Geography lesson

St. Louis is a state.

I don’t know when St. Louis became a state, but it did…

Me: Hi, I can’t seem to get my spreadsheet to upload. I selected USA as the country and Missouri as the state, but the drop down box doesn’t list St. Louis in the next group of options.
Customer service: Thank you for your email. Please select St. Louis as the state. If that does not work, let me know.

I’m thinking, Surely something was lost in translation. St. Louis isn’t a state.

I log back in, click here, click there, select USA as the country, scroll through the state list — past Missouri — and there it was:

Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Southern Virginia
St. Louis

So now you know. Also, congratulations to Southern Virginia! High fives all around.


Cool jiggly action

When I heard that kids would change my life I didn’t fully comprehend what that meant. This weekend it meant that I watched my favorite college football team in Kidland, but I was the amusement park.

I was lying on my stomach watching the game when my son plopped down next to me, lifted up the back of my shirt and started slapping my left love handle. Slap, slap, slap, giggle. Slap, slap, giggle. My niece thought the sound and jiggling were cool so she came over and started slapping my right love handle. Slap, slap on the right, slap, slap, slap on the left, giggles.

My nephew couldn’t be left out so he toddled over, kneeled down and bonked the top of my head with a stuffed snake. Boink! Boink! Boink! Slap, slap. More giggles. They keep me humble.

Acting, looking younger than ever

Raising parents is tough. My parents used to be responsible. Now they are out at all hours doing who-knows-what with who-knows-whom. When I’m not worrying about their well-being, I am trying to locate them. When they have been found, my next step is to make sure they have not lost each other. (It happens.)

I was talking on the phone with my dad the other night, just checking up on things. I gave him the stats on my new niece and nephew. When I was done filling him in, he said, “Well, your mom went to the eye doctor today. She has to put drops in one of her eyes now.”

He sounded kind of grim. He went on, “There is a side effect to using these drops.”

“Don’t tell her!” my mom yelled in the background.

“I’m going to tell her. Just hush,” my dad said to my mom.

“So, what is the side effect?” I asked. Somehow my brain’s connections went haywire and I was suddenly fearing kidney failure.

“The drops will make her eyelashes grow longer and she can only use the drops in one eye,” he said.

“I said not to tell her!” my mom yelled.

“She’s been asking me if I will cut her eyelashes,” my dad said.

“He won’t!” she yelled in the background.

“Well, I am not going to cut your eyelashes,” he said to my mom.

“I don’t know what you expect me to do with one set of long eyelashes,” I could hear her saying in the background.

“Tell her to use that product that Brooke Shields advertises…the one that makes eyelashes grow. She can use it on the other side,” I said as I tried to think of the product name.

“Your daughter said to use Brooke Shields’ product to grow out the other side,” he said to her.

“She wants me to look like Brooke Shields?!”

“No,” he said. “Just the eyelashes. You don’t want to look like Brooke Shields. She’s a big girl.”

The name came to me. “Latisse!” I said.

“She doesn’t want to look like Brooke Shields,” he said to me.

“Yeah!” my mom said, sounding insulted. “Why would I want to look like her? She’s a big girl.”

“Dad, just cut her eyelashes,” I said.

“I am not going to do that,” he said.

“He’s never going to cut my eyelashes!” she yelled.

“Here, talk to your mom,” he said, handing the phone over.

“Hi, honey! How are the boys?” she asked.

And just like that, the eyelash stalemate was forgotten. Forgotten for now, until the long eyelashes can no longer be ignored.

Oh, geez. It just dawned on me. I am going to have to cut her eyelashes, aren’t I? Yes, parenting parents is a trip.

The famous Mr. Ed

I have a soft spot for animals that need homes. It’s so soft that when I see a dog walking near the road I always pull over to help. Despite my attempts, I have yet to actually rescue a lost dog. Sometimes the dog runs away from me. Sometimes the dog’s collar says that the dog lives 15 feet away. I know what you are thinking, but no one said being a hero is easy.

