My Roller Coaster Life

Finding the humor & joy in daily life…

This One’s for You, TP!

BlogI feel a little guilty that I haven’t written for several months, a fact the Facebook keeps reminding me of almost weekly. It was easy to ignore it the first 50 times, but the last 100 or so have been slowly piling on the guilt. I would say that it is almost like Facebook is nagging me, but I refuse to personify social media, no matter how many times Facebook acts like it knows me by “intuitively” placing ads on my feed based on my recent browsing history. Honestly, it’s just downright creepy.

As much as I appreciate the faithful finger-pointing by my social media, it was not enough to get my creative blogging juices flowing again. I would occasionally run across something that was “blog-worthy”, but then the inspiration fizzled out as quickly as it came. Busyness & fatigue – my ever-constant companions – were not helping the matter, either.

So what finally got me off my proverbial pot & got me going on writing again?

I had the opportunity (& truly, the honor) of celebrating a longtime friend’s birthday & retirement after 37 years serving in the National Guard. What an awesome weekend! Filled with a baseball game, a party, and friends we haven’t seen in an age… general merriment and mayhem abounded. And, to top it all off, it was Bearded-Hat Night at the baseball game! Nothing screams elegance and style more than a piece of grey fur buttoned onto a stocking cap. Always looking to elevate our appearance, we proudly wore our caps for most of the evening (although I admit I wasn’t brave enough to keep the fur on).

We spent the two weeks prior trying to come up with a fun way to commemorate the events. What would set the right tone? Express our heartfelt appreciation and yet maintain a sense of dignity fitting for these momentous occasions? After much heated discussion, we settled on kazoos and full medieval regalia, complete with a crown, cape, & chalice. My hubs was able to dust off his announcer voice and deliver a heartfelt speech.

Our friend, ever the good sport, wore his crown & cape & drank out of his chalice for the rest of the evening. The game was slow, but conversation was not. Selfies, photobombs, popcorn-throwing, and dancing during breaks so we could maybe be caught on camera was all part of the fun. Truly a great night out! Absolutely worth the $30 we spent on parking & the $10 we spent on two bottles of water.

The next evening was the retirement party and we met with even more friends. It confirmed what I already suspected. My daughter has a far more interesting life than we do. Work, kids, and homeschooling…that’s all that we have to share with people and, because we choose to spare them the nitty-gritty details of our daily humdrum (hey, we got a great deal on Almond Milk at Fred Meyers the other day!), our contribution to any conversation would last all of 5 minutes if it weren’t for the exploits of our kids. Thankfully, our daughter’s two trips out of the country & being close to graduation makes our lives sound much more exciting, if only by association. Shout-out to the daughter for being cooler than her parents and thus not forcing us to resort to sharing about our physical ailments in order to keep the conversation going.

What stood out most of all was reading through the program from our friend’s retirement ceremony. I have heard him share things about his job over the years, but it barely scratched the surface of all that he has done…medals & honors he was awarded with…how many lives he has impacted. I’ve only ever known him in his civilian life – a fun-loving, loyal friend who always tells great stories and remembers to ask about the small details of our lives. It was a very eye-opening to read about his “other life”. All I can say is thank you, TP, for your service.

It is because of him that I finally got myself in gear & started writing this post. His simple question asking about why I haven’t written in a while achieved what FB tried but could not – motivation! So I (& you, hopefully) can thank him for that, too.

My Occasional Moments of Folly

folly

It was past 8 o’clock tonight & the kids were settling down. My husband & I went to relax in the bedroom & spend a few minutes sharing about our days at work. A typical evening.

I will admit that I love our bed. It is a California queen captain’s bed, is it big & pretty tall. High enough off of the ground that I have to jump up into bed.

Yes, I could get a step stool or a set of little stairs, but why? Unless I am sick, having to jump up into my bed is loads of fun & it’s brings me a little joy at the end of my day.

There’s lots of different ways to jump up onto the bed. I can jump up and land gracefully on one knee (okay, I don’t if it actually graceful, but in my mind it is). I can do a giant belly flop. Jump backwards & land in a sitting position on the edge of the bed. A side jump. The list goes on…

And if I am really tired & feeling goofy, I will make up a little “narrative” to go along with the jump. Which brings me back to tonight. I was in one of those goofy moods & was pretending I was about to do the vault jump in the Olympics.

The hubs, ever my faithful cheerleader, started to “announce” my vault to the studio audience. I raised my right hand to signal to the judges I was ready. I tried to focus, but the pressure got to me and I started to laugh. I stepped back to regain my composure.

After a moment, realizing that my composure was unlikely to be fully “regained”, I step into position and signaled to the judges again. I take a deep breath and…

Hubs flung himself over my side of the bed and shouted, “No, don’t do it!! You’re not ready & you are going to hurt yourself.”

