Always Sunny Greetings

My lovely daughter is 18 years old today – no longer my baby, at least in her eyes. I would beg to differ. At any rate, this is how we roll in our house with birthdays: an Always Sunny cake and Starbucks. With chicken and dumplings for dinner tonight, and Wonder Woman on the schedule for tomorrow, life is good. Happy Birthday Sarah!

 

 

 

Growing up ain’t all it’s cracked up to be – for the Mother

Getting old sucks. Can we all just agree on that? Joints get achier. Skin gets looser. Lines form. It’s just a big ol’ mess. Sure, it’d be tougher to run a mile now than when I was 18 (if I ran at all, that is), but getting older isn’t all bad. Whenever I get a little down about the sands of time slipping through the hourglass, I can always look at my children and know that I’ve helped mold two people I could not be more proud of. They’re tolerant, compassionate, empathetic, decent, and just all around good human beings. So at least there’s that, I say to myself as I find yet another grey hair. These two are my crowning achievements, my purpose in life.

And, goodness, how fast time does fly! My son graduated high school 7 years ago and it feels like yesterday. Now, just like that, my daughter is graduating this week. It feels like that time passed in the blink of an eye. If there’s one thing I can criticize both her and my son for (and trust me, I do), it’s that they can both be rather disobedient. I told them years ago to stop growing, to just stay little, but they refused to listen. So, here I am, once again at the threshold of another child receiving a diploma. If they would just listen to their wise ol’ mother, we wouldn’t be in this mess again. On the contrary, we’d still be happily shopping in the Garanimals section of the department store with nary an argument on color or style to be had. Alas, time waits for no man. Or mother.

my baby

On top of graduating, my daughter also turns 18 in a few days. I know, right!? How dare she!? It’s quite the milestone and I wish the world for her. Not just in a philosophical “best of luck” kind of a way. I mean literally, I want her to have the world. To explore. To see new things. To travel. To meet new people. To let life be an experience with the entire world as the garden she frolics through. She is no doubt destined for great things, but I want her to delight in the path she chooses, to walk it with a profound sense of joy as well as purpose. Neither she nor her brother have yet to disappoint. I don’t expect either to start now.

not such a baby any more…

So while it does suck getting old, it’s kind of worth it when you see what you’re letting loose on the world.

Birthday Thoughts

So, I’m celebrating both my birthday (thanks Mom!) AND the anniversary of my blog. Actually my 3rd blogiversary was December 19th, but oh well. Close enough. I’m thrilled to be writing and continuing on with a project that I wasn’t quite sure about at first. As for my birthday, it’s been uneventful, which in my house is a major accomplishment. Friends and family always make life worthwhile and for them, I’m grateful.

As I ponder my life, the year to come, and just the world in general, I think more and more about mortality and hopefully when it IS my time to go, it will be via some means that I can at least understand. You know. Like a rabid badger or pissed off squirrel or anvil out of the sky…maybe even tripping over nothing and choking on cake batter.

 

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rabid badger, rabid badger, please make it a rabid badger — at least I know what the hell THAT is

Happy Birthday to Me (for real this time)

So, break out the belated balloons and cake, my birthday was just on December 30. Yay me! Of all the things I could have done to celebrate, I decided to spend time around family and it was a great time. After the requisite reflection of my life that occurs to each of us on our special day (Wait, what!? It isn’t a requisite!? Damn!), I realized something both comforting and uplifting…I’m happy.

Those of you who know me well (and those who haven’t seen me for a while but are back in my life) have been telling me for some time now that I seem more at peace than ever before so I’m assuming this sensation of happiness I have is real and noticeable. Kinda surprising I can write this with pure honesty. I mean, considering the year I’ve had and the tumultuous life I left behind, being in “serenity now” mode is quite the achievement (in my humble opinion). Yeah, yeah, I still have some of the more stressed-out Seinfeld-y “serenity now!” moments when certain triggers rear their ugly little heads…but not very often, and overall, I’m back on solid ground and not eggshells. A very good thing.

