Learner’s Permit (Subtitled: Performance Art at the DMV)

A big motivator in my life is to not have anything happen to my children. I encourage them to stay safe – and be safe – by having frantic, one-sided conversations while they look on wide-eyed.  These conversations always end with me sobbing, “Stay alive!  I will come for you! I will find you!!!  JUST STAY ALIVE!”  Of course I make sure to keep the “stay alive” scenarios in these conversations deliberately vague because I don’t want to scare anyone, all sobbing aside.

So you can just imagine the level of anxiety I’ve been experiencing since Sissy got her learner’s permit.  Because, as we all know, many of the vague “stay alive” scenarios I refer to above involve cars in some way.  Just let your imagination roam free here – as mine does – on what these scenarios could be.  Make sure the scenarios are awful, truly awful, then welcome to my world. 

Sissy successfully completed the newfangled online driving course, then had to go to the DMV and wait in the uncomfortable plastic seats to fill out some forms and take an in-person test.  Finally, her name was called, her picture was taken and she and I were standing at the payment window.

But before they let you escape with your learner’s permit, you have to tell them if you’d like to donate your organs should something…er…happen.  Sissy was all in on that, but a 15 year old can’t actually make that decision for herself according to the great state of Colorado.  So the woman staffing the payment window turned to me and asked me for my permission to donate Sissy’s organs.

We should pause now so I can tell you about Sissy’s big motivator: to not have me cry in public.  And if I must cry in public, she prefers I not be standing next to, or affiliated with her in any visible way.

So you see where this is all going, right? This woman has front-and-centered my biggest fear.  My biggest fear begets Sissy’s biggest fear.  We’re at the head of an entire room filled with people who have nothing else to do but sit in uncomfortable plastic seats waiting for the show to start. 

 -Cue tears-

Sissy, who has a sixth sense about things that might make me cry in public while she’s standing next to me, straightens up when the woman says the stuff about organs and whips her head around to look at me.  Her mouth is an ‘O’ of despair and horror since she knows what she’ll  find.  My eyes have overflowed and tears are rolling down my face.  Luckily my back is to the room so I’m not total Performance Art at the DMV.

The payment window woman is completely appalled  a little taken-aback by my tears and tries to “help.”  She leans close and says in an authoritative voice, “You would rather I ask this question now instead of having to ask it should something happen.”  Ok, WHAT?  What are you even saying?!?  STOP TALKING!! 

But those words are stuck in my head since they can’t make it past the lump in my throat.

Sissy, desperate to make this mother-turned-freakshow stop at all costs, furiously hisses at me to knock it off because I’m a total embarrassment.  Then she leans forward and gently touches the payment window woman’s hand where it’s resting on the counter and whispers, “I don’t think that’s helping.”

Right!  Not helping!  SO. NOT. HELPING!!  We hold a moment of silence while I fight the lump like ya do.  I sleeve-wipe my tears and when my throat has opened enough for words to come out, I give my gruesome permission.  We go on our less-than-merry way with Sissy maintaining at least 20 feet of distance from me and going out a separate door.  She does NOT get to drive home.  If at all.  Ever again.

Well, that was a good time.

Happy Pi Day!

Today is Pi Day! March 14th. Three one four. 3.14 – Pi! Get it!? Guck guck guck.

Pi Day didn’t exist back in my youth. It was only discovered about 3 or 4 years ago and schools across the land have been using it ever since as an excuse to eat pie during math class.

And because I’m that kind of amazingly organized mom, on the day BEFORE Pi Day, I made two pies – one for each kid’s math class. (And by “made” I mean “bought at WalMart’s bakery department” but you have to give me snaps for the plan ahead approach!) Snap, snap, snap.

Anyway, when I announced the good news to Sonny last night, his response was, “But Mom, I signed up to bring icecream.”

Me: “Icecream?! No! It’s Pi Day, not icecream day!!” I like a clever math joke, but I’m not down with kids using it as a reason to eat favorite desserts during the first class of the day. “No. No icecream. You’re bringing pie.”

Him: “Ok. But do you even KNOW what Pi is?”

Me: “Of course! It’s 3.149367523…” I completely made up everything after the 3.14 but it sounded impressive. It’s always important to sound impressive when discussing math.

Him: “No, I mean do you know WHAT it’s used for?”

Me: “Sure.”

Him: “Ok…what then?”