A couple of days ago I read that a horse needed a home. I felt that inner calling again. And this wasn’t just a dog. This was a horse. I sent a text to the hubs.

Me: I think we should get a horse.
Hubs: OK…might I ask what led to that conclusion?
Me: Someone posted on my company’s Intranet that a horse needs a home. Boys like horses. We have boys. It all makes sense.
Hubs: Our Cub Scout could earn his horseback riding pin.
Me: Exactly!
Hubs: It cracks me up that you actually have a horse on your Intranet. Where would we keep this horse?
Me: We would keep the horse in our new backyard after we move. You could build it an eco-friendly, self-sustaining, one-horse stable.
Hubs: The engineer in me appreciates the buzz words but I’m not sure we’ll get a horse stable approved by the Home Owners Association.
Me: Ugh! The red tape! Fight the power!
Hubs: I’ll be sure to add “horse stable” to the agenda for our next meeting with the architect.
Me: Is it going on the “if there’s any money left over” list? If so, list it after the slide and rock wall, but before the foam pit.

Later that evening….

Me: I had an idea for the horse.
Hubs: And that is…
Me: Remember how your friend Brad is going to buy a farm? The horse could live on his farm!
Hubs: Has he bought a farm?
Me: Not yet. Also, Brad wants to know if we want to buy a farm, too, as an investment.
Hubs: I think I’ll pass.
Me: Yeah. I told him that was a lot of shit to shovel for a pair of stilettos.
Hubs: That’s one way to put it.
Me: Brad said it’s called manure. What is this on the counter?
Hubs: I did some research and found a supplement that will help my memory, since you have pointed out that I struggle in that area. Would you like me to make you a salad for lunch tomorrow?
Me: Are we still doing that low-carb diet?
Hubs: As far as I know.
Me: I guess. I mean, yes please.

This morning….

Me: Babe, wake up! You are supposed to drive me to work this morning! Remember?
Hubs: No…
Me: Oh no, you didn’t take your supplements, did you?
Hubs: No, I didn’t.
Me: I’m just kidding. I made that up. But you did agree to buy me a new handbag, just in case you forgot. Are you going to take those pills?
Hubs: I don’t know.
Me: You should. It might help. Plus, you did the research.
(After rolling out of bed, the hubs opens the cabinet, takes the pills, puts the bottle back, and closes the cabinet door.)
Me: Look! You remembered to close the cabinet door!
Hubs: Ugh! This is exactly why I didn’t want to take the supplements.
Me: If I can’t help you celebrate your memory successes, I will be sad. This is really not my week. First, no carbs, then no horse, and now no memory celebrations?!
Hubs: You are too much.

Later this morning the hubs sends me an email….

Hubs: I should warn you now that I might want to get a few of these for our new house.
(He links to a website about a WiFi enabled, energy-efficient, LED lightbulb that can be controlled by your smart phone.)
I reply back: The horse will love it!
Hubs: True. And, this way we can turn the horse’s lights on and off from our phones, and won’t have to walk out to the stable to do it.  We’ll just have to make sure that our WiFi signal is strong enough to reach the stable.

And there he goes again, over thinking everything. That man is a piece of work, but I sure do love him.

Celebrations all around

This is a big week on both sides of my family. On my husband’s side, his sister and his brother’s wife are having a baby. Not together. Two moms. Two babies. This will make me an aunt for the sixth and seventh time. I have the baby thing down. Purchase tiny clothes and diapers, snuggle baby, check on the new mom, and pretend sympathize with the dads who are complaining about lack of sleep after two nights in the hospital. And, today is my mother and father-in-law’s anniversary. Cheers!