There are still obstacles ahead, but hey, that’s life, right? When they come, I’ll find a way to deal with them. Until then I’m just going to keep looking ahead and moving forward. Onwards and upwards, as they say. It’s the only way to fly!

That all being said, guess what…there’s a new addition on my Bucket List. Any idea what it might be? Skydiving? No. Just no. Bungee Jumping. Are you nuts!? Do you even know me at all!? Wrestle a kangaroo? Uh-uh. Meet Vladmir Putin? Pass. Okay, okay, I guess I’ll just tell you. You guys are really bad guessers. Ready? I want to visit the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum.

If this isn’t exactly what you were expecting as a Bucket List-worthy item, I’m with you. I must confess that I had never heard of the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum until I saw this article just the other day. But, I’ve always wanted to visit New Orleans. It’s got the bustling and vivacious French Quarter, the Aquarium of the Americas, the Audubon Zoo (me and animals…duh!), ghost walks, classic architecture, and a history steeped in voodoo and the occult!

That’s a rather good list of places to hit when I do go to N’awlins. So why the Pharmacy Museum? Well, this particular tourist attraction had me at “opium soaked tampons.”  I know, I know. Not exactly “mother approved” blog material. But still. How can one resist? Sold! You had me with the headline. That’s marketing right there people.

So I’m not going for the most noble of reasons, sure. It might not even get mom’s seal of approval, but please, this is New Orleans we’re talking about. An ancient, drug drenched tampon is just another grain of sand on that dune. And really, how can I resist the urge to at least see what the heck that’s all about. Plus the lurid appeal of voodoo elixirs AND leeches! Oh boy! I mean, come on, don’t even try to tell me you’re not feverishly perusing the article right now, trying to catch a look for yourselves and reading up about what else they might have in store (ha!) for their visitors.

If anyone out there has any New Orleans experience you’d like to pass my way, please do. I love learning about different places. Once you’re done poring over the Pharmacy Museum article of course. Go ahead.  Take your time. I can wait.

 

pharmacy museum

New Orleans Pharmacy Museum (click photo for article)

My Son (or Paul Bunyan Redux)

A carnival gypsy once told me that the love of my life would be tall, dark and handsome.  Somehow she failed to mention he would arrive on the waves of excruciating labor pains.  Now, 23 years later to the day, my son can legally buy alcohol, towers over me, and resembles Paul Bunyan.    He’s out on his own and I couldn’t be more proud of him. Still, whenever we talk, I oftentimes offer unsolicited advice.  No, really, I do.   Other mothers do this too, right?  Right??  Well of course Jake’s response is usually one borne of frustration because, according to him, I’ve not kept up with his birthdays all these years and therefore don’t know just how old he is.  My response is one he will never understand until he has kids of his own – he’s always my baby regardless of how old he may be.  Or how tall.  Or how thick a beard he decides to grow (I mean really, you do own a razor after all Jake!).

And many times during these mutually frustrating conversations, a mental picture of him will pop into my head.  Like when he and I went outside to play in the yard like maniacs during a freak midnight snowstorm when he was 4.  Or when he was a very convincing snowman in a school play at the age of 5.  Or as a 6 year old on a trip to Luray Caverns….which is actually a pretty cute story and one that I go to often in my mental rolodex of memories because it never ceases to make me smile.

We used to make the trek to Luray Caverns every year, sort of a family tradition.  These trips were always a great time.  For those not familiar with the area, near Luray is another set of caverns touted as “The Endless Caverns.”  To me, that sounds sort of horrible. The idea that you could possibly get lost and never find your way out of the dark, stone tunnels, eventually succumbing to starvation with your body going undiscovered for maybe centuries didn’t fill me with a great amount of intrigue.  Sort of like an “always erupting volcano” or “constantly snowing tundra.”  Okay fine, maybe that’s a bit melodramatic….but hey, it could happen.

Well, on this particular trip when we passed one of the billboards emblazoned with “Endless Caverns” Jake asked just what “endless” meant.  Remember, he’s only 6 at the time so he was still trying to figure out the intricacies of the English language which can be tough on anyone.  Being the vocabulary nut I am, I was thrilled to explain to him “Well, Jake, endless means that something doesn’t have an end…. never-ending.”