Unfazed by my turncoat hubs, I stated with steely resolve, “Move out of my way, Benedict! I must complete what I have started.”

And thus, with a running start, I leapt high in the air (okay, “high” may be pushing the envelope here) and barely landed on the bed. Perfect landing foiled by Hubs & his naysaying ways.

And there you have it, folks! Just a little example of the kinds of things that amuse us here at the ol’ homestead.

Perhaps you are thinking that the hubs was being a bit overcautious. While I would like to agree with you, my prior history of injury-inducing foolish choices forces me to acknowledge that he may have a point.

Truly, I would love to say that I have outgrown those times in which impulse (or obstinacy) outweighs common sense, but moments like tonight indicate that my capabilities for such potential errors in judgment are alive and well.

I don’t recall that I was like this as a child? Maybe my sisters will weigh in on that one.

I do remember several less-than-brilliant moments in my adulthood…

Like the time I decided to play Marco Polo in small pool with large cement steps underwater. I still have a scar and an actual dent in my shin from that bit of foolishness.

Or the time, while on vacation, I was jumping in a bouncy house with my then two year-old daughter and I had a moment of true clarity – an epiphany, really: If I could just jump high enough, I could curl up my body & do a somersault in the air. Not that I had ever done one before. Needless to say, I still haven’t done one. I spent the rest of the vacation nursing a stiff neck & shoulder.

There was the time when I was getting ready to leave the church parking lot. I shifted the gear into reverse and then I saw that the trunk was open. I got out of the car to shut the trunk. Unfortunately, my car started rolling backwards because I forgot to shift back into park. Horrified, envisioning the bazillions of dollars of damage if the car rolled into the church, I dived into the open car door and managed put my hands on the brake and stop the car. Disaster averted. My shins still bear the scars of being dragged several feet across gravel.

And then there was the granddaddy of all of my foolish choices. Tapping into the self-delusion that I am stronger than I actually am, I agreed to help move a 25-gallon fish tank. That had a wrought iron frame. With all of the rocks in it. And it was half-full of water. The moment I tried lifting it and I felt my shoulder pull out ever so slightly, I knew that I done damage. Fast-forward a decade later, I am still paying the price for that one. My chiropractor thanks me for putting her children through college.

Sadly, there are many more examples I could share.

Apparently, my children have seen enough of these examples that they will scream from across the room, telling me not to do something, if they feel that I am about to engage in another moment of folly. Like standing on the counter to reach something. Or trying to move a dresser by myself. Small things like that.

There’s nothing quite like being lectured by your children. Especially when they are right. Or are they just uptight? Hmmm…

 

Warning: Random Thoughts & Unanswered Questions

Random Thoughts

Continue to read at your own peril.

Okay, not really.

As the summer is winding down, I have been reflecting on this last year and my life in general.

  1. After a several-year “hiatus”, resting solely on the excuse of being too busy, I finally started reading books for fun again. I have my daughter and Netflix to thank for this. So, a shout-out to my daughter for insisting I read her latest favorite book and a nod to Netflix for removing some of my favorite programming (Dr. Who, anyone?!) and not adding anything that I want to watch.

    My husband also started reading again, but, being an optimist where Netflix is concerned, splits his time between reading and browsing the Netflix catalog on the off chance that something view-worthy will pop out. So far, nothing. Personally, I think he just likes being in charge of the remote.

  2. With my oldest child moving out in the next month, my middle child about to start shaving, and my youngest finally surpassing me in height, it occurred to me that I really only have a few years left before all of my children are adults. The bulk of the “hands-on” parenting is behind me. That is heavy stuff indeed!

    I have started to share more about the early days of our married life with our children. The little details, you know? There are so many things I haven’t thought of in years! Who were those strange people of yesteryear?!! And where are they now?

    Well, I found out last week.

    My handsome hubs planned a lovely getaway for our anniversary (23 years!) One visit to Cabela’s, one Mrs. Pacman game, a midnight fire alarm, eight glitter tattoos, two meals in a divey diner, and a tour of the capitol later, I can safely say that those strange people of yesteryear have been here all along. A little dusty from being in storage, but nonetheless…

    Odd to find that the same random stuff that amused us over twenty years ago still amuses us today.

  3. After working as hard as I possibly can doing as much as I possibly can for the last decade, I have finally hit a point where I recognize that I can no longer keep up. I physically cannot push myself any harder. This is a huge realization for me. I honestly never thought I would be at this point.

    I have spent much of my adult life feeling that there is no problem that could not be overcome by more effort, more energy, more patience, more ideas, etc. When things got tough, I would dig deeper, try harder. And as things started spiraling out of my control the last few years, I began to ask for help and hand off things to other people to do (without me micromanaging it!!). I learned to let things that weren’t that important go and I whittled down my focus to the “necessary” and “life-giving to my family” categories. I applauded my efforts in not wasting time on frivolous stuff.

