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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Looking Back and Feeling Blessed

The house is quiet today.  (Far too quiet, but that's another story for another day.) So today, I decided it would be good to begin spring cleaning and purge rooms of collected junk.  It's a long overdue task.  It's one I really enjoy but have just put off for far too long.  Today was the day to begin.

I began in my room, methodically going through closets and drawers.  I made three piles.  Give away, throw away and possible consignments.  I organized photos by moving them to a new home in the guest room.  And then I began going through all of the mementos I had stashed on a table in our sitting room.

And that's when I found it my little treasure....

In the days leading up to, and including when we got married, I used to keep a small spiral notebook with notes, reminders and keepsakes.  I found it once a long time ago.  When I found it that time I found a little note Stan left for me back in the days when he was in the army.  He was leaving  for a training exercise days before my birthday.  The morning he was due to leave he got up extra early, went to Dillon's (our local grocery store when we lived in Manhattan, Kansas), picked up a bag of my favorite candy and left it along with this note on our kitchen table ~


Enjoy your sugar coated, frosted, tree shaped sugar filled sugar candy.

Hope your teeth don't fall out by the time I get back!

I love you,


This note is still in my notebook.  Like it did the day I got it, the next time I found it and this time the the note put the biggest smile on my face.  But the note I found this time as I paged through my book made me pause and give thanks on this important day of thanks and praise.

It's a rough draft of a Thank You note to my Uncle Ed.  As I've told you all before, my uncle was the officiant at our wedding and this note was our thank you to him for the enormous role he played in our wedding.

Dear Uncle Ed,

This picture is just a small token of our appreciate for the large part you played in our wedding.  Your sermon had all the elements that make any relationship special; humor, warmth, sensitivity, understanding all mixed together with a touch of discipline.  The most important part of your sermon, to us, was that you conveyed to us how important humor is in our lives.  You helped us see that all of the little problems in life can be overcome with humor so we can focus on more important things.  Your wise words meant the world to us, and we will always keep them close to our hearts.  Luckily, we captured them on videotape so if we forget them, we can refer back.  You were immortalized not only on tape but in everyone's hearts and minds as well.  We have had so many people tell us how special it was for us to be able to have you perform our ceremony for us.  We are, indeed, lucky.

Thank you again for your wonderful words of wisdom.  And thank you for being such an inspiration for us.

Love Always,
Jennifer and Stan

My little notebook is a true treasure to me.  I'm so glad I found it today.  Looking back and feeling blessed in my house that is far too quiet.

Oh, for the love of my children...

Thursday, March 28, 2013

I Saw Myself

Have you ever imagined yourself superimposed onto someone else?  I have.  I did just yesterday.  It wasn't a pretty sight.

As some of you may know, I can have a fairly quick temper, and I can also be a bit hot-headed.  I've mellowed a bit in my old age, but there are times where I'm quick to simmer and slow to cool down.  I used to be terrible.  Stan could tell you stories of the old me...the one whose Irish temper shone through and not in a good way.  Claire will tell you I am the scary one.  I'm the one with the temper.

Yesterday, though, I think I may have had an eye opening experience.  I was driving on Broad St., like I do nearly every day.  I was making my way to Trader Joe's for a quick hit of my favorite grocery story. I knew my right turn into the shopping center was coming up after the next stop light so I passed through the light, turned on my blinker, checked my mirrors, looked over my shoulder and made sure the coast was clear.  I could get over safely.  I had plenty of room between me and the Infiniti SUV on my right rear.  I could see the Infinity symbol on the front of her car and, and I could see all of her front tires.  There was plenty of space for me to get over.  Evidently the woman driving the Infiniti didn't think there was enough room or maybe she didn't want a mini-van in front of her.  She must have had a reason she didn't want me in front of her.  I'm not sure what it was, but her reason made her go completely crazy.  I saw her gesticulating wildly in my rear-view mirror.  Her hair was flying around her face as she screamed at me from the driver's seat of her car.  She wasn't close enough for me to see the color of her face but I can only imagine in was a mottled purple. I can further imagine spittle was flying out of her mouth as she raged and screamed at me.  I turned on my blinker and got into the far right lane to turn into the shopping center.  As I merged into the other lane Infinity lady came flying by me and she was still screaming.  She looked ugly and more than a bit delusional.  I don't want to look like that.  It was eye opening to see what I imagine I could sometimes look like.  It was not at all what I want to show the world.  I don't want to look like that.