Me: “You act like you don’t know so I’m not sure I should tell you. If you haven’t covered it in class yet, I may confuse you. Maybe I shouldn’t tell you after all.”

Him: “Mooom!”

Me: “Ok, you asked for it so don’t blame me if you don’t understand it.”

Still me: See note above about sounding impressive when discussing math. “It’s the quadrangular way of calculating the unilateral arm of an isosceles triangle.”

Him: “What?! No way. You think icecream on Pi Day doesn’t make sense. But that?! That made NO sense.”

Me: “Alright Pi Man, let’s hear it. What IS Pi?”

At that point he gave me an explanation about circle circumference and radius calculations blah, blah, blah.  I won’t repeat it here because I don’t think it was right.  Also?  It made Pi sound completely irrational. Ha, ha. See what I did there?! Irrational!??! Talk about a clever math joke!  Snap, snap, snap.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Before the season is completely done, I gotta get something off my chest.

The “I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus” song? I don’t dig it.  I may have mentioned this before, but I think it bears repeating.

If you’re at the bell-still-rings-for-you age, which is the age I was when I first heard it, it just makes you think Mommy’s an A Number One floozy.  You come away from the whole tune feeling really bad for yourself, Dad AND for Mrs. Claus.

The visual of Mom and Santa necking under the mistletoe is wrong. Way wrong.  No six-year-old needs that picture in their head – or to be left feeling like Santa could come between their parents’ marriage during the most wonderful time of the year.  Further, it would NOT have been a laugh if Daddy had seen that nonsense last night at the obviously wine-fueled Christmas party.  It would have been horrifying, so thank heavens Dad didn’t see that nonsense last night at the obviously wine-fueled Christmas party.  Poor Dad.

And a quick show of hands for Team Mrs. Claus here!?  We all know she doesn’t spend a whole year fattening up Santa (eat, Papa, eat!) just so some OTHER gal can get her Christmas-party mitts on him as soon as he’s out of her sight.  Added to that, one year I found gifts from Mrs. Claus under the tree. They were the most wonderful Barbie clothes I saw at the farmers market earlier in the year.  The package was signed “Mrs. Claus.”  Oh yeah, you better believe I’m team Mrs. Claus.  And if you weren’t before, you are now too, aren’t you?!

And if you’re listening to this song as a grown-up and you’re in on the whole nudge nudge, wink wink “Why yes, Virginia there IS a Santa Claus” shtick?  You’re gasping at the brazen mistletoe balls of this song.  Outing the whole secret in front of everyone and their brother.  Even though it’s not sung outright in so many words, we know what’s what.  Also, it speaks to some seriously weird fetish(es) that don’t belong anywhere near Holly Jolly Christmas. Blaaach!

So no. No more of this song, please and thank you.   Get your laughs some other way.

Hard Candy Christ

Well hello and where ya been?! No matter. No one’s interested in your excuses anyhow. The important thing is that you’ve made it back just in time for an enjoyable seasonal anecdote.

But first, let me explain that when my parents come for a visit from Virginia, we usually play lots of board games. During one of their more recent visits, we played Like-Wise which is a board game where you have to answer category questions while trying to match other people’s answers and thus gain points.

My mom answered two-and-quite-possibly-three of six category questions with “Dolly Parton.” I have never heard my mother before (or since) make mention of Dolly Parton. I didn’t even know she knew who Dolly Parton was. No one matched her Dolly Parton answers so she didn’t get any points. But my kids came away from that game with the distinct impression that Grandma is a huge Dolly Parton fan.

So imagine their joy and surprise when we got in the car yesterday after the first mass of Advent to find that the carol playing on the radio was by Grandma’s fave – Dolly Parton!

I’ll give you one guess as to what Dolly was singing. That’s right!  Her all time, best-selling holiday song, “Hard Candy Christ.” I even got a picture of it on the dashboard display.

Grandma’s religious too, so any reference to Christ is right up her alley.

Sissy’s take on the whole thing? “Oh my GOSH! Grandma would LOVE this song!”

And really, who doesn’t love hearing a bosom-y gal sing about Jesus as a red and white striped, peppermint flavored baby sitting in a feed trough. Feeling hungry? Break off an arm of the Beloved Savior and enjoy! Num, num, num.

Hard Candy Christ. Yep, what a Christmas classic. Thank you, Dolly! Really puts you in the spirit of the season.  You too, Mom?!