    Guess what? There was still too much for me to do, too much for me to deal with. In fact, there was even MORE THAN THERE WAS BEFORE I cut out things that did not fall into the aforementioned categories. How is that possible?

    During this last year, I have come face to face with the fact that the best that I can give is not enough. In fact, it’s not even close. The list of the many missteps and epic failures grows faster than even I can comprehend these days.

    Where is God in all this, you might ask? Where is my faith? Where is prayer? It’s always been there…always.

    In Proverbs 3:5-6, God tells us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

    And, for the most part, that is how I have tried to live my life. It has certainly not always been easy. I have not always trusted like I should have and I have made many poor choices along the way. But, overall, yes…I have tried to live life trusting in and submitting to what I felt like the Lord was calling me to do.

    So why am I at this point? I have gone around and around with God on this. Trust and Submit. Okay, working on that.

    But the Lord brought a different verse to mind. Psalm 55:22, “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.”

    “Trusting” and “submitting” are very different than “casting your cares.”

    The Hebrew root word of “cast” is “shalak”, meaning to throw out, down, or away (literally or figuratively); to cast, hurl, pluck, or throw.

    The Lord has shown me that although I trust and I submit to His will, I don’t usually cast away my cares. In fact, I hold onto them. If they are especially emotional or painful cares, I tuck them away into the deep recesses of my heart to avoid dealing with them, thus giving the impression that I no longer have those “burdens”. But that is not the same as getting rid of them. They are hidden away. And probably festering.

    So, this is as far as I have gotten. I’m not sure how it all is going to relate to me reaching the limit of my abilities. I would love to wrap this thought up into a neat little package with a victory at the end, but I am not there yet. I’m still working on the casting.

    Or hurling. Much more visually descriptive, don’t you think? And even more so if you apply a modern definition of “hurling” – throwing up. Wouldn’t it just be easier if I could just throw up all of my cares & be done with them?

And on that random thought, dear reader, I will bid you good night…

The List

list

Well, here we are, halfway through the summer. About this time every year, panic sets in as numerous, nagging thoughts start swirling around in my brain. Usually about the things I wanted to get done before fall.

I always start the summer off making a long list of all that I am going to do…the great summer purge/clean, planning my son’s homeschool curriculum for the next school year, prepping for classes that I teach in the fall, getting caught up at work, yada yada yada. To be honest, these things are on my to-do list all year long. I just get a renewed energy & focus at the beginning of summer, largely because my hubs has summers off from work.

The beginning of each summer always holds the promise of copious amounts of time available for me to get caught up on life. But then reality hits about mid-July. My visions of children happily cleaning out their rooms and washing windows early in the morning while I go to work so we can spend afternoons frolicking in the sun has yet to be realized.

Maybe I ought to have set my sights lower.

I shared my frustration about my still-pristine to-do list with my husband (also a yearly occurrence…gotta keep up the tradition!). Normally, his response is best described as “supportive sympathy”. Not this year. He decided to take a completely different approach which, quite frankly, was the kick in the pants I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself. It gave me a whole different perspective.

His response was (and I quote), “I refuse to measure a successful summer by how much we check off our to-do list. I will measure my summer by the quality time I spend with you & the kids. If we look back on this summer and remember the things we did together as a family, then it has been a success.”

Reality check.

I didn’t receive this response in the most gracious of manners, though. I just kept running through the to-do list, pointing out that our entire lives will fall apart (and possible the whole world will stop spinning on its axis) if we don’t accomplish the list. I can’t remember how the conversation ended, but I know that I was quite frustrated with my husband’s lackadaisical attitude.

But, over the last couple of weeks, I have come to realize that (gasp!) my husband was right. That the person who needed the attitude adjustment was actually me.

Our “together” time during the year tends to be squished into the day, after work, school, activities, etc. The summertime is the only time in which we don’t have those pressures…we can stay up later, sleep in later, and generally tackle each day in a more relaxed way. Why spoil it with an unrealistic task list, always looking toward the future “rest” we will have if only we could accomplish everything beforehand?

It’s not that we shouldn’t try to do the things on the list. It’s more about ditching the joy-robbing “militant approach” I normally take.

It’s about the legacy we leave behind for our children. Do I really want them to have their strongest memory of me to be that I was always organized? That I always had so much to do? That this is what life is all about…a long list of never-ending chores?

No, I really don’t. I want them to look back and remember a mother who had her priorities straight: The Lord, then family, then everything else.

A mom who loved the Lord with all her heart, soul, and mind.

A mom who walked by faith, and fixed her eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. (see 2 Cor 4:18)

A mom who worked hard, but loved even harder.

A mom took the time to pour love and life into her family’s lives.

A mom who put relationships ahead of chores and work.

A mom who approached life with joy and not defeat.

