Friday, December 17, 2010

Will I Ever Learn?

So I'm finishing up this epic of a book.  It's been a fantastic read - it's just taken me awhile to get through the 900+ pages.  Every so often, while reading this book, my six year old has sidled up next to me and asked me what it's about and what's happening.  As happens with many epics, about three generations of "stuff" has happened - some of it thrilling and heroic... some of it violent and rather inappropriate for six year old ears to hear.  But she persists, and she seems to remember every detail I had sparingly shared with her the last time we went through this routine.  So I try to pick up where she left off, leave out the gory details, and give her a story that fascinates her.  I put down my book, but leave it open in my lap and begin my monologue in as best of "Once upon a time" language as I can muster.
 I'm rambling on about valiant battles, rebuilding of castles, and strong, confident women protagonists, while also trying to work in the significance and definition of a monastery that is at the center of the plot.  I'm weaving a heck of a story when she stops me in the middle and says,"What does 'lusty' mean?"  I blush for a moment and then stop and explain that it just means when someone really likes another person.  Then she follows up quickly with, "What does 'bosom' mean?  Is it like that money that the monkey had to pay to get  someone out of jail?"  No, that was ransom - and it's a monk - not a monkey.  Then it occurs to me (rather late) that she has not been listening to me at all - she has been trying to read my open book!
So I closed the book quickly and said, "They all lived happily ever after.  The End."  She looked up at me with a frown on her face and replied, "I don't think that's the end, Mom, but if that's what you want to go with, I guess I'll go with it too.  Let's go look for Waldo - that might be easier on you, Mom."
Guess I'll go whip up another batch of  Humble Pie for supper.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Jolly Old St. Bulldozer

'Twas the night before... Wednesday when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The shovels were set against the garage wall with care,
In hopes that their hard work would be ready to rare
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of tunnels and snow castles danced in their heads;
Let's forget the 'kerchief stuff - doesn't apply...
When early the next morning there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the laundry to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Peaked through the blinds and ... left the sash
The sun in the sky shining on 22 inches of snow,
Gave the new structures in the lawn a heavenly glow,
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a gigantic tractor backing and shoving - using it's rear,
With a little old driver so haggard, but quick,
I knew in a moment - and I almost got sick.
More rapid than monster trucks his tires they came.
And he shifted gears, but there was destruction all the same;
(Here is where I'm sure he called some names, maybe they rhymed with Comet or Blitzen?)
To the top of the cul-de-sac! to the top of the hill!
Now push away, push away, push away still!
Now here's where the twinkling and the magic and some little hoofs and stuff start prancin' around.
There's something about a wreath of pipe smoke, a bowlful of jelly...
Now back to the poem...
With a wink of his eye and a grind of the gear,
I knew after school, what I would hear.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
He smashed all their tunnels and forts - kind of seemed like a jerk.
And backing around with one more loud "beep"
He called on the radio to tell his wife he'd be home for some sleep;
He shifted once more, crashed over the moat
and sailed down the drive, zipping up his warm coat.
But I heard him exclaim, as he roared out of sight,
"Move your fort away from the street - next time you'll get it right!"

Friday, December 10, 2010


Tradition.  This is what makes the family clickety clack like a well-oiled machine.  Or.... is it tradition that puts a catch in the giddyhop?  Let's explore this question.  Each and every day after a grueling day as a fourth grader, Joseph insists on being dropped off at the mailbox stanchion each afternoon to collect the daily mail.  Then, as an added bonus, we "race" to the garage door - him running (all saddled up with a half-open backpack, unzipped jacket and clunky winter boots encumbering his mobility) taking the lane up the snow-drifted front yard while I stay in the designated momvan lane of the cul-de-sac approach and driveway.  And as stupefying as it may sound, Joseph seems to win this boot vs. wheel contest each and every day.  How can this be?  Good fun, right?
Yeah, it's all fun and games until... the mom discovers a wetted, ripped up invoice for the latest snow gear purchase in the snow along the front curb... and two Christmas cards from far-away friends... and the spelling list from Monday... and... the invitation to a birthday party that has since taken place.  Part backpack contents, part mail - all stirred up in a dirty stew of slush and snow.   The mom begins to think back...
Is this why she hasn't heard from the college friends in Ohio at Christmas for awhile?
Could this be why there was "no" spelling test this week?
And is this why a certain mom at school cuts her off in the school lane each day?
Ahh... it's all making sense now.  Who knows what else could possibly be decomposing in my front lawn - a postcard reminder from my dentist?   An invitation to the State Dinner at the White House?  A notice from Publisher's Clearing House to be home at a certain time so they can present me with $20,000,000??? Hmm..
So, if you are someone who has felt ignored by me or a family member at this address - for no apparent reason, you now have a reason... tradition.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

All is calm, all is bright...

Snowpants sog up the mudroom... and smell delicious.
I suggest the family all do a good deed each day before Christmas...
Love abounds for the mom... again.
Vacuum up the glitter off the floor - and off the dog, please.
Eat the 13 day old Gingerbread House?  I think not.
Reindeer most certainly do like their names - what's wrong with Blitzen?
Let me guess... that's a "the cocoa wasn't chocolaty enough with just one packet" mustache - right?
I didn't eat all the Peppermint Joe-Joes - really, like, when would I even have time for that?
No, I know your Dad doesn't even like them - but, it wasn't me... really.
I know, yes, I did finish off your Halloween candy... sorry about that.
Nuttin' for Christmas doesn't have anything to do with squirrels... or nuts... it's a song, really.
Guess what I'm gettin' you for Christmas, Mom!  A robot that picks up my underwear!!