Five Years Old

My blog is now FIVE YEARS OLD! Can you believe I’ve been offering witty insights to the blogosphere for that long?! I’ve been offering witty insights live and in person for far longer, but that’s not the point.

You know who else is closing in on five? Our darling dog, TeddyBear. He’s the cutest little feller though somewhere along the way ohhhhh about year four point five we learned that Teddy couldn’t close his mouth all the way.

Sissy suffered from the same issue and so her braces were taking FOREVER to straighten her teeth out. Until the appointment where Toofuses Doc discovered that the top and bottom edges of her canine teeth were slamming into eachother so he filed ‘em down and voila! Straight albiet needley teeth. Wish I’d taken an emery board to that nonsense sooner.

Anyway, Teddy suffers from the same issue where his top and bottom canines prevent his mouth from closing all the way. As a result, his front teeth are a bit…lacking…in their alignment and we don’t love him enough to get him braces.  So now he has a bad case of what Sissy’s bestie calls “little kitty teeth” and Hubby calls, “teeth that look like tombstones in an Irish graveyard” because they’re tinier than normal and all slanted this way and that.

But in honor of how much we love him and to celebrate a bit early his fifth birthday, we each created a poem for him portraying him as another creature. No, this is NOT weird in anyway and yes, this IS what you do for dogs you don’t love enough to get braces, thanks for asking. Also?  He would never wear his retainers afterwards, so there’s that argument too.

Without further ado, here are our original Odes to Teddy-as-another-creature poems in no particular order.

Teddy is a little lamb
He plays the fiddle in a little lamb band
The ‘and.

Teddy is a little kitty
His front teeth are itty, bitty
And his breath is really sh**ty
But he’s so cute and so pretty.

Teddy is a little bear
He hurt his paw flying through mid-air
What is the lesson there?
Always beware the l’il bear dare.

Teddy is a little man
He plays the fiddle in a little man band
The ‘and.

Stranger Danger

Periodically, I think about Stranger Danger.  Mostly at inopportune times, when suddenly it occurs to me I haven’t discussed Stranger Danger enough with my kids.

And while most kids may be startled and thrown off by this approach, my kids have learned to roll with it – as one would when one has such a charming and fun (not to mention pretty!) mother.

Case in point?  This latest example of The Stranger Danger Talk.

Hubby and I were at the airport earlier this week getting ready to ship the kids back east by themselves to visit my parents (thanks, Mom & Dad!).

As we were waiting at the gate, I took a look at their tickets and noticed that while they were both in the same row, one was seated by the window and one was on the aisle.  Which left a whole seat open in between them for…duhn, duhn, duhn…STRANGER DANGER!

So we discussed all the ways they could avoid being separated by a stranger intent on sitting in between them on the plane.  But because I can’t leave well enough alone and now Stranger Danger is in my head, I asked them both quietly what they would do if a stranger did sit between them despite their best efforts and tried to touch my babies-on-a-plane-by-themselves inappropriately.

Sissy, not at her first Stranger Danger rodeo, immediately launches in to how she – if the stranger is a guy – will punch him in the throat and groin while shouting “Stranger Danger!”

Sonny, watching Sissy go through her Stranger Danger motions chimes in with, “I call what she’s doing the Pinocchio Approach.”  At which point he mimics a wooden boy whose puppeteer is pulling on his strings such that his right arm and right leg are moving simultaneously in a punching/kicking motion.  Up and out.  Up and out.  Up and out.

Ok, good.  They know some stuff.  The Pinocchio Approach is nice touch.

So I pose my next question, “But what if it’s a woman?  Stranger Dangers aren’t always men.”

To which Sissy replies with, “then you do THIS!” And she demonstrates with more hand motions – two fists coming straight at my chest.

I back away and say, “REALLY?!  Did you learn that somewhere??”

She says, “No, but I know when I get hit with a softball in the boob it really hurts, so I figured that would work.”

Hmmm.  That’s a great point.  I’ve gotten a chestful of soccer ball myself and what she says is true.

But since we haven’t heard nearly enough from Sonny on the topic, I turn to him and ask him what he would do during Stranger Danger.

He said that no matter who it was, he’d punch them in the stomach and then shout, “I’m not going to like your social media posts!”

And thus concludes another successful conversation on the topic of Stranger Danger.  Stranger Danger 2017.

Thanks for stopping by.  Where have you been these last few months?  I missed you.

Don’t be such a…Stranger next time.  Heh, heh, heh.