A mom who “ran her race with perseverance.” (see Hebrews 12;1)

 

Then I will have accomplished something far greater than any item on my to-do list.

So, a shout-out to the hubs for speaking his timely bit of wisdom!

Hair today, gone tomorrow…

Hair today

 

A life lesson I should have learned long ago…

Perhaps you already know this lesson. If not, let me share my tragic story so that maybe you will be able avoid the pitfalls of allowing impulsiveness to take precedence over good sense.

The story started a few weeks ago. A friend of mine gave me a haircut. My hair is thick, medium-length, and naturally curly. It was getting too long and heavy and so I had her cut off a couple of inches and trim up the layers. I was trying to recreate a hairstyle I had a several years ago, but I couldn’t find a picture online to show the look I was going for.

You may be thinking that the reason I can’t find a several years-old hairstyle on the internet is because it is out-of-date. And you are probably correct in your assumption. But since everything comes back in style, I prefer to think that I am at the forefront of cutting-edge hairstyles instead of sporting an outdated do. It’s all a matter of perspective, my friends.

In any case, she did a great job. But at some point over the last few days, I decided that I wanted it to be layered more, so I could reduce the “bulkiness”. And this is where I started to tread in dangerous waters.

Historically, when I get to the point where I feel like I need to do something different to my hair, bad things can happen. Usually as a result of my own impatience and, eventually, desperation. Something triggers in my brain that causes me lose all reason and then panic sets in while the words “Must…Get…My…Hair…Cut…” runs through my head in an unceasing loop.

Now, in an ideal situation, I will take myself down to my regular beauty shop and get my haircut. Then all is calm again.

But occasionally get on a really frugal kick. When I am feeling like I don’t want to spend money, I have been known to cut my own hair. Sometimes this causes only minor damage and sometimes it causes a major catastrophe.

One time, I made a huge mistake and I had to go to my regular hairstylist to mitigate the damage. I tried to explain to my hairstylist that, despite all wisdom & better judgment, I mutilated my own hair and I needed him to fix it. This took some time because my hairstylist speaks very little English. When he finally understood that I was the one who caused such destruction, he giggled loudly and then quickly put his hand over his mouth. He spent the entire haircut smirking (like he was ready to bust out laughing) and then when he caught me looking at him, he would swiftly put on his “serious” face.

After that little lesson in humiliation, I vowed to never take the scissors to my hair again (except for my bangs, of course). Which brings me to today…

I got on a frugal kick. I didn’t want to go back to my friend because I didn’t want her to think I disliked the haircut. Although, in retrospect, I don’t think she would have thought that. But, again, I am already at that “desperate” point with my hair…I had left all sound thinking by the side of the road a few miles back. Panic had set in.

So, when my co-worker offered me a coupon for an inexpensive haircut at a new place that just opened up nearby, I jumped on it immediately. In fact, I don’t even think I let her finish her sentence.

“Jen, do you wa…”

“Yes, good woman! I cannot bear another moment in this follicly-challenged state. Farewell and wish me Godspeed!”

I merrily trot off to the salon, feeling quite assured that my hair situation was well under control. I explained to the very young stylist that all I wanted was a little less poofiness on the sides.

Alas, this is where the story had a vicious and evil plot twist…

I think my first clue that something dreadfully bad was about to happen was when the stylist turned to another hairstylist and asked for suggestions on how to cut my hair.

This did raise a red flag for me, but I quickly dismissed it because what I was asking for was simple and even if it wasn’t perfect, my curly hair hides a lot of flaws. And, to be honest, I really hate to hurt people’s feelings. It has to be a much bigger red flag before I would speak up in such a situation. Compassionate? Or wimpy? I’ll leave that for you to sort out.

The requests for input continued throughout the entire haircut. I watched in horror as she lopped off a sizable chunk out of my top layers. For anyone with curly hair, this is a major no-no unless you are planning on having short curls resting close to your scalp. Kind of like Little Orphan Annie. But after that first disastrous cut is made, there really is no going back. I could only hope that the “coach” would provide more guidance. And talk a lot less.

This is where the ironic part comes in. And my second clue that impending disaster loomed ahead.

The coach was quite a talker. She did continue to offer suggestions to my hairstylist, but only in between her stories. She shared that she started cutting hair at age 13 and that she learned most of her skills from her grandmother, who was also a hairstylist. Always feeling obligated to be a polite and active listener, I commented, “How fun! It must have been nice to have someone in the family be able to give you all the latest styles when you were growing up!”

The coach vehemently shook her head and said, “Oh, no! My grandmother once gave me a bowl haircut. With a mullet. AND it was permed.” I laughed sympathetically.

Fast-forward twenty minutes. My haircut was done. I wasn’t even quite sure what to say about it. It was still damp, so I was hoping it would look better when I got home and fixed it myself.