So I'm not going to.  I'm done looking like that.  And I started today.  Today was my first tennis match of the season.  I admit I can get frustrated and a little bitchy when I'm losing.  Today I didn't.  Today I remained upbeat and positive.  I may have still lost but I didn't look like a sore loser or a complete bitch, nor did I look like I had whiney-loser syndrome Whiney-Loser Syndrome.  (To me, that look goes hand-in-hand with the angry, screaming driver.)  None of those looks are attractive.  I don't want to look like any of those and I don't want to teach my kids to take on any of those looks.  They're all ugly.

Hopefully, from now on when I see myself in others I can say "Wow, she looks GREAT!" instead of seeing the most hideous side of myself.

Oh, for the love of my children...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Whiney-Loser Syndrome

Yesterday Zach's lacrosse team played a game in which they were beaten and beaten badly.  Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom and BOOM.  Six goals, one right after the other went in the net and our boys were suddenly down 7-1 in the first quarter.  It was not pretty and it was not a fun game to watch, but watch we did.  And that's when I noticed a phenomenon I've decided I will forever call "Whiney-Loser Syndrome." This particular syndrome seems to happen when a team is behind and there's no hope for a comeback.

My kids have been on both sides of that type of game.  The type where they're either so far ahead or so far behind there is a zero percent chance of a team being able to rebound and make a surge for a win.  It's a fun place to be when you're on the winning end of that type of game.  It's not such a fun place to be when you're on the other side.

Yesterday our boys were definitely on the other side of a win.  And it sucked.  It was when the other team was up by six goals that I began to hear it.  The low rumble of the whine.  "Hey, it both ways!"  Hey, ref...are actually watching this game?"  And my personal favorite "Hey ref....get off of your knees.  You're blowing this game!"  Yep, that one came out of my mouth.  And that's when I realized.  I sounded like a whiney loser.

None of the parents from the other team were complaining about the reffing.  They were happy with the calls.  They were winning.

So could it actually be a syndrome?  Whiny-loser syndrome.  I think it could be.  I posed this question to Stan last night.  Does the losing team whine at the refs more?  He said he thinks they do.  He went on to say that last night the refs were calling more on our kids because our kids were committing more penalties.  They were scrapping and trying to pull themselves out of their funk, but the harder they tried the worse they got.  The other team was crisp and clean in their play.  Our boys were not.  So most of their penalties well were deserved.

But whiney loser syndrome does happen. I've seen it all too often.  The parents and players on the team that is getting the tar beat out of them see everything wrong with the refs calls, especially because those calls, more often than not, go against their players.

After last night I think I want to opt out of the syndrome.  I want to teach my kids to be good sports.  Most of the time it's not the fault of the refs.  Most of the time when a team is losing a game it's because they're being outplayed, outmanned, outgunned.  That was last night's game.  Maybe the reffing was a little, tiny bit one-sided, but for the most part our kids deserved the penalties they drew.  And I didn't need to be whiney about it.

Oh, for the love of my children...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Stan is Screwed

I'm sorry to say it's true.  He is totally, 100% screwed.  I'm useless to him.  I told him he should have married someone who will be able to care for him as we age.

As most of you know, Stan had back surgery two and a half weeks ago.  He ruptured a disk and the ortho doc had to go in to repair it.  A fairly routine surgery, or so I'm told.  He came out of it with flying colors.  As soon as the surgery was over, his pain was gone. I was more than relieved to know he was out of pain.

My relief was short lived.

The discharge nurse began to discuss wound care and how to change the dressing.  My mind shut down and my stomach started to churn at the thought of the wound under bandage on his back.  I don't do injuries.  At all.  I told the nurse that.  She gave me a glance that let me know she thought I was being overly dramatic, but I'm not.  My stomach heaved and a queasy sensation spread through my body as they talked about changing the dressing on Stan's back.

His dressing needed to be changed in two days.  Stan thought I might be able to work through the queasies before the end of two days.  It didn't happen.