Brace Yourself

Sonny just got his braces off. While that was happening in the orthodontist’s office, I ran to the grocery store to get his post-braces “gift” comprised of all the candy he couldn’t eat (and claimed he didn’t eat) while he had braces.

Side note: not sure if he actually stayed away from things like Starburst and Jolly Ranchers for the duration since there were a lot of weird scenarios involving popped brackets and broken wires which started with the unbelievable, “I was just standing on the playground when allofasudden my bracket popped off.” Yeah, right.

The grocery store was a bit limited on containers to put the candy in so I opted for a slender lime green plastic pitcher. Something akin to a big beer mug from the Löwenbräu tent at Octoberfest.  Except lime green.  And plastic.

When I presented the whole thing to Sonny in the car after he got his shiny new toofuses, he exclaimed, “Wow! This container looks like one of those Huge A$$ Beers from New Orleans!  Remember those, Mom?!”

No. Nope.  Can’t say as I do, and the more important question is how do YOU?!  And did you just say the word a$$ right out here in the open?!  “Whattcha talkin’ about, Buddy?”

Him: “In New Orleans, on Bourbon Street, all of the unprofessional bars were selling them. Don’t you remember?  They all had signs advertising Huge A$$ Beers.  We didn’t see those beers or signs at any of the professional ones.”

Hmmm…professional and unprofessional bars? Ok, I’ll bite.  “Wow.  I’m not sure what exactly an unprofessional bar is….?  And also, you have to stop saying A$$.”

Him: “You know, a professional bar is one where they have seats and you can go and sit down and maybe even order some food. The unprofessional ones were selling the Huge A$$ Beers and there was no place to sit and you just had to take your beer and go.  They were pretty ratchet, those places.”

What did I just say about saying A$$?! And it sounds like someone spied with their little eye lots of unprofessional…bars on Bourbon Street and didn’t say boo about it at the time.  “Ah, yes.  Those are called storefronts or something.  Where all you can buy are huge…beers and then leave.  I do remember those.  They were pretty nasty.”

And there you have it – how to graciously receive your post-braces gift after you’ve recently been to New Orleans.

Lost _ _ _ and Found

As I was driving Sonny to school this morning, there was a contest on the radio where people were calling in to share the weirdest place they had ever found something they lost.

I asked Sonny if he had ever found something in a weird place.  He hadn’t. Shocking, I know. But he in turn asked me the same question.

So I told him. I told him.  I told him the straight up, no holds barred tale of the Catholic School Girl who desperately wanted her ears pierced.  But her mother was worried that she couldn’t become a nun if she had pierced ears, so didn’t allow her to.

This is a completely true story wherein our plucky young heroine eventually convinced her mother she wasn’t destined for the nunnery and ended up getting her ears pierced in 8th grade.  But this isn’t that story, so we continue on…

Back to that part where our female protagonist desperately wanted pierced ears but being in 6th grade, with a morally opposed mother, could only get ahold of those round gold MAGNETIC earrings (which looked eerily like hearing aid batteries…except gold…and magnetic) from Fashion Bug.

She wore them to Catholic school one day and discovered after the first hour of class, that while the back of the right one was still stuck to her ear, the front had entirely sheared off and was nowhere to be found.

Rats! RATS!!! RAAAAAAAAATSSSSS!!!! <– This is all Catholic School Girls are allowed to say when earrings go missing – magnetic or otherwise.

Confession time. She is I.  I am she, and when I got home at the end of the day and changed out of my school uniform, I found the earring IN MY BELLYBUTTON!!!  Just sitting right THERE.  In my BELLYBUTTON!

Top THAT story! Weirdest place to find something lost – my BELLYBUTTON, I say!  And no, I didn’t call in to the radio. I only shared it with Sonny.  Well, and now you. 

Also? Due to this lucky happenstance and my fervent prayers to St. Anthony which were clearly answered because he had nothing more important to find that day, I now consider myself the original inventor of the belly button earring.  Alright, alright.  It was the one point oh version of the belly button earring, and they’ve come a long way since then.  But then again, who hasn’t?!

Bourbon Street

I just flew in from New Orleans, and boy, are my arms tired! Guck, guck, guck; That never gets old.

Hubby and I took the kids there for spring break. We stayed on Bourbon Street, because that’s the kind of parents we are.  (We also had the Voodoo Daiquiri from Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shoppe.  The Voodoo Daiquiri’s other name is Purple Drank for some vague reason having to do with Everclear.  That’s ALSO the kind of parents we are.)