Third clue…as my hairstylist was checking me out, she said, “You know, we guarantee every haircut. If you get home and decide you don’t like it, you can come back in and we will fix it for free.”

I got home and really looked at my hair. I’m not kidding…what I am about to say is the honest truth. I have witnesses. And pictures.

It was a curly bowl cut with a mullet.

Fast-forward three hours later. Much weeping and despair occurred during the interim.

I returned home from my regular, tried-and-true hair salon. There was nothing to do but chop most of my hair off. My hairstylist spent the majority of the haircut alternating between a dropped jaw and shaking her head in disbelief.

There is a reason I don’t wear my hair short. I now look like a cross between my mother and a young boy. My mother is a beautiful woman, so no problem there. But my mother as a boy? Not so much.

Anyhoo, my only consolation in this whole ordeal is that it made a mildly entertaining blog post.

It did provide my husband an opportunity to be gallant (and he LOVES those opportunities). “Honey, it doesn’t matter how you look. I think you are beautiful always!”

Yes, I married one of the good guys! 🙂

Going a little postal…

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My name is Jen & I am a sporadic blogger. It has been 46 days since my last post.

I am not sure why there has been such a long gap between posts. It’s almost ironic, really. I worked to build up my followers and then, all of a sudden, I have nothing to say. At least, nothing to say online, anyway. (I had to put in that little disclaimer because my husband raised his eyebrow at me “having nothing to say”) The inspiration well has run dry.

But as I sit here, wading through piles of paper at home, I realize I have quite a bit to say about this. Why, in 2016, do I have more paper & junk mail than I did ten years ago?! Seriously! In today’s increasingly eco-conscious & technological world, shouldn’t my snail mail have decreased?

AND…because everybody & their dog wants my email, too, I have more spam than humans should be allowed. If it weren’t for the semi-effective junkmail filters, I would have even more than that.

But I am getting off track here…this is about the paper mail.

4 out of 5 pieces of mail I receive are advertisements for AARP (not quite there yet, thank you very much) or mobility devices (again, that time has not arrived), credit card offers, life insurance offers, store ads, cable tv, special invitations to exclusive events where I have no obligation to buy anything, etc.

And the remaining 1 out of 5 pieces of mail is usually a bill or a reminder to go visit my dentist.

On the rare occasion, I might receive an interesting piece of mail, like a card or an invite to someone’s wedding. Receiving one of these is an exciting moment for me. J I’m always happy to celebrate someone’s big day!

I have put my name on lists to not receive junk mail. Didn’t work.

There was a long season in which I called the number on every piece of junk mail I received and asked to be removed from their mailing list. I was sure that with a little bit of effort this would work. I was wrong.

I have used their postage-paid envelopes to mail requests to be removed from future mailings, but to no avail.

I have even written “Return to Sender” on the envelopes and sent them back. No success with that, either.

So that leads me to this moment…me sitting here in the middle of two months-worth of mail. It’s like these businesses are sending me “busy work!” I prefer to recycle things that can be recycled and shred things that must be shredded, so every offer is opened and goes into one of those two piles. My “To Be Shredded” bin is like something out of a horror movie. I’ve offered to pay my eleven year-old son to take care of it, but even he with the lofty “dream of buying every Wii game on the planet Earth” will not touch it with a ten-foot pole.

Of course, you are thinking the obvious: why doesn’t she just deal with the mail as she gets it? Believe me, every time I let it get to this point I renew my vow to do better. And yet, here I am again. Aaaahhh…the best laid plans, right?

There is no moral of this story.

No pearl of wisdom to glean.

Just a depiction of sad, wretched victim of mass marketing suffering from her procrastinating tendencies.

 

 

And the beat goes on…

Singing

I was walking into the grocery store the other day and a gentleman sitting outside smoking started serenading me with the chorus from “The Gambler.” Great song, but I’m not really sure why he felt inspired to sing that particular song to me?? Is there some sort of message here that I am not getting?

In general, I am a huge fan of randomly singing in public places. I’ve been known to do it myself.

Often.

In fact, if you ever walk past me in the grocery store you will likely hear me singing to myself. Sometimes, if I have nothing better to do, I like to walk past people and sing without moving my lips. Maybe it’s a bit childish of me, but I find it amusing to see them pause for a moment and briefly glance around, looking for the source of the music.

My one-woman mission to make the life a neverending musical doesn’t just stop at the grocery store. I like to bring it into the workplace, too. My coworkers & clients have gotten used to hearing me sing throughout the day. Whether they enjoy it or just tolerate it, I have no idea. Maybe they have just learned to tune me out. But since I haven’t heard any complaints, I take that as encouragement to keep on singing.

I occasionally hear them sing, too. I don’t know if it is because I have “inspired” them to sing, but since no one else is taking credit for it, I’ll just believe I had a little something to do with it.