Also this week…my dad’s birthday. This one is more difficult. What do I get the man I call dad? He’s special in all the dad ways, but he’s also extra special. He’s the guy who went the extra mile. When I had a sleepover in middle school, my dad would let us rent a scary movie and then he would sneak out of the house, put on a gory mask and bang on the window of the TV room. He scared one of my friends so badly that she couldn’t stop crying and her mom had to pick her up.

He’s also the one who was with me in my dorm room on Valentine’s Day my freshman year in college. Valentine’s fell on a Saturday and it was Dad’s Weekend at my sorority. I told my dad that I had a dinner date that evening but wasn’t sure what time. (My date said he would call.) My dad said he would stick around until then. Time passed. More time passed. We didn’t say anything to each other, but we both knew I was being stood up. So I had dinner with my dad that night. I don’t think I ever shared this part, but the guy did call…at 1:30 a.m. I turned down the booty call, told him he could lose my number and went back to bed.

To top everything off, my dad is good at the sentimental moments, too,…in his own way. When my boyfriend (now my husband) asked for my hand in marriage, my dad said, “Yes, take her and all the bills that go with her.” So now he’s not just my dad. He’s a great father-in-law and a wonderful Papa. In fact, my toddler prefers my dad over me. I can’t say that I blame him.

If you have any birthday ideas for a man who fits this description, please share. (And, Dad, don’t leave an anonymous comment that says you are deserving of a car. You are, but that is not going to happen. Love you.)

Not in my yard

Yesterday afternoon the neighbor kid who is 7 years old (same age as my son) came over to play Skylanders. If you don’t know what Skylanders is, don’t worry. I don’t quite understand it either. From what I can tell, you purchase a Skylander character, put it on a base that is connected to a video game system, and the character comes to life in a virtual adventure world.

I was upstairs listening to the boys talk about how many lives and super powers each of their characters had. I know I shouldn’t do it, but I love eavesdropping on them. You just never know what kids are going to say. For example, I learned that the neighbor kid’s mom “has the hots” for the Skylander character Boomer. “She thinks he is so cute,” he said to my son.

I went downstairs to watch them play and the neighbor kid greeted me, “Hi, Isaac’s Mom. Do you remember when you got upset with the kid who lives in the house next to yours for calling me an asshole? Well, we’ve had more trouble with him. This weekend he called me a jackass.”

“What?!” my son asked.

“Yeah. He called me a jackass. So my dad said he can’t play in our yard any more.”

“I can’t believe he said that to you!” my son said. They were caught up in the audacity of the 10-year-old’s behavior and forgot that I was there.

I went back upstairs and not much later I heard yelling, and then I heard the back door open, then shut, then open, and more yelling. My husband was in the middle of the commotion. “What is going on?” I asked him.

“The neighbor kid is trying to keep his nemesis out of his yard,” the hubs said.

I looked over and the neighbor kid was standing with his arms outstretched, acting as the filler for his fence, which is missing a section. “No! You cannot come in my yard! My dad said so!”

Then my son opens our back door and yells inside, “Dad, tell him he can’t come in our yard, either! I don’t want him over here.”

“You need to come in for dinner so no one is going to be in the backyard anyway,” the hubs said. 

My son translated that to his version of what was said and loudly yelled to the 10-year-old, “My dad said you can’t come into our yard, either!” He softly added, “And, I have to go in for dinner anyway.”

There’s no telling how long the backyard stand-off would have lasted if the neighbor kid hadn’t been called inside. All I know is, the line has been drawn.

Still my favorite IM screen shot

Background: A guy’s little cousin posted his new cell number on Facebook and said he was bored. Then this happened.

Cat Facts was originally submitted on Reddit by frackyou.

How do I explain this?

There is a way I should be doing this parenting thing. And yet with so many books, blogs, experts and advice-givers available to me, I still fly by the seat of my pants. So last night when we were walking home from the homecoming parade and my 7-year-old asked, “What was the float with the people dressed in rainbow colors that said ‘freak show’ on the side?” I did my best to explain what the LGBT rights float was about and that no, despite their poster, they are not freaks.