I had to call in the big dog to change the initial dressing.  My neighbor is a nurse and I needed her as my go-to girl.  She had to change Stan's dressing.  And then Stan had to rotate through all of the kids when his bandage needed to be changed.  I couldn't do it.  My stomach heaved again and some strange feeling in my chest overcame me every time I thought about having to change his bandage.

Stan didn't understand how it could be that bad.  I finally had to fight through my feelings and change the damn dressing. I did it but my stomach quivered the entire time.  I had to turn the chore back over to the kids.

Stan told Claire last night that she better be ready when she grows up.  She's going to be the one who has to take care of her daddy, because if it were left up to me, Stan really would be screwed.  He thinks I might be able to change his Depends, if that time ever comes.  But he knows if he has a debilitating anything that has to do with blood I'm O-U-T.  I can't do it.  It's going to be up to his kids to help him out and he knows it.

He told me today the rest of the dermabond fell of his incision sight. I felt the blood drain from my face and my cheeks grew hot.  UGH.  Poor Stan.  I hope the kids know what they're gonna need to do in the future and I really hope they live near us or Stan really is totally screwed.  I like to joke about it but the kids know it's the truth.  So I hope they're ready.

Oh, for the love of my children...

Monday, March 25, 2013

I Wish I Had a Magic Band Aid

Last night as I sat talking to one of my kiddos about feeling sad, having a heartache and being hurt by someone I was transported back to the days when they were little and Band Aids solved everything.  If they fell down and scraped their knees or their hands, they got a Band Aid followed by hugs and kisses and then they were fine.  Life was good and easy and simple.  Band Aids solved so much.  They were magic.

It's not so simple now.

The hurts are different now.  They're more internal than external.  Band Aids can't fix all the pain now. Now when they get hurt it goes straight to their hearts.  Those wounds can never be fixed with a Band Aid.

I wish I had a magic Band Aid, one where I could wave their heart ache away.  My heart hurts with them and I would do anything to take the pain away.  Last night I sat wishing I was once again able to rock my kiddos when they hurt, hug and kiss them, put a Band Aid on them and send them on their way.  But I can't.  These new wounds are a part of growing up and I'm powerless to stop whatever pain might be headed their way. But that still doesn't stop me from wishing I had a magic Band Aid.

Oh, for the love of my children...

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Do NOT Lie About Or To My Children

Last year I posted a blog about called The Day Zach Quit Hockey.  In my blog I talked about my feelings about Zach leaving the game he loved playing.  Now, almost a year later, it's time to tell the rest of the story.  I know some will wonder why I've let a year go by before telling this story, and some will wonder why I'm telling this story at all.  The reasons I'm telling this story now are because enough time has lapsed to allow me some breathing room and because the rumors surrounding Zach's decision have persisted for nearly a year and it's time to tell the truth....

I've always been a huge fan letting everyone in our hockey community know where our family stands at tryout times.  As long as we've been a part of hockey there has always been a new hockey organization popping up here and there.  Parents who have wanted more challenges for their players or a better organization for their young ones have driven the charge to start something new.  We've been on both sides of a new organizations.  We helped lead the charge for a new hockey program in Louisville when we saw it might be a better opportunity for Zach to play.  And we've stayed put with an existing organization when we felt it was a better situation for Zach, Lucas and our whole family.  In all of this, though, we have always been forthcoming about our choices and our decisions.  We have always strived to tell it like it is when the question comes..."Where are the boys trying out?"  We'll tell you exactly where they'll be trying out and why.  I've never thought it was a good idea to make tryout time a secret.  It doesn't make any sense to me why it has to be so hush-hush where any family wants their kids to play.  Last year was no exception for us.  Zach wanted to tryout for both the newly established AAA team and the existing AA team, but if he was going to play he only wanted to play on the AAA.  The truth of what he wanted to do was out there for our hockey community ~ no secrets from us.

Here is where the truth needs to be told and I'll tell it to exactly needs to hear it.   I won't use names of the individuals.  They know who they are.

Dear Coach and Assistant Coach,

When you take on the role of coach, you are supposed to exemplify good moral character,  make good decisions and be committed to helping our youth become good are supposed to be a mentor to the youth you coach.  You have done none of that when it came to our son.  You have lied to him, Assistant Coach.  And you have lied about him, Coach.