Singing has always been a way of life for me. I grew up in a household that enjoyed singing and so it never seemed like an odd thing to do. My dad would come home from work and randomly sing a variety of songs, ranging from Allan Sherman to a song from the Mikado. Songs like the ones you would hear on the old television show “Hee-Haw”, or Little Jimmy Dickens “May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose,”, or “The Battle of New Orleans.” He even tossed in a few “original” creations.

Needless to say, my music repertoire includes music from many genres spanning many decades. I’ve passed on some these oldtime “gems” to my children, with the hopes that one day my future grandchildren will come over to visit and I will hear them sing a line or two from Roy Clark’s “Where are You Tonight?” or belt out the high notes of “Oh, Danny Boy.”

There is a song running through my head at all times. I just always hope that it is a song that I know more than two lines of. Or that it is not a song that will be stuck in my head for days. That’s a real nightmare! Once upon a time, I was in a community theater production of Bye Bye Birdie & it took over a month to get one of those songs out of my head.

Back in my college days (the second attempt or, as I like to call it, “Part 2”), I did an entire presentation on why I like singing throughout the day and why everyone else should, too. I even had a PowerPoint to go along with it. My young classmates all stared at me with dropped jaws, perhaps because it was a business class. (btw, my professor loved it – I got an A+).

The whole randomly singing in public started several years ago. I’m not sure why. It might have been to annoy my daughter during her teenage years. Or to shock my husband because I was bored.

In any case, I enjoy it immensely and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. My goal is to get everyone else to join me.

My husband is not buying into it.

However, I am happy to say my children have.

True story from just a few minutes ago…

My son, who has been having trouble running Minecraft on his laptop the last few weeks, finally figured out the issue & fixed it.

He struck a John Travolta pose & yelled, “That’s awesome! I feel a song coming on…”

And the beat goes on….

A Little Comic Relief

bowling

Today, I bowled.

If you are one of the few people on this earth that have been bowling with me, you know firsthand that my bowling prowess leaves a lot to be desired.

I have never been a good bowler. I’ve never even been a substandard bowler. In fact, if it were possible to earn negative points in bowling, I could be the Queen of Negative Bowling. Or at least the Princess.

The only reason I ever go bowling is because I enjoy having friends. And some of my friends like to bowl, so I try to make the occasional effort.

Going bowling for me is like an exercise in humiliation. I am going to be embarrassed. Exactly how embarrassed I will be is the only question here.  I console myself with knowing that my pathetic showing makes all the 5-year old children in the next lane feel better about themselves. They can revel in the fact that they beat a grownup. By a lot. I consider it a public service.

Today was no exception.

I’ve completely given up on proper form. Well, maybe given up is not quite accurate since I never had proper form to begin with. Not that I didn’t try once upon a time.

My childhood days of bowling with the extended family consisted of several adults and older cousins “lovingly” coaching me. Usually all at once. One of the perks of being the youngest is that you are never at a loss for “coaches.”

All the coaching in the world could not have changed one simple fact: the bowling balls that my fingers fit into always seemed too heavy for me. Not that I have gargantuan fingers or anything. I like to think it was some sort of conspiracy perpetuated on me by my family. The alternative explanation would be that I have puny arm muscles. And, of course, that isn’t true. *ahem*

These days, I generally bowl with two hands. When people give me questioning looks, I always blame it on an old “bowling injury.”

My one saving grace is that the kids still find it fun to have the bumpers up when they bowl. At least that’s what my son says publicly after I secretly slip him a ten in the parking lot. It’s nice to know that he can still be bribed.

Having the bumpers up doubles, or even triples, my score. I never reach the triple digits or anything close to that, but sometimes I get over 50.

I try to prepare my friends by letting them know ahead of time that I am not a great bowler. This sort of disclaimer allows me to hold onto a small bit of dignity because at least I am not clueless about my bowling skills. And it lets me off the hook so I don’t actually have to try to be good. My friends usually try to make me feel better by saying that they are not great bowlers either. And then they proceed to bowl several strikes and spares. They even have that cool little leg kick going on. (does that back-kick really help? or is it just for looks? I don’t have any idea.)

At this point, I usually resign myself to being the comic relief. It’s a role that I am not unfamiliar with. It’s generally the status quo for me in all things remotely related to athleticism. Just ask my husband about the way I throw a baseball. All the windows in the tri-county area are safe because he banned me forever from throwing within 100 yards of any standing building or permanent structure.

Don’t mistake this as feeling sorry for myself. I don’t at all. My life is so hectic, that I just truly appreciate any time that I can spend with friends. I have fun no matter what I am doing.

Plus, I enjoy finding humor in the goofy day-to-day stuff, even if it is me that’s being the “goofy” one.