Can't wait!  Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Talk to the Hand

The upper hand is nice to have... especially when you are a woman at the Honda garage getting an oil change.  It's not often that this happens - if ever.  Most of the time I absolutely dread taking the van in for anything because even if it's as simple as the replacement of a wiper blade, I somehow leave the place either with a noticeably lighter wallet or an estimate of work that "needs" to be done - usually in the neighborhood of $600 - $800.  What's the deal with that?
Today was different.  I confidently drove my van up to the automatic garage door.   I was allowed to enter,  I parked, and a friendly attendant met me at my window and asked how I could be helped today.  All standard protocol - right?  I explained that the van needed an oil change and then I asked for an estimated time that it would take to complete said request.  Again, very friendly - lots of eye contact - and  after a quick check of his handheld computer, he was now addressing me as "Julie" - as if we were old friends getting together for a quick chat over a cup of Pennzoil and a chaser of window fluid.  Oh, yes - things were going along famously.  Happy Attendant explained that it would be no more than 45 minutes to take care of this and then he kindly escorted me to their customer "lounge."  I don't know about you, but until there's a bad Elvis impersonator on stage and the smell of stale smoke and cheap beer hanging in the air - it ain't a "lounge."   It's a waiting area with some outdated Popular Mechanics magazines slapped on a short table.  That's all it is.
I came prepared.  I had a diet soda in one hand and a book in the other.  I removed my winter parka and snuggled in to my luxurious surroundings for a 45 minute reading session.  Without fail, Happy Attendant met me at the lounge about 50 minutes later.  He sat down across from me and carefully explained my bill to me - tire rotation, break fluid re-fill, and tread wearing ratings were now all on the table.  If I was game, I could have these services taken care of as we speak for just a cool $110 - in addition to the $32 for the oil change.
Well, I didn't just fall of the turnip truck yesterday - oh, no - I'm very wise to these schemes now - I just replied with, "Thank you, I will check with my husband and have him call you if he's interested."   Happy Attendant then explained that he also gave my van a complimentary wash and he proudly escorted me to the cashier and thanked me for my loyalty to Honda.  I tucked the estimate for the additional work away safely in my purse and proceeded to pay for the services rendered.  Oil change done.  Check.  Happy husband. Check. 
I gathered my belongings, coated up and headed to Service Dock 2 where I was told my clean van would be waiting.   As I pushed through the glass doors, I noticed a very shiny, cheerful van waiting at Service
Dock 2.  However, to the left, I also noticed a grimy, salt-laden van with it's driver side window still open and its hazard lights on. Hmmm.... I would have loved to proceed to Service Dock 2 - however, the shiny happy van waiting to be driven off to lot... was not my van.  My van was the grimed up, salty number still sitting in the cue.  Not clean.  Not given the 18 point safety check.  Not with freshly pumped air in tires that surely needed to be rotated.  No, Happy Attendant had just explained and let me pay for some other dutiful wife's van check-up.
Happy Attendant was no longer in the area, so I alerted another attendant that there was a mix up and my van was not the van polished and ready to go at Service Dock 2.  Wide eyes and looks of disbelief.  Surely I was mistaken.  Indeed that was my van that was ready to go I was told.  There was some shuffling of papers and a bit of scurrying around when it was evident that a mistake had been made.  And this is where the "upper hand" was awarded to me. Bring it on. Yes, I would appreciate a discount now that I have to camp out in the "lounge" for an additional hour and yes, I would like a voucher for a free oil change, and yes, I think I would like that glass of water now that you mention it.   Oh, yeah, I was takin' names and kickin'... well, at least it felt like it for about three minutes... and that's a record for me - of feeling all confident and sassy in a... car fixer place.  Yeah... they're scared of and my big ol' upper hand.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Merry, Merry...

Merry Christmas!  This is the time of year that is filled with joy and peace and sharing and singing carols and wrapping presents and... and... putting up the **$@# Christmas tree.  So, wham! Thanksgiving is over and it's time deck the halls.  I begin the process by looking around the house for all of the fall decorations, so I can carefully put them all back in their "proper storage area."  This is a term that is used often in my house.  Before I was married, there was a closet, a laundry room, and a basement - now I have tubs labled with "Fall Decorations" and "Easter Baskets" and even "Random Parts" - I guess we don't want those non-descript items to feel left out.  But I digress.  The hunt for a Merry Christmas is on and I am leading the charge.
No, we can't put the lights on yet - we have to put the tree together first.
Yes, you can help.
No, you can't wear the Christmas stockings.
Yes, you can put on some holiday music.
No, don't step on that!
Yes, that's where the Nativity Scene goes.
No, I will be in charge of where the donkey goes.
Yes, you may now put on some ornaments.
No, you may not crank on that Polar Express ornament one more time or the train will most certainly stop it's climb to the North Pole.
Yes, Santa will come.
No, not tonight.
Yes, he already knows what you want.
No, I don't know what comes after ...Jingle Bells, Batman smells...
Yes, I will be making dinner at some point.
No, it will not be candy canes.
Yes, we should move the tree over a titch.
No, I don't think I can ... oh... that's odd... oh no!  Help!
Yes, I know it comes in pieces - I just thought it was put together properly...
No, I think it's fine right where it is.
Yes, you may plug that little lighted house in.
No, you may not put Baby Jesus in it.
Yes, Dad is in the house... somewhere...
No... I guess he's not... hmmm...
Yes, that really is a cute picture of you when you were two.
No, I don't think we will have any more children.
Yes, I was a little cranky, but now I'm fine.
No, I really do love doing this - it just isn't showing very much is it?
Yes, you bet, go plug it in and let's light it up!
No, you're right, I didn't think you could do it by yourselves, but turns out - you did a very nice job.
Yes, we're done.
Thank you.  Merry Christmas.  Good night.
No, I'm not going to bed right now.
Yes, I'm having a glass of wine.
Happy December First!