Assistant Coach, when Head Coach left in between the first and second tryouts, to attend to personal business, he left you specific instructions on what he wanted you to tell Pokey for the second tryout.  The coach wanted to you to tell my son what he wanted to see from him on the ice.  And you failed to tell him what he needed to know until it was too late.  I know that for a fact.  I asked Pokey if you ever talked to him.  His response left me speechless.  He said "Assistant Coach talked to me about what Head Coach wanted to see on my last shift of the final tryout.  I didn't have time to show Head Coach what he wanted to see."  Assistant Coach, you lied to my son by omittance and in doing so you showed your true character.  Why did you do it?  Is it because you, Assistant Coach, care only about your own son?  Is it because you knew Pokey would have been up against your son for ice time and in making sure Pokey didn't have the proper instructions for what the Head Coach wanted to see, you made sure your own son would benefit?  Or is it because you think we took sides in a dispute that happened years ago, before we even stepped foot into Richmond?  If, as I suspect, my questions above are true those are low and disturbing traits in someone who is supposed to be a mentor of youth.

Head Coach, you have perpetuated a lie about our son all year and it's time to set the record straight, in writing.  When Pokey got cut from the U16AAA team he came back for the U18AAA tryouts.  He finally knew what you wanted to see.  He showed it to you and he showed it to you well.  In fact, he kicked ass during that tryout.  And you know he did.  But you told people you couldn't put him on the U18AAA team because you couldn't have a kid born in 1996 on the higher team.  I accept that.  I understand that.  What I don't accept or understand is why you would then tell people that you offered Pokey a spot on the U18AAA team, but he didn't accept it.  You told people Pokey wanted to stay with the Richmond Royals and play U18A.  You, Head Coach, told people that repeatedly through the year.  Both of those statements are lies.  You lied about our son.  You never offered him a spot on your U18AAA team and he never said he wanted to stay with the Royals and play U18A.  Never.  

I am glad Pokey's previous and current coaches/mentors never lied to him or about him.  I'm glad he had the luck of experiencing only those who thought enough of him to not lie to him and about him.  I'm glad he had and has such wonderful coaches.  He's a lucky kid.

I just thought I'd finally set the record straight when it comes to Pokey...don't ever lie to him or about him. If you have a problem with any of our family's decisions you are welcome to talk to me or my husband, but do NOT put him in the middle of your insecurities about how you've conducted yourself when it comes to my child.

I hope someday you'll realize what it takes to truly coach and mentor kids, because right now you don't have a clue.

~ Jenni


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Driving Mr. Lucas

There are times in life I feel like nothing but a chauffeur when it comes to my kiddos but I have to say I don't really mind that title. Because out of all the things I'm responsible for in this crazy world of parenting, one of the things I enjoy the most is driving my kids around, especially as they have gotten older. So yes, I do sometimes feel like a chauffeur sometimes, but for the most part I feel like their confidante.

In the car is where issues are discussed, problems are solved and personal matters are shared. The other day all of these took place nearly simultaneously. I was driving Lucas.  I have no idea where we were going or what we were going to do. I just remember our conversation.

We talked about drugs. We talked about friends and we talked about pregnancy. Interesting topics, to say the least. The topics were made more interesting by the sheer fact that Lucas and I were talking about them together. Though all of these issues were discussed, the main part of our conversation centered around drugs and alcohol.

There has been a lot of chatter around our parts lately about drugs and alcohol use ~ or should I say abuse ~ in our little area of the world. I'm sure it happens everywhere, everyday, but the fact that it's happening in such close proximity to my children has me a little on edge.  I needed to know what Lucas knows and how he feels about what I'm hearing.  The only way to get the information is to ask, in the car.  So I did.

"What do you hear at school about kids using and abusing drugs, either at your school or Zach's?" I asked. Lucas answered he really hasn't heard too much about problems at Zach's school. He didn't hear about the alcohol fueled dance that garnered media attention. He doesn't know any of the kids accused. But he did hear about an incident at his middle school, one that leaves me feeling strangely off kilter and more than a little concerned. An incident where drugs were supposedly exchanged for a paint ball gun. Rumor and speculation, to be sure but one the kids are hearing over and over. And it's a rumor fueled with speculation that hasn't been addressed by our schools. That leaves it to me to address ~ and address I do.