My Husband’s Child

husband's child

 

I have been a parent for over 20 years now. I can safely say that I have more than a few humbling experiences under my belt. Or maybe I would call them horrifying? Cringe-worthy? You know, those times when you wonder where you went wrong and everything you ever taught your child ceases to exist for one looooooong, earth-shattering, epic moment?

The stories I could tell you would curl your toes.

Referencing my ever-so-wise brother-in-law, these are character-building opportunities. My character, not my children’s. (Which leads me to the question: when my character has been built up enough, do these opportunities stop?)

Honestly, when I became a parent, I had no idea such a plethora of these moments lay in store for me. Not even an inkling.

Be forewarned…embarrassing stories ahead.

They started early on. I recall a moment when I had taken my daughter to the library. I desperately needed to use the restroom and so, as she was only two, I brought her into the stall with me and had her turn around. When I was all finished, I turned to flush the toilet. As we were in the midst of seriously potty-training my daughter, talking about toileting was a common and acceptable topic in our home. My daughter looked into the toilet before I flushed and said, loudly & with admiration, “Oh, Mama, you had a really big poopoo!”

The unusually crowded restroom went silent and then exploded with laughter. Thankfully, I was able to hang out until it was dusk and there was no chance of people recognizing me as I left the stall.

Then there was the time during the end-of-the-year preschool program when my 4-year old daughter decided that she should be the show’s opening, middle, and closing act. The teachers tried to maintain control, but I eventually had to go onstage, pick up my daughter, and escort her through the audience and out the door. At times like these, I just look straight ahead, plaster a smile on my face, and try to look confident when inwardly I want to run out of the room and curl up into a fetal position.

 

*sigh*

 

Just to spread the love, I will not make ALL of the stories about my daughter. When your children reach age 20, I can happily say these moments occur much less frequently.

My youngest son has had his fair share, too. And he seems like such a sweet kid…*

Unlike my daughter, he refuses to recognize my “Mom Look”. You know…that special look that moms use in public which is code for “Danger Ahead! Turn Around Immediately and Don’t Look Back!” Every mom has one.

My mother’s was perhaps the most intimidating and terrifying look known to man. The Mother-of-All-Looks. She thought it was subtle, but every time she laid one on us, the earth shifted a little and tsunamis started halfway across the world. No joke.

My look is more subtle than my mothers. The smile never leaves my face. It just involves staring intently with my stepford-mom smile until the child starts squirming uncomfortably. I may raise my eyebrows if the situation warrants it.

My most recent bout of “experiences” (there were multiple in the course of a few hours), and the reason why I started on this blogpost to begin with, happened just a few days ago. My son & I were at a day-long educational program at the capitol. Among other things, students were able to participate in a mock election, a scavenger hunt, and learn about the legislative process. Great program. During the course of the day, I can see my son getting more & more antsy. He was clearly loving the program, but I think he was ready for less “listening” and more “active involvement.” He’s a participation kind of guy.

His wish was fulfilled during the last two hours of the program in which the students got to be part of a mock legislature, It was truly an awesome experience…the students wrote bills, passed them through committees, presented them before the mock legislature, created & voted on amendments, etc.

My dear son was in his element. He happily “moved,” “seconded,” and “objected” to virtually every bill and amendment presented. No bill or amendment was too lowly for him to comment on.

 

Loudly.

 

With a passion and zeal only seen a few times throughout all history.

 

And did I mention loudly?

 

In the back of the room, I brought tears of laughter to my friends as I whispered, “Oh, my goodness, I don’t know him,” while shrinking down into my seat. It didn’t help that one of them stood up and pointed down at me as she mouthed to everyone in the room, “That is her child!” Every enthusiastic cry from my son (occurring 2-3 times a minutes) was like another arrow into to my “anti-embarrassment deflector,” eventually rendering it completely inoperable.

I eventually came to my senses and decided that I had a duty as a parent to provide a little “guidance” to my son. I stood at the side of the room and waited until my son looked over at me. I then whipped out my “Mom Look,” complete with the “Eyebrow Raise.”

My son immediately turned on his “What? I-Have-No-Idea-What-You-Are-Trying-to-Communicate-to-Me Look.” The kryptonite of the “Mom Look.” Arghhhh!

AND he was sitting in the middle of the row, so I had no way of calling him to me without drawing attention to ourselves.

Fine. I stalked back to my seat and I resigned myself to trying to survive the next hour. Many self-pitying thoughts crossed my mind during this time. Mostly it was blaming the genetic legacy from his father**.

I made it out of there alive (mostly). I was drenched with sweat from the effort to keep my composure. My character ought to be built up pretty high at this point.

My dear son informed me he had the best day ever & he wants to do it again next year***.

 

I might be recovered by then.

 

Clarifications:

*My son really is a very sweet kid with a kind heart. I may have exaggerated a tiny bit for editorial purposes.

**In no way do these genes reflect poorly on my in-laws. They do not have the same lethal DNA combination that my husband has, only seen once or twice in a hundred generations.

