Twenty inches of snow, and we are on our third snow day. Tomorrow will be our fourth. I am glad that I can work from home, because there is so much I want to accomplish for my new employer – a charity I have been involved with for five years. In between emails and phone calls…these are the sounds of a snow day.

Hubs: The server is down at work. I have to go in for awhile and get us back up and running. I’ll forward your RFP to my contact list while I’m at the office.

2-year-old: My need Dora and apple juice!

7-year-old: My throat hurts and I’m tired of watching Nick Jr. Seriously, Mom, how much longer do I have to watch Bubble Guppies?

My mom by phone: Your father is outside shoveling! He can’t be out there. He’ll get hurt. I’m going to tell him you want to talk to him so he comes inside. Don’t say anything.

My dad by phone: Hey. How are you? Your mom just snuck out the back so I didn’t know she left and she is shoveling the front drive. She shouldn’t be out there. She is going to hurt herself. I have to go. Call us later.

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And I…ah-I….ah-I…. will always love you….ooooh….ooohh….

A few times a year my friends and I travel to the home of our alma mater to catch a game and visit our favorite establishments. Of course, we have been out of college for several years so we still call the bars by the names they had five owners ago.

We know that we are the old people in the bar but we don’t care. I am also out of touch with any scene that does not involve children’s toys or programming.

For example, my sister-in-law and I visited the ladies room at one of the bars and it smelled awful. “Why does it smell like skunk in here?” I asked.

“Ha ha! That’s not skunk! That’s marijuana,” she said.

“It smells like skunk.”

“Ha ha! I can’t believe you don’t know what marijuana smells like.”

“I’ve smelled it before, but I don’t remember it smelling like this.”

Then the door flew open and a woman yelled, “Whoo! Someone’s been smoking weed up in this joint!”

“I told you,” my sister-in-law said, laughing again.

After we had left the bar, my sister-in-law was telling the skunk story to the guys. Crossing the street with us was a group of college students.

“And she was like, ‘Why does it smell like skunk?'” my sister-in-law retold the story. “I was like, that’s not skunk. That’s marijuana!”

The college students next to us started cracking up. They probably had not heard people refer to the drug as marijuana for a while.

“Oh no! Not marijuana!” one of the guys yelled in jest.

The hubs just shook his head. “We’re old,” he said.

Our final stop of the night was Cozy Inn where they sell mini hamburgers topped with onion, pickle, mustard and ketchup. It was almost 2 a.m. and there were only six of us left, the other six had made their way back to a hotel.

While we were waiting for our order, two couples entered. Both of the women looked like younger versions of a mix between Aretha Franklin and Kathy Kinney from the “Drew Carey Show.” The four were chatty, as were my friends. Before long we learned that the women were (amateur karaoke) singers. They invited us to watch them perform at Kites, a local bar, any “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.” They said the days of the week in sync while counting from one to four with their right hand. They were pros.

A little encouragement and they agreed to perform right there in Cozy Inn. They sang a song that I didn’t recognize first, but then they went into “Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood and a full-blown version of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” Their voices boomed through the tiny restaurant and people were staring through the glass-front window from the sidewalk to see what was going on. “And I…ah-I….ah-I…. will always love you….ooooh….ooohh….”

We gave them a standing ovation, and my friend gave the lead singer a $10 bill, which she placed in her bosom right next to her phone and her I.D.

I told my sister-in-law that we may have hit our pinnacle. I cannot think of any situation that could top a live performance in Cozy Inn at 2 a.m. She said that sounded like a challenge. I just laughed and said, “No, I really think we’ve reached our peak.”

Meet at Panera

I had a meeting scheduled this morning for work. It would have been our first meeting so I took a seat at Panera and kept an eye out for someone who resembled the LinkedIn photo I had pulled up on my phone.

Five minutes passed. Then ten. I looked at the guy sitting at a table by himself. No match. I took a second trip through the restaurant. No match.

I saw a guy lingering near the front of Panera. Maybe if the guy I’m meeting gained some weight and grew his hair out, maybe that could be him, I thought.

“Are you Leo?” I asked.

“Steven.”

“Sorry. I’m waiting on someone and I’m not exactly sure what he looks like.”

“That’s hard,” said a second guy from another table that had been watching and listening.

Steven got his food and sat down at the table next to me. “So is Neil standing you up?”