First I started with "Did you see the drugs?" Lucas answered he hadn't but one of his friends was called down to the principal's office to give an account of what he saw. Then I asked "Did you see the paint ball gun being exchanged for the drugs?" Lucas answered again that he hadn't seen the paintball gun.  So, I had to do what any mom should and would do. I cautioned against believing rumor and speculation, but I went on to use this conversation as a means to my end...talking about drug use.

This conversation morphed from what Lucas hears at school to which kids need to be avoided at school. Obviously the drug dealer, if he really exists, needs to be avoided. And just as obviously, the kid who brought the paint ball gun to school is not a friend Lucas needs. Unfortunately, I know the paint ball gun kid. He's a new kid on the block and one who seems to have found the wrong crowd to run with at school. He's a nice kid who got sucked into a bad group.  I wish he would have found Lucas and his goofy group, and maybe someday he will.  

I can't tell you how fortunate I feel to be able to have these conversations with my kids. I love the fact that they'll talk to me about this stuff. These may not always be the easiest conversations to have, but they're the conversations that need to happen. And hopefully, if we talk about this stuff over and over again my kids will stay on the straight and narrow.  So I'll keep driving Mr. Lucas and talking to him until I'm blue in the face.

Oh, for the love of my children....

Sunday, March 17, 2013

What Would Jenni Think?

This is a new game one of the dance dads came up with at the girls' dance competition yesterday.

As most of you know, I can be a little wild, a little out there, a little crazy.  I see  nothing wrong with the belly ring I have.  I'm all about a glass of wine, or even two, with lunch.  I love a good girls' weekend.  I think raunchy jokes are more than a little funny.  I have no problem with the words crap, damn or shit, and I think the best word ever for conveying almost any meanings is fuck!  I've been known to drop said f-bomb on more than one occasion and multiple times in one sentence.  I adore pushing the limits of conventional society.  I like to spring cartwheels in the middle of the dance floor on girls' weekends, and I'm not afraid to wear a string bikini on the beach.  In other words, I'm not someone most people would look at and say "oh man, she's one conservative lady."  In fact, I'm not sure most who know me would say the words "lady" and "Jenni" in the same sentence and certainly not when referring to me.

So, I guess it can come as quite a shock to some when I sit in the audience at dance competitions and "tut-tut" when I see these girls strutting, shimmying and gyrating all over the dance floor in their teeny-tiny costumes that leave little to the imagination.  Hence the game that Dance Dad Carl came up with ~ "What Would Jenni Think?"

As a new group of girls came on to the stage, costumes Carl told me about his new game.  He was a little surprised at the last competition when he realized how conservative I am when it comes to young girls on stage.  So Carl decided it would be fun to try and figure out what conservative Jenni would think and made up a game about how I might react...What Would Jenni Think?

His game takes into consideration the costumes of the girls.  Will they pass my test?  Are they age appropriate or not?  And then the game continues with questions about whether their dances will contain the shimmying, gyrating, slow hip circling moves that most young girls who dance don't ever need to know, unless they're looking to continue their careers in the field of stripping.  It's quite a fun game to play, and not one I know the answer to until the dance is over.  I can take in a costume and not be overly enthusiastic about it, wondering what the dance will look like if the costume is a little slutty.  There was a group yesterday I was sure would fail my test based on their costumes but their dance was awesome, entertaining and completely appropriate.  It was hip hop at its purest form. Their costumes could have swung either way but in the end, the girls won the game.  Jenni approved.

Talk of the game started before this group came out and passed my test.  Talk of the game actually started as Carl and I sat talking about another routine from the competition.  The girls who danced to the song "Bend and Snap" failed the game...miserably.  I sat in stunned silence as the girls took the stage in short ruffled plaid skirts and matching, tight fitting vests.  Listening to the lyrics while watching the girls bend over was enough to nearly send me into a conservative tailspin.  Where the hell were these mothers?  What the hell were they thinking?  Or were they thinking at all?  The lyrics played on and on...

Look at my ass
Look at my thighs
I'm catnip to the guys
They chase my tail
They drool and pant
Wanna touch this but they can't

No! All the boys want to come and play
Snap my fingers and they obey
Why do they follow me around all day
Watch me while I walk away

I bend and snap
Feel how hot it's getting
Bend and snap
Then when you got em sweatin'
Spring the trap
They cheer and clap
No tight end can defend against the bend and snap....