***My friend, who has gone to this program for several years, said that the mock legislature had the highest participation by far that she had ever seen. She credits the “leadership” of my son. I suppose she is right. When one kid is shouting at the top of his lungs at every possible opening, it sort of breaks the ice for everyone else. J

The Dentist: A Cautionary Tale

 

dentist
Earlier this week I went for my biannual checkup at the dentist. There are two places in this world which are almost universally dreaded (or at least intensely disliked) and the dentist’s office is one of them.

The other is the Department of Licensing. I like to refer to it as “The Great Equalizer” because no matter who you are…no matter what echelon of society you belong to…no matter if you are going into labor in the waiting room but just have to get your license before you have your baby…everyone has to wait at the Department of Licensing. It’s an equal playing field.

But I digress…

It has been a year since I last had x-rays, so I needed to get all of them done before the cleaning. After trying to climb over the computer to reach the hook to hang my coat up, I was led back to the small room where they do the panoramic x-ray.

She had me put my chin on the “chin rest” and then, for reasons unbeknownst to me, she raised it up. When I was finally standing on my tiptoes, she stopped and asked me if my neck was stretched enough.  ???? This is a new question for me. I informed her that yes, my neck was quite stretched.  She left the room and took the x-ray which, much to my relief, lasted just a few seconds. It only took a few minutes for the feeling to return to my toes.

We went back to the room with the ill-placed coat hook and I sat down in the chair. The hygienist proceeded to do the rest of the x-rays–the kind where you have a plastic thing shoved in your mouth at awkward angles and then you have to bite on it. This is perhaps one of the most dreaded events at the dental office for me.

As I have mentioned in a previous blog post, I am on the petite side. Ten-year olds are taller than me. It would stand to reason that perhaps I have a petite-sized mouth, too. This concept has somehow eluded every hygienist I’ve had since I became an adult.

After spending several painful moments trying to adjust the adult-sized plastic x-ray thingie in my mouth, my hygienist told me to bite down. As if I haven’t already been tortured enough.

Taking a deep breath, I bit down and stifled a scream as the plastic dug into the roof of my mouth. The hygienist wasn’t happy with the positioning and so we had to start all over again. Five minutes and several x-rays later, the first round of torture was done. Hygienist: 1, Me: 0.

 

Round 2…

After getting my teeth scraped and my gums poked with sharp metal objects, I was pleasantly surprised when, after five minutes, the hygienist stopped and told me that she was done because there was very little build-up. Woohoo! I had gained some ground here. Hygienist: 1, Me: 1.

 

Round 3…

The dentist came in, looked at the x-rays for a while. I could feel my gain slipping away. “It looks like we will have to redo this crown,” he informed me. “No worries, though…we have all your insurance to use up!” I am not sure why I detected a note of glee in dentist’s voice when he delivered that last statement.

My dentist then asked me what I was doing this morning. Taken in by his friendly, casual tone, I assumed that he was just making small talk. Which is why I unwittingly said, “Oh…nothing much.”

“Oh, great!” my dentist replied.

And before I could utter a protest, I was ushered over to the “other side” of the office where they do actual dental work. It smelled like fear on this side.

Realizing that it is too late to lodge a protest, I waited in the chair and tried to accept my fate. I attempted to ignore the weeping and wailing surrounding me, but was only marginally successful. End of Round 3. Dentist: 2, Hygienist: 1, Me: -3.

An hour and 3 novocain shots later, I exited the dentist’s office, confident that my mouth would stay sufficiently numbed for the next 72 hours. I decided to swing by home to redo my makeup before I went to work. The dental assistant, concerned that I might be falling asleep, kindly squirted me in the face a few times. She didn’t take into account that I spent a lengthy 5 minutes on my makeup that morning.

I arrived at work just in time for lunch. I tried to spare everyone the odd sight of my face half frozen by avoiding actual face-to-face contact.

My benevolence was thwarted, however, by one of my crafty co-workers. Trying to look innocent, she offered me a bag of potato chips and encouraged me to guess the new flavor. “Why, don’t mind if I do!” I said.

Not suspecting foul play, I gamely grabbed a potato chip and put it in my mouth. One crunchy bite and then pieces of potato chip fell out of my mouth onto the floor. My frozen lips had failed me.

Twenty minutes later, after the laughter died down, my co-workers moved on to mocking bigger and better things.

I managed to finish the day with no further occurrences of humiliation and I learned some valuable lessons…

  • The hygienist’s main job is to cause you so much pain that actual dental work done will seem like a walk in the park
  • Never trust a dentist who gets a faraway look in his eyes when he talks about your insurance
  • The dental assistant is secretly in cahoots with Maybelline
  • Beware of coworkers bearing gifts

 

And thus concludes the tale of The Dentist.

Let all who read these words be warned.

 

 

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