This is when the silent hubs — who passed on answering the question — finally piped in with, “Yeah, that was really counterproductive.”

Later on that evening I took the 7-year-old to CVS with me. While I was looking for some allergy medicine, he walked over holding a box and asked, “What’s this? ‘Eeneema?’ (trying to read the box) What does it do and where do you put it?” So I stood there in CVS and briefly explained the purpose of an enema and where it goes. He nodded and asked if he could go to the toy aisle.

“Yes! I’ll meet you there.” Is it OK to let your child wander around the store without you? Probably not, but it had just dawned on me that I should pick up a feminine product. Considering the night we were having, I thought about delaying this purchase. But, I knew if I put it off, the hubs (who does the grocery shopping) would eventually find it on his list. 

I grabbed what I needed, stopped by the toy aisle to get the 7-year-old, and headed to the register. I put the products on the counter and, despite my best efforts to distract my son, he didn’t miss a beat. “Mom, what are ‘tampones’?”

The teenage boy who was ringing up my purchases did his best to keep a straight face. I didn’t have it in me this time. “Girl stuff. Would you like a bag of Cracker Jacks?”

When we got home, I went upstairs to find the hubs and the toddler. “How was your trip to CVS?” the hubs asked.

“Um, fine…,” I looked behind him to see if our 7-year-old was within earshot.

“Well, you missed an exciting evening at home. Little man pooped in the bathtub.”

I had to smile. I looked at the toddler and asked, “Did you poop in the bathtub?”

“Yep,” he said matter-of-factly.

“I’ll stay with him,” I said. “He doesn’t ask questions. You go with Curious George.”

We need a surgeon. Page Yang.

I scheduled an appointment to see my doctor because my blood pressure was on the high side. As you know, when you make an appointment you are asked what’s wrong: “The doctor can see you today at 1:15 p.m. What will he be seeing you for?”

Each time I answer this question, I assume they write down my self diagnosis to help the doctor get a handle on his or her day. But I’ve never had a nurse or doctor start an appointment acting like they know why I am there. In fact, at this visit in particular, it took the doctor a long time to come around. Here’s the story…

The young, male nurse fetched me from the lobby. I stepped on the scale, he took my temp and we headed to Room 3. “So, tell me what’s bothering you,” he said.

“My blood pressure has been high so I thought I should see the doctor.”

“I see. Let’s check it out.” He puts the cuff on me and squeezes. “Hmmm. OK, let’s try the other arm. (wrap, squeeze, uncomfortable silence) Yes. This arm reads high, too. Are you under a lot of stress?”

“Not more than any other day.”

“Are you stressed at work?”


“Does your husband stress you out?”

“Every day.”

“Well, my wife says that about me, too, so I’d say that’s normal. You are exercising regularly; you’re not overweight. You are not a typical high blood pressure candidate. I’ll be back with the doctor.”

A few minutes later the doctor entered. “What seems to be the problem?”

“My blood pressure is high.”

He looks at my chart. “Yes, Rick’s readings show high numbers. Let me try. (wrap, squeeze, uncomfortable silence) Now the other arm. (wrap, squeeze, uncomfortable silence) Are you doing anything unusual? Taking ephedrine? Loading up on energy drinks? Cocaine?”

I laughed. “No.”

“I’m going to check again.” He cuffs each arm, one at a time. He paces. “These are high numbers. If you were 50 lbs heavier I would say we need to work on this, but you’re young and fit, it just doesn’t make sense.” Then he walks toward me and puts his face so close that our noses were just a few inches apart. “Do I make you nervous?”

I leaned in one more inch, looked him straight in the eye and said, “No.”

“Hmm…let’s try this one more time.” He cuffs my left arm. “Concentrate really hard on a low number. (wrap, squeeze, uncomfortable silence) Nope, still high. Let’s try the opposite. I’ll check your right arm, and this time concentrate on a high number. (wrap, squeeze, uncomfortable silence) That didn’t work either. Well, you have high blood pressure.”