Anywho…as soon as we dropped off the luggage in our hotel room, we were out ON Bourbon Street, introducing the kids to the magic.

Now let’s pause here and recall how the weirdest stuff happens to me all the time – and how Sissy has been apprenticing with me in recent years so I can teach her how it goes. Yay, Mini Me!  Also, Hubby and Sonny always walk a minimum two blocks ahead of us for some reason.  Go figure.

Given that back story, is it any wonder that within our first sixty seconds on Bourbon Street, a woman on the complete other side of the street begins to beeline for us, holding her beer-in-a-plastic-cup out in front of her like she’s in some sort of relay race.

As she stumbles across the cobblestones towards us, Sissy and I are mesmerized into a standstill, watching her come closer.

Just when she reaches us, she trips on some uneven pavement and her sandaled foot SPLASHES into one of those charming brown Bourbon Street puddles. Even though we’re on the sidewalk awaiting her arrival, the splash is so massive that the nasty water goes ALL OVER Sissy’s flip-flopped feet and ankles. GAACK!

The puddle this woman stepped in apparently contained an even deeper puddle, and we’re all horrified, the strange woman included, heavy on the strange, to see her foot sink to mid-shin. GAAAACK!!!

As she tries to right herself, she GRABS MY ARM, HOLDS ME TO HER and flounders into an even deeper puddle than the first. Because I’m now attached to this woman as an unwilling participant in her three-legged beer run, I get the secret sauce this time around.  Up to my knees. GAAAAAAAACK!!!!

Eventually she’s back up on solid land, whereupon she lets go of me and stumbles on, laughing with her friends, not having spilled a drop of beer. Sissy and I are left clutching each other and making retching noises as brown water drips down our legs and everyone on Bourbon Street gives us a wide berth like WE’RE the ones causing the problem.  Per usual, Hubby and Sonny are nowhere to be found.

By the time I’m finally able to convince Sissy that the water most likely does not contain human feces (although she’s had a Hep C shot, so she’s good either way), we’ve caught up with Sonny and Hubby and relate the horrifying goings-on.  I’m PISSED that Hubby left me with nothing but a teenage girl as a barrier to the lunacy so I give him what for.

At which point he turns to Sissy and says, “Look. I’ve seen this movie before.  So it’s best to walk with a purpose.  If you hang back with her – here he hitches his thumb my way – she’s gonna draw you into her vortex.  Every time.”

Oh, so somehow this is MY fault. In which case: You’re welcome, Mini Me.

I taught that girl everything she knows.

The Luck O’ The Irish

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day 2017, let me tell you about our own encounter with…The Luck O’ the Irish.

We recently took a trip to Ireland. On Aer Lingus.  And sat behind literal Irish twins who were about a year old.  We had those four seats in the middle of the plane, with Sonny and Sissy in the middle of the middle and an extra gap between them caused by the doubled up arm rests.

The reason this gap is important will be revealed in a sec.  Hang on to yer everlovin’ hats!

About an hour into the flight, the twins are peeking back at Sissy and Sonny.  So cute.  Playing peek-a-boo.  Rosy cheeked and dimpled.  Golden curls.  When ALLOFASUDDEN!!!  Vomit comes shooting out of the extra wide gap in the seat in front of us.

Gaah!  Gaaaaaaah!!!!  GAAAAAAAH!!!!

It was like that Saturday Night Live skit where someone has a hose in their sleeve and holds it strategically beside their mouth. Stuff was coming out of one of those little Irish pieholes in such quantities it was not humanly possible.

And Sissy and Sonny, leaning in to the adorable game of peek a boo (one for me! one for you!!), get totally sprayed. Until it was ALL over them AND their backpacks (filled with snacks, games and even winter coats) which they had dutifully placed underneath the seats in front of them like good Aer Lingus citizens.

I almost started vomiting my own self it was so awful – and that was only hour one, ONE, of a SEVEN HOUR flight. Guh.  Guh.

B’gosh and begorrah, my friends! That is what’s known as the Luck O’ the Irish.  Except they spelled ‘luck’ wrong.  It should’ve been spelled p-u-k-e instead.  The Puke O’ The Irish.

Yep. That’s about right.


P.S. Happy Birthday, Mom! We called twice.  You must’ve either been on the computer…or in bed.  Hope it was a great day.  Love you.