Hey wait a second
When I beckoned
Look how the guys came runnin'
Like I'm




Like I'm frickin'

Wicked stunnin'!

The song was complete with moves to go along with the lyrics...young bums bending over facing the audience while gyrating in a circle, fingers being licked as the words "finger lickin'" sang out through the auditorium.  Awful.  That's the only way to describe this dance. They failed mightily at the "What Would Jenni Think" game.  Carl won.  He knew what I thought of their routine.

Carl's wife, Beverly, got in on the fun and went on to coin a new phrase..."Slutty Dance Mom."  Watching the girls who fail to pass the "What Would Jenni Think?" question in Carl's game got us to talking about where the parents are when it comes to allowing their girls to dance like that, and the term "slutty dance mom" was born.  These are the moms who seem to live vicariously through their daughter's dancing.  They are the ones I imagine love to see their daughters strut their stuff and shake their asses for a room full of strangers.  These are the dance moms who obviously don't cringe at the thought of anybody being able to walk into the auditorium and watch these young girls grind their hips provocatively.  "Slutty Dance Mom" must not be bothered by the fact that creepy perverts could be sitting in the audience.  Beverly noted there is not one single slutty dance mom in our studio.  Thank heavens!

Carl's game cracked me up.  "What Would Jenni Think?"  It's hysterical and seems so anti-me.  I'm glad I can provide such entertainment and that my conservative nature when it comes to our girls has been made into a game.  Beverly's coined phrase is perfect.  I have to say I'm glad I'm not one, and that I don't know any.  I'm glad to be surrounded by people who know how important it is to keep our girlies safe.

"WWJT?" is for the love of all of our girls!    

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Penguin

A couple of you have asked me to tell the penguin joke which ended my last blog post called "Mama Told a Naughty Joke"  I'll oblige you, but I don't think it's a joke my kiddos would appreciate.  I need to keep this one on the down low, so if we could just keep this between us I'd appreciate it.  ;-)

I told this joke to Stan while he was stationed in Bosnia.  Zach and I were living with my parents, and as was established in my previous blog my dad loves a good, raunchy, naughty joke.  He is the one who told this joke to me while Zach and I were living with them.  I didn't get to talk to Stan very often back then.  The year was 1996, and email was just taking off.  I have a letter, an actual letter, from Stan where he is extolling the many virtues of this new fan-dangled thing called "email."  Calls were few, far between and our time chatting on the phone was jealously guarded.  I made sure I knew what I wanted to say to him during our appointed phone call times, but this one time I veered off  topic and told Stan my dad's joke....

One day, years ago, a penguin was driving down the back roads of America, checking out the sights.  As he was driving through Arizona the oil pressure light in his car came on.  He made it to the nearest town and found a mechanic.  The penguin explained what happened.  The mechanic assured the penguin he will be on the road again in no time and got to work on his car.  As the penguin settled in to wait for his car, he noticed an ice cream shop right across the street.  He hopped down off of his chair and headed out for an ice-cold, refreshing bowl of ice cream to cool him down on a hot, dusty Arizona day.  He ordered the biggest ice cream dish he could find on the menu and ate it as only a penguin can, by digging in with his beak.  Satisfied and cooled down a bit he headed back to the mechanic to see if he'd found his car's problem.  The penguin walked up to the mechanic and said, "Did you figured out what's wrong with my car?"  The mechanic turned around and said to the penguin, "It looks like you blew a seal."  The penguin stuttered a bit as he wiped his mouth with his flipper and said, "Oh, no, no...that's just ice cream."

My dad's propensity for dirty jokes has been indelicately passed on to me.  That doesn't necessarily mean I have to pass it on to my kiddos, but after dinner the other night I don't think there's a chance in hell they'll escape growing up telling bad jokes.  After all, one of the first jokes I ever told to them was "How do you catch a polar bear?"  The first time I asked them this I got a blank, confused stare as I delivered the punch line....The first thing you do is cut a hole in the ice.  Then you take a can of peas and line the outside of the hole with peas.  When the polar bear bends over to take a pea, you kick him in the ice hole....