He must mean Leo. “I guess so unless he is running 20 minutes late.”

“Where are you from?” Steven asked. “Chicago?”

“Originally I am from a small town outside of Wichita but I have lived here for awhile. You?”

“St. Louis but mostly here,” he said. “I had a fiancé from Wichita who was crazy as hell. Total psychopath. I couldn’t stand her.”

“So how did she end up as your fiancé?”

“She was just that good.”

Oh.

“It didn’t last long,” he went on. “She then dated a guy from New York. She moved there. He told her he was gay and committed suicide. She was bat shit crazy.”

How do I respond to that?

“That’s too bad,” I said. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

“So much for Neil,” he said.

“Yep. I’ll have to email him and ask if we can reschedule. I’m going to get an order to go.”

I went to the front to put in a to-go order for me and the hubs. By the time I turned to return to my table Steven was gone.

I gathered my things and as I was walking out the other guy who had piped in earlier, piped in again. “Have a good day,” he said.

“You, too.”

Give

Working in the nonprofit sector is not new to me. But now that I am back in the charity saddle, I have to say that the topic of charity is an interesting one. During my past two weeks on the job I’ve heard everything from “Our company doesn’t donate because we are into making a profit,” to “I’m not coming to your event because Obama is using my tax money to support his favorite causes and I refuse to donate while he is in office.”

Whether you give to friends or family members who are in need, or you give through a charitable organization, it is equally good. You should feel great about yourself. Give to support what you care about. Take care of those around you. Then, watch patiently and you will see your kindness multiply in ways you could never imagine.

My Valentine(s)

A picture of my toddler signing my Valentine’s Day card beats a bouquet of roses any day. The hubs out did himself.

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Prune

I found this sweet face at an animal shelter. Her name is Prune and she is only two months old.

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But after a lot of thought about how Prune likes to chew on everything and needs to be potty trained, I realized I already have one at home who likes to chew and needs to be potty trained.

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We may not be able to give Prune the attention she deserves, but if you can she is waiting for you at the Great Plains SPCA. She is a shar pei/plott hound mix and has a laid back personality. Aww, sweet Prune. Still thinking of you.

Slippers make the outfit

Yesterday was the hubs’ birthday. I brought home take out for dinner (aka I cooked) and we celebrated with cake. It was a nice dinner. Then, for some reason the hubs wanted to play Yahtzee. So we played Yahtzee as a family. If this was Facebook I would have posted this picture and everyone would think we were picturesque.

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But moments after this picture was taken, my older son kept asking why the toddler had to be around because all the toddler wanted to do was build a tower with the dice. The toddler cried. The 7-year-old complained. And so on.

I was very tired yesterday evening but I was trying to keep my energy up because it was the hubs’ birthday. After bedtime routines had started, I sat on the couch surfing Facebook, and waiting for the 7-year-old to come out of the bathroom. The last thing I remember is looking at a Facebook post. Then I heard my son say, “Are you asleep?” I woke up and said, “No.”

I was still drowsy. I blinked a few times and focused on my son. He was standing in front of me wearing only my slippers. “Why are you naked except for my slippers?” I asked.

“I don’t know. Your slippers were in the hall,” he replied. “I came to tell you that I’m going to get in the shower.”

I was so sleepy that I traded places with the hubs and went to lie down with the toddler, giving the hubs naked kid duty.

The next morning (this morning) I saw a text on my phone. My 7-year-old had texted my cousins and me a photo of the fort he built at 10:08 p.m., well past his bedtime. I was about to ask my son about this when he showed me his arms.

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He had hives everywhere.

After a visit to the doctor and a day of observance it turns out that he has a virus that is causing hives. The doc said she is seeing several cases of unexplained hives.

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So the next time you see me post a sweet, smiling photo on Facebook, know that the photo is one moment in our predictably unpredictable lives.

You’re dead to us now

Today I started a new chapter in my career. I left the business development team at a law firm to take a fundraising role at a charity.

I will really miss my friends from the firm. And they showered me with love today by sending me texts about how quickly my office was cleared out:
“Lights are out, computer removed, name tag tossed in the trash. You are truly dead to us now.” (They meant it with love.)

As for the charity, well, I have been on its board for five years and I consider the staff my extended family. My first day at the new job didn’t feel like work. It felt like home.

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