“I know.”

“Ninety-five percent of the time we never know why people have high blood pressure, but we’ll give it a go anyway. Let’s do blood work and an EKG before you leave, and then I’ll send you over for a chest x-ray.”

“Ok…” EKG and chest x-ray?!

“Rick will be back in to do the EKG. Is it OK if Rick does it?”

“Um, sure?” Why not? I’ve seen this on T.V. It’s just a couple of white circles taped right below the collar-bone. No biggie.

“Ok, you will need to get undressed from the waist up, with the gown opening to the front.”

Oh. Oh! Oh no.

Rick and a female nurse enter with the EKG machine. They stick several wires in several places.

“I actually specialize in cardiology,” Rick said. “I brought a nurse along from pediatrics so I can teach her how to do an EKG.” He flips a switch and studies the monitor. “Your readings look good, except your pulse is pretty fast. Are you nervous?”

“I guess I’m a little nervous to find out what’s wrong.”  And I am having a conversation with you while topless!

“Well, I’m not detecting anything. I”ll show the results to the doctor. He’ll be right back. You can get dressed.”

“So, we didn’t find any answers,” the doctor said as he walked in. “If your lab work and chest x-ray turn out OK, I’ll prescribe a tiny sliver of a pill to help you control your blood pressure and we’ll continue to monitor you. You may eventually balance out and no longer need medication.”

I left the doctor’s office feeling even more uneasy. These are serious heart tests. Maybe I’m taking this too lightly. Something could really be wrong. I needed to talk to the hubs. He’s my rock. I sent him a text: “I went to the doc about my blood pressure. He asked if I did cocaine, then he drew blood, gave me an EKG and now I’m on my way to get a chest x-ray! It’s like I’m in a real life episode of ‘Grey’s Anatomy.'”

I hit send and hoped he would say something comforting.

His reply: “You have had quite the afternoon. Keep your fingers crossed that they don’t page Dr. Yang.”

So now he’s the funny one. I couldn’t help but laugh.

Prepared. For Life.

Tonight is my 7-year-old’s first Scout meeting. The hubs and I were not Scouts. We have no idea what we are doing. We are flying blind.

True to style, we waited until the night before his Scouts meeting to buy a uniform. Around 8:30 p.m. my son pulled the uniform out of the bag and a handful of badges fell out.

“Mom, I didn’t even have to earn these badges,” he said as he picked up the little squares. “I bought them. Wolf Cubs is super easy.”

The badges!  I didn’t think about the badges needing to be sewn on. My sewing is limited to buttons. Anything beyond that takes me forever and it’s a jagged mess. It was too late in the evening to bother my friends who are proficient with a sewing machine. I doubted I could make it to Hobby Lobby before it closed to buy one of those no-sew kits. I knew I was headed for an all-nighter showdown with the needle and thread. Worst of all, I knew his uniform would look pathetic when I was done.

My son kept talking. He was reading pages from the Cub Scout book. I wasn’t listening. I could hear my mom’s voice in my head, “This is why you should never wait until the last minute.”

The inadequacy had taken over. Why, oh, why was I never a Girl Scout? Girl Scouts know how to sew. They have a sewing badge to prove it. I’m not deserving to be a Scout mom…I have failed the Scouts!

The hubs must have seen the panic laced with failure look on my face. He pulled another item out of the bag and tossed it on my lap. “Don’t worry, babe. I bought you an adhesive kit.”

The relief washed over me and I fell in love with him all over again.

“Yeah, this sticky stuff will hold until we get to your mom’s house,” my son said. “Then Nana can sew the badges on.”

I thought all of my problems were solved until I realized that I did not know where to put the badges. There were pictures, of course, but the pictures didn’t match the badges in hand. I applied the badges in what I hope are the right places. The good news is, I can peel and stick until I get it right.

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