Oh, for the love of my children....

Monday, March 11, 2013

Mama Told a Naughty Joke

Last night we had a family dinner.  By family dinner I mean, Stan, the kids, my parents and I.  We try hard to have dinner together once a week, generally on a Sunday.  Yesterday was Sunday, so it was family dinner night.

I remember the first dinner Stan and I had with my parents.  It was fall of 1991.  Stan and I had just started dating.  He was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army, a brand new officer.  My dad was full Colonel, and had been for 16 years.  There was a massive rank disparity between Stan and my dad, but my parents were the ultimate host and hostess.  They were well practiced in the art of opening their door to everyone, always striving hard to make sure to all felt welcome in their house.  At this particular dinner my dad worked especially hard to make sure Stan and his fellow Lieutenants felt at home and comfortable.  I think he almost worked too hard.  My dad has always loved a good joke, and  to him none of his jokes ~ the racy, the clean, the unmentionable, the naughty or the otherwise ~ were off limits when it came to telling them.  My dad was sitting at the head of the table in the formal dining room with the crystal chandelier sparkling overhead.  My mom was at the other end of the beautifully set table complete with china and silver service.  I was across from Stan.  His friends were sprinkled in between Stan, my parents and me.  At some point during our dinner, my dad decided it was time to break everyone in and tell his joke.

He begins, "What has two fingers, speaks  French and likes blow jobs?"  Silence descended on the table as we all tried to absorb the words my dad just spoke out loud.  I looked at my mom, whose face told the story...she's used to my dad's ribald humor.  I looked at Stan and his friends and I realized my new boyfriend and his friends were definitely not used to my dad's humor.  Stan sat frozen, wondering if his new girlfriend's father, who just so happened to be a Colonel, just said the words blow job.  Finally, one of Stan's friends clears his throat and says, "Um, likes blow jobs, sir?"  "Yes," my dad answers, "Likes blow jobs."  Heads shake in unison.  No one knows how to answer.  Finally, my dad gleefully tells his punch line...  He takes his two index fingers, points to himself and says, "MOI!"  The boys burst out with nervous laughter.  My mom says, "Frank!"  And I just turn about 2000 shades of crimson.  I love a good joke, and I love telling a raunchy joke.  But to tell that one in front of me and my new boyfriend took my dad's joke telling to a whole new level.

Fast forward 22 years.  Last night at our family dinner, it was my turn to tell my own version of a naughty joke.  We sat together as we all finished with our meal.  Stan started talking about one of his brothers whose bread company just bought all of the Hostess bread products.  Talk turned from Wonder Bread, to Hostess Cupcakes, to Ding Dongs and on to Twinkies.  Cue the humorous music...

"Did I ever tell you the story about the little girl who went with her father to the barbershop?" I begin.  Everyone's attention turns to me and they all answer "No."  I continue, "Well, she was standing right next to her father as he got his haircut.  She was happily enjoying her Twinkie when the barber said to her 'Be careful, honey.  You're going to get hair on your Twinkie.'  The little girl responds, 'Yes, and someday I'll get boobies, too!'"

The table erupted in laughter.  Stan laughed so hard he had tears pooling in his eyes.  Zach laughed and laughed and laughed.  Lucas sat dumbstruck for a minute, not really believing I just told a joke like that.  My mom and dad both laughed more than appreciatively.  And Claire giggled.  Stan said, "In all these years I've known you, you've never told that joke before."  I know...gotta keep him on his toes!

So, every now and again it's a little fun for this mama to tell a slightly naughty joke.  Maybe someday I'll tell them about the ice cream eating penguin, but then again ~ maybe not.

Oh, for the love of my children...

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

One, Two, Three, Four

The other day Zach tweeted "One, two, three, four brush 'em, brush 'em, brush some more.  Four, three, two, one, brushing teeth is really fun."  My face lit up like fireworks on the Fourth of July when I saw this tweet.  It's the little ditty I used to "sing" to the kids when it was teeth brushing time.

