fancy and EXACTLY how they want them to be.
  • This little apartment looks like a giant art closet, and as my friend reminded me the other day, Tim Gunn would be proud of the way we Make It Work now!

YES! That is a Skittles wrapper taped to the wall because he likes Skittles. That switchplate is also made from a video game cover. Who needs a decorator??

  • I’ve laid low on the social scene I guess partly because the kids are out of school but also because I don’t need or want any drama. I’m stepping back when the drama ensues because I’m just at a point where I don’t have the energy to work very hard at maintaining friendships. I have FABULOUS friends but I’m learning to set better boundaries in order to keep them. Besides, our fairly solitary summer has let me feel a little more independent from EVERYONE without worrying who’s gonna check me, Boo?
  • Crabs are super delicious! I guess that’s not really a deep philosophical observation, but I love Deadliest Catch and I’ve eaten more this summer from our waters than any other. Totally shallow – both me AND the crabs!
  • America’s most DEFINITELY Got Talent! I LOVE the crazies on the stage, I REALLY do, but the three of us have taken some time to actually WRITE DOWN both the serious and crazy talents we recognize in each other. We entertain each other as well, and some day my little ones are going to venture out into the big wide world and share their talents that have been developed and nurtured. I do my best (though admittedly fail at times) to prepare them for the world stage. I can TOTALLY see an E! True Hollywood Story in the future.
  • MY reality CAN be better than scripted reality! Andy Cohen can keep me up to date once a week with the 411 from what I’ve missed on the tube while I pay attention to what goes on around ME. I don’t want to miss things as they happen LIVE especially with my kiddos. Sometimes it’s fun to sit back and just Watch What Happens LIVE.
  • We’re more a Modern Family than we ever were before. We can all be funny and wacky and dramatic and neurotic. We’re not going to be like Leave It To Beaver though; we never were and it’s exhausting trying to be something that you just simply aren’t. I guess the Christmas card will look a little different, but surely it won’t mean any less. My life is often like a soap opera, but I think I can manage to keep the drama in perspective. After all, my name is ERICA and I can do it for All My Children. 🙂

The Mouths Of Babes Friday, Aug 5 2011 


Mom

What

Guess what!

What

I’ll tell you what! Some people are allergic to things. Did you know that?

Yes

How’d you know that?

I just did

You know what else?

What

I think I’m allergic to lots of things.

No you’re not.

I think I’m allergic to vegetables and pasta and rice and meat and fish and shrimp.

No you’re not.

How do you know that??

Because you’ve eaten those things before.

No I haven’t! I don’t like them.

Well, you did before you can remember and before you decided not to like them. And just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean you’re allergic.

I never ate shrimp!!

Yes you did. I gave you popcorn shrimp from the deli at WalMart to keep you quiet every time I grocery shopped. You just don’t like shrimp OR being quiet anymore.

You GAVE me SHRIMP?!?!!!! I could’ve DIED!!!

But you didn’t.

But I could’ve!

But you DIDN’T!!!

You didn’t know that when you gave it to me though!!!

Well…. But…

I can’t even believe you DID that.

Well, I gave you peanuts too and you liked them and you’re not allergic to them either. HA!

But I’m allergic to peanut butter though.

No you’re NOT!! Just because you somehow love PEANUTS but hate peanut butter & jelly sandwiches does NOT mean you are ALLERGIC to that. You just don’t LIKE it. TOTALLY different.

No it’s not.

Yes it is. I’m not arguing with you.

Mom

What

Guess what

What

I”ll tell you what. I need to find out what I’m allergic to.

Fine. When we go to WalMart, I’ll get some foods that lots of people are allergic to and you can taste each one so we can see what happens. Maybe you’ll find something new to start eating that you like.

Are you KIDDING me?!?! I saw that show where the guy’s tongue got real big because he ate cinnamon.

Then we can put cinnamon on our list.

MOM!!!! NO!!! I mean if I eat something then my tongue could get fat and you’d have to take me to the hospital.

Then how do you want to find all this out?

You said Aunt E had an allergy test. I could do that.

FINE!!! We’ll go there and they can stick a bunch of needles in you to see how you react if that’s what you want.

HUH?!?! Why do they use NEEDLES??

So they can get under the skin and see how your skin reacts. YOU are getting a little under MY skin now.

Huh? I don’t have any NEEDLES!! Who invented needles anyway?

Probably Mr. Needle and named it after himself because he was VEIN. I’m so funny!

Why?

Nevermind.

Mom

What

What does REACT mean?

It means if they poke you and if a bump comes up like a mosquito bite that itches, then BINGO! You get to be allergic to something and I’ll be very happy for you.

I’m not doing that.

Then quit talking about it.

Why?

Because you’re giving me a headache.

Are you allergic to something you think??

NO!!!

Can you be allergic to people?

I’m starting to think so.

Maybe I’m allergic to you even though I like you like when people eat a good dessert that has allergic stuff on it. How far is the hospital?

1 mile. It’s where you were born. I’ll just bring you back.

Nevermind.

(35 minutes later)

MOM!

What

Gueth Wha (Sticking out tongue to show me something)

What

Thumthing’s comin oudda my tongue (shows me the veins beneath his tongue)

You’re fine. Those are veins.

FANGS!!??!?!!!

NO, NOT FANGS!!!! You ARE starting to suck the life out of me though. Your tongue is not swollen. You just ate the same fruit you eat every day of your life. You are NOT allergic to anything INCLUDING me. Those are VEINS. They are all over your body. We all have them. Now, let me write my blog.

Fine. What are you writing about?

You being allergic to things

I’m not allergic to anything. Why do you think I’m allergic to something???

(To be continued…)

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