This is where I have to take a small sidebar and let you know that my husband’s running compliment for me at that time was “hot.”  It could also be interpreted as a running joke.  And having the goofy mentality that my husband did he was always coming up with a “you’re so hot…” comment.   As in “You’re so hot you make lava look cool.”  I know, I know….but what can you do?  I married him anyway.  Not sure what that says about me, all things considering.

So, back to the story….as the meaning of “endless” registered with Jake, he perked up and said, “Oh, so it’s like you. You’re hotless.  Never-ending hot.”   Why yes, Jake.  That’s exactly what it means.

To this day I hold that small, innocent remark in my heart as one of the best compliments I’ve ever received.  Not because it’s true and certainly not because Jake fully understood “hot” as it related to women,  but because it came straight from his beautiful, ever loving six year old heart as meaning something special.  Jake will never understand that when I look at him, I still see that wide-eyed, precocious boy who stole my heart the day he was born.   I don’t think that will ever change.  And quite frankly, I hope it never does.

Although seriously…. a razor wouldn’t hurt now and then.

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jake pier

jake and shaylee

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Family Love

In the past few years my family has transitioned from something out of Full House to something more akin to Arrested Development. No, I’m not saying that we’re all in danger of going to jail for a slew of financial crimes (including light treason) and building houses in Iraq. What I mean, is that while we used to be all lovey-dovey nice to each other (at least where card-giving holidays like birthdays are concerned), somewhere along the way we changed and found out that using insults and sarcasm is a much more fun way to tell someone how much you cherish them. Only makes sense, right?

It’s become common practice for all of us to get each other the most mean-spirited (or sarcastic) cards we can get our hands on. And we have the best time shopping for these things! Standing in the aisle of the card store, grinning from ear to ear, oftentimes laughing out loud, and looking like an absolute fool as we pour over the selection combing for the perfect card.  It’s actually quite reminiscent of Grandma Mooney and the Case of the Vinegar Valentines, but without the malicious intent.

If the person is getting on in years, rest assured the cards they get will be all about how old they are. Prime example: Some of the grandkids gave their doting grandfather a Star Wars themed card. On the front it said “In a galaxy far, far away, a long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long time ago…” Inside, “…you were born.” Simple but effective. Congratulations Grandpa, you’re old as dirt. And he LOVED it!

If age isn’t an easy target, don’t worry, we’ll find something to harp on…the choices are abundant once you really start looking through the card section. One loving daughter (I won’t name who) gave her mom a card that joked about how her breasts have a much closer relationship to the floor now than when she was younger. Hardy har har, right? Again, not exactly zingers from MENSA, but you get the point.

The really funny part is that it didn’t use to be this way. We used to play nice. We’d go the Hallmark route and buy cards with pictures of kittens or lovely scenes all over them and sweetly worded verses inside. Then this evolution happened and now it’s all out warfare in the stationary section. I don’t know what caused the change or who initiated the mean streak, but it’s been holding strong and has even been spreading to extended members of the family. It’s become disappointing to us when we receive a “nice” card…and it makes us rack our brain trying to figure out just what we did to annoy the giver that they felt the need to get us a “nice” card.  I know.  We’re weird.

No one is safe. Mothers, fathers, brother, sisters, aunts, uncles…all are fair game. And we’re not confined to just blood relatives either. Oh no no no. You come into this family and sure, we’ll let you have the nice heartfelt marriage. We’ll get you the gifts off your registry and we’ll tell you how happy we are to have you in our family (all true by the way).

But after a few years, when you’re good and hunkered down and we’re pretty certain you’re no longer a flight risk, we’ll take the kid gloves off and really let you into the family. After this proverbial “waiting period” you’ll know you’re truly part of the clan when on your birthday you get a card that implies you need to up your meds rather than one that gushes over your virtues (which I’m sure are very valid and gush worthy). A card that will hopefully make you laugh as much as we did when we picked it out.

Hurray, you’ve finally been accepted into the fold! That’s love right there. Because that’s how our family rolls.

 

family love