I came up with it one night when the kids were little and squirmy. They didn't care much for sitting still for two minutes of teeth brushing.  And I didn't care much for holding them down to brush their teeth.  So one night as they squirmed and fussed about having their teeth brushed I started counting.  I got to four and it rhymed with more.  I counted backwards and one rhymed with fun.  The kids caught on. And it became our nighttime ritual.  They would each take turns lying on their backs in the hallway just outside of the bathroom.  I would sit on the ground with their heads in my lap, scrubbing their teeth with little toothbrushes as I chanted this little song until we got through two minutes of brushing.  They stopped squirming at toothbrushing time and they started counting along with me.

Eventually this nighttime ritual gave way to the kids becoming more independent at bedtime and it fell to the wayside.  I had actually forgotten about it until I saw it on Zach's Twitter feed.  I couldn't believe he remembered it.

He and I talked about it today as we sat in the pediatrician's office for a routine check up.  (A funny little aside...Zach, my man-child said, as we walked into his doctor's office "I love coming to the pediatrician.")  I started to sing it in the exam room and Zach said "I tweeted that the other day."  With a huge smile on my face, I told him I knew.  I had seen it.  He told me, with a tinge of pride in his voice, it got re-tweeted and favorited quite a bit.  He went on to tell me that kids came up to him in school saying it.  And he told them all it's what I used to sing to them at teeth brushing time.

A goofy smile is plastered on my face right now as I think about this man-child tweeting something he remembered from his childhood and sharing a piece of life in our house when he was a little boy.

Oh, for the love of my children...

Monday, March 4, 2013

My Most Thankful Things

Today I posted on Facebook that it's a very thankful kind of day.  Most days I can find something to be thankful for, but today I'm especially thankful.  Stan came out of his surgery feeling so much better than he went in.  It's been a long couple of weeks since he hurt his back and I'm so glad his pain is lessened because of the skill of a talented and compassionate surgeon.  The lessening of Stan's pain is only the tip of what I found to be thankful for today.  I'll begin with what I found to be thankful for at the surgery center and move on to life in general.  Here is my list for today...

1.  I'm thankful for kind nurses who brighten their patient's day with their warmth and caring.

2.  I'm thankful for hospital volunteers who greet nervous family members with smiles on their faces, making sure they are as well cared for as the patients who are being treated.

3.  I'm thankful for friends whose concern and caring knows no bounds.

4.  I'm thankful for my own healthy body so I can take care of Stan while he heals.

5.  I'm thankful I can bend and move and stretch and do all of the things I take for granted every day.

6.  I'm thankful for warm houses and warm blankets.

7.  I'm thankful birthdays celebrated with family and friends.

8.  I'm thankful for a smelly dog who sticks to me like glue.

9.  I'm thankful for the three precious children who have blessed my life.

10. I'm thankful today is the day my love was born, because he is my most-est thankful thing.

These are only a few of my things for which I am most thankful.  I'm sure there are more, but these are the ones that popped into my head today as I say a very grateful "Thank You" to God, the universe, friends and family.

Oh, for the love of my children...

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Only Until 16

I used to think I would have my kiddos with me until the ripe old age of 18.  18 years that they are mine and I can lay claim to them.  This year I realized it's not true.  I only get them until they are 16.

At least that's the way it's been happening with Zach.  He's rarely home and when he is, he's retreated to his room.  He's sleeping, studying, texting, watching tv or showering when he's home.

The freedom of the car has taken him from us early.  Once Zach hit the magic age of 16 years and six months and his learner's permit became a true driver's license he has been on the road, exploring the bounds of freedom  I guess that's the way it is.  I'm pretty sure once I had a set of wheels, whether my own, a friends' or my boyfriend's I was long gone.  My house was not where I wanted to be, ever.  Once I hit 16 I couldn't wait to explore and taste more and more freedom.  I guess we could take the car and make him stay home with us but I don't think that's the answer.  The freedom to explore life is a right of passage...I guess.

But I really don't like it.  I want to selfishly hang on to this last year and a half before Zach leaves and heads off to college.  The greedy mama in me is coming out and wants to hang on with all of her might, not letting him go.  I want the full 18 years I thought I was promised when I picked up baby Zachary for the first time 17 years ago.

But I guess I need to accept the fact that 18 will be here before I know it, and I need to realize I really only get them until they are 16.  I need to hug and love and cherish every single moment because graduation day and the beginning of more freedom will be here before I can blink.

Oh, for the love of my children...